List of political parties in the United Kingdom
|This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
the United Kingdom
Brief history and overview 
Prior to the mid-19th century politics in the United Kingdom was dominated by the Whigs and the Tories. These were not political parties in the modern sense but somewhat loose alliances of interests and individuals. The Whigs included many of the leading aristocratic dynasties committed to the Protestant succession, and later drew support from elements of the emerging industrial interests and wealthy merchants, while the Tories were associated with the landed gentry, the Church of England and the Church of Scotland.
By the mid 19th century the Tories had evolved into the Conservative Party, and the Whigs had evolved into the Liberal Party. In the late 19th century the Liberal Party began to pursue more left wing policies, and many of the heirs of the Whig tradition became Liberal Unionists and moved closer to the Conservatives on many of the key issues of the time.
The Liberal and Conservatives dominated the political scene until the 1920s, when the Liberal Party declined in popularity and suffered a long stream of resignations. It was replaced as the main anti-Tory opposition party by the newly-emerging Labour Party, who represented an alliance between the labour movement, organised trades unions and various socialist societies.
Since then the Conservative and Labour Parties have dominated British politics, and have alternated in government ever since. However, the UK is not quite a two-party system since a third party (recently, the Liberal Democrats) can prevent 50% of the votes/seats from going to a single party. Following electoral co-operation as part of the SDP-Liberal Alliance, The Liberal Party merged with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 becoming the Liberal Democrats, which is now the largest third party.
The UK's First Past the Post electoral system leaves small parties disadvantaged on a UK-wide scale. It can, however, allow parties with concentrations of supporters in the constituent countries to flourish. Other than the Green Party of England and Wales, the only other parties winning seats in the House of Commons at the 2010 general election were based in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Since 1997, proportional representation-based voting systems have been adopted for elections to the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the London Assembly and the UK's seats in the European Parliament. In these bodies, other parties have had success.
Traditionally political parties have been private organisations with no official recognition by the state. The Registration of Political Parties Act 1998 changed that by creating a register of parties.
Membership of political parties has been in decline in the UK since the 1950s, falling by over 65% from 1983 (4 per cent of the electorate) to 2005 (1.3 per cent).
Register of Political Parties 
The Electoral Commission's Register of Political Parties lists the details of parties registered to fight elections, and their registered name, in the United Kingdom. Under current electoral law, including the Registration of Political Parties Act, the Electoral Administration Act 2006, and the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, only registered party names can be used on ballot papers by those wishing to fight elections. Candidates who do not belong to a registered party can use "independent" or no label at all.
As of 10 June 2011[update] it shows the number of registered political parties as 419. In Northern Ireland there are 42 registered parties.
Major parties in the House of Commons 
Three parties dominate politics in the House of Commons. They all operate throughout Great Britain (only the Conservative and Unionist Party stands candidates in Northern Ireland). Most of the British Members of the European Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales represent one of these parties:
- Conservative and Unionist Party, centre-right (306 seats in the House of Commons)
- Labour Party, centre-left (a broad social-democratic party with Third Way policies, was traditionally democratic socialist in orientation) (258 seats)
- Co-operative Party (all Co-operative Party MPs are also Labour MPs as part of a long-standing electoral agreement)
- Liberal Democrats, radical-centrist (heavily influenced by social liberalism). (57 seats)
Political parties with elected representation 
|Party||UK House of Commons members||Scottish Parliament members||National Assembly for Wales members||Northern Ireland Assembly members||London Assembly members||European Parliament members||Notes|
