Scottish Tories likely to have fewer members than the Scottish Greens. Do they meaningfully exist anymore?


(c) Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire/PA Images

In some ways, it would matter little if the Tories had no members at all, as long as they had the support of their corporate and rich donors and as long as the Tory press peddled their nasty ideas. However, even they need some troops on the streets canvassing door-to-door and encouraging their increasingly elderly voters to turn-out if they are to keep winning elections in the future

So, the recent calm admission by new party leader, Brandon Lewis, that membership may have fallen to 70 000 as Labour membership reaches half a million must be a worry to them.

The Conservative Home website seemed more than a little anxious:

‘In 2013, the Conservative Party declared a membership figure: 134,000.  A year later, it said that it had risen to 2014.  Conservative Home 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.’

Reading this, the 70 000 begins to look optimistic and the real figure is probably lower still. Also, within the overall figure there are further signs of looming problems. According to the Guardian, 71% are male and 44% are 65 or over.

Moving now to Scotland. The Scotsman headlined gleefully in September 2017:

‘The Scottish National Party have been hit with a drop, in membership, new figures have revealed.’

but then had to admit that the fall was only from 120 000 to 118 000 and that they remained larger than all the other Scottish parties put together.

As for the Scottish Labour branch, they had only 13 500 in 2014 but claim to have added 15 500 since Corbyn’s rise. Being kind, let’s agree they have around 29 000 before their new leadership lets them down just like the others have.

As for the Lib Dems, it looks like around 3 000

One more, before we get to the Scottish Tories, the Scottish Greens claim 9 000 members.

Now, the Scottish Tories, at best will have 8% of the UK total. Scotland has 8% of the UK population but do we have 8% of those likely to join the Tory party? I doubt it and suspect that the shires and suburban parts of England will have more than their share. However, let’s be kind and give them the 8% and kind again to say 8% of 70 000. That would give them around 5 600 members. Pathetic if correct? The 70 000 members figure led the guardian’s Owen jones to ask:

‘A question: do the Tories meaningfully exist anymore beyond Westminster and the closed circles of power and influence highlighted by the Toby Young fiasco? Corporate donations and hired help might just about get them through election campaigns. But while Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party can justifiably claim to be a mass movement, the Conservatives have not released any membership figures since 2013, and are reckoned to have as few as 70,000 members.’

Can we ask a similar question? Do the Scottish Tories exist meaningfully as a political party within a democratic system where voters might expect their views to be reflected in the actions of that party or do they expect to be able to keep fooling them into voting for corporate and elite interests?

Footnote: The Scottish Socialists have around 3 500 members.


9 thoughts on “Scottish Tories likely to have fewer members than the Scottish Greens. Do they meaningfully exist anymore?

  1. macgilleleabhar January 10, 2018 / 1:11 pm

    Passing thought, isn’t this proven by the lack of quality in their MSPs, councillors and Maps? Where’s the Teddy Taylor or Alex Buchanan Smith? It says a lot about the other Tory MP s in Scotland where after the fumbled reshuffle what’s his name is still nominally in charge of the Scottish Office.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alasdair Macdonald January 10, 2018 / 3:35 pm

    Sadly, despite what you wisely say in your opening paragraph, I think it does not matter too much how many people they actually have.

    We have seen from the leaks that ‘grassroots’ bodies like “No Borders”, “Scotland in Union” and Mr Rory Stewart MP’s Brigadoon “The Middle Land”, that these ‘three people and a dog’ organisations are lavishly funded and are guaranteed outlet via the print and broadcast media and on billboards. They, undoubtedly have an impact as we saw from the 2014 result and from the Tory gains in the 2017 GE. In England, opinion polls regularly put the Tories at around 40+%.

    By encouraging postal voting, they do not need to help old codgers like me to the polling stations. And, how closely are postal votes actually monitored? A few scare stories about pensions and immigrants on the BBC and STV and a single scary mailshot can ensure their voters mark the cross where they want it. Sew the seeds of doubt that ‘they are all as bad as the other’ and a disenchantment with politics grows- why bother to vote? But, of course, they do their damnedest to get their supporters to vote. A lot of the people who really should vote have not even bothered to register to vote.

    One of the big successes of 2014 was that the independence foot soldiers got people to register, generated interest and enthusiasm and, it is to be hoped that this will return with vigour next time …. if there is one.

    Essentially, so much has become an advertising campaign which can be frankly mendacious, but without any sanction imposed. Famous liar, Mr Alastair Carmichael avoided being recalled because the judges with great reluctance decided that as the law stood, lying was an acceptable practice.

    As for the quality of elected representatives, again, does it really matter? We have so few representatives per capita compared to other countries that it is officials who run the councils and government by having, statutorily, to place contracts with the private sector. And, the antics of the nonentities in the Council chambers and parliaments will get only nugatory examination. Look at the fact that THE COLONEL is never questioned. Gore Vidal talking about the American system of presidential elections simply pointed out how much presidents are in hock to shadowy wealthy people and do their bidding and this reached a logical conclusion with the election of Ronald Reagan – the president is only acting the role of president, so we might as well get an actor to play the part; he will deliver the lines perfectly.

    We have a Secretary of State for Scotland, who is not even a member of the Brexit inner circle of conspirators and ferrets-in-a-sack. He mouths things which seem to be words but are really random noises because nobody listens. In any case, he is subordinate to THE COLONEL, who is in a pretendy parliament, whereas he is in the real parliament, THE MOTHER OF PARLIAMENTS.

    The Scotsman was trumpeting a decontextualised statement by an SNP MP about most people not really caring about independence. What she was really saying was that many people are so up against it and pissed off with the antics of politicians and feeling wholly disempowered by the electoral process, that while they might want things to be better, the daily grind makes reflection and action difficult.

    However, I am not so pessimistic. Things Do change. People are not unthinking reactionaries. There comes a time when they want change and I think – hope? – we are close to it now with the Brexit fiasco.


  3. George Robertson January 10, 2018 / 8:45 pm

    There is little hope of a clear vote in favour of Independence, as long as so many Scots from the main areas of population fervently continue, for pseudo-religious reasons, to drape themselves and their families in the Union Jack or the Irish Tricolour.


    • johnrobertson834 January 11, 2018 / 1:08 pm

      Yes, I agree. It’s a scar on the body of Scottish history. While, I’m only a Bairns fan, I wish some Yes supporters would shut up about Celtic and leave Rangers alone. Lots of Rangers fans support independence.


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