Birmingham Diary: 'Transparent' Tories silent over falling membership

"We're bringing transparency to government," David Cameron said yesterday. Maybe. But the Conservatives are certainly not being transparent about the health of their own party. There has been no confirmation or denial of the interesting claim by the editor of the ConservativeHome website, Tim Montgomerie, that party membership has declined by 80,000 under David Cameron's leadership.

Mr Montgomerie told a fringe meeting that he had heard from two separate sources that membership had fallen from 257,000 to 177,000 since 2005.

By contrast, Tony Blair's election as Labour leader in 1994 brought in a flood of recruits, and membership shot up above 400,000, only to more than halve during the government years. The numbers have been picking up since May, with the result that Labour now appears to have a bigger paid-up membership than the Tories.

With this revelation buzzing around the conference, you would think that the Tory party chairman, Sayeed Warsi, would have thought of something appropriate to say before being interviewed live by Andrew Neil on the Daily Politics programme. But no, "kamikaze Warsi" walked in unprepared.

On being asked, for the third time, whether or not membership had fallen, the Baroness replied: "It depends. How are you defining membership?" Neil had, in fact, already told her several times.

The Baroness either did not know or was not telling.

There were three in the bed...

Even at a Conservative conference you are unlikely to – in fact you will never – see an uglier sight than this. The Tory bloggers Harry Cole (aka Tory Bear), Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes) and Toby Young are either too hard up or too tight to book accommodation in any of Birmingham's hotels – instead they were shacked up in a canal boat. And to think of the grief that Staines caused William Hague over the hotel room he shared with his adviser, Christopher Myers...

Quote of the day

'Jeremy, are you asking me for a date?'

Home Secretary Theresa May, finding a neat way to diffuse Jeremy Paxman's persistence in asking her when she first knew about her party's decision to cut child benefits.

PM's baby talk

David Cameron uses children for political advantage. On Tuesday, in trouble over child benefits, baby Florence was on display. Yesterday, children popped up in his speech three times. On election night, Mr Cameron said he wished he was "at home with Sam and the little ones".

Then he drew a laugh at the expense of his six-year-old daughter Nancy, who thought the Deputy Prime Minister was called "Nick Leg". Minutes later, another six-year-old was held up for gentle mockery – a child who (allegedly) sent the Prime Minister tooth money.

He has not yet sunk to the level of the former agriculture minister John Gummer, who fed a burger to his four-year-old daughter during a health scare about mad cow disease.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
News
Ireland will not find out whether gay couples have won the right to marry until Saturday afternoon
news
News
Kim Jong-un's brother Kim Jong-chol
news
News
Manchester city skyline as seen from Oldham above the streets of terraced houses in North West England on 7 April 2015.
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?