List of political parties in the United Kingdom
This article lists political parties in the United Kingdom.
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Brief history and overview
Before the middle of the 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. The concept of right and left came originally from France, where the supporters of a monarchy (constitutional or absolute) sat on the right wing of the National Assembly, and republicans on the left. In the late 19th century the Liberal Party began to lean towards the left. Liberal Unionists split off from the Liberals over Irish Home Rule and moved closer to the Conservatives over 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, which 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 were the third largest party until the 2015 general election when they were overtaken by the Scottish National Party in terms of seats and UK political party membership, and by the UK Independence Party 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 when UKIP and the Green Party of England and Wales received 4.9 million votes (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. After that election, UKIP, the Liberal Democrats, and 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 people to Downing Street demanding electoral reform.
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% of the electorate) to 2005 (1.3%).
Register of political parties
The Electoral Commission's Register of Political Parties lists the details of parties registered to fight elections in the United Kingdom, including their registered name. 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.
Parties without representation in the House of Commons, but with representation in a devolved parliament or assembly
There are a number of political parties in the United Kingdom that do not have representation in the House of Commons, but have elected representatives in the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales, Northern Ireland Assembly, or the London Assembly respectively. These are:
|Conservative and Unionist Party||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 and socially liberal One Nation Conservatives, and the socially conservative, deeply Eurosceptic Cornerstone Group.|
|Labour Party||A social democratic party with democratic socialist elements that has its roots in the trade union movement. The party in recent years is seen to have several internal factions, which include: Momentum, Open Labour, Progress, Blue Labour, and, the Labour members who stand on a split ticket with the Co-operative Party.|
|Scottish National Party||Scottish nationalist and social democratic party which supports Scottish Independence and membership of the European Union.|
|Liberal Democrats||Liberal and social liberal. The party's main two branches are the social-liberals based around groups like the Social Liberal Forum, and the 'Orange Book' grouping, which supports classical economic liberalism. Strongly supports membership of the European Union.|
|Democratic Unionist Party||Unionist and national conservative party in Northern Ireland. Socially conservative with close links to Protestantism.|
|Sinn Féin||Irish republican party that supports the unification of the island of Ireland as a 32-county Irish republic.|
|Plaid Cymru||Social-democratic and Welsh nationalist party in favour of Welsh independence.|
|Social Democratic and Labour Party||Social-democratic and Irish nationalist party supporting a United Ireland.|
|Ulster Unionist Party||Unionist party in Northern Ireland, conservative but with liberal factions.|
|Green Party of England and Wales||Green political party that favours eco-socialism, environmentalism, and sustainability.|
|Scottish Green Party||Green political party in favour of Scottish independence and Scottish republicanism.|
|UK Independence Party||Eurosceptic, right-wing populist party. Favours national sovereignty, social conservatism and economic liberalism.|
|Alliance Party of Northern Ireland||Liberal and nonsectarian political party in Northern Ireland.|
|Green Party in Northern Ireland||Green political and nonsectarian party in Northern Ireland.|
|Traditional Unionist Voice||Strongly social and national conservative unionist party in Northern Ireland, opposed to the St Andrews Agreement.|
|People Before Profit||Socialist party that is active in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.|
|Brexit Party||Hard Eurosceptic party that supports leaving all the institutions of the EU and is strongly positioned against a second EU referendum.|
|Welsh National Party||Sovereignist party that advocates Wales becoming an independent sovereign state.|
Civil parishes and community councils
|Independents for Frome||Mel Usher||Localism, Conservation||N/A||17|
|Devizes Guardians||Nigel Carter||Localism, Conservation||N/A||11|
|Official Monster Raving Loony Party||Howling Laud Hope||Political satirism, Populism||Centre
|Animal Welfare Party||Vanessa Hudson||Animal welfare||N/A||1|
|Cornish Nationalist Party||Androw Hawke||Cornish nationalism, Cornish devolution, Pan-Celticism||Right-wing||1|
No elected UK representation
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This is a table 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. Parties active across Ireland may have representation in the Republic of Ireland but not Northern Ireland.
- Campaign for Social Democracy (1973–1974).
- Liberal Unionist Party (1886–1912).
- National Democratic and Labour Party (1918–1923).
- National Liberal Party (1922–1923).
- National Liberal Party (1931–1968).
