Reconstructing Conservative party membership in World War II Britain
Oxford University Press
The reconstruction of past trends in party membership can be fraught, especially when parties themselves kept no aggregate records. This was the case with the British Conservative party prior to 1946. The aggregate figures never existed, and the data that would be required to construct no longer exist to the required extent. Nonetheless, this article argues that it is methodologically possible to offer more detailed analysis than hitherto, by analysing local as well as national-level Conservative sources, triangulating with the national-level Labour party statistics and taking insights from more explicitly political science literature. This paper's substantive argument is that although Conservative membership fell after 1939, it did not collapse; that it recovered somewhat from early 1943 onwards and that recovery then afforded the party a base from which it was able to build, with spectacular success after 1945.
British Academy (SG-31170); Arts and Humanities Research Council (APN 16123 AN 1720)
This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Parliamentary Affairs following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version (Vol.62 (2), 2009 pp. 227-241) is available online at: http://pa.oxfordjournals.org/content/62/2.toc
Volume 62, Issue 2, pp. 227 - 241