|Conservative and Unionist Party||306||15||14||N/A||9||25||Centre-right party which can be loosely divided into three categories, though with considerable overlap: The Thatcherites or Conservative Way Forward, who strongly support a free market and tend to be Eurosceptic, the economically moderate, often more europhile but socially conservative One Nation Conservatives, and the socially conservative, deeply Eurosceptic Cornerstone Group.|
|Liberal Democrats||57||5||5||N/A||2||11||Liberal, radical-centrist and socially progressive; strongly support democratisation of the political system. Promotes modern liberal values; opposing what some pen the 'nanny state', while supporting the welfare state for the basic necessities of life. The party's main two branches are the social-liberal grouping, and the dominant 'Orange Book' grouping.|
(inc Lab Co-op)
(inc 9 as Lab Co-op)
(inc 4 as Lab Co-op)
|N/A||12||13||Centre-left; a big tent party historically allied with the trade union movement; its platform is based upon mixed market Third Way policies since the party's reinvention as New Labour in 1994, whilst maintaining democratic socialist MPs and left-wing factions within the party such as the Socialist Campaign Group; it generally supports greater Pro-Europeanism.|
|Democratic Unionist Party||8||N/A||N/A||38||N/A||1||Hardline Unionist and national conservative party in Northern Ireland. Also very socially conservative with close links to Evangelical Protestantism.|
|Scottish National Party||6||69||N/A||N/A||N/A||2||Social-democratic party in favour of Scottish independence.|
|† Sinn Féin||5||N/A||N/A||29||N/A||1||Irish republican party that supports the unification of the island of Ireland as a 32-county Irish republic.|
|Plaid Cymru - Party of Wales||3||N/A||11||N/A||N/A||1||Centre-left party in favour of Welsh independence.|
|Social Democratic and Labour Party||3||N/A||N/A||14||N/A||0||Social-democratic and Irish nationalism party supporting a United Ireland.|
|Alliance Party of Northern Ireland||1||N/A||N/A||8||N/A||0||Liberal party in Northern Ireland that aims to break down sectarian divisions between Catholics and Protestants. Has a neutral stance on the Constitutional issue of Northern Ireland's status and is linked with the Liberal Democrats via ELDR.|
|Green Party of England and Wales||1||N/A||0||N/A||2||2||Green political party. Favours British republicanism.|
|Respect Party||1||0||0||N/A||N/A||0||Left-wing, socialist, and populist party active in Great Britain founded by George Galloway; concentrates on an anti-war platform.|
|Ulster Unionist Party||0||N/A||N/A||15||N/A||1||Unionist party in Northern Ireland (previously affiliated to the British Conservative Party via the Ulster Conservatives and Unionists electoral arrangement at the 2009 General Election). Also is socially conservative but with some small liberal factions.|
|Scottish Green Party||0||2||N/A||N/A||N/A||0||Green political party in favour of Scottish independence.|
|Green Party in Northern Ireland||0||N/A||N/A||1||N/A||0||Green party in Northern Ireland.|
|Traditional Unionist Voice||0||N/A||N/A||1||N/A||0||Strongly social and national conservative unionist party in Northern Ireland, opposed to the St Andrews Agreement.|
|UK Independence Party||0||0||0||1||0||13||Eurosceptic party which favours withdrawal from the European Union, small government and economic liberalism.|
|British National Party||0||0||0||0||0||1||British nationalist party who support withdrawal from the European Union, halting mass immigration and Third position economics.|
†Sinn Féin MPs do not take their seats as they choose not to swear allegiance to the crown.
Minor parties 
- Gift Economy Party, Founded September 2012, to enable the awakening of humanity to a fair system and advanced form of civilization based on a moneyless, gifting, sharing society.
- Animals Count
- Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR) single issue party campaigning to permit the legal taxed and regulated sale of cannabis in the UK.
- Jury Team (a "non-party party": an umbrella organisation for Independent candidates)
- British Freedom Party
- Liberal Party, Former members of the historical Liberal Party who refounded themselves as the Liberals when they felt that the old party had been lost in the merger with the Social Democratic Party. Has around 30 district, borough, city and county councillors.
- Libertarian Party. Party dedicated to free-market economics and Objectivism. Has one councillor in Clevedon, North Somerset region.
- National Liberal Party - The Third Way, promotes decentralist politics and co-operative economics.
