When Boris Johnson became prime minister last month, it wasn’t ordinary voters who elected him, but 160,000 Conservative party members.
Paid-up Tories were given the task of picking the next PM via a postal vote. Ironically, members as young as 15 were able to cast their vote, despite the Conservatives long resisting calls to lower the voting age for general elections from 18 to 16.
However, as the BBC points out, the Conservative party membership is hardly representative of the UK as a whole.
Four in ten earn more than £30,000 per year, 97% are white, and the average age of a party member is 57. In short, Tory party members skew wealthier, older and whiter than the average Brit.
The election of Boris Johnson appears to have alerted many voters that being a member of a political party can provide a simple way to have more of a say in political life. Nearly 40,000 new members joined the Conservative party to get a vote in the leadership election, reports YouGov.
Joining a political party is generally quick and easy – although you may have to have your membership application approved before you can start enjoying your party perks.
There is no minimum age to join the party. The party website says membership is open “to all persons who agree with its fundamental values and objectives without discrimination as to age, ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation”.
Applications for membership are subject to acceptance by the relevant local party.
Membership starts at £12 a year, but the party website urges members to consider donating more. The recommended amount, as decided at the party conference, is £70. There are also concessionary rates on offer, and student membership is £1 for the first year. For those who are under 26 and receiving state benefits (other than state pension or child benefit), membership starts at £6 a year.
You can join the Liberal Democrats here.
The Labour website says that by applying to become a member, “you agree to accept and conform to the constitution, programme, principles and policy of the Party”.
Labour’s standard membership rate starts at £4.30 per month, although members can pay more if they wish. Standard membership is available to anyone aged over 14 years old. A reduced membership rate of £2.17 per month is available for those aged 20-26, as well as unwaged, part-time workers or affiliated trade union members.
A £3 yearly membership rate is offered to those aged 14-19, students and current or former members of the British armed forces.
You can join the Labour Party here.
There is no age limit to joining the party, although those under the age of 15 cannot be full voting members. Applications for membership are subject to review by the party and its constituency associations before final approval.
There are three main membership tiers. Standard membership to the Conservative Party costs £25 per year – and members can attend the annual party conference and receive voting rights in party elections three months after their membership begins. Those under 23 can join the party for a £5 annual fee, with the same benefits as a standard membership. Standard membership is offered at a reduced rate of £15 per year for serving or former members of the Armed Forces.
You can join the Conservative Party by clicking here.
The Green Party
Becoming a member of the Greens gives you voting rights in internal elections, signs you up for updates on Green Party campaigns and gets you invites to Green Party events.
“It also means supporting the only political party dedicated to fighting for climate justice,” the party adds.
There is no lower age limit on joining the Green Party and members under 30 automatically become members of Young Greens. There are extra perks to being a Young Green, including the chance to apply for its mentoring scheme, ’30 under 30’.
There are three main membership tiers. Standard membership to the Green Party costs £36 a year. There is a £12-a-year tier for people in low-waged employment or living outside of England and Wales, and membership is just £6 a year for unwaged people and students.
You can join the Green Party here.