British Politics

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 181–206

Labour's lost grassroots: The rise and fall of party membership

Authors

  • Hugh Pemberton
    • Department of Historical Studies, University of Bristol
    • School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol
Original Article

DOI: 10.1057/bp.2012.27

Cite this article as:
Pemberton, H. & Wickham-Jones, M. Br Polit (2013) 8: 181. doi:10.1057/bp.2012.27

Abstract

After years of declining membership, and in the wake of a general election in which it recorded its lowest share of the popular vote since 1983, the Labour party is again attempting to attract new members. This is not, of course, the first time that Labour has attempted to re-create a mass-membership. New Labour deployed many of the same techniques between 1994 and 1997. This article both assesses the extent of the current membership crisis and explores that earlier experience. We outline the basis of Tony Blair's initiative in recruiting new members during the 1990s and detail the extent of the decline in membership after 1997. We examine the state of the party's membership currently and go on to consider the lessons for the party today both of New Labour's initial success in attracting new members and of its ultimate failure to retain them.

Keywords

Labour partygrassroots membershipNew Labour

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013