- The New Party - previously stood under the name of the People's Alliance.
- No Candidate Deserves My Vote! Single issue party dedicated to putting a "None of the above" option on every ballot paper of the future.
- Peace Party (UK)
- Pirate Party UK, a party based on the ideals of the pirate political movement.
- Popular Alliance. Campaigning for national referendums on important issues, split from Veritas and United Kingdom Independence Party.
- Science Party. Launched in April 2010, with initial press support from Newscientist.com. Campaigning for increased importance and use of Science in Politics.
- Social Democratic Party. The remnants of the Social Democratic Party that did not dissolve in 1990. Has several councillors in the East Riding of Yorkshire and Neath Port Talbot. Held mayoralty of Bridlington in 2007.
- We Demand a Referendum, party launched in June 2012 with the sole objective of forcing a referendum on British membership of the EU; has one MEP who was elected under the UK Independence Party label before splitting and later founding this group.
Electoral coalitions 
- Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, an electoral coalition formed for the 2010 general election by trade unionists and left political parties.
Minor English parties 
- Boston Bypass Independents. Single issue party that took overall control of Boston Borough Council in the 2007 May elections.
- Community (London Borough of Hounslow). A local party in the London Borough of Hounslow. Lost all its Councillors in the 2010 Local Elections.
- Community Action Party. Local centre-left party active in Wigan (formerly the second biggest party on Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council) and in parts of Cheshire.
- Community Group. Local party in Doncaster with four Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster councillors.
- Derwentside Independents. Local party with 10 councillors on Durham County Council.
- Devizes Guardians. Local party based in Devizes, Wiltshire, which has held three seats on the Wiltshire Council unitary authority since June 2009 and which previously held seats on the former Kennet District Council.
- English Democrats. Party campaigning for self-government for England.
- Idle Toad. An "independents" party holding district and county council seats in Lancashire, England.
- Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern. Local party based in Kidderminster; Original aim was to restore the casualty unit at Kidderminster Hospital, and the National Health Service is still its primary focus, but the party has since diversified.
- Mebyon Kernow. Cornish nationalist party campaigning for Cornish self-government; has a number of local councillors in Cornwall.
- Middlewich First. A local party which holds three seats on East Cheshire Unitary Authority, six seats on Congleton Borough Council and seats on Middlewich Town Council.
- Morecambe Bay Independents. Local party active in the Morecambe and Heysham wards of City of Lancaster. Currently joint second largest with 12 councillors, and in an all party coalition.
- National Health Action Party, founded in 2012 by Clive Peedell and former MP Richard Taylor.
- Residents Associations of Epsom and Ewell. Local party who run the borough council in Epsom and Ewell.
- Wessex Regionalist Party. Seeking devolution for Wessex.
Minor Scottish parties 
- Borders Party Party exclusively supporting the interest of the Scottish Borders.
- Communist Party of Scotland Scotland's leading Communist party.
- East Dunbartonshire Independent Alliance Created by ex-Labour Party councillors.
- East Kilbride Alliance, a local party from the region.
- Free Scotland Party, in favour of Scottish independence outside the European Union.
- Independent Green Voice - Alistair McConnachie, ex-UKIP member with far-right connections party.
- Left Alliance, a party with council seats in Fife, Scotland.
- Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers, a party that looks to strictly regulate legal practitioners.
- Scottish Democratic Alliance - the successor to Scottish Enterprise Party
- Scottish Christian Party - the successor to Operation Christian Vote.
- Scottish Pensioners Party, a party that focuses on aiding pensioners in Scotland.
- Scottish Progressives, in the tradition of the former Progressives.
- Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party, a party that focuses on aiding pensioners in Scotland.
- Scottish Socialist Party, left-wing party which campaigns for a Scottish socialist republic.
- Scottish Voice, a centre-right party formed from ex-Conservatives.
