Party membership passes 50,000, with over 5,000 new members since Thursday

Lib Dem membership 50,000About 80 people an hour have been joining the party since the polls closed on Thursday, taking membership levels back up to those last seen in about 2011. Even the 2010 surge following the leaders debate only took membership up to just over 60,000, so if these extraordinary increases continue we may find ourselves completely reversing all the decline that occurred in the first couple of years of the coalition.

Party chief executive Tim Gordon has just emailed members with the timetable for the leadership election that will now take place (see below) and all those who join the party before 3 June will be able to vote.

Thanks to rules introduced in the last couple of years, local parties gain a much greater share of the benefit of new members than they previously did, so there is a big incentive for us all to get in touch with those who indicated their support in the run-up to Thursday to see if they want to join.

The easiest way for anyone to do so is on the website at www.libdems.org.uk/join

Interestingly, it seems that lots of those joining are not lapsed former members but people who have never been members before. I am sure there is a myriad of complex reasons for that, but it is a fascinating phenomenon that is reminiscent of the experience of the SNP after the referendum on Scottish independence.

Finally, as promised, the timetable for the leadership election is as follows:

Opening of nominations 13th of May 2015
Close of nominations 3rd of June 2015
Dispatch of ballot papers 24th of June 2015
Deadline for ballot papers to be returned 15th of July 2015
Count and declaration of the winner 16th of July 2015

 

 

* Nick Thornsby is a day editor at Lib Dem Voice.

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69 Comments

  • Good to see the party getting on and with resolution in 2 months. Well done.

  • Great news!

    The Lib Dem Liverpool chair’s sent around an email with this news in. I’m glad the party’s got something nice to talk about. Apparently a bunch have joined in Liverpool, too, which is great news for the fight back at the council elections next May.

  • As I said earlier disconnecting fro the Conservatives and losing Clegg as detoxified the pretty much as people like me have been saying for years,

  • John Minard 10th May '15 - 3:07pm

    is this ‘the’ most exciting time to be a Liberal Democrat? So much hope, so many ideas, such conviction!!

  • David Evans 10th May '15 - 3:07pm

    #Goldsurge – Use it. Don’t waste it!

  • Alexander Hegenbarth 10th May '15 - 3:18pm

    I am new to the party (I joined on the 8th May) and I am proud to be part of a ‘Phoenix Liberalism’ that has taken route amongst those of use who realise just how vital it is for liberalism to be represented in British politics.

    I am going to be controversial here and say that the 2015 election may have saved the Liberal Democrats. We can rebuild the party from the ground up and rather than become what most in the media have dubbed ‘a minor protest party’ we can become true champions of liberal and social justice. If the Labour Party want to drag the rich down and the Tory Party want to keep the rich still rich then let us be the party that allows all in British society to have an opportunity to reach their potential.

  • Margaret Gray 10th May '15 - 5:03pm

    I hope Membership is not sending all these new people cards with Nick Clegg’s picture on them, as they did when I renewed last week , a welcome letter from him, and his name as leader on the “You’ve turned a page” info leaflet enclosed. Surely some new people would turn round and go out the door on seeing these. Apart from spelling my name wrong on the card! No insult to Nick but he has admitted his leadership was not successful and stood down.

  • It’s a shame the liberals appear to have lost the stomach to prioritise electoral reform because they’ve just been gifted 3.8million allies from a part of the electorate they never before appealed to.

  • I hope they do send me the card I asked for which I made a conscious choice to accept…

  • Attracting support after losing is a curious phenomenon. It has worked out OK for SNP. The fact remains that I presume there will be a severe contraction in the party headquarters with a loss of some 100 MP’s researchers and assistants , quite easily equivalent to over £3 million. It is great to that many are keen to rebuild the party, however the difficulties will be enormous. The media and political world will be ignoring us and our lack of resources will add to our difficulties in making any kind of impact.

    Next May’s council elections may show an upturn in support, however I do fear that the role of the councils will be to oversee some rather nasty further local government cuts.

