To fulfil their democratic functions, parties must have a degree of organization and be able to fund their activities throughout the electoral cycle. Organization helps parties to debate and decide upon policy, recruit members, activists and potential candidates, and to campaign for election. Nevertheless, the study of organization and funding is often overlooked since it involves looking at aspects of parties’ internal affairs conducted behind closed doors. Yet party organization and funding are key issues, and important conflicts over political power often occur not in the broader political system, but within parties. To be able to form any view on how political parties in the UK are working, understanding organization and funding is imperative. This chapter therefore introduces and evaluates key developments in party organization and funding in the UK in recent years. The chapter focuses on the main three parties at Westminster: the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. These issues however also apply to the smaller and non-UK-wide parties and indicative examples are provided to enable some comparison between different party types. Discussion revolves around three sections. The first section provides an assessment of the parties’ organizational structures. Having a sizeable and active local membership is often seen as a key indicator of party strength and the second section therefore discusses levels of membership and activism.
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- Developments in Party Organization and Funding
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