A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tory party membership fall

John Mann MP has uncovered figures which show that since David Cameron’s election as Tory Leader:
• Tory Constituency membership has fallen by an average of 24 in 2006 and 93 in 2007.
• Each Shadow cabinet member lost an average of 81 members in just the last year.
• George Osborne experienced a net loss of 240 members since joining the Shadow
• Even Cameron himself lost 19 members in Witney last year.
• 90% of sitting MPs’ membership has fallen or stayed the same.
• 50% of Tory MPs have lost 10% of their membership.
• 20% of Tory MPs have lost 20% of their membership.
• Figures for the last five years show an even longer term decline which Cameron has
failed to arrest, and in places, made worse.

These disappointing Tory membership figures show that there is no real enthusiasm for David Cameron even in his own party. Unlike in what the Tories like to say was the parallel period prior to 1997, when there was a huge increase in Labour party membership, Cameron has presided over a decline. This shows that even though he rides high in some polls his support has little depth or breadth.

John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw says, “Cameron cannot convert short term poll leads into anything substantial. His membership is whittling away and his party is increasingly reliant on a falling & aging membership which isn’t enthused and is unable to inspire their friends and family to join. More worrying for Cameron’s leadership is that joining the Shadow Cabinet leads to a membership decline and his friends – the likes of Ed Vaizey MP – cannot recruit members either.”

The Tories’ own figures show Tory membership is in decline. From reports to the Electoral Commission, 90% of local associations with a sitting MP report either no recruitment or a fall in members.

Joining Cameron’s Shadow Cabinet is bad for Party membership. Shadow cabinet members have lost on average 81 members from 2006 to 2007. The biggest drop being in the constituency of former Conservative Party Chairman, Sir Francis Maude MP, now Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster with a reduction of 307.

Other big guns shedding members include William Hague losing 267, Dominic Grieve down 92, Michael Gove losing 73 and George Osborne down 69. Only 1 shadow cabinet member reported an increase in membership in 2007.

Not surprisingly, the current Party Chair, Caroline Spellman MP’s membership dropped by 46 in the last year.

Even Cameron’s own local association has lost 19 members in the last year. When he became leader he only recruited 93 new members – a direct contrast to the Sedgefield experience between 1994 and 1997. Even Michael Howard added 516 new members to his local association when elected in 2004.

The most consistent loser of members is George Osborne. The Shadow Chancellor has managed a second membership recession in four years of stewardship of Tatton Conservative Association,
losing 69 members this year. Since joining the Shadow Cabinet in 2004 Osborne has seem his local membership plummet by a net loss of 240 members.

Overall the picture for the Tory MPs in Westminster is even more depressing, 90% of Tory Members who submitted membership figures to the Electoral Commission in 2007 (168 out of 194) failed to recruit a member or have substantially lost members.

In contrast, the Labour Party in opposition experienced a significant increase in membership in the run up to its election victory. National membership boomed from around 260,000 members to the 405,000 peak reported in 1997. Since being in Government the Labour Party’s membership has fallen year on year but since Gordon Brown became party leader, this fall has reduced significantly. It remains harder to retain and recruit members when in government than when in opposition.

Cameron is going to have to appoint a new Conservative Party Chair at some point in the near future. Caroline Spellman’s 2007 membership level is 10% lower than its 2004 peak with 536.

John Mann recommends that Cameron needs to appoint someone who can offer proven expertise to the national party. The contest for Party chairs seems to come down to a shortlist of three:
o Michael Mates having recruited 142 new members
o Mark Field up 73
o Ian Liddell Grainger up 49

An outside bet is Sir Patrick Cormack with 7 new members, his major surge getting into the top
12 Tory growth Associations!

Full sets of data are on John Mann's website: http://www.johnmannmp.com/davesdecline


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, obviously you feel emboldened enough by the figures to hold a general election, right?

9:29 pm, September 27, 2008

Blogger D Thomson said...

I can't see how one can make a valid comparison without considering the Tory figures at the time of Labour's run up to the 1997 election.

The point made by John Mann's report, and your post, is that the figures are disappointing and there is no real enthusiasm for David Cameron. That'd be easy enough to show if Labour figures were currently steady or increasing - but they're not.

The argument is based on dwindling Tory membership.

With numbers decreasing for both parties, an equally valid argument could be to suggest that the numbers imply that the public's interest in politics is dwindling.

In 1997, were the Tory numbers increasing aswell as Labour numbers? If they were, perhaps popularity of politics played a part.

However, if Tory numbers were decreasing in 1997, and we know Labour increased, then clearly popularity in Labour was the main drive behind the numbers.

If it is the case that in 1997 the Tories were dropping in numbers and Labour were increasing - which I do suspect - then one can draw parallels to the current situation and suggest that the current numbers are disappointing.

Very convoluted, but I struggled to get that one out - does the argument make any sense?

