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Party membership has fallen by "almost a quarter" under David Cameron's leadership

CameronLookingRight The Independent on Sunday today publishes an analysis of Conservative Party membership figures, based on information provided in accounts from 229 local Associations to the Electoral Commission over the last four years (The report also features an unflattering photo of a "less-than-riveted party member" asleep at last year's conference who bears more than a passing resemblance to Tony Baldry MP...).

Its conclusion is that membership has fallen by almost a quarter during the period which David Cameron has led the party:

"Although the Tories have enjoyed a huge opinion-poll lead for several months, they have not been able to translate the surge in popularity into an increase in membership on the scale experienced by Labour during Tony Blair's early years in charge.

"The total membership in more than 200 constituency associations – barely a third of the overall number – who provided relevant figures to the elections watchdog fell from 185,000 to 145,000 between December 2005 and December 2008. The constituencies experiencing falls include "safe" seats, the bases of shadow Cabinet members and target seats that must be taken if the Tories are to win the next general election."

Am I surprised about this? Well, not really.

Last month Tim asked What is the point of being a Tory member? and cited a series of members' rights which have been taken away over recent years - mostly surrounding the power to select and deselect elected representatives.

And John Strafford covered similar ground just a couple of weeks ago in his Platform piece, The decline and death of Party membership - Why should anyone now be a member of the Conservative Party?

I should say in all fairness, however, that not only has there been a longstanding downward trend in membership over a period of years and indeed decades, but that this trend is equally apparent in parties across the political spectrum.

Jonathan Isaby 

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