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 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 3 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 4 Penis size: Study revealing 'what's normal' sends international media into meltdown
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
Ayesha Ali death: Mother and her girlfriend found guilty of manslaughter of eight-year-old
George Clooney and Amal fail to get special treatment at New York restaurant
Cindy Crawford 'un-PhotoShopped' viral Marie Claire image was doctored, claims photographer
'A girl is more responsible for rape than a boy': The statement that shocked the world... except India
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 2nd / 3rd Line IT Support Eng...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...
£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...