List of political parties in the United Kingdom
This article lists political parties in the United Kingdom.
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politics and government of
the United Kingdom
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.
The start 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.
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, Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales represent one of these parties:
- Conservative and Unionist Party, centre-right
- Labour Party, centre-left
- Co-operative Party (all Co-operative Party MPs are also Labour MPs as part of a long-standing electoral agreement)
Following the 2019 United Kingdom general election, the number of seats for each party in the House of Commons is:
- Conservative and Unionist Party - 365
- Labour Party - 202
- Scottish National Party - 47
- Liberal Democrats - 11
- Democratic Unionist Party - 8
- Sinn Féin - 7
- Plaid Cymru - 4
- Social Democratic and Labour Party - 2
- Green Party of England and Wales - 1
- Alliance Party of Northern Ireland - 1
No other party had any elected representation in the House of Commons.
|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 of 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 centrist 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 with Trotskyist elements 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.|
Civil parishes and community councils
|Independents for Frome||Localism||Mel Usher||17|
|Devizes Guardians||Conservationism, Localism||Nigel Carter||11|
|Official Monster Raving Loony Party||Satire||Howling Laud Hope||2|
|Animal Welfare Party||Animal welfare||Vanessa Hudson||1|
|Cornish Nationalist Party||Cornish Nationalism, Pan-Celticism||Androw Hawke||1|
No elected representation
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 parties
Minor centrist and pro-European parties
Minor left-wing and far-left parties
- Socialist Party of Great Britain (1904–present)
- Communist Party of Britain (Marxist–Leninist) (1968–present)
- Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist–Leninist) (1972–present)
- Workers' Revolutionary Party (1973–present)
- New Communist Party (1977–present)
- Socialist Workers Party (1977–present)
- Socialist Equality Party (1986–present)
- Communist League (1988–present)
- Communist Party of Britain (1988–present)
- Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee) (1991–present)
- Independent Working Class Association (1995–present)
- Socialist Party (England and Wales) (also main constituent of TUSC; has stood as "Socialist Alternative") (1997–present)
- Socialist Resistance (part of Left Unity) (2002–present)
- Alliance for Green Socialism (2003–present)
- Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist–Leninist) (2004–present)
- Lewisham People Before Profit (2008–present)
- TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) (2010–present)
- Left Unity (2013–present)
- Workers Party of Britain (2019–present)
Minor right-wing and far-right parties
Minor English parties
Minor Scottish parties
- Borders Party
- Independent Green Voice
- RISE – Scotland's Left Alliance; electoral alliance formed by SSP and former ISG
- Scottish Christian Party – the successor to Operation Christian Vote in Scotland.
- Scottish Democratic Alliance – the successor to Scottish Enterprise Party
- Scottish Libertarian Party, a libertarian, pro-independence and Eurosceptic party
- Scottish Socialist Party, a party campaigning for an independent, socialist and republican Scotland.
- Scottish Unionist Party, campaigns to prevent dissolution of the UK. Has strong links with the Orange Order.
- Socialist Party Scotland
- Solidarity, a split from the SSP in 2006.
Minor Welsh parties
Minor Northern Irish parties
- Fianna Fáil (1926–present), a major party in the state of Ireland, organising in Northern Ireland since 2007
- Workers' Party (1970–present)
- Irish Republican Socialist Party (1974–present)
- Progressive Unionist Party (1979–present)
- Republican Sinn Féin (1986–present)
- Socialist Party (Ireland) (1996–present)
- Éirígí (2007–present)
Minor religious parties
Defunct and historical parties
Miscellaneous defunct minor parties
- Campaign for Social Democracy (1973–1974).
- Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol (2015–2016).
- The Independent Group for Change (2019).
- Countryside Party (2000–2008).
- Democratic Labour (1972–1979).
- Democratic Party (1998–2010).
- Fellowship Party (1955–2007). Environmentalist, pacifist and socialist party.
- Islamic Party of Britain (1989–2006).
- Jury Team, a "non-party party": an umbrella organisation for Independent candidates (2009–2011).
- Legalise Cannabis Alliance (1999–2006), deregistered and became a pressure group in 2006.
- Liberal Party (1839–1988).
- Liberal Unionist Party (1886–1912).
- Make Politicians History (2005–2009).
- Moderate Labour Party (1985–c.1995).
- National Democratic and Labour Party (1918–1923).
- National Liberal Party (1922–1923).
- National Liberal Party (1931–1968).
- Natural Law Party (1992–2004).
- New Party (1931–1932).
- New Party (2003–2010).
