Socialist Worker

Labour’s tumbling membership: thousands have lost their political home

Issue No. 2113

New Labour admitted in a submission to the Electoral Commission that, at the end of last year, its official membership was 176,891 – the lowest figure since 1900.

But the actual figure is worse, with just 158,000 ballot papers being sent out for last month’s national executive elections.

Over 20,000 members have left in the 12 months since Gordon Brown took over as leader. The number of Labour councillors is also at a record low.

In 1997 when Labour was elected under Tony Blair, membership stood at 405,000. But over 60 percent of these have now left.

Across much of Britain Labour no longer has an effective presence at a grassroots level.

These were the activists who often provided the arguments against the right. Many were active in the unions and tenants or community groups.

Former Labour members represent the single biggest “party” in Britain. They are unlikely to rejoin if David Miliband, James Purnell or Jack Straw take over from Gordon Brown.

If they are drawn into the continuing campaign against New Labour’s wars, into the growing pay revolt and resisting the British National Party, the left can begin the process of debating with them about what alternative we need to New Labour.

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What We Think
Tue 5 Aug 2008, 17:37 BST
Issue No. 2113
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