Labour Party membership from Wilson to Blair & Corbyn

In Uncategorized on September 27, 2016 by kmflett


After Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election as Labour leader on 24th September it was suggested on social media that 15,000 people had joined the Labour Party that day. The LibDems by contrast claimed that 300 members of the Labour Party had left to join them.

Membership of political parties- voluntary organisations after all- fluctuates. People move, lose touch, sadly die and so on.

Time allowing I will post a bit more about who Labour members are and who Labour aims to appeal based in part of Gareth Stedman Jones 1982 essay, Why is the Labour Party in a Mess?

Below are some figures (source House of Commons Library) on Labour membership.

We can see that when Harold Wilson was elected PM in 1964 membership was 830,000. However at that time CLPs had to affiliate at least a 1,000 members whatever the actual number.

When Blair was elected in 1997 the figure (now based on actual numbers) was 405,000. By the time Gordon Brown lost in 2010 it was 193,000.

The Labour Party’s own assessment today is that it has over 500,000 members, affiliates and supporters noting that under Ed Miliband’s leadership the membership structure was reconfigured again.

1964 830,000

1970 680,000

1974 692,000

1979 660,000

1980 348,000 (change in counting to actuals)

1992 280,000

1997 405,000

2001 272,000

2005 198,000

2010 193,000


3 Responses to “Labour Party membership from Wilson to Blair & Corbyn”

  1. From memory. c. 1950 one million members. No credit cards, paypal etc. The collector came round once a month for your sixpence (2.5 p). With wages £5-£10 a week many could not afford to pay the annual sub (six shillings – (30p) in one go. It meant that even if you didn’t go to ward meetings, you had personal contact with a party representative once a month. Union subs were collected in a similar way. A very different world.

  2. Indeed, and the personal link was key to effective political organisation

  3. Even in 1976 I was still collecting union subs in the workplace in cash, weekly. Absolutely the best way to stay in touch and stay organised. Check off was really bad idea.

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