Parliamentary candidate selection reform was fundamental to the Conservative Party’s organisational renewal, but local autonomy was always a potential obstacle. In the context of a falling membership, the leadership took action. Hence, this article addresses three questions. Firstly, it examines how power was utilised for the purpose of dismantling local autonomy in parliamentary candidate selection. Secondly, it discusses the implications of reform for party members. Thirdly, it assesses what the research findings mean for the notion of ‘membership party’ and the models that purport to explain party organisation. A qualitative research design was adopted that focused upon local activists and officials. The conclusion points towards a network approach to party organisation that projects local identity as the emerging organisational model. The research also provides an insight into how the Conservative Party leadership is managing its declining membership base.
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I would like to acknowledge Professor Andrew Taylor, University of Sheffield, for the preparation of this article.
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Low, M. Parliamentary candidate selection in the Conservative Party: The meaning of reform for party members and membership parties. Br Polit 9, 401–429 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1057/bp.2014.10
- candidate selection
- party membership
- Conservative Party