List of political parties in the United Kingdom

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This article lists political parties in the United Kingdom.

Brief history and overview[edit]

Before 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 Liberals 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 as other parties have significant support. The Liberal Democrats had been the third largest party until the 2015 general election when it was overtaken by the Scottish National Party in terms of seats and by UKIP in terms of votes.

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. In the 2015 Election there was widespread controversy[1][2][3] when UKIP and the Green Party of England and Wales received 4.9 Million votes[4] (12.6% of the total vote for UKIP and 3.8% for the Greens) yet only gained one seat each in the House of Commons. Following the 2015 election UKIP, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party of England and Wales, together with its Scottish and Northern Ireland affiliated parties, the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru delivered a petition signed by 477,000[5] people to Downing Street demanding electoral reform.

Scottish Parliament debating chamber

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).[6]

Register of Political Parties[edit]

The Electoral Commission's Register of Political Parties[7] 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 3 August 2015 the Electoral Commission showed the number of registered political (inc. 'minor') parties in Great Britain and Northern Ireland as 492.[8]

Major parties[edit]

Two parties dominate politics in the House of Commons. Each one operates 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:

Political parties with elected representation in the Westminster, devolved and European parliaments[edit]

Party Political Position Leader House of Commons Scottish Parliament National Assembly for Wales Northern Ireland Assembly London Assembly European Parliament Local Government Membership UK Vote Share % (2015 General Election)[9] Notes
Conservative and Unionist Party Centre-right Theresa May 331 31 11 N/A 8 20 8706[10] 149,800[11]

(Estimated December 2013, does not publish official membership)

36.9 A party loosely divided into three categories: The Thatcherites or Conservative Way Forward, who strongly support a free market and tend to be Eurosceptic, the economically moderate, often more pro-European but socially conservative One Nation Conservatives, and the socially conservative, deeply Eurosceptic Cornerstone Group.
Labour Party Centre-left Jeremy Corbyn 230
(inc 24 as Lab Co-op)[12]
23
(inc 8 as Lab Co-op)
29
(inc 11 as Lab Co-op)
N/A 12 20 6882[10] Increase698,541 [13] [Note 1]

(July 2016)

30.4 A big tent party historically allied with the trade union movement; based upon mixed market Third Way policies since the party's reinvention as New Labour in 1994; it generally supports greater Pro-Europeanism.
Scottish National Party Centre-left Nicola Sturgeon 54 63 N/A N/A N/A 2 418[10] Increase116,000[16]

(April 2016)

4.7 Scottish Nationalist, Social-democratic party which strongly supports membership of the EU.
Liberal Democrats Centre Tim Farron 8 5 1 N/A 1 1 1835[10] Increase74,000 [17]

(July 2016)

7.9 Socially liberal and progressive; supports democratisation of the political system. The party's main two branches are the social-liberal grouping, and the 'Orange Book' grouping. Strongly supports membership of the EU.
Democratic Unionist Party Right-wing Arlene Foster 8 N/A N/A 38 N/A 1 104 Not Published 0.6 Unionist and national conservative party in Northern Ireland. Socially conservative with close links to Protestantism.
Sinn Féin Left-wing Gerry Adams 4 N/A N/A 28 N/A 1[Note 2] 105 Not Published 0.6 Irish republican party that supports the unification of the island of Ireland as a 32-county Irish republic.
Plaid Cymru - Party of Wales Left-wing Leanne Wood 3[18] N/A 12 N/A N/A 1 171[10] Increase7,863[19]

(Jan 2015)

0.6 Left-wing party in favour of Welsh independence.
Social Democratic and Labour Party Centre-left Colum Eastwood 3 N/A N/A 12 N/A 0 66 Not Published 0.3 Social-democratic and Irish nationalist party supporting a United Ireland.
Ulster Unionist Party Centre-right Mike Nesbitt 2 N/A N/A 16 N/A 1 87 Not Published 0.4 Unionist party in Northern Ireland, conservative but with liberal factions.
UK Independence Party Right-wing (Awaiting Leader) 1 0 7 N/A 2 23 494[10] Increase44,041[20]
(Mar 2015)
12.6 Populist Eurosceptic party. Favours national sovereignty, direct democracy, individual liberty, small government and economic liberalism.
Green Party of England and Wales Left-wing Natalie Bennett 1 N/A N/A N/A 2 3 164[10] 60,000[21]

