List of political parties in the United Kingdom
- 1 Brief history and overview
- 2 Major parties
- 3 Minor parties
- 3.1 Political parties with elected representation at local government level only
- 3.2 Political parties with no elected representation
- 4 Defunct and historical parties in the United Kingdom
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Brief history and overview
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, although in the 2015 general election it was overtaken by UKIP in terms of votes and the Scottish National Party in terms of seats.
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. 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 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 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.
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:
- Conservative and Unionist Party, centre-right (330 seats in the House of Commons)
- Labour Party, centre-left, a broad social-democratic and democratic socialist party with some third way policies. (232 seats)
- Co-operative Party (all Co-operative Party MPs are also Labour MPs as part of a long-standing electoral agreement)
Political parties with elected representation in the Westminster, devolved and European parliaments
|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)||Notes|
|Conservative and Unionist Party||Centre-right||David Cameron||330||15||14||0||9||20||8779||149,800
(Estimated December 2013, does not publish official membership)
|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||Jeremy Corbyn||232
(inc 24 as Lab Co-op)
(inc 9 as Lab Co-op)
(inc 4 as Lab Co-op)
|N/A||12||20||6885||380,000 [Note 1]
|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||Centre-left||Nicola Sturgeon||56||69||N/A||N/A||N/A||2||416||114,121
|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||Centrism||Tim Farron||8||5||5||N/A||2||1||1809||61,452
|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||Arlene Foster||8||N/A||N/A||38||N/A||1||104||Not Published||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||Gerry Adams||4||N/A||N/A||29||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||N/A||11||N/A||N/A||1||170||7,863
|0.6||Left-wing party in favour of Welsh independence.|
|Social Democratic and Labour Party||Centre-left||Colum Eastwood||3||N/A||N/A||14||N/A||0||66||Not Published||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||Not Published||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||44,041
|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||65,964
|3.8||Green political party that favours Eco-socialism, Environmentalism, Sustainability and Non-Violence. It also takes a progressive approach to social policies such as animal rights, LGBT rights and drug policy reform.|
|Alliance Party of Northern Ireland||Centre||David Ford||0||N/A||N/A||8||N/A||0||32||Not Published||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||Left-wing||Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman||0||2||N/A||N/A||N/A||0||14||9,000+
|Green political party in favour of Scottish independence.|
|NI21||Centre||Basil McCrea||0||N/A||N/A||1||N/A||0||1||Not Published||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
|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.|
†Sinn Féin MPs do not take their seats in the UK House of Commons as they refuse to swear allegiance to the crown.
Political parties with elected representation at local government level only
Political parties with no elected representation
Miscellaneous minor UK parties
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.
- 4 Freedoms Party (UK EPP)
- Above and Beyond Party
- Animal Welfare Party
- Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol
- Jury Team, a "non-party party": an umbrella organisation for Independent candidates
- Libertarian Party
- National Liberal Party
- No Candidate Deserves My Vote
- People's Democratic Party, a populist party focused on Northern England.
- Peace Party
- Pirate Party, ran on UK's first crowd sourced manifesto.
- Populist Party, launched after a split from UKIP.
- Something New, launched in 2014 with an open source manifesto
- United in Europe
- Women's Equality Party, feminist party established in 2015. Claims to have 45,000 members.
- Whig Party
- Young People's Party UK
Minor UK left/far-left parties
- Socialist Party of Great Britain (1904–present)
- Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)(1968–present)
- Workers' Revolutionary Party(1973–present)
- Revolutionary Communist Group(1974–present)
- Workers' Power (part of Left Unity)(1974–present)
- New Communist Party(1977–present)
- Socialist Workers Party (part of TUSC)(1977–present)
- Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)(1979–present)
- Socialist Equality Party(1986–present)
- International Socialist League (1987–present)
- Communist League(1988–present)
- Communist Party of Britain (1988–present)
- Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee) (part of Left Unity)(1991–present)
- Alliance for Workers' Liberty (part of Left Unity) (1992–present)
- Independent Working Class Association(1995–present)
- Socialist Peoples Party(1995–present)
- Socialist Labour Party(1996–present)
- Socialist Party (England and Wales) (part of TUSC; previously stood as "Socialist Alternative")(1997–present)
- Democratic Labour Party (part of TUSC)(1998–present)
- Socialist Resistance (part of Left Unity) (2002–present)
- Alliance for Green Socialism(2003–present)
- Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)(2004–present)
- No2EU (2009-present), a European Parliament electoral alliance – also registered as a party – formed by the Socialist Party, Communist Party and RMT trade union.
