Membership of UK political parties - Commons Library Standard Note

Published 03 December 2012 | Standard notes SN05125

Authors: Feargal McGuinness, Rob Clements

Topic: Political parties

There has been a large decrease in reported membership of UK political parties over the post-war period. In 2010, only 1.0% of the electorate was a member of one of the three main political parties. Labour had approximately 193,000 members, the Conservatives 130,000 to 150,000 and the Liberal Democrats 49,000. However in the early 1950s, the Conservatives claimed nearly 3 million members while Labour claimed more than 1 million members.

This note sets out available data on membership of the three main parties back to 1928, as well as more recent figures for smaller parties. It also looks at membership of other organisations, including trade unions and pressure groups, and the decline in party membership in other European countries.

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