Worrying signs for Lib Dems as UK membership numbers plummet

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By Martin Kelly
 
The Lib Dems have lost one quarter of their UK members in one year, according to figures released by the Electoral Commission.
 
A report published earlier this week shows that Nick Clegg’s party dropped a whopping 25%, from 65,038 to 48,934 over the course of 2011.

The report by the Electoral Commission also shows that the Lib Dems saw their income drop from over £9.5 million in 2010 to just over £6 million in 2011.

The drop in support for the Lib Dems contrasted with the continued growing support for the SNP. 

Alex Salmond’s party has steadily increased its membership over the last four years and experienced a 24% increase over 2011.  SNP membership has since risen by a further 16% to 23,376 members as of 30 June this year.

Commenting on the Electoral Commission report, an SNP spokesperson said:

“After losing the support of the electorate, the Lib Dems are now losing their membership as a result of what Tavish Scott described as being ‘dragged into the political gutter’ by their coalition with the Tories.

“The Lib Dems have become a non-entity in the Scottish political arena and it is little wonder so many of their former supporters are turning towards the SNP – putting our membership in Scotland at half the number the LibDems have UK-wide!”

The fall in support and income follows the party’s decision to enter into a coalition with the Conservatives after the 2010 General election, a decision many analysts believe is behind the collapse of its Scottish wing.

Writing in the Scotsman in September last year, former Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott said the party had been “dragged into the political gutter” through its coalition with David Cameron’s Conservatives.

Mr Scott said:  “Any deal with the Tories would make fighting the Holyrood elections, then a year away, impossible.  It wouldn’t matter how good the agreement was or if we had delivered our entire manifesto.  Going in with the Tories was not a strategy that would find favour north of the Border.”

The party went on to perform disastrously at the elections to Holyrood, being reduced to a rump of 5 seats.  Under Mr Scott’s replacement, Willie Rennie, the Scottish Lib Dems continue to poll poorly, and the recent local council witnessed further losses north of the border.

Related story:
http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-politics/3212-tavish-scott-lib-dems-dragged-into-the-political-gutter-by-coalition-with-tories.html

Details of the publication by the Electoral Commission can be found here:
http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/party-finance/party-finance-analysis/party-finance-analysis-accounts#SNP