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April 12, 2004
Guardian: Labour Rolls "Plummet"

According to the London Guardian, Tony Blair's political party has bled subscribing members since the Iraq war began last year and has now dropped below that of the Tories:

A collapse in the number of Labour party members is jeopardising the party's election prospects, amid claims that the total has hit a 70-year low.

The latest published figure of 248,294 is equivalent to fewer than 390 members per parliamentary constituency but Save the Labour Party, a party group formed by activists concerned at plummeting numbers, argues that that figure has been inflated by including lapsed members, and does not take account of many who left in the wake of the Iraq war.

A shortage of volunteers to put up posters, stuff envelopes, deliver leaflets, canvass and knock on doors to get people to vote threatens to undermine the campaign in June's local and European contests as well as next year's general election. As a result Tony Blair is to write to more than 40,000 who have left since the 2001 poll to urge them to rejoin.

The article refers to paying members of Labour, not just those who indicate party affiliation during voter registration, but the implication of that is no less of a problem, and in fact may be worse. After all, those reportedly voting with their feet comprise the core of the party, the true believers whose passion any political party needs in order to inspire the masses to vote their way. This news bodes ill for Tony Blair, who faces an energized Conservative Party in the next elections, although it is doubtful that the people who left have aligned themselves with the Tories.

Tony Blair is being urged to write a letter to those who have allowed their memberships to lapse, encouraging them to return to the party and to re-invigorate the dream of the million-member party of which Blair and his allies had openly spoken just a few years ago. It's a shame that this editorial by Blair in the Guardian itself couldn't inspire his fellow Labourites; it demonstrates why Blair represents much more than just a political party and may be as timeless a leader as Churchill, in his own way (via Power Line):

[O]ur greatest threat, apart from the immediate one of terrorism, is our complacency. When some ascribe, as they do, the upsurge in Islamic extremism to Iraq, do they really forget who killed whom on 11 September 2001? When they call on us to bring the troops home, do they seriously think that this would slake the thirst of these extremists, to say nothing of what it would do to the Iraqis?

Or if we scorned our American allies and told them to go and fight on their own, that somehow we would be spared? If we withdraw from Iraq, they will tell us to withdraw from Afghanistan and, after that, to withdraw from the Middle East completely and, after that, who knows? But one thing is for sure: they have faith in our weakness just as they have faith in their own religious fanaticism. And the weaker we are, the more they will come after us.

Tony Blair will likely become a victim of his own principled stand for freedom. It may mean that the Tories win in the next general election, or it may be that Labour votes for another PM in order to pander to its appeasers in order to bring them back into the fold. Either way, it looks increasingly as though Blair will wind up out of power despite having done the right thing at the right time -- and just as when the Brits voted Churchill out of office (at more than one point in history), they will live to regret it.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 12, 2004 5:53 AM

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