nationwide membership statistics

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Croy's picture
Croy
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Dec 17 2011 10:56
nationwide membership statistics

Hey there, I would like to know if anyone could give me a rough estimate on how many members there are of Afed in the UK ? Is it larger than solfed or IWW ?

Admittedly, I'm asking because my UKIP mate was talking about the recent by election in the Feltham and Heston constituency. The tories won, so I jokingly said "fail" to him, and then he said they got a lot more votes than I have supporters for my whole ideology. Apparently UKIP polled 1 million. Im fairly confident Afed or Afed/solfed/IWW put together could out do that ? Even if its not above 1 million, I'm saying that just because some anarchists are not a member of these organizations does not mean there are not more than a million in the UK.

Arbeiten's picture
Arbeiten
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Dec 17 2011 11:03

na bro. Probably not. But our 'ideology' (anti-capitalism, class struggle, solidarity etc, etc) is not centralized into any political pole.

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Dec 17 2011 11:35

Sorry, but no way.

The membership figures for all three are in the low triple figures.

Luckily though, abstract support for an ideology is not what counts for us, it's about people organising and taking direct action around their everyday lives, which millions of people do.

Anarchists/libcoms should have no interest in putting people up for election. But say we did, without rich backers to fund national advertising campaigns, there would be no way of us even telling most people about the existence of our candidates. So you would get hardly any votes at all.

snipfool
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Dec 17 2011 12:04

1 million people, or 2% of the UK population identifying as anarchists would be incredible! Wouldn't be surprised if it was less than 0.02%...

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Dec 17 2011 12:58

Of course, you can always count the "none of the above" camp as supportive of your argument that many people who think all politicians are as bad as each other - which outnumbers the supporters of any of the individual parties

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Croy
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Dec 17 2011 13:18

Just to make it clear, I'm not suggesting anarchists stand for an election or make a party. Looks like Im going to use the argument of my last sentence and point out that the low turn out (I think it was like 29%) and that the people who didn't vote, and don't think that their vote makes a difference in the wider scale of things, is already going to be vaguely sympathetic to us in so far as our critique of bourgeois democracy

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Ellar
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Dec 17 2011 14:00

If your talking about the amount of people who could vote and didn't, on a good year I think that hovers around 60% of the electorate on a bad year its around 50% of the electorate.

Harrison
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Dec 17 2011 14:28

To be fair, membership stats for lib com groups should also be qualified in terms of active membership. Should be talking about numbers of organisers...

Supervised Dan
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Dec 29 2011 21:56

I for example, have been a AF member for about a year and a half. All ive managed to do in that time is register on the forums. And That was about 2 minutes ago wink

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Dec 29 2011 22:47
Harrison wrote:
To be fair, membership stats for lib com groups should also be qualified in terms of active membership. Should be talking about numbers of organisers...

In that case, it's only fair UKIP should be counted that way too, and it probably only has around 1000 active members (ranting in the pub about eurocrats in Brussels straightening bananas and political correctness gone mad doesn't count).

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Dec 29 2011 22:51
888 wrote:
Harrison wrote:
To be fair, membership stats for lib com groups should also be qualified in terms of active membership. Should be talking about numbers of organisers...

In that case, it's only fair UKIP should be counted that way too, and it probably only has around 1000 active members (ranting in the pub about eurocrats in Brussels straightening bananas and political correctness gone mad doesn't count).

"Meanwhile, Ukip's membership has fallen from a peak of 26,000 to about 15,000." in 2009, so I'm guessing active members a few hundred at most.

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Dec 29 2011 23:13
Ellar wrote:
If your talking about the amount of people who could vote and didn't, on a good year I think that hovers around 60% of the electorate on a bad year its around 50% of the electorate.

What if they threw an election and nobody came? circle A

Arbeiten's picture
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Dec 29 2011 23:15

exactly. It is quite hard to determine the active membership of political parties. How much commitment is involved in ticking by the box.

Don't the SWP have some odd thing where if you sign one of their petitions you count as a member? (that is quite possibly a total lie, but they do hand around a lot of petitions).

