The Conservative Party is a far more exclusive club than previously thought. Mark Wallace has got hold of some rather alarming research that shows a rather lacklustre attitude from local Conservative associations towards those wanting to join the party. In a "mystery shopper" test, more than half did not receive a response to their application, while 10 per cent were told that the association was "closed to new members".
Apparently Andrew Feldman reported (at a meeting this morning) on a study CCHQ has carried out into the effectiveness of local Conservative Associations. In a "mystery shopper" exercise, CCHQ wrote to over 300 associations under the guise of being a person who wanted to join up, and asking how to do so.
Over half of the letters received no response at all, which is bad enough. Weirdly, a handful who wrote back said the applicant would need to pass a membership interview before they could join the Conservatives. Most worryingly, though, around 10 per cent wrote back to the pretend applicant saying they were "closed to new members".
While Labour is practically giving membership away for free, the Conservatives are a more discerning bunch. Still, at least it shows ideological consistency. The party's membership policy matches its immigration policy: we're full, you can't come in!