- Left Unity (2013–present)
- Class War(2014–present)
- Reality Party(2014–present)
Minor UK far-right parties
- National Front (1967–present)
- Britain First (2011–present)
- Britannica Party (2011–present)
- British Democratic Party (2013–present)
- Liberty GB (2013–present)
Minor UK religious parties
- Christian Peoples Alliance
- The Common Good
- Christian Party (successor to Operation Christian Vote)
- Christian Democratic Party (UK)
Minor English parties
- Barnsley Independent Group, local party in Barnsley
- Community, local party in the London Borough of Hounslow.
- Community Action Party, local centre-left party active in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, Salford, St Helens and Warrington.
- Community Group, local party in Doncaster
- Derwentside Independents
- Devizes Guardians, local party based in Devizes, Wiltshire
- English Democrats, campaigning for self-government for England.
- Guildford Greenbelt Group
- Henley Residents Group, local party which has controlled Henley Town Council 1991–1999, 2003–current
- Idle Toad, independent party in Lancashire.
- Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern
- Lewisham People Before Profit
- Middlewich First, hold 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 Lancaster. Currently joint second largest with 12 councillors.
- National Health Action Party
- North East Party
- Putting Hartlepool First
- Residents Associations of Epsom and Ewell, local party who run the borough council in Epsom and Ewell.
- Roman Party
- Wessex Regionalist Party, campaigning for devolution for Wessex.
- Yorkshire First, campaigning for devolution for Yorkshire.
Minor Scottish parties
- Borders Party, party exclusively supporting the interest of the Scottish Borders.
- Communist Party of Scotland, sponsor one councillor in Fife, officially Independent.
- Independent Green Voice
- Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers
- Scottish Christian Party – the successor to Operation Christian Vote in Scotland.
- Scottish Democratic Alliance – the successor to Scottish Enterprise Party
- Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party
- Scottish Unionist Party, campaigns to prevent dissolution of the UK. Has strong links with the Orange Order.
Minor Welsh parties
- Communist Party of Wales
- Socialist Party Wales
- Welsh Christian Party – the successor to Operation Christian Vote in Wales.
Minor Northern Irish parties
- Fianna Fáil
- Labour Party of Northern Ireland
- People Before Profit Alliance
- Protestant Coalition
- Republican Sinn Féin
- Socialist Party (Ireland)
- Workers' Party
- Al-Zebabist Nation of Ooog
- Church of the Militant Elvis Party
- Citizens for Undead Rights and Equality
- Fancy Dress Party
- Eccentric Party of Great Britain
- Official Monster Raving Loony Party
Defunct and historical parties in the United Kingdom
- Boston Bypass Independents
- 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)
- 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)
- New Party (2003–2010)
- ProLife Alliance. Still operating as a pressure group, ProLife deregistered as a political party in 2004.
- Referendum Party (1997 election)
- Science Party. Launched in April 2010, with initial press support from Newscientist.com. Campaigning for increased importance and use of Science in Politics.
- Social Credit Party of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1931–1951, 1965–1978)
- Social Democratic Party (1981–1990)
- Trust Party (2010–2011)
- Veritas (2005-2015)
- We Demand a Referendum (2012-2014)
- 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.
- Vectis National Party (1970s) – Isle of Wight regionalist party.
Defunct Scottish parties
- East Dunbartonshire Independent Alliance
- East Kilbride Alliance
- Fife Socialist League (1950s–1960s)
- Crofters Party
- Fishing Party (Scotland) (?–2003)
- Free Scotland Party (2004–2012?)
