Leading Conservative Party figures will today gloat over an 12 percent rise in party membership, the first such gains in a decade, claims the Conservative Home blog.
Tory Chairman Grant Shapps will take to the stage at Conservative Party Conference later today to tell members and activists that their hard work over the past 12 months has led to a growth in Tory membership of just 11.7 percent to the end of last year, ending the long-term decline in Tory membership.
Last year, the Conservative Party refused for many months to disclose party membership figures for fear of national embarrassment. It turned out that membership stood at just 134,000, down from 260,000 in 2005, and from 400,000 in 1997.
But the figures may not be as promising for the party as they first seem.
Despite the efforts to reinvigorate Tory members using such numbers, the growth is paltry compared to that of other political parties such as the Tories’ rival on the right, UKIP.
UKIP has enjoyed growth of over 33 percent in the past year, taking its overall membership to just shy of 40,000. The Scottish National Party has recently surged following the Scottish referendum vote, with Breitbart London reporting last week that the party had surpassed 42,000 members — a number that is believed to have grown even more in the past few days. Critics will no doubt point to the fact that smaller parties start from a small base, and therefore larger growth percentages do not necessarily reflect actual growth rates.
For the Conservative Party — which is 180 years old, and which has many more millions in the bank than the smaller parties — to be growing at one third of the speed of their rivals is potentially more embarrassing than Mr Shapps suggests.
However, the growth in numbers is in fact unexpected, with many believing that the party may have headed into the next election with fewer than 100,000 members.
ConHome also thinks that the development is “a bit of good news after a torrid 24 hours which saw the defection of Mark Reckless to UKIP and then the resignation of Brooks Newmark from his ministerial position amid a sexting scandal.”