At 6,000 members, Labour is only slightly bigger than the Greens.
Does Labour really have so few members?
Even if they’re real, individual people and that figure doesn’t include unions as well, how can it continue to call itself a major party when it has so few people willing to sign up to belong to it?
National’s 2002 election result was worse than Labour’s this year but it’s membership at its very worst was several times better than 6,000 and has grown steadily since then.
It’s not very difficult to vote for a party. Membership requires more. It means at least a financial commitment and there are many other ways in which you can support and be involved with the party once you’ve joined up.
National’s membership, now many times more than that of Labour’s, is what provides its financial foundation and also the people who contribute to policy formation, fund-raising and who provide support for MPs.
In National, they are the ones who select electorate candidates and do so much to help them during campaigns.
Strong membership, strong finances and strong voter support are almost always linked.
But it’s not just the party which benefits from a wide and active membership, the country does too.
Without strong membership of political parties we don’t have a participatory democracy, we have politicians with very weak links to wide, grassroots support.
That results in parliament of the few by the few for the few which is the antithesis of democracy.