The largest political party associated with the British left is the centre-left Labour Party, which is also the biggest political party in the UK with over half a million members. The Labour Party has 230 seats in the House of Commons.
The largest left-wing party in Britain, by membership, is the Green Party of England and Wales. As of August 2016[update], membership is approximately 53,000. The party has one Member of Parliament (MP).
The other two political parties in Britain on the left and with representation in the UK parliament are the centre-left Scottish National Party and the left-wing Plaid Cymru. The Scottish National Party are only active in Scotland and Plaid Cymru are only active in Wales. The SNP has 54 MPs and Plaid has 3 MPs.
- 1 History
- 2 Active in England
- 2.1 Labour Party
- 2.2 Green Party of England and Wales
- 2.3 Other organisations
- 3 Active only in Scotland
- 4 Active only in Wales
- 5 Media
- 6 Further reading
- 7 See also
- 8 References
Active in England
The biggest left wing party in the UK in terms of members and representation is the Labour Party, which was formed as the Labour Representation Committee in 1900. With the party's rebranding as New Labour in the 1990s under Tony Blair's leadership, the party accepted a number of Thatcherite policy positions, causing it to be identified as neoliberal rather than democratic socialist, and no longer a party of the Left; Blair himself described New Labour's ideology as a "Third Way". When Ed Miliband became leader of the Labour Party in 2010, however, he described the Labour Party as "democratic socialist", pledging to clamp down on tax avoidance, introduce a wealth tax in the form of a Mansion Tax, raise income tax on the highest earners in Britain and break up the banks.
As an opposition party under Miliband's leadership, the party was criticised by some, including former leader Tony Blair, as straying leftwards from the "centre ground" of British politics, and that Miliband was a "traditional left-wing" politician. However, others disputed this view, and put Labour's loss of the 2015 UK election down to the party being too right wing. The unexpected landslide victory of Jeremy Corbyn in the 2015 Labour leadership election represented a resurgence of the Labour Left and led to a surge in membership; in the reshuffle that followed, John McDonnell (chairman of the Labour Representation Committee) and Diane Abbott (member of the Socialist Campaign Group) were appointed to the Shadow Cabinet.
Green Party of England and Wales
In 2015, the membership of the Green Party quadrupled, and its support in national opinion polls sextupled. Several factors have contributed, including the collapse of the Liberal Democrat vote, the influence of social media and greater awareness among younger people about the rise of other leftist parties in Europe such as Podemos in Spain and Syriza in Greece, as well as a rise in anti-austerity movements across Europe and Britain. Other factors include the Scottish referendum, which has proved an inspiration for a new kind of politics. Other key factors had been the contrast in conferences of the Green Party and Labour in September 2014, and the media exclusion of the Green Party during and following their successes in the European elections. A petition against the media blackout of the Green Party reached 260,000 signatures. The party also received a significant spike in membership during January, 2015 following David Cameron's demand that the Green Party be included in the leaders' debates for the 2015 General Election. The Green Party has been included in a seven-way television debate. The Green Party of England and Wales' spring conference had 1,300 members attend, a record for the party.
The Green Party of England and Wales is now the second largest party of the European Greens, and has increased significantly in the national polls from an average 1% to 7%. It beat the Liberal Democrats to fourth place in the 2014 European Elections with 8%, under a proportional voting system, having a third MEP elected.
The now defunct Respect Party, which at one point had the support of other Left groups (such as the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Resistance) and some electoral success, lost its last local councillors in 2014 and its only MP George Galloway - who was also the party leader - in 2015.
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition was founded in 2010, comprising the Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party, and Independent Socialist Network. As of 2016, TUSC has a small number of affiliated local councillors. Following the 2015 election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, TUSC floated plans for a future electoral pact with any Labour councillors standing on an anti-austerity platform.
A new party, Left Unity, was formed in November 2013 and backed by a number of existing leftist parties. Left Unity had an electoral pact with TUSC for the 2015 elections but has since renounced independent electoral activity in favour of the Labour Party.
Some left and far-left parties contest elections independently, such as the Socialist Party of Great Britain (the oldest extant left party, having formed in 1904) and the Communist Party of Britain, a split from and effectively the political successor to the historical Communist Party of Great Britain, once the largest British far-left organisation. Other parties or groups are electorally inactive or renounce participation in elections.
In the case of anarchist groups, the status of anarchism as part of the left is sometimes disputed.
