The Conservative Party is one of the most successful political parties in the western world. Its success has been built on its large grass roots membership. And yet that membership appears to be increasingly disaffected and in decline. This book is the first in depth study of this crucial section of the Conservative Party. Drawing on new and revealing survey data, it paints a fascinating picture of the social make-up and political views of a grass roots membership who dislike Jacques Delors more than the European Community, and The Sun newspaper most of all. the book challenges the stereotypical view of the Conservative activist as an eccentric and politically irrelevant Thatcher-loving extremist. Instead, the authors argue that
the grass roots membership are the unsung heroes of political life; helping to keep the party system working and democracy intact at a time when it is under considerable strain. The authors claim that to some extent the party is the author of its own problems, and point out the likely dire consequences for its future success if the current decline continues. They conclude by outlining the ways in which the leadership might revitalize its most important political asset.
Readership: Scholars and students of British politics and political sociology; journalists working in the same areas; politicians and political activists.
Paul Whiteley, Pamela Harriman Professor of Government and Public Policy, College of William and Mary, Virginia, Patrick Seyd, Senior Lecturer, Department of Politics, University of Sheffield, and Jeremy Richardson, Director, European Public Policy Institute, and Professor of European Integration, University of Warwick
"From reviews of Labour's Grass Roots:
`The material from the author's specially mounted representative survey of activists is clearly and crisply presented in a fashion which all students of politics will find readily accessible ... The book as a whole is thouht-provoking and germane to many of the debates currently being conducted within the Labour Party, and we should, indeed, look forward to a companion text on the Conservative Party.' Parliamentary Affairs"
"`Their material is unique and their methodology impeccable ... The authors have shone a torch into one of the least-explored areas of British politics.' Economist"
"`The whole report is well structured and clearly written ... informative in providing new and relevant information in a descriptive way.' ESRC Data Archive Bulletin"
"`Mrs Thatcher's memoirs caused a stir during the 1993 Tory gathering, but the impact of True Blues is likely to be more profound and lasting ... The authors of True Blues have conducted the most detailed survey to date of Conservative Party members ... they provoke fascinating speculations ... the importance of True Blues is beyond dispute.'
Times Literary Supplement"
"`intriguing book ... it makes an important new contribution to the important debate about the role of parties by studying a subject that hardly anyone has treated seriously in the past ... as well as more than fulfilling its first promise of delivering vital intelligence on the opposition it is also an important contribution to a much wider debate about the role and importance of parties..'
"`This book makes absolutely fascinating reading for any member of the Conservative Party. It has a rare quality in that it is a scholarly examination of the Conservative Party, long on facts and rhetoric free.'
Campaigner, Magazine of the National Young Conservatives"
"`From now on there is less excuse for ignorance. Paul Whiteley, Patrick Seyd and Jeremy Richardson have conducted the first national survey of Conservative Party members ... This is all good, sound advice of the kind you might expect from a Guardian editorial - and hence likely to be ignored.'
London Review of Books"
"A major step forward in our understanding of the Conservative Party at the local level ... Readers will gain much statistical information from the book, and it will be quoted for years ahead as the only survey of its type into political attitudes." - Contemporary Record
"An exhaustive reading of the statistical runes of the Tory membership, rounded off with their diagnosis of the party's current ills." - New Statesman and Society
"This volume splendidly complements Seyd and Whiteley's earlier survey-based study of Labour Party members and joins the latter as simply indispensable for most members of EPOP ... it is something of a triumph that any large-scale survey of members has been successfully carried out and the high quality of the book is an added bonus." - EPOP Newsletter