Labour denies Scottish 'crisis'

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The Independent Online
THE LABOUR PARTY in Scotland launched a membership recruitment drive yesterday amid reports that party numbers have substantially declined since the election.

The party's Scottish organiser, Gerald O'Brien, dismissed a report that membership had dropped 30 per cent since the election as 'inaccurate'. While there had been 'fluctuations', suggestions of a crisis were nonsense.

Labour, which won 49 seats in Scotland at the general election, has been struggling since April to generate any real enthusiasm among its Scottish rank and file for another four years of opposition.

According to a report in yesterday's Scotsman newspaper, Labour's Scottish membership has slumped from 24,000 just before the general election to 16,200. The figures were said to have been disclosed to the Scottish executive at a weekend meeting. However, Mr O'Brien denied that any report had been presented and said that as of 29 June, the party's Scottish numbers stood at just over 25,000. He added: 'Certainly there will have been fluctuations but the numbers are nowhere near as low as 16,000.'

He confirmed that Labour was engaged in a post-election examination of how the party could be restructured to improve its electoral chances.

Tory party headquarters in Edinburgh would not speculate yesterday on the party's current membership, although one party source said it was likely to be about 30,000.

Ron Waddell, director of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said membership had increased by 400 since the election and stood at 5,800.

The Scottish National Party has a policy of not revealing membership levels.

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