I’m indebted to Skuds for pointing me in the direction of the detailed breakdown of how we voted in the recent Labour Party leadership elections.
The first point I want to make is similar to one that Andrew points out; some constituency parties are doing better than others in terms of the number of fellow members of the party that they can call on to do the day to day voluntary work that keeps the show on the road. (I’d hate to think what a delivery round in Orkney would look like, where as our comrades in Ealing seem to have a surfeit of members.)
One of the points that I’ve made in talking about political parties here on occasion is how the numbers of members have declined, and here’s where that leaves us. The mean number of members of the Labour Party at a constituency level is 279 and the median is 240.
Remembering that being a member doesn’t mean you are an activist what you are looking at is perhaps a hundred or so people who are keen or who can be leant on to deliver your leaflets, knock on doors, stand for election and so on.
So when the next election comes along and you don’t have someone knock on your door with an exhausted smile and a rosette on it’s not because we don’t want to sell our message, hear your concerns, it’s just we don’t have enough bodies on the ground to make it happen.
And while Peter Watt may be right that a membership drive won’t change the dynamics of declining membership, I’m sure those who’ll be out this autumn fighting by-elections would welcome a couple of extra hands to spread the load.