9:57 pm, September 27, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael Mates having recruited 142 new members

He's retiring...maybe the new recruits were to vote for someone in the selection

10:09 pm, September 27, 2008

Anonymous Shawcross said...

Remind me how many members - and, far more importantly, voters - Labour has lost since 1997?

10:16 pm, September 27, 2008

Anonymous The Voice of Reason said...

Another good post from Luke. Why doesn't someone in the party give you a job as media director? This is the one of the few places I can read some positive news about the party.

I've had enough of the navel gazing that some of our party have been indulging in recently

Bravo to you Luke. Hope to see you as a more prominent feature in British politics soon

11:42 pm, September 27, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

Don't worry about the Tory membership, look at your own?

Labour Party membership falls to lowest level since it was founded in 1900

12:03 am, September 28, 2008

Anonymous shawcross said...

@the voice of reason

"This is the one of the few places I can read some positive news about the party."

No doubt the same was said of Comical Ali's output by loyalists in the Republican Guard.

8:41 am, September 28, 2008

Blogger D Thomson said...

@mark still news

Link to that info? If it's the case, then it's difficult for anyone to realy say that the current Tory figures are disappointing compared with others.

10:56 am, September 28, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Labour are on the verge of bankruptcy, membership levels at an all time low.

Also in general people are fed up with the liars of all three main parties....so they choose not to get involved.

Are you really that shocked that people don't want to waste hard earned money supporting liars and cheats.

The big issue for Labour will be the trade unions as they are already starting to talk to the conservatives. If they can't get what they want from liar Brown then they simply won't put their cash behind the party.

I think the big political two will have some major shocks in the next twenty or so years. Our democracy will almost vanish into insignificance as people become that disillusioned that they will simply choose not to vote or vote for extremes.

11:12 am, September 28, 2008

Anonymous The Voice of Reason said...

@ Shawcross

To compare Luke to an official from the barbaric regime of Saddam Hussein is really uncalled for and quite frankly beyond the pale

It shows you up for the paid up member of the loony left that you probably are

1:54 pm, September 28, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To compare Luke to an official from the barbaric regime of Saddam Hussein is really uncalled for and quite frankly beyond the pale"

Quite, Sadistic Hussein PR guru's did it in fear, whilst AL is a volunteer.

What would be interesting would be if there is any breakdown between those leaving the Tory Party through :-


Non Renewal,

And looking at the average age of a tory member, those who popped their clogs !


2:52 pm, September 28, 2008

Blogger Newmania said...

Luke the Conservative Party has never been a mass membership Party. It is far more to the point that the Conservative Party will not have to bribe Private Equity Spivs would be barons and the Unions to finance itself .

4:25 pm, September 28, 2008

Blogger Newmania said...

Luke the Conservative Party has never been a mass membership Party. It is far more to the point that the Conservative Party will not have to bribe Private Equity Spivs would be barons and the Unions to finance itself .

4:25 pm, September 28, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

The trend in all parties is actually the same - people are abandoning party membership. Many local parties used to benefit from local clubs where people had to be a member of the party but this is far less the case now.

I think the reason is blatantly obvious: neither party really offers a great deal of opportunity for ordinary people to have their say. In addition, i think the local government reforms tended to discourage more Labour than either Conservative or LibDem people. At local level, the LD's are famous for 'taking the politics out of politics' and many rural Tory authorities are fairly apolitical affairs as well. I think many Labour members preferred the committee system because they wanted to influence policy, not be poorly-equipped unqualified advice workers. The reforms mean that only those on the cabinet can have real influence. With Labour controlling few councils, the job of a backbench Labour councillor doesn't attract many.

4:41 pm, September 28, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

Newmania: simply not the case - the Conservatives have always had a higher individual membership than Labour, but the aforementioned 'club membership' situation grossly inflated this, and there were also many who joined for highly reduced rates or were kept on the books for years

4:43 pm, September 28, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Don't you think it would be better to try and concentrate on the major issues affecting us lot on the front line rather than pointing out that people are sick of all the main political parties.

The UK really is on the verge of something very grim yet our leader seems to be full of his own importance and every month some new line of spin comes out of his mouth...."No More Boom and Bust" "UK best placed to weather the storm" and now "This is no time for a novice" all lies and all wrong.

Have you ever wondered why the French are not seeing their banks go under.....it is because by law the are not allowed to lend irresponsibly. People tend not to have credit cards and mortgages require a 30% deposit. Yes this legislation has meant slow growth but it means that growth is sustainable. I can remember Brown preaching to the French about creating a risk taking economy and creating sustainable growth....the man was so smug and look at us now.

I'm sorry Luke but your leader has created a right mess. An economy built on debt and greed and one that was always going to go bust. Brown has been very lucky that he has managed to survive this long.

To make matters worse public finances are in such a state that Brown has left his new chancellor with no options.

With an election on the horizon I really do struggle to see how Brown can convince the electorate that he is the man for the job.

