• The Renewal of the Local Conservative Party Campaign Capability: An Organizational Insight into Central Co-ordination

      Low, Mark (Taylor & Francis, 2014-04-02)
      The importance of local campaigning for general election success is widely accepted. By focusing on the British Conservative Party, this article offers qualitative support through a research design in which interviews were conducted with local activists in four target constituencies and with regional officials; as a result, some understanding of the long campaign was also obtained. Embracing the contemporary view that campaigning effectiveness is a function of the party centre's ability to direct local parties, this study provides an organizational insight into how the centre was able to enhance its control, but also discusses the implications of this for local activists and for the local party organizational structure. The findings reveal that activist de-politicization and de-skilling, and a more formal and dismissive approach to party management, have undermined the local effort with the result that the party's local campaigning effort remains organizationally sub-optimal. The engagement of outside expertise and supporter networks has also changed the nature of the local party, so that it is moving towards a network of local political capabilities.