Local parties, participation and campaigning in post-devolution Scotland
The main findings of the thesis are: Scotland's local parties are poorly resourced, and rely heavily upon their members and activists to provide them with the facilities they need to continue operating; A degree of ambivalence is evident in local parties both about their place in intra-party relations, and in respect to the impact respondents felt their activities had upon various democratic indicators; Despite some short-term upward movement for two parties in the 1990s, the membership levels of Scottish constituency parties are currently on a downward trend; The membership recruitment and retention activities of Scotland's constituency parties do not appear to lead to local organisations having higher memberships; Activist density is estimated in relation to membership size, voters and the constituency electorate as a whole. The picture that emerges is of only a small number of members being active between elections in each constituency, while the proportion of local activists to a party's constituency voters and to the constituency electorate as a whole is also low; Assessment of activity levels demonstrates that sizeable proportions of each party's organisations are classified as "paper branches" that are virtually inactive between elections. Local parties seem most active in terms of organisational maintenance activities such as holding meetings and fundraising. Where they claim to communicate with the electorate, relatively traditional activities such as leaflet delivery and newsletter publishing predominate; Local parties were relatively well prepared for the 2003 Scottish parliament election. By the simple indicator of numbers of election volunteers, levels of activity increased across all parties between the start and towards the end of the campaign; Constituency parties primarily ran mobilising campaigns in 2003. While they did make conversion efforts, canvassing and polling day activities revolved primarily around parties, own voter, not undecided voters. Campaign activities essentially revolved around traditional methods of campaigning, such as leaflet delivery, and largely failed to embrace 'new' or distinctively Scottish aspects of electioneering; Creation of an index of campaigning demonstrated that very few local organisations fell into the high effort category. Instead, the vast majority of each party's associations were classified as expending medium effort on the 2003 campaign; The impact of various aspects of campaigning upon electoral outcomes was assessed. Particularly important for each party's constituency organisations was the number of volunteers working for the local party towards the end of the campaign.