In March, the Conservative Party mystified observers when Tory chair Brandon Lewis claimed its membership had ‘soared’ to 124,000.
That mystification was shot through with a good deal of suspicion, not least because the Tories’ were claiming membership of almost 150,000 in 2014:
Many people considered the claim to be little more than empty ‘PR’ – and now the party has itself published information, without pointing it out of course, that suggests such an assessment was entirely justified.
The Tories have published their ‘Consolidated Income and Expenditure’ for the last financial year – and its income from member subscriptions doesn’t fit with a ‘soaring’ membership:
Member subscriptions in the party fell by forty-three percent compared to the preceding year – hard to reconcile with a claim of ‘soaring’.
Could the party have suddenly given discounts to existing as well as new members? It seems unlikely, as it appears the Tories only give discounted membership to ex-forces and youth members.
The fall has other embarrassing aspects, too. Business Insider‘s Adam Bienkov pointed out that the party now makes far more money from dead ex-members than from live current ones:
Last year the Conservatives made twice as much money from dead supporters as they did from living members. pic.twitter.com/ztySSDT8CU
— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) August 22, 2018
But all of its other income combined is dwarfed by the ‘donation income’ from its small number of hugely rich donors. What a story that tells.
The SKWAWKBOX contacted Tory HQ press office to ask how the party explained such a huge fall in subscriptions when numbers are supposed to have taken flight. No response has been received so far. None was received when this blog queried the ‘soared’ claim five months ago either.
Tory MP James Cleverly did try to explain away the huge fall on Twitter – but that didn’t go well:
So what you're saying is that your annual audited accounts are not a full and accurate record of the @Conservatives annual fiscal activity? Really?!
I think there's a word for that James?
Someone help me here, I think it begins with "F" 😏🤫#ToriesOut #ToryFraud @UKLabour https://t.co/Vhix4smXq5
— Ms G Richards (@Grombags) August 22, 2018
Of course, even if James’ claim is true and most member subs never appear in the Tories’ accounts, it still doesn’t do anything at all to explain why the number fell by almost half in just a year when the party has claimed an increase.
Twitter wags were quick to have fun:
#SavetheTory. There are now just 55,000 Tories left in the wild. Our children may grow up in a world without Tories, unless we act now. For just £500 a month, you can help save the Tory, before it's too late, and we'll send you a cuddly Boris Gnome and Welcome Pack. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/UsoCnE6FwP
— Owen Lowery (@OWLowery) August 22, 2018
The Labour Party, by contrast, raised over £16 million from individual member subscriptions, with large numbers of small individual donations helped raise its income to almost £56 million.
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