- New Party (1931) (1931–1932).
- Social Credit Party of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1931–1951, 1965–1978).
- Women's Party (1917–1919).
- Anti Common Market and Free Trade Party (1967–1988).
- Social Democratic Federation (1884–1911).
- Independent Labour Party (1893–1975).
- Socialist Labour Party (1903–1980).
- British Socialist Party (1911–1920).
- Revolutionary Socialist Party (1912–1941).
- National Socialist Party (1916–1919).
- Communist Party of Great Britain (1920–1991).
- United Socialist Movement (1934–1965).
- Common Wealth Party (1942–1945).
- Revolutionary Communist Party (1944–1950).
- Revolutionary Workers' Party (1962–1990s).
- Committee to Defeat Revisionism, for Communist Unity (1963–c.1972).
- International Marxist Group (1968–1982). (Organised the electoral coalition Socialist Unity.)
- Working People's Party of England (1968–1986).
- British Fascisti (1920s–1930s).
- British Union of Fascists (1930s).
- British People's Party (1940s).
- Union Movement (1948–1973).
- National Labour Party (1957–1960).
- British National Party (1960–1967).
- National Democratic Party (1960s–1970s).
- British Movement (1968–1983).
- National Independence Party (1970s)
- United Country Party (1970s).
- National Party (1975–1977).
- Constitutional Movement (1979–1984).
- British Democratic Party (1979–1982).
- Flag Group (1980s).
- Official National Front (1986–1989).
- Vectis National Party (1970s) – Isle of Wight regionalist party.
- Crofters Party.
- Fife Socialist League (1950s–1960s).
- Highland Land League (1909–1920s).
- National Party of Scotland (1928–1934).
- Orkney and Shetland Movement.
- Progressives (Scotland) (1920s–1970s).
- Labour Party of Scotland (1973).
- Scottish Labour Party (1888–1893).
- Scottish Labour Party (1976–1981).
- Scottish Militant Labour (1990s).
- Scottish Party (1932–1934).
- Scottish Prohibition Party (1901–1935).
- Scottish Socialist Alliance.
- Scottish Socialist Federation.
- Scottish Socialist Party (1987).
- Scottish Voice.
- Scottish Workers' Representation Committee (1899–1909).
- Scottish Workers Republican Party.
- Unionist Party (Scotland) (1912–1965).
- Workers Party of Scotland.
- Communist Party of South Wales and the West of England.
- All-for-Ireland Party (1910–1918).
- British Ulster Dominion Party.
- Irish Independence Party.
- Irish Parliamentary Party.
- Labour Party of Northern Ireland.
- Nationalist Party (Northern Ireland).
- Ulster Liberal Party.
- Timeline of political parties in the United Kingdom
- List of political parties in the United Kingdom by representation
- List of political parties in the United Kingdom opposed to austerity
- Political make-up of local councils in the United Kingdom
- List of political parties by country
- Politics of the United Kingdom
- Political party affiliation in the United Kingdom
- Elections in 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)
- Index of UK party meta attributes
- Including 26 as Lab Co-op.
- The Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, is not included in this tally as the speaker stands in the election as "Speaker seeking re-election" and no longer has ties with their original party.
- Including 7 as Lab Co-op.
- Including 11 as Lab Co-op.
- Excluding approximately 11,100 as Lab Co-op as membership subscription is independent from The Labour Party.
- Sinn Fein operate a policy of Abstentionism and do not take their Commons seats
- Party operates a policy of collective leadership, but Eamonn McCann is listed as the party's leader for the purposes of registration to the UK Electoral Commission.
- The SDP-Liberal Alliance at dissolution was jointly led by Steel as the leader of the Liberal Party and Robert Maclennan as the leader of the SDP.
- The SDP-Liberal Alliance at dissolution was jointly led by David Steel as the leader of the Liberal Party and Maclennan as the leader of the SDP.
- "Whatever you think of Ukip or the Greens, our electoral system is robbing them". 14 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
- "Green party leader condemns first-past-the-post voting system". 9 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
- "General Election 2015: Sixty per cent of people want voting reform, says survey". 5 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
- "Election 2015". Retrieved 25 May 2015.