  • It is hardly possible to send new members cards with a picture of the new leader on, when they don’t have one yet. It is not as if they were expecting this surge and could plan ahead for it.

  • And sorry I’m a new member, so have not quite started saying we instead of they. I’m sure it’ll be habit soon, just as I’m sure the sharp intake of breath surrounding electoral reform will also become ingrained.

  • Hi Nick thornsby – if the party gets to 100,000 members by the end of the week i will eat your silly hat you have on your twitter page

  • Gwyn Griffiths 10th May '15 - 5:39pm

    How soon can local parties get info on these new members?

    Despite Thursday’s huge disappointments our (small) core of members is really keen to crack on!

  • tony dawson 10th May '15 - 5:46pm

    So, are we going to do a proper survey and ask these thousands of people why they have not been in the Party for years and have suddenly decided to join: what key (and long-overdue) event in the lat few days has caused them to see a renewed potential for hope and action within the Liberal Democrats?

  • I am a new member as well, also a trade union member. Is that okay?

  • @Ian
    “It’s a shame the liberals appear to have lost the stomach to prioritise electoral reform because they’ve just been gifted 3.8million allies from a part of the electorate they never before appealed to.”
    You are quite correct, but will Liberal Democrat members seize this opportunity from those on the right who have never before shared the pain of being so under represented?
    Don’t hold your breath!

  • Welcome to all new members its a great time to join as the lib Dems will now go through a process of renewal and fresh ideas and yes, trade unionists are very welcome.

  • Is there a group anywhere for members with disabilities?

  • @dan – I think you can’t have a civil society without a strong trade union presence. I wouldn’t go to work without their protection (I work in healthcare). The historical problem has been one of unions AND managers refusing to cooperate. If only we could be more German about this…

    @ian – why do you think we’re ignoring UKIP’s complaints about the voting system?!! Door’s wide open to anybody who thinks it stinks 🙂

  • @Dan I’m a Union member too. Welcome.

    I’m disappointed we’re rushing to elect a new leader. We need a detailed post mortem and a resolved debate in direction. Then we should see t the appropriate leader to deliver it. Electing the leader first is the wrong way round.

  • @Tony Dawson indeed it would be interesting. Perhaps these never before new members were coalition supporters shocked at the losses and pushed into helping to rebuild.

  • @Sean Indeed this was the a biased election like no other,. with people on all sides taking a hammering due to an electoral system that everyone in this party has been opposed to my entire life. If a Liberal Democrat party with nothing to lose cannot set the weather on this then it’s a scandal.

  • With so many suggestions for change within the party being put forward – I’m surprised there’s no plan for a caretaker leader – someone who can lead on implementing the changes and then once the structural and basic ideological framework is in place then appoint a leader (free of the mess of changing the party) to lead on the new platform.

  • Surely there’s no rush with internal structuring. It doesn’t seem sensible to set the party in stone too quickly. It’s in some ways liberating to remember that there’s 5 years to find ourselves properly, a lot can happen in that time. For one a European referendum will happen, answering that question for this generation. Meaning it’s debating shape at the next election will be pre-determined. It’s also good to remember that UKIP have shown that you don’t need MPs to set the agenda on issues.

  • @Ian M

    Yeah just keep things the same, take 5 years to think about, drink lots of tea, scratch our heads. Then when we’re asked in 2019 “so, what’s changed?” we can just reply “well there’s no rush, we still have another year!”.

    If we don’t use the momentum that’s been generated by the defeat then it could likely wane, why not move on it now and gather new people along for the ride who see the reality of Tory rule and a changing Lib Dem party that has opened itself up more to engage with people?

  • @Gwyn Griffiths – all the new members are going straight into Salesforce so your local membership secretary has live access to the lists as new people come in. A few seem to have had fun today regularly checking the ever-lengthening lists in their own local parties!

