More by-election shocks 'likely' as party membership declines
By-election shocks like the one in Bradford West last year, when Labour lost a seemingly rock solid safe seat to the maverick George Galloway could keep on happening, a new report warns.
The decline of members who play any active part in the main political parties has created an undercurrent of disillusionment within seemingly safe seats that leaves them vulnerable to similar takeovers by determined campaigners in by-elections.
The conclusions of an analysis by the think tank, Democratic Audit, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, are aimed mainly at the Labour Party, though the author Lewis Baston says they could also apply in the Tory heartlands.
Having completed what he says is the first comprehensive analysis of why Labour lost in Bradford, he warned: "National politicians – and politics – must heed the lessons of Bradford West or suffer the consequences."
There were particular factors working against Labour in Bradford West – notably the presence of a clever and charismatic opponent in George Galloway, a former Labour MP – but the defeat was also a symptom of the long-term shrinkage in political party membership. Labour Party membership peaked at around a million in the 1950s, and has stabilised during the past 10 years at just under 200,000.
The fall in Conservative Party membership has been even more dramatic, from three million in the 1950s, to 177,000 by last summer.
- 1 Stoke City investigate 'religious abuse' after 'pig's head is found in Kenwyne Jones' locker'
- 2 Gove’s lesson: spare the comma, spoil the child
- 3 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 4 Join Ryanair! See the world! But we'll only pay you for nine months a year
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
£30000 - £40000 per annum + BENS: Progressive Recruitment: Drupal Developer A ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + bens: Progressive Recruitment: C# WEB DEVELOPER Le...
£240 - £260 per day: Progressive Recruitment: WPF Developer (C#, VB.Net) North...
£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: KS2 teacher needed to do PPA ...