David Cameron speaks at last year's Conservative conference in Manchester. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Exclusive: Tories to announce "tens of thousands" increase in membership at party conference

Party claims that total membership is nearing 200,000.

I noted earlier that Labour and the Lib Dems increased their party memberships last year (from 187,537 to 189,531 in the case of the former and 42,501 to 43,451 in the case of the latter), but what of the Tories? The party again failed to release a figure in its annual accounts, but I'm told by a Conservative source that an announcement will be made at the party's conference in September and that "membership is up on last year". 

After much media pressure, the Tories announced last September that they had 134,000 constituency members (down from more than 250,000 when David Cameron became Conservative leader) and 174,000 in total (a figure that includes "friends" and Conservative Future members). Based on this "wider measure", which the Tories say mirrors that used by Labour, party sources claim that they are "coming up fast on 200,000" and that the figure announced at conference will be "tens of thousands" higher. That could potentially leave them with the largest membership of the three main parties, but the key test will be whether the numbers survive scrutiny.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.