An Anthropological Approach to “Conventional Politics”
When I arrived in Britain in the mid-1990s, I was struck by the peculiarity of British political party conferences. These annual gatherings are familiar to any observer of British politics. For over a century, they have temporarily diverted attention away from Westminster and towards the seaside resorts of Britain. Every autumn, media attention is focused for about a month on internal party politics. British party conferences do not have the gravitas of party congresses in continental Europe where the emphasis is on crucial strategy decisions and executive renewal.1 Nevertheless, they attract thousands of participants and are considered sufficiently important that all parties are prepared to divest substantial sums to hold such meetings in full media glare. It is virtually impossible to conceive of political life in Britain without thinking of party political life. One can argue that annual conferences contribute to reinforcing the central position of political parties because they highlight their extra-parliamentary existence and allow these organisations to address voters beyond the confines of specific electoral campaigns.
KeywordsPolitical Party Labour Party Party Organisation Social Democratic Party Green Party
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