Brighton and Hove’s traditional political parties lose members

Posted On 15 Aug 2013 at 12:28 pm

The two traditional main parties in Brighton and Hove have lost members in line with national trends.

The Daily Telegraph website published a report earlier this week about Conservative Party membership which said: “In Brighton and Hove, they are down to 356, from 424 in 2011.”

The figures cover two of the three parliamentary constituencies in Brighton and Hove – Brighton Pavilion and Hove. The report did not include figures for the Brighton Kemptown association.

The Kemptown association did not disclose its numbers but chairman Peter Booth said: “We always seek to recruit new members and I have been pleased with the number of young people joining the association this year.

“Younger people respond well to David Cameron. Particularly in Kemptown we have had people join because of equal marriage, and as you probably know, Simon (Kirby) was deeply involved in getting the legislation through Parliament.

“Our association meets through fundraisers as, unlike the Labour Party who receive large-scale funding from trades unions, we as an association have to be self-funded and our members work hard to do this.

“Our branches also have a programme of activities.”

Another leading party member pointed out that the Conservative float at Pride had 60 people on it although a number of these were supporters rather than fully paid up party members.

Councillor Warren Morgan, leader of the Labour group on Brighton and Hove City Council, said of the figures published by the Telegraph: “This is bad news for the Tories in the city. With members haemorrhaging to UKIP, they now have few activists left to fight elections and dwindling support.

“Once dominant locally, their chances of holding seats in 2015 now look slim.

“As the recent Hanover by-election victory showed, Labour has an army of activists it can call on and one and a half thousand members in communities across Brighton and Hove.

“With the Greens in disarray, it is Labour who are growing in support locally.”

The three constituency Labour parties merged in May last year and Councillor Morgan said: “As of May (our AGM) we had 1,447 (members), with 137 joining and 208 leaving.”

He said that those leaving had died, lapsed, moved or resigned in the preceding 12 months, adding: “The majority of these had lapsed and were taken out when the three lists were combined so it was more of a clear-out of old data under one list.”

The Green Party is believed to have fewer members in Brighton and Hove than Labour and more than the Conservatives but the party did not respond to a request for current figures.

Membership of political parties has been on a downward path for decades although a number of campaign groups and pressure groups have enjoyed a rise in numbers.

Brian Stone, the chairman of the Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats, said: “The membership in our local party has been seriously hit by our entering into the coalition government.

“Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats had a 40 per cent increase in its membership just after the 2010 general election, but this has dissipated since.

“We have lost 200 members since the general election.

“Many of our members and supporters have indicated that they could not support the party whilst in coalition with the Tories.

“However, in recent months we have noted several significant changes.

“Our present membership is 127. At the same time last year membership was 124.

“The numbers of members who have joined in the present calendar year are nearly quadruple to those who joined in 2012.

“Several of those people who left us because of the coalition have in recent months either joined or made enquiries about rejoining the party.

“Interestingly, this has included people who have left us for other political parties.

“Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats will be launching a Brighton and Hove branch of Liberal Youth in the next couple of months – the first time ever for this local party.

“We believe that we are moving out from a significant period of doldrums that our party as a whole have been in and we are very excited about the years ahead.”


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