THEY’VE been busy in the Camden Conservatives office since Friday after 250 people applied to join the party, locally. Believe it or not, Tory sources suggest they have not been as busy processing new member forms since the day they sent out campaign literature during last year’s general election campaign which was mocked up to look like a mansion tax bill.
In Holborn and St Pancras, around 100 people are understood to have applied since the Brexit vote was confirmed and David Cameron announced his resignation as Prime Minister. Meanwhile, in Hampstead and Kilburn, the new recruits are said to number more than 150. Most are thought to be residents who have expressed support for the Conservatives in past doorstep canvassing without every signing up to the party, although insiders say they think there is a handful-sized pickup from Labour, Ukip and the Lib Dems too.
What triggered the wave of applications? The assumption is that the new members, signing up for a £25 a year fee (no £3 members here), will want a vote in choosing the next party leader, and Prime Minister, this summer. Trouble is, the rule has always been that you need to have been a member for at least three months to qualify to take part in that process and this does not match up with the party’s plans to accelerate the leadership contest. It could become a headache for central office, if the wave of new membership continues here, and elsewhere, and the newbies dig their heels in and demand that this stipulation is waived.
What is also unclear is whether the rush is being fuelled by a drive to back Boris Johnson, or to the foil his mission to reach No. 10. Theresa May, a likely opponent to the former mayor, will have first shot at charming members in the north of the borough when she speaks at summer party for Conservative supporters in the constituency later this week.