- Solidarity, a socialist party created by ex SSP leader Tommy Sheridan.
Minor Welsh parties 
- Communist Party of Wales - also known as the Welsh Communist Party
- Cymru Annibynnol, in favour of Welsh independence
- Cymru Rydd - Welsh republican party
- Llais Gwynedd - Gwynedd Regionalist party
- Socialist Party Wales
- Wales Green Party
- Welsh Christian Party - again the successor to Operation Christian Vote
Minor Northern Irish parties 
- Fianna Fáil (registered in NI since 10 December 2007)
- Labour Party of Northern Ireland
- People Before Profit Alliance
- Protestant Coalition
- Republican Sinn Féin
- Socialist Party (Ireland)
- Workers' Party of Ireland
Minor far-left parties 
- Alliance for Green Socialism
- Alliance for Workers' Liberty, stand as Socialist Unity in elections
- Communist Party of Britain
- Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
- Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
- Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee)
- Democratic Labour Party, party based in Walsall, split off from local Labour Party in 1996
- Democratic Socialist Alliance
- Independent Working Class Association, has councillors on Oxford City Council
- International Socialist Group
- Left List - split from Respect - Unity Coalition
- Left Unity launched in 2013 by Ken Loach, following the release of his film Spirit of '45
- New Communist Party of Britain
- Peace and Progress Party
- Permanent Revolution (UK)
- People's Party, was the People's Labour Party that split off from the local Labour Party in the Furness region.
- Red Party
- Revolutionary Communist Group
- Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
- Socialist Appeal, a Trotskyist tendency active within the Labour Party
- Socialist Equality Party
- Socialist Labour Party
- Socialist Party (England and Wales) part of TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition). Also stands as Socialist Alternative in elections.
- Socialist Party of Great Britain
- Socialist Resistance
- Socialist Workers Party part of TUSC.
- Spartacist League of Britain
- Workers Power
- Workers' Revolutionary Party
Minor far-right parties 
- Britain First
- British Democratic Party
- British Peoples Party
- British First Party
- England First Party
- National Front
- Nationalist Alliance (2005–2008)
- British National Socialist Movement
Minor religious parties 
- Christian Peoples Alliance
- The Common Good
- Operation Christian Vote - The Reverend George Hargreaves and David Braid. Now the Christian Party (aka Scottish Christian Party and Welsh Christian Party)
- Christian Democratic Party (UK)
Joke parties 
- Church of the Militant Elvis (2001–)
- Death, Dungeons and Taxes Party
- Fancy Dress Party
- Official Monster Raving Loony Party, the most well-known joke party, who have run Ashburton town council (in Devon) in the past.
Defunct and historical parties in the United Kingdom 
- Campaign for Social Democracy (1973–1974)
- Countryside Party (2000–2008)
- Democratic Labour (1972–1979)
- Democratic Party (1998–2010)
- Green Party (UK), formed as PEOPLE, or the Ecology Party, in 1973 and succeeded in 1990 by the Green Party of England and Wales, the Green Party in Northern Ireland and the Scottish Green Party
- Fellowship Party (1955–2007). Environmentalist, pacifist and socialist party.
- Islamic Party of Britain (1989–2006)
- Legalise Cannabis Alliance (1999–2006). Party campaigning for the legalisation of cannabis, deregistered and became a pressure group in 2006.
- Liberal Party (1839–1988)
- Liberal Unionist Party (1886–1912)
- Make Politicians History (2005–2009)
- Miss Great Britain Party (2008–2009)
- National Democratic and Labour Party (1918–1923)
- National Liberal Party (1922–1923)
- National Liberal Party (1931–1968)
- National Socialist Party (1916–1919)
- Natural Law Party (1992–2004)
- New Party (1931–1932)
- No2EU:Yes to Democracy, a left-wing, Eurosceptic electoral alliance that stood in the 2009 European elections, succeeded by the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in 2010
- ProLife Alliance. Still operating as a pressure group, ProLife deregistered as a political party in 2004.
