House of Commons corrects massive error about the Green Party…

I’ve just had this reply from the author of this week’s House of Commons report on party membership regarding my complaint to him and the Statistics Authority here. 

The report made a number of errors – talking about ‘the Green Party’ next to UKIP, Labour etc., without noting that they meant the Green Party of England & Wales (and thereby writing off the Scottish and NI Greens with thousands of members). It also listed ‘Green Party’ membership at 14,000, when it’s actually more than 19,000 now.

So the clarifications mark a bit of a success – turns out making a fuss works.

I’ve emailed back to ask that they:

a) Mention the Northern Irish Greens – an extra several hundred members, and again, a separate party

b) Include the latest GPEW membership statistics (though it’s good they mentioned Scottish growth figures) – over 19,000.

Here’s their response to my complaint:

Dear Mr Mortimer,

Many thanks for your email to the House of Commons Library regarding the note ‘Membership of UK Political Parties’.

As you note the Green Party (as registered with the Electoral Commission 25/02/1999) and the Scottish Green Party (registered 04/04/2001) are two separate entities, each registered independently with the Electoral Commission as parties of Great Britain. To clarify, the primary name of the Green Party (England and Wales) as registered with the Electoral Commission is the ‘Green Party’.  Our note focuses on membership of political parties as represented in the House of Commons. It therefore reports membership of the Green Party (as currently represented by Caroline Lucas MP) and not the Scottish Green Party; in its accounts published by the Electoral Commission year ending 31 December 2013 the Green Party reported a membership of approximately 14,000.

Before publishing the note we were sure to contact each party press office regarding up to date figures; on this occasion we did not receive a reply to our correspondence from the Green Party office. Membership figures included within the note are, unless otherwise stated, based upon submissions by UK political parties to the Electoral Commission. For those parties from which we received up-to-date membership statistics, or where press releases published after 31st December 2014 were found, such statistics have been quoted alongside official submissions to the Electoral Commission.

Nonetheless, we welcome your correspondence and your suggestion to make clearer the distinction between the Green Party and the Scottish Green Party within our note. For this reason we have updated our section on the Green Party to clarify this distinction and quoted up-to-date figures for membership to the Scottish Green Party.

So whereas before, the report said:

Membership of the Green Party appears, according to submissions to the Electoral Commission, to have held level at approximately 5,000 members between 1998 and 2002.

It now says:

Membership of the Green Party (England & Wales)…

That’s an important clarification.

They’ve also added a large section on Scotland that wasn’t there before – previously there was no mention of the Scottish Greens:

Membership to the Scottish Green Party stated in accounts ending 31st December 2013 was around 1,200; a party press release issued 22nd September 2014 reported membership has
‘passed the 5,000 mark’ following the Scottish Independence Referendum.9 Please note,
however, that the ‘Scottish Green Party’ is registered with the Electoral Commission as an
organisation separate from the ‘Green Party’ (England and Wales); consequently throughout
this note figures for ‘the Green Party’ refer to the Green Party of England and Wales only.

So it’s a minor campaign victory. Of course it all sounds petty, but actually this is a pretty politically significant document that is used by a large numbers of researchers, wonks, students, and political writers etc. This stuff matters.

You can read the updated report here. It’s gold dust for political geeks.

 

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