Jeremy Corbyn: surge in party members, huge support
Readers who – with reluctance – have been accepting the mainstream media narrative of failure and dissension, should read an article by Ewen MacAskill published yesterday, to which Felicity Arbuthnot has drawn attention.
Those who avoid such sources may ‘meet’ MacAskill here. He reports on a Guardian survey of Labour secretaries, chairs, other office holders and members from more than 100 of the 632 constituencies in England, Scotland and Wales.
A revival of branches that had been moribund for years and close to folding
MacAskill writes: “Jeremy Corbyn’s hopes of remoulding Labour have been boosted by this detailed Guardian survey into the party at grassroots level that shows overwhelming support for him, a decisive shift to the left and unhappiness with squabbling among MPs”.
The survey findings are borne out by Labour’s national figures, released to the Guardian. Membership jumped from 201,293 on 6 May last year, the day before the general election, to 388,407 on 10 January.
Almost every constituency party across the country contacted reported doubling, trebling, quadrupling or even quintupling membership, and a revival of branches that had been moribund for years and close to folding.
The Corbyn effect: thousands have flocked to the Labour party since May. But who are they?
Reflecting increased interest among the young, university cities and towns recorded some of the biggest rises, with Bath jumping from 300 to 1,322 members and Colchester from 200-250 to almost 1,000. Neither are traditional Labour seats.
Another rise has been in the number of returning members, who had left Labour mainly in protest over the 2003 Iraq invasion, and are making an impact, MacAskill suggests, partly because they are familiar with the rules.
Below: many at a November Birmingham meeting were in this category.
Newly released figures undermine Mandelson claim
Former cabinet minister Peter Mandelson told a Labour meeting in the Lords last month: “30,000 long-term members have left the party, real members, tens of thousands”.
But the newly released figures undermine his claim, showing a total of 13,860 have left since the general election, some of them having resigned while others have gone as part of natural churn. The increase in membership is continuing, with just under 1,000 having joined since Christmas Eve.
The breakdown of Labour’s latest figures shows two surges last year, one partly in response to the election result and Corbyn’s entry into the leadership campaign and another after he became leader
Between 7 May and 11 September, 116,753 joined and 5,393 left – 4,066 of whom cancelled their direct debit without informing the party why – and 1,327 resigning. Between Corbyn becoming leader on 12 September and Christmas Eve, 87,158 joined, with 8,567 leaving, of whom 4,692 cancelled their direct debit and 3,875 resigned. (The number of joiners and leavers do not match the total membership figure because the party allows a six-month grace period before cancelling membership.)
The Guardian survey notes that constituency office holders reported three surges last year:
- the first after the Conservative victory in May,
- the second after Corbyn entered the leadership race
- and again when he became leader.
The constituencies attributed this mainly to the Corbyn effect – detail in the article.
Overall, support for Corbyn at grassroots level suggests he will eventually prevail in his battle with the PLP or if there was to be an attempted coup – as indeed opponents such as the FT’s Jim Pickard have recognised.
The deselection red herring
The survey shows little interest at constituency level in deselection. But members acknowledge that if the government plan goes ahead to have boundary changes in 2018, reducing the number of seats to 600, there could be de-facto deselection. MacAskill adds:
“The creation late last year of the group Momentum, which is open to non-Labour members as well as members, is, according to the organisers, not to deselect anti-Corbyn or Blairite MPs but to harness this enthusiasm of the young. Jane Middleton, Bath constituency chair, said: ‘They are mainly Corbyn supporters, some of them enthusiastic Corbyn supporters, who joined specifically because of him. They’ve been very prepared to work and have brought in their expertise. They’ve been quite active in doing the work, not just the talking. A number of them had left during the Blair years and the Iraq war. What they are not is members of the far left. These people are in no way like the radicals of the 70s and 80s’ “.
Posted on January 14, 2016, in Democracy, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party, Media, Politics, Watershed and tagged Blairite MPs, Corbyn supporters, Ewen MacAskill, far left, Momentum, Peter Mandelson, The Guardian survey. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.