British Left

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Timeline of parties in the broad socialist movement

The biggest organisation formerly associated with the British Left is the Labour Party with over 100,000 members. The Labour Party shifted increasingly to the right under New Labour, as an opposition party under Ed Miliband the Labour Party has not shifted policy back to more traditional social democratic territory and many of the British Left no longer see a future in the Labour Party. This has led to alienation of much of the Labour membership, this has been seen most strongly in Scotland where the Scottish Labour Party are on course post Scottish Independence Referendum to lose large numbers of MP's normally elected to Westminister to the SNP in the 2015 General Election. With the election of the Blarite Jim Murphy as Scottish Labour Leader the fortunes of Scottish Labour in the future are in serious doubt.

In Scotland there have been calls post referendum for a new united party of the Left in Scotland with such a party potentially being formed by/in collaboration with the Radical Independence Campaign and other groups such as the Scottish Socialist Party and the Scottish Greens.

Aside from Labour the biggest Leftist parties are the Green Party who have benefited from the collapse of the Left leaning Liberal Democrat supporters and disatisfaction of Labour Supporters. The Green Party England and Wales membership in 2014-2015 doubled to 27,618 members and Green Party Scotland membership had increased primarily after the Scottish Independence Referendum to 7,500. There are also Plaid Cymru, and Respect.

A new Party Left Unity was formed in November 2013 and backed by a number of existing Left Groups after an appeal by director Ken Loach seeking to create a United Left Party in light of the Unity and successes seen by Syriza in Greece. The fracturing of the Left of Labour into many smaller groups over decades within Britain is seen as a problem that must be addressed by the party and that the various Left Groups need to work towards uniting around a common platform in order to challenge the Labour Party, its shift to the political right and adoption of Neo-Liberalism under Kinnock, Blair, Brown and continued under Ed Miliband. This would be with the aim of producing a United Party of the Left and Working People.

The Communist Party of Great Britain had a peak membership of 56,000 in 1945, whose successor is the Communist Party of Britain.


Active in England[edit]

Labour Party[edit]

Main article: Labour Party (UK)

The biggest formerly left-wing party in the UK in terms of members and representation is the Labour Party. The party had 201,374 members on 31 December 2004 according to accounts filed with the Electoral Commission. The Labour Party grew out of the trade union movement and socialist political parties of the 19th century. With the party's rebranding as New Labour under Tony Blair, however, the party adopted a number of Thatcherite policies. Many now describe Labour as neo-liberal capitalist and no longer democratic socialist. Blair himself has described New Labour's political position as a "Third Way" which many perceive in reality to be te Thatcherisation of the party. The Socialist Campaign Group is a left-wing grouping of Labour Party members of parliament in the United Kingdom. It was formed in 1981 by Tony Benn's supporters as a split from the Tribune Group. The Compass organisation has also attracted a number of members disillusioned with the New Labour project. In the 2005 General Election Labour won 9,556,183 votes.

Internal groups[edit]

In contrast to Tribune and Chartist.

Other organisations[edit]

The next largest Party is the Green Party, followed by the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, comprising the Socialist Party (England and Wales), Socialist Resistance, Socialist Workers Party, Independent Socialist Network, Solidarity, and others. TUSC contested the 2014 United Kingdom local elections with 554 candidates, winning 68,031 total votes, composed of 64,098 votes for the council candidates and 3,933 votes for the three mayoral candidates. The average vote for TUSC candidates was 3.4%, with one candidate winning 43% of the vote, and 8 others gaining more than 10%.[1] TUSC plans to stand 100 candidates in the 2015 General Election, as well as 1,000 council candidates in the local elections.

The Respect Party, which has the support of: Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee), the Socialist Unity Network, and the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), formerly the second largest left Party, lost it's final two councillors in the United Kingdom local elections, 2014.[2] Respect's only Member of Parliament is George Galloway who is also the leader of Respect.[3]

Fewer than 500 votes[edit]

Including those who did not stand on principle or for practical reasons

Active only in Scotland[edit]

Active only in Wales[edit]

Active only in Northern Ireland[edit]

Active in both Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland[edit]



Publications affiliated to parties[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Barrow, Logic and Bullock, Ian. Democratic Ideas and the British Labour Movement (Cambridge University Press, 1996)
  • Beilharz, Peter. Labour's Utopias: Bolshevism, Fabianism and Social Democracy (Routledge 1992)
  • Biagini, E.F. and Reid, A.J., eds. Currents of Radicalism: Popular Radicalism, Organized Labour and Party Politics in Britain 1850–1914, (Cambridge University Press, 1991)
  • Black, L. The Political Culture of the Left in Affluent Britain, 1951–64: old Labour, new Britain? (Basingstoke, 2003)
  • Bryant, C. Possible Dreams: a personal history of British Christian Socialists (London, 1996)
  • Buchanan, Tom. "Britain's Popular Front?: Aid Spain and the British Labour Movement," History Workshop Journal, 31, 1991
  • Callaghan, John. Socialism in Britain
  • Chun, L. The British New Left (1993)
  • Morgan, Kenneth O. Ages of Reform: Dawns and Downfalls of the British Left (I.B. Tauris, distributed by Palgrave Macmillan; 2011) 314 pages; the history of the British left since the Great Reform Act of 1832.
  • Taffe, Peter. A Socialist World is Possible
  • Parker, Martin, et al. The Dictionary of Alternatives Zed Books, 2007.[10]

Labour Party[edit]

  • Cole, G. D. H. A history of the Labour Party from 1914 (1969)
  • Pelling, Henry. A short history of the Labour Party (12th ed. 2005)
  • Pugh, Martin. Speak for Britain!: A New History of the Labour Party (2011) [11]
  • Taylor, Robert. The Parliamentary Labour Party: A History 1906–2006 (2007)
  • Thorpe, Andrew and Jeremy Black. A History of the British Labour Party (3rd. ed. 2008)[12]
  • Worley, Matthew. Labour Inside the Gate: A History of the British Labour Party between the Wars (2009)[13]


  • Callaghan, John. Cold War, Crisis and Conflict: The History of the Communist Party of Great Britain, 1951–68 (Lawrence & Wishart, 2001) [14]
  • CPB. Britain's Road to Socialism
  • Croft, Andy, (ed.) A Weapon in the Struggle: The Cultural History of the Communist Party in Britain (Pluto Press, London, 1998)
  • Pearce, Brian, and Michael Woodhouse. A History of Communism in Britain


  • Bruley, Sue. Leninism, Stalinism and the Women's Movement in Britain, 1920–1939 (Garland, London and New York, 1986)
  • Graves, Pamela M. Labour Women: Women in British Working-Class Politics 1918–1939 (Cambridge University Press, 1994)
  • Jackson, Angela. British Women and the Spanish Civil War (Routledge 2002)[15]
  • Mitchell, Juliet, and Ann Oakley, (eds). The Rights and Wrongs of Women (Penguin, London, 1976)
  • Rowbotham, Sheila. Hidden from History: 300 Years of Women's Oppression and the Fight Against It (Pluto Press, London, 1973)

See also[edit]



  1. ^ [1], 30 May 2014
  2. ^ Helen Pidd "Labour gains control of Bradford as Respect fail" (The Northerner Blog), 23 May 2014
  3. ^ Helen Pidd "Who is the leader of the Respect party these days?" (The Northerner Blog), 28 October 2013
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ [4]
  7. ^ [5]
  8. ^ [6]
  9. ^ [7]
  10. ^ [8]
  11. ^ excerpt and text search
  12. ^ excerpt and text search
  13. ^ excerpt and text search
  14. ^ online
  15. ^ [9]

External links[edit]