Monday, 29 September 2008

'Dave's decline' - Tories losing members

. Hat-tip to Luke Akehurst for this one; John Mann MP has produced a report called 'Dave's decline' which documents a decline in Conservative Party membership during Cameron's tenure. Mann says;

"From reports to the Electoral Commission, 90% of local associations with a sitting MP report either no recruitment or a fall in members.

Since Cameron’s election:

  • 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 Cabinet.
  • 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."

Of course, these figures don't incorporate 2008 and it is only this year that the Conservative revival has really taken hold. So, it will be interesting to see figures for 2008. However, Luke rightly makes the point that as Tony Blair's head of steam built-up membership of the Labour Party which grew in it's charge to government. He sees this as further evidence that the Tories support is wide but not deep and there maybe some truth to that but he is underestimating how deep the resentment of the government is becoming and if that deepens it will barely matter how 'deep' the Tories support actually runs.

However, this decline should worry the Conservatives because a strong activist base is essential for fighting what is potentially going to be a very long election campaign. It does however present their opponents with a good opportunity to outfight them on the ground. We can steal a march on them if we build from the bottom-up.


James Graham (Quaequam Blog!) said...

The lack of emphasis on membership recruitment probably has a lot to do with Ashcroft's baleful influence in CCHQ, and the belief that all activism can simply be bought in. That worked quite well for them in 2005 and the national swing will make things easier for them, but where the other parties really work hard they may struggle.

Of course, the seats with millionaires who can simply throw money at their seats are a different prospect, and there do seem to be a lot of millionaires in their key seats.

Back to the C.19th.

Darrell G said...

True, a millionaire in a key seat always comes in handy but I think this is one potential weakness we can exploit by undercutting the Tories on the ground; especially as we aren't overendowed in the millionaire backer department....

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