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