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Dec 29 2011 23:19
Arbeiten wrote:
Don't the SWP have some odd thing where if you sign one of their petitions you count as a member? (that is quite possibly a total lie, but they do hand around a lot of petitions).

according to the lefty gossip rag:

Weekly Worker wrote:
This link between democracy and effectiveness is a common theme among all the above submissions. The eight themselves refer to the absence of a thriving internal democracy as one of the “structural limits to growth” - a reason why “our ability to recruit and retain membership beyond an upper limit of between 6,000 and 7,000 people remains unaddressed”. (It ought to be pointed out that the above figures are those for “registered members”, the majority of whom are made up by those who have signed a membership application form within the last two years, irrespective of whether they are ever heard of again. The actual SWP membership is a fraction of that.)

(...)

IB No2 claimed that the SWP’s “registered membership” is 7,127, but the CC’s financial report in IB No3 paints a rather different and more realistic picture. A table is published showing that since January 1 2009 there are 2,010 new ‘members’ old enough to set up a direct debit, yet only 542 of them (27%) pay membership subscriptions. So, as usual, states the CC, “In the first three months of 2012 we plan to launch a new subs drive. We hope to ask every member who is paying subs to raise them and to ask those not paying subs to start.” (Note the word, “hope”. Not only do most ‘members’ not pay dues: a good proportion of them cannot even be contacted!)

The CC reports: “This year’s subs drive, which took place from January to March 2011, was the most successful in a decade.” However, “As has been the pattern in previous years, membership subs have since declined … This decline is only partly counteracted by the recruitment of new members (who typically join on lower levels of subs).” Surely there is a connection here with the SWP’s ridiculous membership (non-)requirements.

This “open recruitment” enables the leadership to continue boasting of growth, although most actual members know the disheartening reality only too well. The SWP is at best stagnating - and CC exhortations to branches to activate more of their ‘members’ produces only disenchantment.

no1
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Dec 29 2011 23:26
Weekly Worker wrote:
IB No2 claimed that the SWP’s “registered membership” is 7,127, but the CC’s financial report in IB No3 paints a rather different and more realistic picture. A table is published showing that since January 1 2009 there are 2,010 new ‘members’ old enough to set up a direct debit, yet only 542 of them (27%) pay membership subscriptions.

not sure I believe those numbers - how could they afford all their fulltimers, a weekly paper and all those bloody placards at every demo with the subs of 500 odd members?

no1
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Dec 29 2011 23:26

dp

martinh
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Dec 30 2011 00:14

TBH I think Trot group subs are a lot higher than anarchist ones. I spoke to a SP member about 18 years ago who even then was paying £250 a month, he said his mortgage costs were low as if it needed excusing. If some people are paying you £3k a year you can afford to do placards etc.

Harrison
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Dec 30 2011 00:43

in answer to the OP:

AF's membership figures are higher than SF, but SF has literally doubled in size over the last two years and is still growing and is now nearly the same size. AF must also have received some growth. (not that it's a competition - i'm happy for people to be in either group)

tastybrain
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Dec 30 2011 00:58
Steven. wrote:
Of course, you can always count the "none of the above" camp as supportive of your argument that many people who think all politicians are as bad as each other - which outnumbers the supporters of any of the individual parties

I think this is a great point. The number of conscious, self-identified anarchists may be very small, but the number of people who are cynical about the government and a-political (in the sense that they don't support any party) is very large. In the States during the last few decades, I believe the proportion of eligible voters abstaining from the ballot box has averaged around 60%.

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bulmer
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Dec 30 2011 02:15
martinh wrote:
TBH I think Trot group subs are a lot higher than anarchist ones. I spoke to a SP member about 18 years ago who even then was paying £250 a month, he said his mortgage costs were low as if it needed excusing. If some people are paying you £3k a year you can afford to do placards etc.