- "Green party and Ukip join forces to demand electoral overhaul". 18 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
- John Marshall: Membership of UK political parties; House of Commons, SN/SG/5125; 2009, page 6. http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/briefings/snsg-05125.pdf Retrieved 5 January 2012
- "Party Finance – The Electoral Commission : Regulatory issues : Political parties : Registers : Register of political parties". Search.electoralcommission.org.uk. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
- "Search – The Electoral Commission". electoralcommission.org.uk. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
- "Local Council Political Compositions". Retrieved 27 September 2019.
- Quote from James Cleverly from Jack Blanchard on Politico Retrieved 3 October 2019
- "Confidential Labour election report reveals 1.2m party voters just stayed at home" The Mirror. Retrieved 4 February 2020
- Keen, Richard; Audickas, Lukas (3 September 2018). "SNP membership overtakes Conservatives across UK" (PDF). www.BBC.com. British Broadcasting Company. p. 13. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
Data from the House of Commons Library shows the SNP has just under 125,500 registered members, compared to 124,000 for the Tories.
- Liberal Democrats Press Office Announcement on Twitter 6 September 2019
- "Plaid Cymru see 25% membership boost following Adam Price's leadership victory". 12 October 2018.
- "We are now 49,500 members strong!". 5 September 2019. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
- Cite error: The named reference
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- "Assembly members join forces with Farage". BBC News. 15 May 2019.
- Brexit Party Membership numbers revealed Retrieved 30 June 2019
- Scottish Green Party loses 30% of members since 2014 Retrieved 18 October 2019
- "Local Council Political Compositions". Open Council Data UK. 27 September 2019. Archived from the original on 30 September 2017.
- Walker, Peter (2 August 2018). "Ukip membership surges 15% in a month". the Guardian.
- "Northern Ireland local elections 2019". BBC News. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
- "Greens' growth has just begun". Belfast Telegraph. 31 March 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
- "The Green Party's Core Values". Retrieved 1 May 2015.
- "MyEpsomandEwell". eplanning.epsom-ewell.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
- Surrey County Council, County Hall (30 September 2016). "Your Councillors". Retrieved 30 September 2016.
- "Mansfield District Council - List of Councillors". Archived from the original on 27 February 2018. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
- "Councillors". Castle Point Borough Council. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
- "Residents for Uttlesford County & District Councillors". Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- "Local Council Political Compositions". www.gwydir.demon.co.uk. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
- "East Devon Alliance History". Retrieved 21 February 2016.[permanent dead link]
- "Council political composition". East Devon District Council. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
- "Council's political make-up - Durham County Council". www.durham.gov.uk.
- "Councillors – Stanley Town Council". Retrieved 30 September 2016.
- Your Councillors. Gwynedd Council. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "Your Councillors". Belfast City Council. 21 February 2018. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- "Councillors". Causeway Coast and Glens District Council. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- "Independent1". www.barnsleyindependentgroup.co.uk. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
- Gareth Willey (5 May 2017). "Newport Local Election Results (2017)". Newport City Radio. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
- "nottinghampost".[permanent dead link]
- List of Councillors in Cheltenham Borough Council.
- List of Councillors in Gloucestershire County Council.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 May 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Your Councillors by Party". Retrieved 21 August 2017.
- "Councillors – Middlewich Town Council". Retrieved 30 September 2016.[permanent dead link]
- Council, Hartlepool Borough. "Hartlepool Borough Council - Find Councillors". www.hartlepool.gov.uk.
- "Our Values". Democrats and Veterans. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
- "Local government elections 2019". www.barnsley.gov.uk. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
- "CMIS > Councillors". colchester.cmis.uk.com.
- "View registration - The Electoral Commission". search.electoralcommission.org.uk. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- "Your Councillors". 30 September 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- "Your Councillors". 30 September 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
- "Councillors". www.henleytowncouncil.gov.uk. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
- "2017 Council Election Results - West Dunbartonshire Council". www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
- "Councillor Jan Sargent". Havering London Borough Council.
- "Merthyr Independents". The Electoral Commission. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
- "Independents win control of Merthyr Tydfil council and oust Labour after delayed ward votet". Wales Online. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
- County Borough Council Elections 2017, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council. Retrieved 2018-09-23.
- "Frome Town Council Elections 2015". Retrieved 6 November 2015.
- "Contact a Devizes Town Councillor". www.devizes-tc.gov.uk. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
- "View registration - The Electoral Commission". search.electoralcommission.org.uk. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
- "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