The Liberal Democrats ended 2013 with 43,451 members, nearly 1000 more than we had at the start of the year.
This is historic for two reasons. Firstly, we’re the only party in recent history to increase their membership during a year in Government. Secondly, the party’s membership has dropped every year for the last decade (excluding a couple of bumps before general elections), so getting back to a position of growth in the middle of the electoral cycle is a significant achievement.
Underlying this headline is some more good news. The party’s retention of members is now just under 90%, which is comparable to other leading membership organisations, and we are recruiting new members at twice the rate we were a year ago.
We’ve achieved this through a combination of enormous hard work from a fantastically talented team at party HQ, a real show of faith from the various party committees and senior management who have allowed us to make some significant changes to how we reward local parties for membership growth, and of course the efforts of the hundreds of campaigners across the country who have recruited and renewed thousands of members.
Of course there is more to do, the party’s membership is still lower than we want it to be. However we are now growing, the party is getting stronger every month and if we build on this momentum then that extra capacity will make a real difference to our prospects in 2015.
If you want to join us, you can do so here.
* Austin Rathe is a party activist who was the Head of Member and Supporter Development at Liberal Democrats HQ in London until November 2015