- Lib Dems claim growing membership and ‘feel-good factor’
- Confusion as to who is member, who has left (and when)
- Members ‘lapsed by accident’ given renewals without payment
- Ex-members from 1990s sent ‘cancellation notice’ in error
With the party in the polling doldrums, attempts by the Lib Dems to spin other metrics of support began at the end of 2013 with the disingenuous claim that they had ‘increased their membership while in power’ — as opposed to finally stemming the haemorrhage:
The Liberal Democrats are the first governing party in recent history to have increased its membership while in power http://t.co/gijZXLUwiE
— Lib Dem Press Office (@LibDemPress) December 30, 2013
This continued with stats for the first quarter of 2014:
“This is great news and a further sign that the feel-good factor is well and truly back in the Liberal Democrats.”
But the accuracy of these figures has been questioned by former party members commenting on the website Lib Dem Voice, claiming to have received communications offering them ‘membership renewal’ in lieu of donations they had previously made:
“the caller advised me that ‘our records show that you once gave a donation to the Liberal Democrats; as such you are entitled to membership’. She seemed nonplussed when I advised her that I had been an active member and an officer of my Local Party for many years prior to making the decision to cease my membership of the Party in 2011, that I had made no donation to the Party since and that I had absolutely no wish to rejoin.”
A second reader claims:
“I allowed my membership to lapse (after 30 years). Got a letter saying ‘You haven’t renewed. Maybe it was an oversight on your part? We’re giving you free membership for a year unless you write (no telephone or online option) to this address quoting this 16-digit reference number to say you don’t want it’.”
In a detailed response on the same website, Lib Dem HQ’s head of membership claimed that the confusion was down to “an administrative issue” which meant that some membership renewal payments were treated as donations by accident — with the individuals concerned seeing their memberships lapse.
The solution implemented was to assume that 700 former members who had donated to the party in an unspecified time period had actually intended to renew — and to automatically give them a membership unless they objected. But at least some of the membership cards issued to these individuals state that they are not renewals but ‘new’ members — who may have counted towards claims of ‘new members’.
Confidence in the accuracy of membership figures will be further undermined by an email sent out to to former members in the past few days saying that their “membership of the Liberal Democrats has been cancelled” — even though they had left the party as long ago as the 1990s.
The words ‘piss up’ and ‘brewery’ spring to mind.