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15 June 2015updated 17 Jan 2024 7:20am

Card-carried away: what does it mean to be a member of a political party in Britain today?

Introducing our special themed week about party membership, running from 15– 19 June 2015.

By New Statesman

You are as likely to believe Elvis is still alive as to be a member of a political party in the UK. Party membership here is tiny compared to that of our European counterparts, and has been in freefall for decades.

But sandwiching the general election was a flurry of hysteria about party membership figures. The Greens have overtaken Ukip! What are the Tories hiding? The SNP has amassed as many members as Scottish Labour in just one week! Lib Dem membership is plummeting! Lib Dem membership is surging!

Why such excitement when the card-carrying proportion of the population remains around the 1 per cent mark? And what does it mean to be a member of a political party in Britain today?

This week, the New Statesman web team is looking behind the numbers to discover trends emerging in party membership, and to find out how people benefit from being a member of a party.

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