Revealed: Almost half of Tory members have quit the party since David Cameron became leader in 2005

There are now 134,000 constituency members - down from the 253,600 who voted in the leadership contest eight years ago

Whitehall Editor

The number of Conservative Party members has almost halved since David Cameron became leader, it was confirmed today.

Tory managers bowed to weeks of pressure to reveal the latest figures – after speculation that the number of constituency members could have fallen below the psychologically important 100,000 mark.

In a release to the ConservativeHome website the party said there are now 134,000 constituency members, down from the 253,600 who voted in the 2005 leadership contest.

They suggested that the total membership figure was 174,000 after friends, donors who are not members, and young Tories were taken into account.

However the true membership figure for 2005 is also likely to have been higher as it can be assumed that not all eligible members voted in the leadership election.

Senior constituency figures have warned of an exodus of members to the benefit of the eurosceptic UK Independence Party, which has been performing strongly in elections and opinion polls.

Its membership has almost doubled from 15,535 in 2010 to 30,780 today. Tory strategist privately fear that the party’s membership – which is predominantly elderly – has now fallen to such levels that it will be hard to mount an effective constituency ‘ground campaign’

In an attempt to galvanise local constituency associations to go out and recruit new members the Tory Chairman Grant Shapps wants to send MPs a league table of their own constituency's standing - which would “concentrate a few minds”.

The Conservatives boasted as many as three million paid members in the early 1950s but there has been a dramatic reduction across all parties in subsequent decades.

Labour's membership rose significantly in 2010, the year that Ed Miliband became leader, but has slipped back during the time he has been in charge of the party, Electoral Commission data shows.

Based on returns supplied by the party to the watchdog, it rose from 156,205 in 2009 to 193,961 by the end of the following year but then fell to 193,300 in 2011 and 187,537 in 2012.

Mr Miliband says he hopes reforms to trade union funding, under which people will have to opt in to Labour affiliation, will see the number rise beyond half a million.

Liberal Democrat membership has also slumped by more than a third since it joined the Conservative-led coalition - from 65,038 in 2010 to 42,501 last year, the Commission figures show.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
News
Floyd
newsFloyd 'Creeky' Creekmore still performed regularly to raise money for local hospitals
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Real Estate Solicitor 2+PQE - City

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGH VALUE REAL ESTATE / RESID...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?