(May 2016)

3.8 Green political party that favours Eco-socialism,[22] Environmentalism,[22] Sustainability[22] and Non-Violence.[22]
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland Centre David Ford 0 N/A N/A 8 N/A 0 32 Not Published 0.2 Liberal and centrist political party in Northern Ireland linked with the Liberal Democrats via ELDR.
Scottish Green Party Left-wing Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman 0 6 N/A N/A N/A 0 13[10] Increase9,000+[23]

(May 2015)

Green political party in favour of Scottish independence.
Green Party in Northern Ireland Left-wing Steven Agnew 0 N/A N/A 2 N/A 0 4[10] 406[24]

(May 2015)

Green political party in Northern Ireland.
Traditional Unionist Voice Right-wing Jim Allister 0 N/A N/A 1 N/A 0 13 Not Published 0.1 Strongly social and national conservative unionist party in Northern Ireland, opposed to the St Andrews Agreement.
People Before Profit Alliance Left-wing to Far-left Eamonn McCann 0 N/A N/A 2 N/A 0 1 Not Published Socialist party formed by the Socialist Workers Party (Ireland).

†Sinn Féin MPs do not take their seats in the UK House of Commons as they refuse to swear allegiance to the crown.

Minor parties[edit]

Political parties with elected representation at local government level only[edit]

Party Political Position Leader Local Government members Notes
Residents Associations of Epsom and Ewell Keith Lugton 34[25][26] Localism
Independents for Frome Local issues Mel Usher 17[27] Frome-based localist agenda
Liberal Party Centre Steve Radford 13[10] Liberal Eurosceptic party
Llais Gwynedd Centre-left Owain Williams 10[28] Welsh nationalist local party
Residents for Uttlesford Centre John Lodge 10[29] Essex-based localist agenda
East Devon Alliance Local issues Ben Ingham 9[30] Formed as a group April 2013 to campaign for improved democracy and accountability in local government; became a party in 2015 to fight local elections.[31]
Derwentside Independents Watts Stelling 7[32] (+5 parish cllrs)[33] Localism
Independent Community and Health Concern NHS & local issues Dr Richard Taylor 5[10] Mainly local party campaigns on NHS and local issues.
Democratic Independent Group Ash Ashbee 5[34] Formed when five UKIP councillors defected over allegations that the leader of the council prevented the reopening of Manston Airport.
Yorkshire First Richard Carter 5[35] Campaigning for devolution for Yorkshire.
Barnsley Independent Group Phillip Birkinshaw 4[36] Localism
Mebyon Kernow (The Party for Cornwall) Centre-left Dick Cole 4[10] Cornish nationalist party
TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) Left-wing to Far-left Dave Nellist 3(+1 parish cllr)[37] Socialist electoral alliance
Guildford Greenbelt Group Susan Parker 3[38] Localism
Middlewich First James Basford 3[39] (+5 parish cllrs) Localism
Independence from Europe Mike Nattrass 3[40] Euro-sceptic party
Putting Hartlepool First Kelly Atkinson 3[41] Localism
Borders Party Nicholas Watson 2[42] Localism
Morecambe Bay Independents Roger Dennison 2[43] Localism
Henley Residents Group 1[44] (+6 parish clllrs) Localism
British National Party Far-right Adam Walker 1[45] (+3 parish cllrs[46]) Neo-fascist, White nationalist, Eurosceptic party
Scottish Socialist Party Left-wing Bill Bonnar and Frances Curran 1[10][47] Campaigns for an independent socialist Scotland
Solidarity Left-wing to Far-left Rosemary Byrne and Pat Lee 1[48] Socialist and trotskyist
Social Democratic Party Centre-left Peter Johnson 1[49] Social democratic and Euro-sceptic party

Political parties with elected representation at civic parish/community council level only[edit]

Political parties with no elected representation[edit]

This is a list of notable minor parties. Many parties are registered with the Electoral Commission but do not qualify for this list as they have not received significant independent coverage.

