One week on from the vote to create a registered supporters scheme for the Liberal Democrats, how are things looking?
Party HQ has been promisingly prompt with the first wave of support material for local parties.
More importantly, several thousand registered supporters have already been signed up, with 2,000 in just the first 24 hours alone.
Those people are geographically spread. No surprise that places such as Oxford West & Abingdon are near the top of the list for the number of supporters signed up. But over nine in ten constituencies have had at least one supporter so far, and hotspots for sign-ups include Worcestershire in the Midlands.
Crucially, the people signing up are significantly more diverse than the party’s membership. This was a key reason for creating the scheme – as argued by the party’s new Vice President BAME, Isabelle Parasram, in the debate. (For the evidence behind this argument, see my post on the research into how party membership disproportionately appeals to the privileged.)
So far, the supporter scheme is getting people who are on average seven years younger than party members, ten percentage points more female and three percentage points less white. Early days and much more work to be done to have a supporter base, let alone a membership base, that properly represents the diversity of the country. But so far, we are succeeding at making ourselves more diverse than we were.
As for whether supporters will become (more) active, that’s in large part down to local parties who have access to the data. There’s plenty of promise here too from the experience of those local parties who have followed up previously with names of national petition signers.
As David Wright put it about the experience in East Cambridgeshire:
We view people who have signed national petitions on the party website as ‘gold dust’ as we find about half of them will deliver for us (and one is now a member and candidate). I hope that supporters will be as useful.
You can sign people up as supporters here: www.libdems.org.uk/support.