The end of the small party?

Change UK and the challenges of parliamentary politics

By Louise Thompson

The end of the small party?


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4558-1
  • Pages: 160
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £14.99
  • Published Date: September 2020
  • BIC Category: Politics, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / 21st Century, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / 20th Century, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Political Parties, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Comparative Politics, Society & social sciences / Political parties, Humanities / British & Irish history, Society & social sciences / Politics & government
  • Series: Manchester University Press


For a brief moment in 2019 Britain's politics looked like it might be transformed. Just when it seemed that the divisions within and across British political parties over Brexit could not get any more intense, 7 Labour and 3 Conservative MPs broke away to form The Independent Group (TIG) - later Change UK. This is the first book to explore the meteoric lifespan of that party, within the wider context of the experiences of other small political groupings in the House of Commons. Ultimately, it shows why the party failed and disbanded after just a few months.

Timely and thoroughly researched, Louise Thompson's book takes us deep inside the struggles facing MPs who leave behind the comforts of the large political parties. Drawing on interviews with current and former politicians, it explores the practicalities of being a small party MP in the Commons. What challenges face you? Who can you turn to? And just how can you make an impact?

Crisply written for the non-specialist reader, this fascinating book opens a window onto the perilous world of parliamentary politics.


'Louise Thompson's account of the short life and fast times of Change UK helps explain why no new governing party has emerged in the UK for a hundred years.'
Mark D'Arcy, BBC Parliamentary Correspondent

'A fascinating in-depth account of how small-parties, whether they be start-ups or established players, either sink or swim in an environment in which - given their relatively limited access to funding, air-time, and even space - the odds are all-too-often stacked against them.'
Tim Bale, Professor of Politics, Queen Mary University of London and Co-Director, Mile End Institute

'An outstanding book, packed with insights about the difficulties faced by independents and small parties in the House of Commons. It will be a go-to benchmark on these issues for many years to come. Highly recommended.'
Alistair Clarke, Reader in Politics, Newcastle University


1 Three days in February
2 Finding their feet
3 Establishing and resourcing a new parliamentary party
4 Making your voice heard
5 Whither the two-party system?



Louise Thompson is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester. Alongside her academic research she has written for a range of publications, including The Conversation and the Independent.

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