Active electoral parties
- Alliance for Green Socialism
- Communist League
- Communist Party of Britain
- Old Swan Against The Cuts
- Socialist Equality Party
- Socialist Labour Party
- Socialist Party of Great Britain
- Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
- Workers' Revolutionary Party
Parties working within TUSC
- Communist Party of Britain (Marxist–Leninist)
- Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist–Leninist)
- New Communist Party of Britain
- Revolutionary Communist Group
- Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist–Leninist)
- Anarchist Federation
- Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee)
- Communist Workers Organisation
- Independent Working Class Association
- Solidarity Federation
- Spartacist League
- Workers' Fight
- World Revolution
Groups working within Labour Party
Entryist groups within Labour Party
Active only in Scotland
- Communist Party of Scotland
- Republican Communist Network
- RISE – Scotland's Left Alliance
- Scottish Green Party
- Scottish National Party
- Scottish Republican Socialist Movement
- Scottish Socialist Party
- Socialist Party Scotland
Active only in Wales
- Plaid Cymru
- Welsh Communist Party (part of the Communist Party of Britain)
- Wales Green Party (semi-autonomous within Green Party of England and Wales)
Publications affiliated to parties
- Economic and Philosophic Science Review (EPSR Supporters)
- Emancipation and Liberation (Republican Communist Network)
- News Line (WRP)
- The New Worker (NCP)
- The Socialist (SPEW)
- Socialist Appeal monthly newspaper by a group of the same name
- Socialist Resistance, periodical by a group of the same name
- Socialist Standard (SPGB)
- Socialist Worker (SWP)
- Solidarity (AWL)
- Weekly Worker (CPGB (PCC))
- World Socialist Web Site (SEP)
- Morning Star (Independent since 1945 but Britain's Road to Socialism, the programme of the Communist Party of Britain, underlies the paper's editorial stance)
- New Statesman (founded 1913)
- Red Pepper (founded 1995)
- Aufheben journal archive
- Fabian Society archive
- Marxism Today archive
- Marxists Internet Archive/Britain
- Revolutionary History journal
- Socialist History journal
- What Next Journal archive
- Anderson, Perry. Arguments Within English Marxism, (Verso, 1980)
- Baker, Blake. The Far Left (Butler & Tanner, 1981)
- 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. British Trotskyism: Theory and Practice (Blackwell 1984)
- Callaghan, John. Socialism in Britain since 1884 (Blackwell, 1990)
- Callaghan, John. The Far Left in British Politics (Blackwell, 1987)
- Crick, Michael. Militant (Faber & Faber, 1984)
- Chun, L. The British New Left (Edinburgh University Press, 1993)
- Morgan, Kenneth O. Ages of Reform: Dawns and Downfalls of the British Left (I.B. Tauris, dist. by Palgrave Macmillan; 2011), history of British left since the Great Reform Act, 1832.
- Parker, Martin, et al. The Dictionary of Alternatives Zed Books, 2007
- Quail, John. The Slow Burning Fuse: The Lost History of the British Anarchists (Paladin, 1978)
- Shipley, Peter. Revolutionaries in Modern Britain (Bodley Head, 1976)
- Smith, Evan & Worley, Matthew. Against the Grain: The British Far Left from 1956 (Manchester University Press, 2014)
- 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) 
- 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)
- Worley, Matthew. Labour Inside the Gate: A History of the British Labour Party between the Wars (2009)
- Beckett, Francis. Enemy Within: The Rise and Fall of the Communist Party of Great Britain (John Murray, 1995)
- Callaghan, John. Cold War, Crisis and Conflict: The History of the Communist Party of Great Britain, 1951–68 (Lawrence & Wishart, 2001)
- Britain's Road to Socialism - the programme of the Communist Party of Britain
- Croft, Andy, (ed.) A Weapon in the Struggle: The Cultural History of the Communist Party in Britain (Pluto Press, London, 1998)
- Parker, Lawrence. The Kick Inside: Revolutionary Opposition in the CPGB, 1945-1991 (November Publications, 2012)
- 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)
- 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)
- John Sullivan, As Soon As This Pub Closes
- Jim Higgins, Ten Years for the Locust
- Jim Higgins, More Years for the Locust
- Red Party critique of the AWL
- AWL critique of the SWP
- Socialist Party critique of the SWP
- CWM critique of the SWP
- CPGB(M-L) critique of the SLP
- CPGB(M-L) critique of the Morning Star/CPB
- CPGB(M-L) critique of the RCPB(M-L)
- History of socialism in the United Kingdom
- Convention of the Left
- Campaign for a Marxist Party
- Campaign for a New Workers' Party
- Socialist Alliance
- Socialist Unity Network
- List of left-wing publications in the United Kingdom
- List of political parties in the United Kingdom
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