What's the point of joining a political party?

I joined the Conservative Party in 1990. I have stood for Parliament twice (granted once was for the Referendum Party in 1997). I joined the party because I  believed in meritocracy – being able to achieve whatever you wanted, not matter where you came from.

I am sure many people from other political persuasions will have joined a political party at one time or another, possibly for similar reasons.

What I have to ask myself now is this. What exactly is the point of joining? I can only speak from the perspective of the Conservative Party, so perhaps members of indeed ex members of other parties can give their views. I am no longer a paid up Conservative member. Why, you may ask? Well that is the $64,000 question. Why would I join?

Firstly, what do you get for your money? The chance to select your local parliamentary candidate? Wait, no, I can do that anyway if primaries are going to be used more and more. Can I cast my vote in a leadership election? Yes, but there is unlikely to be one of those for quite a few years. So what else do I get? Oh wait. If I am a member I am more likely to get asked to donate even more money, or buy raffle tickets or attend functions which as a thirty-something I have little to no interest in. It doesn’t sound that attractive, does it?

Being a party member means you can get involved in politics. Yes, but I can do that quite easily without being pestered to do things I don’t want to do. I am interested in campaigning. I can do that without being a member too.

So the question isn’t why have I not continued with my membership? The question is why should anyone bother at all? Isn’t that the question all political parties have to answer?


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