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.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Is the upturn here?

One of the more interesting aspects of being a CLP Membership Secretary is that you get to see trends in Labour membership.

I've spend my six years as membership secretary charting my CLP's membership going down - gradually at first, then precipitously in 2003 before, during and after the Iraq War, then more gradually again before bottoming out in 2006 - there being pretty much only the "we were born members, we will die members" mob left. Efforts to turn this round with local recruitment have dented the trend but not changed it.

I've just had a quarterly report for the first three months of 2007 showing a nearly 7% increase - a net gain of 36 members. This is the first substantial increase for at least six, possibly ten years, and I guess must reflect people wanting to participate in the leadership election. Most of the increase is in the more middle class wards most affected by the decline since the War. But it seems to be mainly "new" new members not old members rejoining.

Does this reflect what is happening in other CLPs?

Just for any conspiracy theorists the pattern isn't one that suggests it is connected to parliamentary selections or to the recent very competitive Black Socialist Society elections, which have seen very large numbers of members recruited en masse in other parts of London. It looks like this is people signing up of their own accord because they want to take part in the important choices Labour is about to make.


Blogger Owen said...

I'm glad that the John4Leader drive to recruit members to our party is proving such a resounding success!

I've always said that we should get commission for this.

5:36 pm, April 04, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...


5:37 pm, April 04, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually grinned before reading Owen's comment, but I meant pretty much the same thing.

You're right Luke - the leadership contest is driving a surge in party membership, not merely old members returning but a whole new generation of members.

The challenge - and one we must, must meet - is keeping them all whichever way the leadership election goes.

5:40 pm, April 04, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One way to keep them would be to make sure there's a contest. I'm sure people will stay in the party if they are energised by a campaign (whoever they're campaigning for *grins too!*) whatever the result of that campaign ended up being, but I fear we could lose some if come May the MPs have denied them a vote.

7:25 pm, April 04, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke,I suggest you e-mail this post to ALL the Labour MPs at Westminster.We have GOT to have a leadership contest.But great news, I agree!

7:38 pm, April 04, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Most of the increase is in the more middle class wards most affected by the decline since the War. But it seems to be mainly "new" new members not old members rejoining."

Maybe some of those old members can't afford to rejoin - since fees went up and Gordon robbed us so badly in the Budget.

10:44 pm, April 04, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

a pound a month???!!!

10:47 pm, April 04, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Luke

I have not had time to do a detailed analysis, but Cities of London and Westminster membership is up 6% in the first quarter, but is still 2% lower than a year ago.

This confirms an ongoing interest in politics as evidenced in, for example, the Hansard Society/Electoral Commission annual audit of political engagement


but suggests a continuing inability on the part of Labour to retain members - an issue which will be addressed in the forthcoming LabOUR Commission report.

11:14 pm, April 04, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I joined the party just over a year ago after voting for Labour for umpty-five years.

It seems that the true labour party was disappearing - morphing into something that did not reflect the manifesto, or the membership. So I felt I should do my bit to bring the party back to its socialist ideals.

If the rot doesn't stop, I'll be an ex-voter...

...and an ex-member

8:58 am, April 05, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another interesting slant there Luke. In central west Scotland my impression is that morale and activism at the constituency party level remains very low. Doubtless, much of this is a purely 'Scottish Scenario'... Trident replacement, seeming attractions of the 'new and sleaze free' offer of the SNP etc. It also seems that Blair is now a negative on the Scottish scene.

But the other strong factor is the unpopularity of Iraq(that I assume plays elsewhere in the UK?).

I suspect that the imminent arrival of Brown as PM did have a positive effect on membership for awhile; older hands thinking he signaled some sort of return to original values. But that now seems to have waned (maybe as Brown has had to inevitably do a bit of trimming and re-positioning on his way to No 10?)

Nevertheless, there is still much to play for in re-attracting (new)members and activists. I heard First Minister Jack McConnell speak at a recent Poverty Alliance in Scotland launch event in Glasgow; he was well-recieved by a knowing and committed audience.

11:10 am, April 05, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are these completely new members, or have they transferred in from other CLPs? If they are totally new than that's brilliant!

12:54 pm, April 05, 2007

Blogger Munaf Zeena said...

I think we should expect a continued upsurge in new members. Even the french are starting to come round to the modernisers way of thinking. Hasn't Tony done really well to influence the French?

If we carry on like this, another Labour term should be for certain.

4:06 pm, April 12, 2007


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