This week it has emerged that the membership of the Conservative party is as low as 150,000. Some have suggested the membership has dipped lower than 100,000. This is a truly shocking for a major political party. The Labour Party’s membership stands at 500,000.
The historical peak of party membership was in the mid-1950s when the Conservatives boasted three million members to labour’s one million. Even in 1985, the Tories’ membership stood at one million, while Labour’s languished at just under 500,000.
The figures also suggest that Conservative party members are older than other parties, less savvy on social media and are frustrated by their lack of say on party policy.
I am rather torn on what to make of this. As I am emphatically a libertarian and not a conservative I welcome a decline in the Tories’ monopoly on pro-capitalist politics. It presents actual libertarians with a fabulous opportunity.
Yet the idea that there is no popular enthusiasm for right of centre ideas is deeply troubling.
Perhaps party members don’t even matter in the twenty-first century. But the conservatives have traditionally relied on the ‘silent’ majority for their core support. A party that doesn’t even have half the members of their nearest competitor can hardly claim to be the majority.