Yeh, I know when I used to be in SWP back in the day, there were a few a lecturers in the branch who contributed substantial sums of money, there must of been at least 6 of them all paying a couple of hundred quid each a month. But I think I was only paying like £3 and refused to pay anymore when they were on a subs drive grin (I think I left not long after that actually).

noodlehead
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Jan 2 2012 03:14

I reckon its all the full time union bureaucrats that are keeping the SWP in the money.

I bet they pay pretty big subs

I heard that the SWP has 50 full time paid organisers in London, don't know the accuracy of that.

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the button
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Jan 2 2012 07:39

If the SWP is anything like the SP, fulltimers are often the partners of party members in well-paid jobs who in effect subsidise the fulltimer.

One of my happy memories as a union rep is an SWP member on a strike committee phoning her fulltimer in the middle of a meeting to see what she should say. Workers' control of disputes ftw.

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Jan 2 2012 12:31
noodlehead wrote:
I reckon its all the full time union bureaucrats that are keeping the SWP in the money.

I bet they pay pretty big subs

I don't know of any full-time union officials in the SWP. That's not to say there definitely aren't any, but certainly not a significant number. The SWP union strategy is to get people elected to various lay bodies, rather than paid official positions.

Quote:
I heard that the SWP has 50 full time paid organisers in London, don't know the accuracy of that.

that sounds very doubtful - last I heard was something like 25 nationally

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Jan 2 2012 13:35

There's definitely a shit tonne on various degrees of facility time, not the least of which includes branch secs on full facility time.

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Steven.
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Jan 2 2012 17:26
Chilli Sauce wrote:
There's definitely a shit tonne on various degrees of facility time, not the least of which includes branch secs on full facility time.

yes, of course, this ties in with their strategy of getting people elected to lay official positions. But these totally different from union full timers. Union officials with facility time (such as myself) don't get paid by the union but get paid by their employer for the wage of their substantive post

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Jan 2 2012 17:58

Hmmm...I think the problems begin not once someone is paid by the union, but once they're removed from the shop floor. I used to take a stance that I'd oppose SF membership to anyone who has any facility time* but I've softened my stance on that...

*This is not the official SF line, btw. The constitution--as far as I know--only bans those on full facility time from membership, anything beyond that is up to individual locals.

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Jan 2 2012 19:13

The constitution doesn't explicitly ban people on 100% facility time. If it came up there'd be a discussion, but it isn't ruled out.

I suspect no one else in the organisation has ever held such a strict view on facility time btw! wink

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Jan 2 2012 20:32

Right you are Fall Back, here's what it says:

Quote:
We define a full time trade union official as one who is employed by the union and accountable to the union bureaucracy rather than the rank and file. In addition we would include anyone who has the ability within the union structure to control access to resources and backing. This does not include workers on facility time, especially where they are recallable by the union members. Any union position attracting facility time may well have its own problems, but these should be examined on a case by case basis, should someone wish to join.

Is that supposed to say "In addition we would include anyone who has the ability within the union structure to control access to resources and backing"? Should it say "banking" and, also, how do we define "access to resources", seems pretty wooly...

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Steven.
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Jan 2 2012 22:10

You didn't seem to mind me using my access to resources to get you a venue for your organiser training!

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Jan 2 2012 22:36
Steven. wrote:
You didn't seem to mind me using my access to resources to get you a venue for your organiser training!

Exactly! I would imagine even shop stewards without facility might be able to "control access to resources" in various capacities, so I think the existing language could be quite problematic.

martinh
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Jan 2 2012 23:46
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Is that supposed to say "In addition we would include anyone who has the ability within the union structure to control access to resources and backing"? Should it say "banking" and, also, how do we define "access to resources", seems pretty wooly...

Woolly is better than having an over-prescriptive constitution. We want any such cases decided on a case by case basis and for Locals to think about the problems associated with facility time etc.

In this case it does mean "backing". Not sure where banking would come in. It refers to union officials (inlcuding lay officials) who can access the resources and backing of the union, i.e. can make disputes official, or allow them to go ahead. All this depends on the particular union - again a reason to leave it up to Locals within general guidance.

If you think it's too woolly and can phrase it better, you know what to do wink

Regards,

Martin