- No Candidate Deserves My Vote! (2000–2012).
- One Love Party (2015–2017).
- 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 Alliance (1975–1981).
- Social Democratic Party (1981–1990).
- Trust Party (2010–2011).
- United in Europe.
- Women's Party (1917–1919).
- Veritas (2005–2015).
Defunct single-issue Eurosceptic parties
Defunct left-wing and far-left parties
- 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).
- Labour Party of Scotland (1973).
- Revolutionary Communist Party (1978–1997). (Organised the electoral coalition Red Front.)
- International Leninist Workers Party (1979–2006). (Group no longer operates as a political party.)
- Marxist Party (1987–2004).
- Alliance for Workers' Liberty (was part of Left Unity) (1992–). (Still operates as a pressure group.)
- Democratic Left (1991–1993). (De-registered as a political party after 1993].)
- Socialist Studies (1991–). (Group registered as political party from 2006–2012.)
- Socialist Alliance (1994–2005).
- Socialist Peoples Party (1995–2015).
- Democratic Labour Party (1998–2016).
- Peace and Progress Party (2004–2015).
- Red Party (2004–2005).
- Respect Party (2004–2016).
- The United Socialist Party (2004–c.2010).
- Socialist Green Unity Coalition (2004–2005).
- Left List (2008–2010).
- Class War (2014–2015).
- Reality Party (2014–2016).
Defunct right-wing and far-right parties
- 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).
- New Britain Party (1976–2008).
- British First Party (1977–2009).
- Constitutional Movement (1979–1984).
- British Democratic Party (1979–1982).
- Flag Group (1980s).
- Official National Front (1986–1989).
- 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).
- Liberty GB (2013–2017).
- Britain First (2014–2017).
Defunct English parties
- Above and Beyond Party.
- Advance Together.
- Boston Bypass Independents.
- Community Action Party; local centre-left party in Wigan.
- Community Group; local party in Doncaster.
- Community; local party in the London Borough of Hounslow.
- Corrective Party (1988–1990s) – electoral vehicle for Lindi St Clair (aka Miss Whiplash) to campaign for the liberalisation of sex laws.
- For Darwen Party - (2007–2013) Local party in Darwen.
- Free England Party (2008–2009).
- Idle Toad (2003–2014) - Local party in South Ribble, Lancashire.
- Liverpool Protestant Party.
- New England Party (2005–2007, merged with the English Democrats).
- Northern Party (2015–2016).
- One London (November 2005 – November 2008) - London party formerly with two seats on the London Assembly, a split from UKIP.
- Pensioners Party (England) (2004–2013).
- People's Alliance of Tower Hamlets (2016–2018).
- People's Democratic Party - a populist party focused on Northern England.
- The Republic Party, based in Pendlebury, Salford. Campaigned for the UK to become a Republic.
- Roman Party.
- Vectis National Party (1970s) – Isle of Wight regionalist party.
Defunct Scottish parties
- Communist Party of Scotland
- Crofters Party
- East Dunbartonshire Independent Alliance
- East Kilbride Alliance
- Fife Socialist League (1950s–1960s)
- Fishing Party (Scotland) (2003–2004)
- Free Scotland Party (2004–2012?)
- Highland Land League (1909–1920s)
- Highlands and Islands Alliance
- International Socialist Group (2011–2015)
- Labour Party of Scotland
- Left Alliance (2000s)
- 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.
- Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers (2006–2015)
- 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 Senior Citizens Unity Party (2003–2015)
- 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
- Forward Wales
- John Marek Independent Party (2003), evolved into Forward Wales
- People Before Politics (2004–2008), nine county councillors were elected to Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council in 2004.
- South Wales Socialist Society
- Welsh Republican Movement
Defunct Northern Irish parties
- All-for-Ireland Party (1910–1918)
- British Ulster Dominion Party
- Irish Independence Party
- Irish Parliamentary Party
- Labour Party of Northern Ireland
- Nationalist Party
- NI21 (2013–2016)
- Northern Ireland Labour Party
- Northern Ireland Women's Coalition
- People's Democracy
- Protestant Coalition (2013–2015)
- 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 religious parties
- ProLife Alliance. Still operating as a pressure group, ProLife deregistered as a political party in 2004.
Defunct joke/satirical parties
- Adam Lyal's Witchery Tour Party (1999–2009)
- The Blah! Party
- Citizens for Undead Rights and Equality
- Death, Dungeons and Taxes Party
- Fancy Dress 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 (2000–2007)
- 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.
- Sinn Fein operate a policy of Abstentionism and do not take their Commons seats
- 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 11,021 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.
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