- The Tory Party does not release membership figures
- The 0.03% figure is based on an estimate of the number of party members in NI
- While that estimate is plausible, it is based on speculation
In the Assembly on August 3, 2022, SDLP MLA Matthew O’Toole stated:
Are we to wait, as Mr Kingston said, for the verdict of Tory Party members in order to get a Government in Northern Ireland, a vote for the leader of the Conservative Party in which, I think I am right in saying, less than 0·03% of the population of this place has a vote?
There is no firm public data on how many people in Northern Ireland are members of the Conservative Party.
Although the 0.03% figure is not implausible, it is based on speculation. As such, this claim is not substantiated.
Mr O’Toole told FactCheckNI that his 0.03% figure was based on a report in Belfast Live.
In an article on the Conservative leadership race, journalist Brendan Hughes said that “estimates vary on how many members of the Conservative Party live in Northern Ireland, with figures bandied about ranging from 300 to 600.”
Mr Hughes calculated that, at the upper end of that range, 0·03% of Northern Ireland’s population – i.e. 600 people out of around 1.9 million – could vote in the Tory leadership election.
Mr O’Toole’s claim is similar to this, with the MLA saying that less than 0.03% of the NI population is eligible to vote in this race.
The NI Conservatives launched in June 2012. They are part of the UK Conservative Party and people who have been members of the NI Conservatives for at least three months are entitled to vote in the leadership election.
FactCheckNI contacted the NI Conservatives, who advised they had a long-term policy of not disclosing membership numbers.