Who belongs to the Labour Party and why? What are their opinions about politics and society, or about the 'new model' party of Neil Kinnock?After the electoral debacle of 1983 the Labour leadership embarked on a strategy of modernization in order to win back some of their lost support. The leadership has consistently tried to empower the party members at the expense of the trade unions and the party activists. But this strategy has been a
'leap in the dark', since the leadership has had no idea what views party members hold on matters of policy or internal organization.This book publishes the results of the first
comprehensive study of party members, examining who they are, why they joined the Labour Party, and discussing their views on activism, the party, and society as a whole.Journalistic accounts of party membership abound with images of unrepresentative extremists and eccentrics. This book replaces journalistic hunches with accurate information on a significant group of actors in the British political process.
Hugo Young, The Guardian
`Seyd and Whiteley's impressively thorough analysis ... explores the links between social class, self-identification on a Left-Right scale, policy positions and attitudes to party reforms ... a wealth of fact.'
Jeff Lovitt, Tribune
`provides a devastating insight ... very valuable information'
`The authors evidently want to reach two audiences - their fellow academics and the Labour hierarchy ... Their material is unique and their methodology impeccable. Both their audiences should sit up and take notice ... The authors have shone a torch into one of the least-explored areas of British politics.'
`a vitally important book.'
abour's Grass Roots is the most important book to be published about Labour this year.'
'the first detailed account of what Labour Party members think, what motivates them and what role they play in our political system ... a valuable source of information about Labour Party members'
Ben Lucas, Renewal, Vol. 1, No. 1, January 1993
'invaluable as the first detailed survey-based study of the party's members. It contains a wealth of straightforward descriptive material'
Parliamentary Affairs, January 1993
'empirically-rich study of Labour's rank-and-file ... Seyd and Whiteley's gratifying new book provides the scholarly community with a coherent and methodologically-grounded account of the sociological and political contours of the party's membership'
Kent Worcester, Social Science Research Council, British Politics Group Newsletter, No. 71, Winter 1993
`The material from the author's specially mounted representative survey of activists is clearly and crisply presented in a fashion which all students of politics will find readily accessible ... The book as a whole is thought provoking and germane to many of the debates currently being conducted within the Labour Party, and we should, indeed, look forward to a companion text on the Conservative Party.'
`This useful book is based upon the first comprehensive national survey of Labour members and activists ... densely-written but valuable book.'
Labour History Review
`Labour's Grass Roots is good at charting Labour's decline from being a mass party ... many will find things of interest here ... It is also full of information.'
'The whole report is well structured and clearly written ... informative in providing new and relevant information in a descriptive way on the characteristics of members and how they compare to those of Labour voters in general ... the report makes an important impact and succeeds in meeting the various requirements of its projected audience. The style is clear and relatively free of theoretical jargon which would detract from its readability. The authors
are to be congratulated.'
Antony Fielding, University of Birmingham, ERSC Data Archive Bulletin, January 1994