- Referendum Party (1997 election)
- Social Credit Party of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1931–1951, 1965–1978)
- Social Democratic Party (1981–1990)
- Trust Party (2010–2011)
- Women's Party (1917–1919)
Defunct English parties 
- Corrective Party (1988–1990s) - the electoral vehicle for Lindi St Clair (aka Miss Whiplash) to campaign on the liberalisation of sex laws.
- Free England Party (2008–2009)
- Liverpool Protestant Party
- New England Party (2005–2007, merged with the English Democrats)
- One London (November 2005–November 2008). A London political party formerly with two seats on the London Assembly, a split from UK Independence Party.
- SOS! Voters Against Overdevelopment of Northampton (? - November 2009). The Save Our Soil party campaigned on planning issues in the Northampton area.
- Vectis National Party (1970s) - Isle of Wight regionalist party.
Defunct Scottish parties 
- Fife Socialist League (1950s–1960s)
- Crofters Party
- Fishing Party (Scotland) (?–2003)
- Highland Land League (1909–1920s)
- Highlands and Islands Alliance
- Labour Party of Scotland
- National Party of Scotland (1928–1934)
- Orkney and Shetland Movement
- Progressives (1920s–1970s)
- Publican Party (2005–2007), campaigned against the smoking ban in pubs and bars.
- Scottish Enterprise Party (2004–2009), a centre-right party in favour of Scottish independence
- Scottish Independence Party
- Scottish Jacobite Party (July 2005–July 2007), a semi-serious independence party.
- Scottish Labour Party (1888–1893)
- Scottish Labour Party (1976–1981)
- Scottish Militant Labour (1990s)
- Scottish Party (1932–1934)
- Scottish Prohibition Party (1901–1935)
- Scottish Republican Socialist Party (1982–1998)
- Scottish Separatist Group, party with former links to both the Scottish National Liberation Army and the Maoist International Movement
- Scottish Socialist Alliance
- Scottish Socialist Federation
- Scottish Socialist Party (1987–1990)
- Scottish Unionist Party (modern) (1986–2009), campaigned to prevent the dissolution of the United Kingdom. Had strong links with the Orange Order.
- Scottish Workers' Representation Committee (1899–1909)
- Scottish Workers Republican Party
- Unionist Party (1912–1965)
- Workers Party of Scotland
Defunct Welsh parties 
- Balchder Cymru
- Blaenau Gwent People's Voice (2005–2010)
- Communist Party of South Wales and the West of England
- Cymru Goch
- John Marek Independent Party (2003), evolved into Forward Wales
- South Wales Socialist Society
- Welsh Republican Movement
- Forward Wales
Defunct Northern Irish parties 
- All-for-Ireland Party (1910–1918)
- British Ulster Dominion Party
- Irish Independence Party
- Irish Parliamentary Party
- Nationalist Party
- Northern Ireland Labour Party
- Northern Ireland Women's Coalition
- People's Democracy
- Protestant Unionist Party
- Republican Labour Party
- Ulster Democratic Party
- Ulster Independence Movement
- Ulster Liberal Party
- Ulster Popular Unionist Party (1980–1995)
- United Kingdom Unionist Party (1995–2008)
- United Ulster Unionist Party (1977–1984)
- Unionist Party of Northern Ireland
- Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party (1973–1978)
Defunct far-left and communist parties 
- British Socialist Party (1911–1920)
- Common Wealth Party (1942–1945)
- Communist Party of Great Britain (1920–1991)
- Independent Labour Party (1893–1975)
- International Marxist Group (1968–1981)
- Labour Party of Scotland (1973)
- Revolutionary Communist League of Britain (1968–1998)
- Revolutionary Communist Party (1944–50)
- Revolutionary Socialist League (1938–44)
- Socialist Alliance (1994–2005)
- Social Democratic Federation (1884–1911)
- Socialist Labour Party (1903–1980)
- Socialist League (1886–1903)
- Workers International League (1937–1944)
- Workers Socialist Federation (1914–1921)
Defunct far-right and fascist parties 
- British Democratic Party (1979–1982)
- British Fascisti (1920s–1930s)
- British Movement (1968–1983)
- British National Party (1960–1967)
