Mark Wallace has been passed some very interesting information about local Conservative associations. He writes:
‘Apparently Andrew Feldman reported (at a meeting this morning) on a study CCHQ has carried out into the effectiveness of local Conservative Associations.
In a “mystery shopper” exercise, CCHQ wrote to over 300 associations under the guise of being a person who wanted to join up, and asking how to do so.
Over half of the letters received no response at all, which is bad enough. Weirdly, a handful who wrote back saying the applicant would need to pass a membership interview before they could
join the Conservatives. Most worryingly, though, around 10% wrote back to the pretend applicant saying they were “closed to new members”.’
Small wonder that party membership has been in inexorable decline. We called CCHQ and they offered no comment, but I expect the errant associations will have braced themselves for a
Ed West has some more insight into the party machine’s deeper
malaise. However, it’s worth noting that plenty of people help the Tories without carrying the card. Anecdotally, I’ve been told of numerous non-members going out on the stump, working
for MPs and sometimes even giving modest donations. Perhaps the party’s numerical decline is just a symptom of a world of looser associations. Still, it’s a bit rich for a local party
to declare itself ‘closed to new members’. Not even White’s does that.