I don’t want this to be an attack piece. I’m no longer affiliated to any party and I’m not trying to make one look better (or bigger) than another. I’m simply trying to find out the truth of a matter. For that reason, I think this post fits with our remit, to think about Scotland and how it can be better (in this case, by finding out some truth.

So my question is this: how many members do the Labour party have in Scotland?

The reason I ask is that I listened to Harriet Harman at Saturday’s Labour leadership announcement proclaiming that the party had found 30,000 new members since May (UK-wide). I figured SOME of them must be in Scotland, so I looked at the figures published on Labour’s website regarding how their constituency parties voted in the leadership election. That page shows the first preference votes cast for each candidate from each CLP, the total votes cast within each CLP and the total number of ballot papers distributed to each CLP. Now, assuming Labour are democratic (and the electoral college system makes that a debatable point) then they will send a ballot paper to EVERY member in each CLP. Which means from the information given, you can work out how many members there are in each CLP… and how many there are in total.

So I took each of the 60 Scottish CLPs (divided by Westminster constituency – Orkney and Shetland excepted) and put them in a spreadsheet and simply totalled the numbers (see end for the numbers). By my reckoning – using Labour’s own published figures – this would make Labour’s membership in Scotland just 13,135. A far cry from the “near 20,000” they had 18 months ago. Indeed, that article, from January 2009, suggests Labour membership was 26,500 in 2000. If my figures are accurate (and I did put IF there, though if Labour’s OWN figures are accurate then I don’t see why they wouldn’t be) then two questions arise:

1)  Where has HALF of their membership gone in the last 10 years?

2)  Where is Scottish Labour’s share of the 30,000 new members since May, cited by Harriet Harman on Saturday?

Now, perhaps my working is wrong, I’ve got the wrong end of the stick from either what Harriet Harman said or from the CLP figures, but I really can’t see it. If someone from Labour wants to tell me how wrong I am – evidence will be required, naturally – I’d be happy to retract this. But to me, on these figures, it seems very much like Labour are a party distinctly in retreat in Scotland.