- British People's Party (1940s)
- British Union of Fascists (1930s)
- Constitutional Movement (1979–1984)
- Flag Group (1980s)
- Freedom Party (2000–2006)
- Greater Britain Movement (1964–1967)
- Imperial Fascist League (1929–1939)
- National Democratic Party (1960s–1970s)
- National Democrats (1995–2011)
- National Fascisti (1920s)
- National Independence Party (1970s)
- National Labour Party (1957–1960)
- National Party (1975–1977)
- National Socialist League (1937–1939)
- National Socialist Movement (1962–1967)
- New Britain Party (1976–2008)
- New Nationalist Party (2006–2007/8)
- Official National Front (1980s)
- Union Movement (1948–1973)
- United Country Party (1970s)
- White Defence League (1958–1960)
- White Nationalist Party (2002–2005)
Defunct joke parties 
- Adam Lyal's Witchery Tour Party (1999–2009)
- MP3 Party (2002–2007)
- Rock 'n' Roll Loony Party (?–2007)
See also 
- Timeline of political parties in the United Kingdom
- List of political parties in the United Kingdom by representation
- Political make-up of local councils in the United Kingdom
- List of political parties by country
- Politics of the United Kingdom
- List of political parties in Northern Ireland
- List of political parties in Scotland
- List of political parties in Wales
- List of political parties in the Isle of Man (a British Crown dependency)
- List of political parties in Gibraltar (a British overseas territory)
- United Kingdom Election Results
- Index of UK party meta attributes
Notes and references 
- John Marshall: Membership of UK political parties; House of Commons, SN/SG/5125; 2009, page 6. www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/briefings/snsg-05125.pdf Access date: 5 Jan 2012
- "Party Finance - The Electoral Commission : Regulatory issues : Political parties : Registers : Register of political parties". Registers.electoralcommission.org.uk. Retrieved 2011-06-10.
- The Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru work as a group in the House of Commons
- Sinn Féin have one MEP from a UK constituency and another from the Republic of Ireland.
- "Animals Count Party website". AnimalscounGift Economy Party t.org. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
- Akwagyiram, Alexis (3 December 2006). "Activists welcome animal rights party". BBC News. Retrieved 9 January 2010.
- "Elections - parish and town candidates announced". http://www.northsomersettimes.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-04-06.
- "No Candidate Deserves My Vote!". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
- Registered with the Electoral Commission as of September 2008
- Devizes Guardians at electoralcommission.org.uk
- "Centre-right now left without solid representation in Scottish Parliament (letter)". The Scotsman (Edinburgh). 14 May 2007. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
- Electoral Commission Register of Political Parties
- "List of Political Parties either renamed or deregistered since 2002". 16 December 2009. Retrieved 9 January 2010.[dead link]
- "Ex-Tory donor launches Trust Party on expenses pledge". BBC News. 29 March 2010. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
- Boggan, Steve (25 February 1993). "Miss Whiplash faxes by-election promise". The Independent (London). Retrieved 15 April 2010.
- Amos, Annabel (28 April 2005). "How will Northampton grow?". BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 2008-09-13.
- "United Kingdom Unionist Party - Statement of Accounts for 2006" (PDF). Electoral Commission. 22 May 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-13.[dead link]
- "List of all parties standing at the 2005 election". Archived from the original on 9 March 2006.
- "List of parties that stood candidates in the 2001 general elections". Archived from the original on 25 September 2006.
- Electoral Commission: Database of Registers, includes Register of Political Parties
- Links to UK political websites from the BBC
- NSD: European Election Database - UK descriptions of main parties