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How to become a political party member 

Britain is governed by and through political parties, they are central to our political system. Since devolution, Scotland’s political landscape has become more diverse, with smaller parties gaining seats alongside Scotland’s larger parties in Holyrood. However, all these parties rely upon their membership, committed activists within the party, who help to promote and develop their policies locally and nationally.

On this page:

What does it involve?
What will I get out of this?
What will I be expected to give back?
What skills do I need?
How much time should I expect to give?
How do I get involved?

What does it involve?

All the main political parties offer membership to ordinary people who support their views on how to organise and manage society. Membership fees and donations pay for the annual running costs of each party plus the extra costs incurred at election times. Membership fees are generally low, at around £15 for an annual subscription.

You can become more active by getting involved with the party in your local area. Most political parties have constituency or branch parties who hold meetings and select candidates. You can demonstrate your support by working to get your parties candidate elected. Much of the work is done by volunteer activists, particularly during election time, and can involve:

  • knocking on doors and talking to voters
  • putting up posters
  • organising street stalls

    As an active member of a political party, you may get the chance to attend party conferences, either as a branch representative or as an individual. This can be exciting as you get the opportunity to take part in debates on issues that are important to you.

    Most political parties have branch or regional officers that help to organise the local party. You should be contacted by your local party within 3 months of joining, to let you know about activities and meetings in your local area. Your local party may have a chairperson, secretary or treasurer, posts which are elected annually (some larger parties also have equalities officers). If you live in an area where the party is strong then competition for these posts will be strong and meeting may be more frequent. If there is little support for your party in your area then there are unlikely to be many local members or much activity. You may find that you are asked to take on responsibilities and officer positions shortly after joining.

    What will I get out of this?

    Your subscription fee buys you far more than a membership card: you have the chance to shape the policy of the party!

    If you have ambition to hold office at some point in the future then you should strongly consider joining the party that best represents your views. Not only will the electorate be more likely to support a candidate who represents a set of views that are well understood, but you will also benefit from the logistical and financial support of a large organisation.

    It is essential that political parties have a broad and diverse range of members that reflect the society in which we live. This is particularly the case for members of marginalised and under-represented communities, such as LGBT people, women, Disabled people and those from Black and minority ethnic communities.


    What will I be expected to give back?

    Your membership fee. If you choose to become more involved, you can give your time as a volunteer activist to promote the party. During election time, you may be expected to give time to support your candidate and promote the parties policies to the electorate.


    What skills do I need?

    You don’t need any specific skills or experience. Joining a political party gives you the chance to shape their policies in areas that are important to you, so speak up for the issues that you feel passionately about!


    How much time should I expect to give?

    That depends on how active you are. If you become a party activist you can expect to give a few hours each week, although the amount of time is flexible and depends on how much time you can spare. There can be a lot of hard work during election time.


    How do I get involved?

    Having decided which political party best represents your outlook on life and views on how society should be run, simply contact that party and request membership details.

    Useful Contacts

    Scottish Conservative Party
    83 Princes Street
    EH2 2ER

    tel: 0131 247 6890

    Scottish Green Party
    PO Box 14080
    EH10 6YG

    tel: 0131 478 7896

    Scottish Labour Party
    John Smith House
    145 West Regent Street
    G2 4RE

    tel: 0141 572 6900 (general enquiries)
    08705 900 200 (membership line)

    Scottish Liberal Democrats
    4 Clifton Terrace
    EH12 5DR

    tel: 0131 337 2314

    Scottish Nationalist Party
    107 McDonald Road
    EH7 4NW

    tel: 0131 525 8900

    Scottish Socialist Party
    73 Robertson Street
    G2 8QD

    tel: 0141 221 7714

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