Miscellaneous minor UK parties[edit]

Minor UK left-wing and far-left parties[edit]

Main article: British left

Minor UK far-right parties[edit]

Minor UK religious parties[edit]

Minor English parties[edit]

Main article: Politics of England

Minor Scottish parties[edit]

Main article: Politics of Scotland

Minor Welsh parties[edit]

Main article: Politics of Wales

Minor Northern Irish parties[edit]

Joke/satirical parties[edit]

See Joke political parties in the United Kingdom

Defunct and historical parties in the United Kingdom[edit]

Defunct English parties[edit]

Defunct Scottish parties[edit]

Defunct Welsh parties[edit]

Defunct Northern Irish parties[edit]

Defunct UK religious parties[edit]

  • ProLife Alliance. Still operating as a pressure group, ProLife deregistered as a political party in 2004.[57]

Defunct left-wing parties[edit]

Defunct far-right parties[edit]

Defunct joke/satirical parties[edit]

Defunct Single issue Eurosceptic parties[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In addition, the party has 147,134 affiliated supporters (members of trade unions and socialist societies who opted to affiliate) and 110,827 registered supporters, making a total of about 930,000 members and supporters.[14][15]
  2. ^ Sinn Féin has one MEP from a UK constituency and three others from the Republic of Ireland.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Whatever you think of Ukip or the Greens, our electoral system is robbing them". 14 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  2. ^ "Green party leader condemns first-past-the-post voting system". 9 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "General Election 2015: Sixty per cent of people want voting reform, says survey". 5 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  4. ^ "Election 2015". Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  5. ^ "Green party and Ukip join forces to demand electoral overhaul". 18 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  6. ^ 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 Retrieved 5 January 2012
  7. ^ "Party Finance – The Electoral Commission : Regulatory issues : Political parties : Registers : Register of political parties". Search.electoralcommission.org.uk. Retrieved 2015-08-03. 
  8. ^ "Search - The Electoral Commission". electoralcommission.org.uk. Retrieved 24 February 2016. 
  9. ^ "Election 2015 - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 24 February 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Local Council Political Compositions". Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "Membership of UK political parties". Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  12. ^ "General Election results". The Co-operative Party. Retrieved 24 February 2016. 
  13. ^ "Labour leadership: More than 180,000 people register in 48 hours". BBC News. Retrieved 20 July 2016. 
  14. ^ Oliver Wright (10 September 2015). "Labour leadership contest: After 88 days of campaigning, how did Labour's candidates do?". The Independent. Retrieved 11 September 2015. the electorate is divided into three groups: 292,000 members, 148,000 union "affiliates" and 112,000 registered supporters who each paid £3 to take part 
  15. ^ Dan Bloom (25 August 2015). "All four Labour leadership candidates rule out legal fight - despite voter count plummeting by 60,000". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 11 September 2015. total of those who can vote now stands at 550,816 ... The total still eligible to vote are now 292,505 full paid-up members, 147,134 supporters affiliated through the unions and 110,827 who've paid a £3 fee. 
  16. ^ "Welcome to our 116,000th member!". SNP. 29 April 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2016. 
  17. ^ http://europe.newsweek.com/liberal-democrats-gain-15000-new-disillusioned-pro-eu-members-478434
  18. ^ Cathy Owen (8 May 2015). "General Election 2015: Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood remains upbeat as she looks towards Assembly Elections". walesonline. Retrieved 24 February 2016. 
  19. ^ "Plaid Cymru membership increases by 23%". The Guardian. 27 Jan 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  20. ^ "Patrick O'Flynn on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 24 February 2016. 