- Highland Land League (1909–1920s)
- Highlands and Islands Alliance
- Labour Party of Scotland
- Left Alliance
- 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 Voice
- 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 Annibynnol
- Cymru Goch
- Cymru Rydd
- 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 left-wing parties
- Social Democratic Federation (1884–1911)
- Socialist League (1886–1903)
- Independent Labour Party (1893–1975)
- Socialist Labour Party (1903–1980)
- British Socialist Party (1911–1920)
- Workers Socialist Federation (1914–1921)
- Communist Party of Great Britain (1920–1991)
- Workers International League (1937–1944)
- Revolutionary Socialist League (1938–44)
- Common Wealth Party (1942–1945)
- Revolutionary Communist Party (1944–50)
- Revolutionary Workers Party (1962-1990s)
- International Marxist Group (1968–1981)
- Revolutionary Communist League of Britain (1968–1998)
- Revolutionary Marxist–Leninist League (1968–1980)
- Working People's Party of England (1968–1986)
- Communist Workers League of Britain (Marxist–Leninist) (1969–1981)
- Revolutionary Communist League (UK) (1970-c.1973)
- British and Irish Communist Organisation (1971-c.1986)
- Labour Party of Scotland (1973)
- Communist Organisation in the British Isles (1974-c.1977)
- Communist League of Great Britain (1975-c.2001)
- League for Socialist Action (UK) (1976–1982)
- Revolutionary Communist Party (1978–1997)
- International Leninist Workers Party (1979–2006)
- Red Action (1981-2001)
- Workers' Internationalist League (1983–1984)
- Communist Forum (1986–1987)
- International Socialist Group (1987–2009)
- Marxist Party (1987–2004)
- Workers International league (1987–2006)
- Movement for a Socialist Future (1990–2005)
- Workers International to Rebuild the Fourth International (1990–2002)
- Socialist Alliance (1994–2005)
- Red Party (2004–2005)
- United Socialist Party (2004–2010?)
- Peace and Progress Party (2004–2015)
- Permanent Revolution (2006–2013)
- Left List (2008–2010)
Defunct far-right parties
- British Fascisti (1920s–1930s)
- National Fascisti (1920s)
- Imperial Fascist League (1929–1939)
- British Union of Fascists (1930s)
- National Socialist League (1937–1939)
- British People's Party (1940s)
- Union Movement (1948–1973)
- National Labour Party (1957–1960)
- White Defence League (1958–1960)
- British National Party (1960–1967)
- National Democratic Party (1960s–1970s)
- National Socialist Movement (1962–1967)
- Greater Britain Movement (1964–1967)
- British Movement (1968–1983)
- National Independence Party (1970s)
- United Country Party (1970s)
- National Party (1975–1977)
- New Britain Party (1976–2008)
- British First Party (1977–2009)
- British Democratic Party (1979–1982)
- Constitutional Movement (1979–1984)
- Flag Group (1980s)
- Official National Front (1986–1989)
- National Socialist Movement (1990s)
- Third Way (1990–) [now a think tank]
- National Democrats (1995–2011)
- Freedom Party (2000–2006)
- White Nationalist Party (2002–2005)
- England First Party (2003–2012)
- British Peoples Party (2005–2013)
- Nationalist Alliance (2005–2008)
- New Nationalist Party (2006–2007/8)
- British Freedom Party (2010–2012)
Defunct joke/satirical parties
- Adam Lyal's Witchery Tour Party (1999–2009)
- The Blah! Party
- Death, Dungeons and Taxes Party
- Free Party (2001–2002)
- Miss Great Britain Party (2008–2009)
- New Millennium Bean Party
- MP3 Party (2002–2007)
- Raving Loony Green Giant Party
- Rock 'n' Roll Loony Party (?–2007)
- Teddy Bear Alliance
- 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
- 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 630,000 members and supporters.
- Sinn Féin has one MEP from a UK constituency and three others from the Republic of Ireland.
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- "List of all parties standing at the 2005 election". Archived from the original on 9 March 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "List of parties that stood candidates in the 2001 general elections". Archived from the original on 25 September 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- 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