UK political parties’ youth factions: a glance at the future of political parties

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Parliamentary Affairs


Emily Rainsford

Publication date


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.

Volume and page numbers

71, 783-803





Politics, Demography, Young People and Social Attitudes



Understanding Society data used for national youth population comparisons with political parties’ youth factions