In 2013, the Conservative Party declared a membership figure: 134,000. A year later, it said that it had risen to 2014. ConservativeHome was first with the figures. Since then, radio silence from CCHQ.
The site is told that whatever the figure was in 2016, it has fallen over the last year or so by about a quarter. The calculation is based on an assessment of four large areas, three of them in the so-called Tory heartlands. It may be that the drop is bigger, since it could be bigger where membership is less established.
Furthermore, some 80 per cent of the rush of new members who joined the party after the EU referendum have apparently not renewed. That no national attempt was made to find them, enthuse them and keep them is scandalous.
John Strafford of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy estimates that membership is now “around 100,000”. His assessment and our information run pretty much in tandem. Which leads to the inevitable question: as Labour membership soars upwards past 500,000, will 2018 be the year when Tory membership drops to below six figures?
Our sources say that the referendum result has caused a fall off of renewals from Remain-backing Tories. It is true that calculating a membership figure is difficult, given the lack of a central register of members. (We are told that the current national membership trials have been “a disaster” for this reason.)
But if the National Trust, say, can declare its membership figure, why can’t the Conservative Party? This site tips its hat to Grant Shapps who, when Party Chairman, persuaded David Cameron that the 2013 and 2014 figures should be issued. Any organisation that won’t declare a figure has the smell of decay about it.