Sunday, November 09, 2008

Declining Liberal Democrat membership

A correspondent has been looking at the internal party election results recorded on Colin Rosenstiel's website and working out what they tell us about changes in the Liberal Democrats' membership over the years.

Party membership, based on the number of ballot papers issued in each leadership and presidential election, has been as follows:

2008 (presidential): 60,357
2007 (leadership): 64,713
2006 (leadership): 72,064
2004 (presidential): 72,868
1999 (leadership): 82,827
1994 (presidential): 101,091
1992 (presidential): 101,768
1990 (presidential): 82,455
1988 (presidential): 80,071
1988 (leadership): 80,104

Between 2006 and 2007, the loss was 10.2%. Between 2007 and 2008, the loss was 6.7%. And between the membership peak in 1992 and 2008, the loss has been 40.7%.

I do not know how this compares with other political parties or other organisations, but it does show the challenge facing Nick Clegg and the party's new president, Ros Scott.


Anonymous said...

I think the general trend is downwards to be honest...Labour's problems are well-documented and I dont see any reports of a Tory surge....I stand to be corrected on this but...

Mike Barker said...

Two relatively new members in Darlington - signed up in a burst of recruitment enthusiasm a year or two ago - have not rejoined because they're fed up with constant phone calls and letters asking them for money. So, indeed, are many active members.

Ed said...

Both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party have seen their membership decline from around a million each to around 200,000 each since the 1950s. Yet they have won, um, 100% of general elections held since the war.

Mass membership of parties is a thing of the distant past and should not be taken as a sign of the health of a party.

To succeed in the long term the Lib Dems need to a. maintain strong links in the communities they represent so they can find enough volunteers to deliver (often literally) their message; b. be more courageous and inventive in the way financial support is sought (ie be more inspirational and be more willing to ask a wider group of people more often if they will give donations); c. learn how to govern so that the party develops sustainable credibility (this is already happening to an extent in an ad hoc way because of the growing number of MPs elected and because of the number of councils controlled).

dreamingspire said...

I, too, joined and at the end of one year didn't renew for the same reason: too many begging letters. But I'm happy to help the 2 LD Cllrs in my ward. Someone please ask Ros Scott if we can have a 'no hawkers or beggars' membership class.

Ed said...

Anyone who wants to can opt out of the fundraising calls - all you have to do is tell Cowley Street.

Eric Avebury said...

There was an article in yesterday's News of the World about the steep decline in the membership of the Tory Party since David Cameron took over the leadership three years ago. Accepted that the days of mass party membership are over, it would still be interesting to see a comparison between the three parties' memberships over the same period