  21. ^ Stewart, Heather; Asthana, Anushka; Mason, Rowena (16 May 2016). "Caroline Lucas refuses to rule out running for Green party leadership". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 May 2016. candidates must gather the signatures of 20 of the party’s 60,000 members 
  22. ^ a b c d "The Green Party's Core Values". Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  23. ^ "Scottish Greens Welcome Latest Holyrood Poll". Scottish Green Party. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  24. ^ "Greens' growth has just begun". Belfast Telegraph. 31 March 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  25. ^ http://eplanning.epsom-ewell.gov.uk/EEBCMyEpsom/electionresults.aspx
  26. ^ http://mycouncil.surreycc.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?FN=PARTY&VW=LIST&PIC=0
  27. ^ "Frome Town Council Elections 2015". Retrieved 6 November 2015. 
  28. ^ "Gwynedd Council" (PDF). Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  29. ^ "Residents for Uttlesford County & District Councillors". Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  30. ^ "East Devon District Council Elections 2015" (PDF). Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  31. ^ "East Devon Alliance History". Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  32. ^ http://www.durham.gov.uk/article/2299/Councils-political-make-up
  33. ^ http://www.stanley-tc.gov.uk/councillors/
  34. ^ Thanet District Council. "Modern Gov Your Councillors". thanet.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 February 2016. 
  35. ^ http://www.yorkshirefirst.org.uk/our_people
  36. ^ http://www.barnsleyindependentgroup.co.uk/Councillors.htm
  37. ^ http://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/380.pdf
  38. ^ http://www.guildford.gov.uk/article/15342/Councillors-and-Committees
  39. ^ http://www.middlewich.org.uk/councillors/
  40. ^ "Your Councillors by Party". Lincolnshire County Council. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  41. ^ https://www.hartlepool.gov.uk/councillors/specificParty/9/putting_hartlepool_first
  42. ^ http://www.bordersparty.org.uk/information/councillors-candidates-wards/councillors/
  43. ^ https://committeeadmin.lancaster.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?FN=PARTY&VW=LIST&PIC=0
  44. ^ http://www.henleytowncouncil.gov.uk/Councillors.aspx
  45. ^ http://www.pendle.gov.uk/councillors/35/brian_parker
  46. ^ http://www.bnp.org.uk/news/regional/heybridge-bnp-win-44-71
  47. ^ https://www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk/council/councillors-and-committees/councillor/councillors-by-party/scottish-socialist-party/
  48. ^ http://www.southlanarkshire.gov.uk/councillors/specificParty/9/solidarity
  49. ^ http://www.socialdemocraticparty.co.uk/councillors.html
  50. ^ http://www.devizes-tc.gov.uk/contact-us/contact-a-councillor
  51. ^ http://parishes.durham.gov.uk/pererlee/Pages/MayorandCouncillors.aspx
  52. ^ Bluer, Jordan (2 March 2015). "OpenPolitics: 'Wikipedia-like' manifesto lets YOU decide the agenda". Mancunian Matters. Retrieved 12 March 2015. 
  53. ^ "Something New". OpenElectoralCommission. Retrieved 16 Mar 2015.  A mirror of data from the Electoral Commission PEF entity registration search.
  54. ^ Goodwin, Matthew (19 August 2012). "The far right is fragmenting". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  55. ^ Gable, Sonia (8 April 2012). "Britannica Party fields four candidates". Searchlight. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  56. ^ Beaton, Connor (21 June 2014). "BNP splinter joins anti-indy campaign". The Targe. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  57. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "List of Political Parties either renamed or deregistered since 2002" (PDF). 16 December 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 6, 2008. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  58. ^ "Ex-Tory donor launches Trust Party on expenses pledge". BBC News. 29 March 2010. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  59. ^ Boggan, Steve (25 February 1993). "Miss Whiplash faxes by-election promise". The Independent. London. Retrieved 15 April 2010. 
  60. ^ "United Kingdom Unionist Party – Statement of Accounts for 2006" (PDF). Electoral Commission. 22 May 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-13. [dead link]

External links[edit]