In December I went to a branch meeting of the Communist Party, where people were discussing the recent congress. I won’t talk about the politics. Some positions changed, but contrary to the allegations floating around, the party remains stable and the congress was carried off pretty smoothly.

What I can talk about is the written report, which was produced by the Congress Arrangements and Credentials Committee. The report is basically a lot of statistics collected about the delegates to the congress, it’s got a breakdown of gender, employment status, area of employment, trade union, trade council involvement, age range, year they joined and membership of other organisations. I remember filling out a form with those details when I went to the party building school last year. It’s useful because it gives a demographic snapshot of who is represented in the party.

A friend of mine at Brookes last year was doing her dissertation on the representation of women among left organisations in Britain. I know she spent a while researching the various channels the Communist Party has for promoting women. At the moment the gender balance of the party leadership is more or less equal, although that doesn’t necessarily reflect the membership (which is mostly male).

The age of delegates is interesting, it’s sometimes referred to as a ‘wine glass’ profile. There’s wide base of new young members, large bulk of very old members above them, and a very thin number of middle-aged people in-between.

Here’s a graph:


As you can see the 35-45 age bracket is pretty small.

It’s worth noting that this is based on a small sample of around 90 delegates, so it’s not completely representative of the party membership as a whole.

The last time I drew one of these graphs I used libreoffice, and for this graph I decided to use a command line utility called gnuplot.

The graph PNG output came out at 3.3kb, and I’m impressed by how small the file is. Here’s the ages data, and the code I used in the gnuplot shell:

set boxwidth 0.5
set style fill solid
set xlabel "age ranges"
set ylabel "delegates"
set yrange [0:20]
unset key
plot "ages.dat" using 1:3:xtic(2) with boxes
set terminal png
set output 'ages_graph.png'