  • I’m a new member too (technically), having re-joined about 2 weeks before the election. I first joined in the mid-70’s as the chairman of my then local constituency party felt that I should be a member if I wanted to fight for a council seat although it wasn’t obligatory. I fought a seat for 2 years running, and increased my percentage vote in the same year that Jeremy Thorpe was arrested for dog murder. Others lost seat all over the country. After that I took a back seat pounding the streets for others, and allowed my membership to lapse. But I still did my bit wherever I was living… be it Crosby for Shirley Williams, Richmond-on-Thames for I can’t remember who but they didn’t win at that time, Croydon North-West for Bill Pitt, Southport for Ronnie Fearne, or Bedford for Mayor Dave now. This year fearing impeding doom I felt it was right to re-join. I’m partially disabled now, so manning a polling station is about all I’m able to do after about 43 years of involvement.

    Most of the new members I’ve seen on Twitter look very young. This is good as we need a new generation of foot soldiers. Welcome to all of them.

    Maybe we should have a real-time member count here at LDV.

  • Phil Beesley 10th May '15 - 11:31pm

    @tony dawson: “So, are we going to do a proper survey and ask these thousands of people why they have not been in the Party for years…”

    I can only speak for myself, but my membership absence for years was down to complacency. Rejoining is a response to distress following the GE result. I have distant but bad memories of Conservative government, happy ones of standing up for liberalism.

    I have little interest in party reorganisation at this time. I’m more concerned about maintaining functioning bodies — for an interim period. Owing to the loss of MPs and councillors, there will be fewer full time managers, campaigners and researchers. My sympathies to employees who have to restart their careers.

    At a national level, our campaigns will be very different. There will be no “costed manifesto” at the next GE, and we may be vulnerable to the slips which Greens committed in their plans. No doubt there will be sympathetic academics who will help guide policy formation, but it may be useful to dust down copies of the 1974 manifestos to see how policy was phrased.

    Councillors who have had leaflets provided by a local party will have to create their own. The party will have to become a bit more DIY without becoming amateurish. If local candidates generate local fund raising, that’s a liberal thing, innit?

  • Hi, I’m New as well. Signed up today. It would be really interesting to find out people’s reasons for joining . Mine is that I need to do something more than just vote. . . And im so sad to see what happened to us in the election. . . So many good people lost their seats. . . How can i help ? Eagerly awaiting instructions from whoever my locall party people are !

  • Good news. I wonder how many members have re-joined…

  • looking forward to joining up with everyone in Bristol after my University career is over, hopefully we can start to rebuild there towards a Liberal council again and the think about seats.

    Having studied for my dissertation the Party between 1970-1974 the situation today is oddly similar!

  • I am another who has just rejoined after some years. Like many my membership lapsed as I lost interest and moved around the country. But after feeling ashamed to be British on Friday it was time to come back. I do not want to get into the political debate on here but a couple of observations on the joining process;

    Making the phone number field compulsory will deter some from joining. If like me you prefer emails and detest junk calls you will be reluctant to complete a process which gives out your phone number. The party does not need a phone number given an email and address.

    The page before the completion of joining and payment of the membership should reconfirm the amount paid, especially since the amount format on the initial page only shows round pounds. You have to assume that if you pay the recommended amount of £70 it should be formatted 70.00. It would be best to include the recommended amount as a specific option. Again, some will be put of by a payment process which fails to reflect good practice.

  • Angela Davies 11th May '15 - 9:52am

    I wonder if all these new members are in fact returning having resigned over the coalition. It is such good news!

  • Angela Davies has a good point.

    There have been a lot of people over the last few years who have stated in LDV – “I am leaving and I am not renewing my membership until … …. …..”.

    Welcome back to all those who are returning as well as to the fresh faces.

    I joined in 1970 just after the last time that the party almost sank without trace on a mere 7% of the popular vote.
    It’s déjà vu all over again.

