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Thursday, 24 February 2011

How to reverse falling Party membership

The Committee on Standards in Public Life is coming to the end of its evidence phase in the current inquiry into party political funding. It is due to report later this Spring. Many of those giving evidence have remarked on the bleeding to death of the three old parties, which enjoyed memberships of millions in the 1950s but can't even claim a combined membership of 1% of the electorate today. The reasons for falling memberships are complex, and involve many factors, but amongst those factors I had never included that identified by Professor Wyn Jones at the Cardiff session in January. "The Conservative organisation in Wales were Conservative Clubs (sic) which had their roots in the Sunday Closing Act 1881 and the fact that you could have a drink on a Sunday in a Conservative Club" revealed Prof Jones, and clearly we can see a link here between more liberal licensing laws and falling Party memberships across the UK. 

Back in Ipswich, it was the compulsory afternoon pub shut-down from 2.30 - 5.00 pm that gave the Conservative Club its best trade, that and the full-size billiards table (yes, billiards - like snooker but with three balls only). It must have been the same the country-over. And suddenly the way in which MPs can reverse falling Party memberships without staining themselves with the odium tax funding is clear; we must restore the old restrictive licensing practices, the afternoon shut-down and the 11.00 pm curfew, and watch the Party clubs revitalise. Of course, an amendment to the Health Act that allowed smoking in clubs whilst keeping the pub ban would give them no excuse for Party memberships not to reach 10% of the electorate by the end of the decade. Simples.   


WitteringsfromWitney said...

Simples indeed R - but not for the politicos who lack the ability to apply logic to any problem/situation/remedy!

hatfield girl said...

You'll need to have separate bars for ladies too so there must be other adjustments to the current laws. We're not going to sit drinking with men, are we.

Raedwald said...

Oh yes a ladies' snug of course HG, and the smoking parlour separate as well from a general lounge bar. And the dual portraits of Winston and HM at either end on the walls with an intervening Lady T. And the board room, of course. And a proper cloakroom with actual room for cloaks and hats.

Ancient non-smoking billiard player said...

As I recall, the Conservative Clubs always had some nice totty on display too.