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 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 and UK Independence Party (UKIP) – 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 for many years remained the third largest party in terms of votes, although in the 2015 general election it was overtaken by UKIP.

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 18 December 2014 the Electoral Commission showed the number of registered political (inc. 'minor') parties in Great Britain and Northern Ireland as 422.[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]

Logo Party Political Position Leader UK 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 David Cameron 331 15 14 0 9 20 8779[10] 149,800[11] (Estimate January 2015) 36.9 A 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.
Labour Party Centre-Left Harriet Harman (acting) 232
(inc 24 as Lab Co-op)[12]
37
(inc 9 as Lab Co-op)
30
(inc 4 as Lab Co-op)
N/A 12 20 6885[10] 246,469[13]

(June 2015)

30.4 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.
Scottish National Party Ribbon.svg Scottish National Party Centre-Left Nicola Sturgeon 56 69 N/A N/A N/A 2 416[10] 110,000[14] 4.7 Nationalist, Social-democratic party in favour of Scottish independence from the UK whilst supporting continued pooling of sovereignty in a more integrated and federalised European Union.
Liberal Democrats Centre Nick Clegg (pending election of a new leader) 8 5 5 N/A 2 1 1809[10] 61,452[15]

(June 2015)

7.9 Socially liberal and 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.
Democratic Unionist Party Right-Wing Peter Robinson 8 N/A N/A 38 N/A 1 104 0.6 Hardline Unionist and national conservative party in Northern Ireland. Also very socially conservative with close links to Evangelical Protestantism.
Sinn Féin Left-Wing Dawn Doyle 4 N/A N/A 29 N/A 1[16] 105 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[17] N/A 11 N/A N/A 1 170[10] 7,863[18]

(Jan 2015)

0.6 Centre-left party in favour of Welsh independence.
Social Democratic and Labour Party Centre-Left Alasdair McDonnell 3 N/A N/A 14 N/A 0 66 0.3 Social-democratic and Irish nationalism party supporting a United Ireland.
Ulster Unionist Party Centre-Right Mike Nesbitt 2 N/A N/A 14 N/A 1 87 0.4 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). Is conservative but with liberal factions.
UK Independence Party Right-Wing Nigel Farage 1 0 0 1 0 23 496[10] 44,041[19]
(Mar 2015)
12.6 Populist Eurosceptic party, which favours withdrawal from the European Union, national sovereignty, direct democracy, individual liberty, small government and economic liberalism.
Green Party of England and Wales Left-Wing Natalie Bennett 1 N/A 0 N/A 2 3 180[10] 66,557[20]

(May 2015)

3.8 Green political party that favours Eco-socialism,[21] Environmentalism,[21] Sustainability[21] and Non-Violence.[21] It also takes a progressive approach to social policies such as animal rights, LGBT rights and drug policy reform.[22]
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland logo.svg Alliance Party of Northern Ireland Centre David Ford 0 N/A N/A 8 N/A 0 32 0.2 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.
Scottish Green Party Logo.svg Scottish Green Party Left-Wing Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman 0 2 N/A N/A N/A 0 14 9,000+[23]

(May 2015)

Green political party in favour of Scottish independence.
NI21 Centre Basil McCrea 0 N/A N/A 1 N/A 0 1 Unionist in Northern Ireland, which advocates progressive and liberal policies, with non-sectarian ideals
Green Party in Northern Ireland Left-Wing Steven Agnew 0 N/A N/A 1 N/A 0 4 406[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 0.1 Strongly social and national conservative unionist party in Northern Ireland, opposed to the St Andrews Agreement.

