Today’s Telegraph reports that party membership is up 16,000 in the last month.  This "leap," the newspaper says, "is believed to be one of the biggest in any single month on record and was particularly striking as it occurred over the normally quiet Christmas and New Year period":

"Conservative Party membership now stands at around 290,000. Labour’s has slumped from more than 400,000 at the peak of Tony Blair’s appeal to under 200,000 while the Liberal Democrats have around 70,000 members."

This 290,000 figure suggests nearly 40,000 more than were eligible to vote in the leadership election – suggesting that the contest itself may have helped grow the party membership.

Michael Howard also claimed a big boost in membership when he was first elected.  On the 13th February 2004 Central Office suggested that the previous October’s change of Party leader had produced 20,000 new party members and new donations of £4 million.

David Cameron’s increase in membership partly reflects a million letters that CCHQ mailed out to pledged and other households on the night of David Cameron’s election.  Many more of those targeted people have also chosen to ‘register’ with the Conservatives – a step short of membership but an important first step towards a deeper connection with the Conservative Party’s mission.

The ‘good’ news on membership contrasts with the ‘gloomy’ tunes that David Cameron has downloaded onto his iPod.  Interviewed on Radio 1 yesterday he said:

"Because I’m 39, there’s The Smiths, Radiohead, Pulp, Blur – all that quite gloomy music… I’m a big Bob Dylan fan – there’s a lot of Bob Dylan – but I’m not a Tom Waits fan."

The new Tory leader also revealed his secret for preparing for PMQs – a cup of tea with ten sugars.  This disgusting-sounding drink was recommended by William Hague.  Apparently it "coats the larynx" and stops the voice drying up.