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 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 iPhone 6s camera: features to include 4K video camera and flash for selfies
- 5 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
Most expensive city to live in for expatriates: Luanda, Angola takes number one spot with Hong Kong and Zurich in top three
Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
If Surrey were Syria: Social experiment shows what it's like to live under siege
Irish tourist filmed fighting with shopkeepers in Turkey says they 'messed with the wrong man'
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal get peerages
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Unpaid - £4 lunch allowance plus travel to and from work: Barnardo's: Purpose ...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£15000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...