  • Steve Griffiths 11th May '15 - 12:10pm

    John Tilley

    A few months ago you wished that I would re-join to relight the Ivor Davies Liberal flame; this morning I have done so. With Clegg gone and the Orange Bookers blown away like so much ‘chaff in the wind’, the battle for the soul of the Liberal Democrats begins. I want to play my part in bringing the party back to its senses again and I need to get out the defibrillator for my own moribund constituency.

    This one’s for Ivor Davies, Honour Balfour, Penny Jessell and Frank Gray.

  • Alexander Hegenbarth 11th May '15 - 1:05pm

    @Steve Griffiths – surely the ‘orange bookers’ are an essential part of a Liberal Democratism, otherwise we would just be the Social Democrats?

  • Alexander I cheered your first post as for me that is what being a Lib Dem is all about. Stopping the nonsense of trickle down theory but without wanting to destroy the rich. So please forgive Caractacus his less than welcoming comments. There is another discussion going on here about it’s not about left or right. I turned to it eagerly but it wasn’t what I’d hoped it was.
    I am concerned that these are lazy descriptions of various individuals or groups within the party. Surely we can agree that social welfare is vital and that the market needs to be controlled by the Government to avoid its excesses but no more than that so Liberals are both left and right of centre if you want to use the old terminology.
    We have to rebuild and I cannot believe that so many people want to help us in our hour of need.
    Of course we should survey them and also our core 8%of the vote if we can possibly afford it. Back in the 80s we had no core vote, Now we know that we do.
    At the moment we need to welcome new members and their ideas with open arms. Let all ideas be heard without criticism or suspicion because they may be the seed from which new policies or strategies can grow.

  • It’s key that the local parties reach out to these new members and engage them – not just using them as additional leafleting fodder but encouraging ideas and debate. Get them part of campaigns on issues of national and regional significance as well as the usual work in byelections, London mayoral election etc. Now is not the right time to carry on doing the same old tricks (great at winning byelections by pouring loads of activists and leaflets at them- right? perhaps not with a still-hostile electorate) – the party needs to harness all this energy into causes as well as seats. Nothing like some frustrating local results to take the sheen off all the enthusiasm.

  • Alexander Hegenbarth 11th May '15 - 1:53pm

    @Sue S – Thank you for your comment and I completely agree, I was just pointing out that we may run the risk of ‘scape-goating’ groups or individuals if we apply labels to them. You are completely right – we should hear ideas from from our party members (old and new) and the general public on how to champion and safeguard liberalism in British politics

  • Phil Beesley 11th May '15 - 2:14pm

    Alexander Hegenbarth: “surely the ‘orange bookers’ are an essential part of a Liberal Democratism, otherwise we would just be the Social Democrats?”

    I’ve never found the Orange Booker label to be useful. Sadly, the ideas of Adam Smith or Friedrich Hayek have been appropriated by the right. Orwell suffered the same experience, to a lesser degree. As liberals, we should be looking to those thinkers for inspiration.

    But I’m a social liberal: why should I care about free marketeers? Because Smith and Hayek weren’t purists or head bangers. They acknowledged that markets have a human cost. Which is where social liberals find their place, to intervene when markets harm citizens.

  • I’m listening to the perfect song for the conversation we’re having on here. It goes “…For the first time I’m discovering the things I used to treasure about you…for the first time I’ve been seeing the things I’d never notice without you…”

    I really expected LDV to be a silent wasteland at this time. Wrong again!

  • Smith and Hayek should never be mentioned in the same breath except to draw a sharp line between them.

  • @Phil Beesley too many who use the term orange booker have never read it. If you haven’t, please do. It’s not as scary as you think.

    David Laws if you’re reading – it could do with a refresh.

  • Bill le Breton 11th May '15 - 2:58pm

    Sue S has been my beacon over the last two days.

  • Bill le Breton 11th May '15 - 3:07pm

    A little story: when I first stood for election in 1979, Howard, signed my nomination papers and on election day polished up his old Morris Oxford to take his regulars to the polling station.

