Monday 5 September 2022

Conservative Party Membership since 2001

Conservative Party membership figures are not easy to come by. Unlike the other mainstream parties that periodically announce theirs (Labour, for instance, regularly does this), the Tories do not. This is partly a matter of practicalities - until relatively recently, there wasn't even a definition of what a party member was, let alone a centralised database of who's in and who isn't - but also of political pride. Tory party membership has been in decline for a very long time. Peaking at around 2.7 million in the early 1950s, the current party membership stands at just 6.4% of this. Therefore, significantly trailing its main opponent has been a source of some embarrassment.

Because of this, there are only three useful sources for party member figures. The first are Conservative Party HQ press releases, which are incredibly rare. The last one on this topic was issued in 2013. Then there are occasional updates from the Tory Party chair. But both of these sources are subject to fudging, massage, and spin - as the two figures below suggest. The nearest we have to reliable data are reports from the party on leadership elections and internal referenda. In 2019, for instance, the party reported votes for the contending candidates, spoiled ballot papers, and turnout figures. In 2022, for the first time, the 1922 Committee Chair Graham Brady announced the membership eligible to vote. I.e. One has to be a member for three months before a contest to get a vote in internal elections. Therefore the figure below will be short of the actual tally, but what that is is anyone's guess. It also means all the other figures given in internal votes are not the actual memberships at those points in time, but they are the nearest we have.

Here are the membership figures for the Tory party in the 21st century as reported by these three sources.

2001: 325,059 (leadership election)

2005: 254,928 (leadership election)

2006: 245,865 (Built to Last members' referendum)

2013: 134,000 (CCHQ announcement)

July 2019: 180,000 (Tory chair announcement)

September 2019: 159,402 (leadership election)

October 2019: 191,000 (Tory chair announcement)

2022 172,437: (leadership election)

Image Credit


dermot said...

Final vote was IIRC, 80K to 60K, or around 140K who actually voted, which gives a harder lower number.

PurplePete said...

I'm guessing the disgruntled membership wanted neither of these two donkeys and that there were a number of abstentions. As they (and we) all know, like Rambo, Boris will be back. And maybe sooner than we think!

Ken said...

It’s not often something cheers me up.