Keir Starmer’s claims about Labour’s falling membership are balderdash

The excuses man: it seems Keir Starmer has gone back to his Big Book of Excuses to explain why so many former members have turned away from the Labour Party under his leadership. But his words don’t ring true.

Membership of the Labour party plummeted by nearly one-fifth in the year after Keir Starmer became leader, it has been revealed.

The party had 432,213 members at the end of 2021, down from 523,332 in 2020.

Starmer has claimed that this vertiginous drop in membership is an expected part of the political/electoral cycle – but this is not true. Either he has been fed false information or he is deliberately lying.

According to the BBC, he said

that the fall reflected a “very familiar pattern”.

He said the party’s membership figure “goes up dramatically” ahead of elections or leadership contests, then “flattens back down again”.

“I’ve looked at the patterns – they are exactly as we would have expected,” he added.

But this is belied by the figures for his immediate forerunner, Jeremy Corbyn’s, leadership.

On the day before the 2015 general election, when Ed Miliband was still leader, Labour’s membership stood at just 201,293.

Then Mr Corbyn was elected leader – and by January 10 the following year, membership had nearly doubled to 388,407.

By December 2017, the membership had surged to a high of 564,443 – possibly in response to Labour’s much-better-than-expected result in that year’s general election. That’s nearly three times as many members as when Ed Miliband had lost the election two and a half years previously.

It is now slightly more than two and a half years since Mr Corbyn lost the 2019 election to Boris Johnson. It would be wrong to compare his 363,250 surge in membership between 2015-17 with Starmer’s loss of 91,119 because there hasn’t been an election this year, but the numbers are still damning.

By December 2018, Mr Corbyn’s Labour had indeed lost members – but not as many as Starmer’s party. Membership stood at 518,659 – a fall of 45,784.

Membership started climbing again in advance of the 2019 general election. By the time of the leadership election in which Starmer was elected to run the party, membership was back up to 552,835.

Then it started haemorrhaging.

By November 2020 it stood at 495,961 – the first time it had dipped below half a million since Mr Corbyn had taken it to that height.

So whereas Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership saw party membership rise by more than 300,000 members – and stay there, Keir Starmer has overseen a continuous exodus of 120,622 people during his time as leader.

That’s not a familiar pattern – certainly not when compared with the meteoric rises seen under Mr Corbyn.

If Labour can’t even be honest about its own membership, how can we ever trust Starmer when (if?) he ever announces any policies?

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