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Labour membership drops below half a million as tens of thousands leave party

Labour membership drops below half a million as tens of thousands leave party

Jeremy Corbyn - Image credit: Labour

Labour's membership has dropped below half a million after tens of thousands quit the party, although it is still “historically large”, Holyrood’s sister site PoliticsHome has found.

Official figures put the total at just under 485,000 – down from a peak of 564,000 at the end of 2017.

That includes around 35,000 supporters whose subscriptions are in arrears, meaning the party now has around 450,000 fully paid-up members.

The 14 per cent drop in membership comes against a backdrop of dissatisfaction by many in the party at Jeremy Corbyn's approach to Brexit and anti-Semitism.

As recently as Monday, the Labour leader was still claiming that Labour had "half a million members".

A senior Labour MP said the party's budget was based on an assumption that the number of paying members would not fall below 500,000.

"When you think that high value donations don't exist and the Government's changes to the union political fund means union funding can only diminish, that’s a big problem," they said.

"It’s the biggest annual fall in our history - admittedly from a huge base - and it will only get worse."

Glen O'Hara, Professor of Contemporary History at Oxford Brookes University, said: "The decline in official membership is very big – 14 per cent or so in just 18 months.

"But Labour's membership is still historically large.

“From the turn of the century it drifted along at about 200,000 or so: 483,000 is still more than double the number reached under Brown and Miliband."

A Labour spokesperson said: “Labour is proud to be one of the largest political parties in Europe, with an active and diverse membership who are working to transform our society for the many not the few.”

A source also pointed out that the number of people joining Labour has more than doubled since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015, and that the total still dwarfed the Tory membership of around 160,000.

Read the most recent article written by Kevin Schofield - Rishi Sunak unveils £9bn scheme to help self-employed survive coronavirus outbreak

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