What do we know about Tory Party members?

The decision over whether Jeremy Hunt or Boris Johnson becomes the leader of the Conservatives – and the next Prime Minister – is now in the hands of Tory Party members.

What do we know about this group of people?

– How many members are there?

The last time the Conservative Party released information about membership was in March 2018, when it put the number at 124,000.

– How old are members?

Their average age is 57, according to a survey carried out after the 2017 general election by the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) Party Members Project.

POLITICS Tories Members
POLITICS Tories Members

This compares with an average age of 53 for Labour members and 52 for Lib Dem members.

Roughly four in 10 Tory Party members are aged 65 and over (44%). Just 5% are aged 18-24.

– Where do members live?

More than half are estimated to live in the southern half of England, with 12% in London and 42% in the rest of the south. Some 18% live in the Midlands and Wales, 17% in northern England and 10% in Scotland.

POLITICS Tories Members
POLITICS Tories Members

– What is the gender balance among members?

Seventy-one per cent are male, according to the QMUL survey. This compares with 63% of Lib Dem members and 53% of Labour members.

– What about other demographics?

Some 97% of Tory members identify themselves as white, while 86% of them are within the ABC1 category used by market researchers to identify the highest social grade.

POLITICS Tories Members
POLITICS Tories Members

– What do Tory members believe?

Just over half of members – 54% – support the death penalty, according to the QMUL survey, while 77% think young people today don’t have enough respect for traditional British values.

Some 44% believe censorship of films and magazines is necessary to uphold moral standards, and 84% think schools should teach children to obey authority. Just 15% think the government should redistribute income from the better off to the less well off.

– And what about Brexit?

The survey suggests that in the aftermath of the 2017 general election, 25% of Tory Party members thought Britain should stay in the single market and just 14% thought there should be a second referendum on the Brexit deal. There was no question asked about leaving the EU without a deal.

POLITICS Tories Members
POLITICS Tories Members

– How do Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt’s supporters compare?

More recent analysis suggests 85% of party members who support Boris Johnson are keen on a no-deal departure from the EU, compared with 37% who back Jeremy Hunt. Some 66% of all members said the UK should leave without a deal.

The figures are based on a YouGov survey conducted in May 2019 and analysed by Tim Bale of Queen Mary University of London and Paul Webb of the University of Sussex.

According to their analysis, party members who support Mr Johnson are “even more ideologically unrepresentative of British voters than are the bulk of their counterparts”.

Around 27% of Mr Johnson’s supporters would like to see less emphasis on climate change. The equivalent figure for Mr Hunt’s supporters is 10%.

And while 42% of all Tory members considered themselves to be on the right wing of the party, this rises to 56% of Mr Johnson’s grassroots supporters, compared with 15% for Mr Hunt.

“We can only guess as to how many of Johnson’s supporters were former Ukip sympathisers switching to the Tories; but it certainly seems possible,” Bale and Webb concluded.

“Whether the country will be as pleased as they will be if Johnson does end up making it all the way to Number 10, however, remains to be seen.”