8:33 pm, September 28, 2008

Blogger Justin Hinchcliffe said...

Luke, it's funny that you're not commenting on the comments on your own blog...

The fact is that all parties are losing members. That said, the Conservative Party is now, by far, the largest political party in Britain.

How about you tell us about individual CLPs, especially where there's a sitting Labour member?

Your blog is a good one (hence the number of comments), but you do need a reality check!

9:31 pm, September 28, 2008

Anonymous rich said...

A couple of months ago i said the the Labour party were about were about to go bankrupt immediatley!

Then that harry potter woman gave the labour party lots of money!! Then I decided that I might start to spout some crap about the nothing really in particular about the Labour party because I like taking crap and I am too too lazy to start my own blogg!!

12:57 am, September 29, 2008

Blogger Democratic-Centre said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:22 am, September 29, 2008

Blogger Democratic-Centre said...

Luke can someone use David Miliband to checkmate David Cameron because there is only one heir to Blair. And that's Dave Miliband.

David Miliband should be allowed to get at him.

Did you see Cameron on Sky News, what a phoney, a re-hash-hashed Blairite response.

Matthew Parris be prepared to eat your words, Cameron's is as fake as astroturf. At least Miliband is of same party and same New Labour seed.

Brown should stick with the centre-Left and someone should let Brains pick off Cameron's attempt to re-hash Blairite media style.

Tories have a cheek asking Labour MPs to join them, Labour is the real deal.

They are beatable.

1:35 am, September 29, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Justin et al

Everyone already knew Labour membership was going down.

But this story is about the fact that far from being in a position that replicates the doubling of Labour's membership in 1994-1997, the period Cameron keeps trying to draw parallels with, Tory membership is falling.

This indicates that the Tory poll lead (which in any case has just halved) might not feed through into boots on the ground needed to pull out the vote in marginal seats.

7:48 am, September 29, 2008

Blogger Newmania said...

Newmania: simply not the case - the Conservatives have always had a higher individual membership than Labour, but the aforementioned 'club membership' situation grossly inflated this

You mean membership via affiliated Unions . That was the Labour movement !. There is no Conservative Parallel , learn your history the Unions were and in may ways are again the Labour Party . Apart from that it s just a few vacuous “progressives “.All Party member ship is in general decline there has been , however a steep rise in activism in the Conservative Party , you see a reflection of of it on the internet. In our Constituency there is a core of people an older membership in long term decline.
The new world is not just numbers it will be more professional at its core and fluid at its edge . The labour Party has not understood these changes and is ill equipped to thrive in this new world . Luke is fighting a battle oif years ago , typical labour .

Luke the Tory lead of 20 % was in one Poll. It has only halved by refrebce to this spike which is soemwhat misleading. It 3as typically about 15% and the Labour Party have gained about 6/7% which is what the Liberals did after their conference. Its not rocket science

10:04 am, September 29, 2008

Anonymous Luke Salivating Again said...

John Mann is of course a very unbiased source being a Labour MP.

2:49 pm, September 29, 2008

Anonymous john mann said...

Your all patr of the gae torie maffia. leve luek alone. hes onlie obeyign ordres

3:02 pm, September 29, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

No, Newmania. Affiliated membership has never been regarded as individual membership of the Labour party.

Now, can we deal with the point raised - that individual membership of the Conservative party is likely to be inflated by membership of Conservative clubs being the same as membership of the conservative party. remembering that there is actually no such thing as national conservative party membership - it is based on local associations.

Of course there is a rise in Tory activism - so there bloody should be after 11 years of Labour government. There was a rise in Labour activism from 95-97 as well, I should know, I was part of it, and like many Labour activists have since left the party - just like Tory activism disappeared in the early 90's.

What goes around comes around. Its called the electoral cycle. And generally, democracy does require changes of government - but I think its not helpful that we seem to have reached a stage where rather than competition, the losing party makes itself unelectable for up to ten years so you get walkover elections.

5:11 pm, September 29, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Who ever wrote that post about harry potter needs to get a reality check. Do you really think £1 million will scratch the surface with respect to Labours funding problems. At the last count Labour were over £40 million in debt.

Labours shambolic approach to good house keeping can be seen right across our economy. From public spending being hidden in PFI to driving economic growth through unsustainable debt. If this had been a true Labour government then we would have at least some benefit from increased spending but at the moment I see a lot of wasted chances.

Its time for change but because Labour have managed to make such a balls up it will be 20 years before they even get a chance of another victory.

8:06 pm, September 29, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

But how do these figures compare with Labour's?

12:45 pm, September 30, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

Parliament is crap and the Monarchy to. This Country really needs radical change. Perhaps we should have a look at Cuba's system of government and adopt it here? At least they have successfully defended themselves against an imperialist giant Tyrant 90 miles away without any nuclear weapons!

10:32 am, October 03, 2008


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