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UK Political Parties' Youth Factions: A Glance at the Future of Political Parties

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Emily RainsfordORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


After a long decline in membership in political parties across Western democracies, parties in the UK have seen an upsurge, especially in young members. Surprisingly, few studies have explored young members of political parties. This article addresses this gap and examines the following: Who are the young party activists? What do they think about politics? What are their motivations for political participation? This article draws on a unique dataset of activists in the three main parties youth factions in the UK. It finds that the youth faction activists have very similar socioeconomic backgrounds, perceive themselves to be politically effective and hold quite positive views about politicians. The analysis also shows that these young people do not consider their youth faction to be the only way for them to influence politics and are not self-interestedly motivated—that is, joining to begin or advance a political career. Finally, the article proposes improvements as to how political parties, and their youth factions, engage with young people in order to secure their future viability.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rainsford E

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Parliamentary Affairs

Year: 2018

Volume: 71

Issue: 4

Pages: 783-803

Print publication date: 01/10/2018

Online publication date: 31/10/2017

Acceptance date: 04/10/2017

Date deposited: 08/11/2017

ISSN (print): 0031-2290

ISSN (electronic): 1460-2482

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/pa/gsx040


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