    Howard was not any old/senior Liberal. Howard was one of two (Liberal) Party members who had proposed and seconded an amendment against winding up the Isle of White Liberal Party Association in the 1950s.

    The two of them swung the mood of the meeting. In February 1974, Stephen Ross, Liberal, was elected to Parliament. He won again in October of that year. And on that day in 1979, he hung on with just 300 odd votes, and the Liberal Party also won control of Medina Borough Council moving from 8 to 22 councillors.

    That is what I call a role model.

  • I joined a political party for the first time ever on the 8th May, albeit after having voted Lib Dem all my adult life. I don’t want the Lib Dems to die, I don’t want the Lib Dems to take a generation to recover, I want the Lib Dems to be a vital part of the UK political scene, I want the Lib Dems to continue fighting for a just and decent country.

  • “not just using them as additional leafleting fodder ”

    YES!!!

  • Steve Griffiths 11th May ’15 – 12:10pm
    “…John Tilley
    A few months ago you wished that I would re-join to relight the Ivor Davies Liberal flame; this morning I have done so.

    This one’s for Ivor Davies, Honour Balfour, Penny Jessell and Frank Gray.”

    This is excellent news Steve Geiffiths !

  • Phil Beesley 11th May '15 - 4:41pm

    David-1: “Smith and Hayek should never be mentioned in the same breath except to draw a sharp line between them.”

    I mentioned Orwell, too. We can make up our own minds about how much these deceased but wise codgers contribute to our political debate. Hayek wrote “Conservatism is only as good as what it conserves”, which is an inspiration for liberals to do better.

  • This reminds me of a Musketeers movie, where they’re disbanded and after years of oppression all the men in a crowd scene suddenly cast-off their cloaks to reveal they are all still Musketeers… so exciting (with due apologies to the ladies).

  • This article’s now linked from the Guardian liveblog. Needs updating as membership numbers now in excess of 8000 new joiners based on what I’ve seen…

  • George Flaxman, this is LDV, there are no ladies here 😉

  • @James

    Thank you.

  • Phyllis – Touche !.

  • Regarding the media, for now I can see some advantages to being left in peace by them, it is not like every newspaper is only trying to help.

  • R Rossim – It’s not just the newspapers ignoring us, a relatively benign development. Prior to the election Miranda Green used to provide a regular Lib Dem viewpoint on Andrew Neill’s This Week show. I suspect that this will be replaced in short order by a similar UKIP spot from Suzanne Evans. Throughout the tv media we will be completely sidelined.

  • 9000

  • George
    Yes, I do understand that it is a problem, I just wanted to point out that there is a benefit to having the problem, in case some people had missed it. Plus, there are a lot of people around here saying the Coalition was a massive mistake, thinking the leader has destroyed everything by going into it. Well if you are not in the government, you do not get the exposure in the media.

  • With all these new members coming along and looking around at the lib dem website, does someone think it might be a good idea to change some of the pictures and revise articles saying there is going to be a real surprise on polling night?

  • Phil Beesley 12th May ’15 – 12:39am
    Phyllis is a fake. He or she works for the RCP, as it was known.

    Phil Beesley
    There are a lot of “fakes” who regularly post comments in LDV. That is the way the folks who run LDV like it. They do not want to insist that people use their real names.
    BTW – When you use the initials RCP are you meaning the Rutland Conservative Party? You surely cannot mean the Revolutionary Communist Party which ceased to exist decades ago. If Phyllis had been a member of that group she must be 100 years old. Mind you I suppose it is entirely possible that she has been a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and the Rutland Conservative Party.

  • @Phil Beesley what’s the RCP?

  • I disagree on the media – we are going to be completely sidelined in due course. While it might be good to lay low while the dust settles there is no guarantee you get the platform back later…

  • Jane Ann Liston 12th May '15 - 11:51am

    ‘… what’s the RCP?’

    Racing Car Party?

    Railway Conservation Party?

    Rude Campaigners Party?

    Rampant Consumerism Party?

  • Thank you Bill that means a lot to me.

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