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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > February 2017 > Private members

Private members

Jeremy Corbyn has doubled Labour’s membership—a striking achievement. But it might not do much good because the new joiners don’t seem too keen on campaigning


Against the tide: Party rolls had been falling for as long as anyone can remember— until Labour’s started rising

Membership of political parties has been dropping like a stone for decades. The chart shows that Tory membership has declined by around 90 per cent between 1970 and 2015, with Labour’s individual membership—which started out lower—falling nearly 80 per cent. Even before 2015, there were signs of change, especially in Scotland where the 2014 referendum triggered a remarkable seven-fold increase in SNP membership. Increases in the rolls of the Greens and Ukip soon followed. Then, after David Cameron’s unexpected outright win, new members flocked to Labour to take part in the election which took Jeremy Corbyn to the top. Many more have joined since, so that Labour membership is now more than half a million. That’s twice what it was, and more than double that of the Conservatives.

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In Prospect’s February issue: Tom Clark and Luke Harding examine the attacks facing democracy. Clark reviews two books on democracy and suggests a new intellectual assault may be on the horizon. Harding looks at Russia’s attempts to derail the democratic process by focussing on its technical frailty. Melissa Deckman asks why women voted for Trump, while Duncan Bell charts the story of the Anglosphere and suggests Brexiteers are indulging in an old fantasy. Also in this issue: Matthew Harries asks if it’s time to ban the nuclear bomb, Adam Mars-Jones looks at the way we perceive aliens in films and Elizabeth Pisani explores the role of activists in changing the perception of Aids and its pushing for treatment.