†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]

Logo Party Political Position Leader Local Government members Notes
Liberal Party Centre Steve Radford 13[10] Liberal Eurosceptic party
Llais Gwynedd Centre-left Owain Williams 10[25] Welsh nationalist local party
Residents for Uttlesford Centre John Lodge 10[26] Essex based localism agenda
Official Monster Raving Loony Party "Sitting, facing forward" Alan "Howling Laud" Hope 7[10] Joke party/Satire
Independent Community and Health Concern NHS & local issues Dr Richard Taylor 5[10] Mainly local party campaigns on NHS and local issues.
TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) Left-Wing to Far-Left Dave Nellist 4[10] Socialist electoral alliance
Mebyon Kernow Centre-Left Dick Cole 4[10] Cornish Nationalist party
Respect Party Left-Wing George Galloway 4[10] Democratic Socialist, Trade Unionist, Eurosceptic party
Social Democratic Party Centre-Left Peter Johnson 3[27] Social democratic and Euro-sceptic party
Independence from Europe Centre-right Mike Nattrass 3[28] Euro-sceptic party
Scottish Socialist Party Left-Wing to Far-Left Bill Bonnar and Frances Curran 1[10] Campaigns for the establishment of an independent socialist Scotland
British National Party Far-Right Adam Walker 1[29] Neo-fascist, White-Nationalist, Euro-sceptic party

Political parties with no elected representation[edit]

Miscellaneous minor UK parties[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.

Minor UK left/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 left-wing parties[edit]

Defunct far-right parties[edit]

Defunct joke/satirical parties[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and 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". Registers.electoralcommission.org.uk. Retrieved 2011-06-10. 
  8. ^ https://pefonline.electoralcommission.org.uk/Search/EntitySearch.aspx
  9. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2015/results
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Local Council Political Compositions". Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "Membership of UK political parties". Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  12. ^ https://party.coop/2015/05/08/general-election-results/
  13. ^ "Over a quarter of a million could vote in Labour leadership contest". LabourList. Retrieved 26 June 2015. 
  14. ^ "Challenge for Labour to be honest on membership". SNP. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  15. ^ "Lib Dem Members". Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  16. ^ Sinn Féin have one MEP from a UK constituency and three others from the Republic of Ireland.
  17. ^ http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/general-election-2015-plaid-cymru-9213944
  18. ^ "Plaid Cymru membership increases by 23%". The Guardian. 27 Jan 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  19. ^ https://twitter.com/oflynnmep/status/580056349872115712
  20. ^ "Lib Dem membership figures up 10,000 since general election". 13 May 2015. Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  21. ^ a b c d "The Green Party's Core Values". Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  22. ^ "The Green Party – Drug Use". 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. ^ "Gwynedd Council" (PDF). Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  26. ^ "Residents for Uttlesford County & District Councillors". Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  27. ^ http://www2.eastriding.gov.uk/council/elections-and-voting/election-results-2015/parish/bridlington-old-town-ward-parish-election-results/
  28. ^ "Your Councillors by Party". Lincolnshire County Council. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  29. ^ "Councillor Brian Parker". Pendle Borough Council. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  30. ^ Bluer, Jordan (2 March 2015). "OpenPolitics: 'Wikipedia-like' manifesto lets YOU decide the agenda". Mancunian Matters. Retrieved 12 March 2015. 
  31. ^ "Something New". OpenElectoralCommission. Retrieved 16 Mar 2015.  A mirror of data from the Electoral Commission PEF entity registration search.
  32. ^ Goodwin, Matthew (19 August 2012). "The far right is fragmenting". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  33. ^ Gable, Sonia (8 April 2012). "Britannica Party fields four candidates". Searchlight. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  34. ^ Beaton, Connor (21 June 2014). "BNP splinter joins anti-indy campaign". The Targe. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  35. ^ http://eccentricparty.org/
  36. ^ 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. Retrieved 9 January 2010. [dead link]
  37. ^ "Ex-Tory donor launches Trust Party on expenses pledge". BBC News. 29 March 2010. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  38. ^ Boggan, Steve (25 February 1993). "Miss Whiplash faxes by-election promise". The Independent (London). Retrieved 15 April 2010. 
  39. ^ "United Kingdom Unionist Party – Statement of Accounts for 2006" (PDF). Electoral Commission. 22 May 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-13. [dead link]

External links[edit]