List of political parties in the United Kingdom

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This article lists political parties in the United Kingdom.

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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 lean towards the left, 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, 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 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. 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[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% of the electorate) to 2005 (1.3%).[6]

Register of political parties[edit]

The Electoral Commission's Register of Political Parties[7] 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.

As of 3 August 2015 the Electoral Commission showed the number of registered political 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 % (2017 General Election)[9]
Conservative and Unionist Party Centre-right Theresa May 317 31 12 [Note 1] 0 8 20 9,234[10] 100,000 [11] (September 2017) [Note 2] 42.4
Labour Party Centre-left Jeremy Corbyn 262 23 [Note 3] 29 [Note 4] N/A 12 20 6,470[10] 575,000 + [12] (July 2017) 40
Scottish National Party Centre-left Nicola Sturgeon 35 63 N/A N/A N/A 2 430[10] 120,000 [13] (March 2016) 3
Liberal Democrats Centre Vince Cable 12 5 1 N/A 1 1 1,815[10] 104,000 [14] (June 2017) 7.4
Democratic Unionist Party Right-wing Arlene Foster 10 N/A N/A 28 N/A 1 104 Not Published 0.9
Sinn Féin Left-wing Gerry Adams 7 N/A N/A 27 N/A 1 [Note 5] 105 Not Published 0.7
Plaid Cymru - Party of Wales Centre-left to left-wing Leanne Wood 4[15] N/A 11 N/A N/A 1 203[10] 8,273 [16] (July 2016) 0.5
Green Party of England and Wales Left-wing Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley (job share) 1 N/A N/A N/A 2 3 187[10] 45,643 [17] (December 2016) 1.6
Social Democratic and Labour Party Centre-left Colum Eastwood 0 N/A N/A 12 N/A 0 66 Not Published 0.3
Ulster Unionist Party Centre-right Robin Swann 0 N/A N/A 10 N/A 1 87 Not Published 0.3
UK Independence Party Right-wing Henry Bolton 0 0 5 0 2 20 345[10] 32,757 [18] (November 2016) 1.8
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland Centre Naomi Long 0 N/A N/A 8 N/A 0 32 Not Published 0.2
Scottish Green Party Centre-left to left-wing Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman 0 6 N/A N/A N/A 0 19[10] 8,120 [19] (December 2016)
Green Party in Northern Ireland Centre-left Steven Agnew 0 N/A N/A 2 N/A 0 4[10] 406 [20] (May 2015)
Traditional Unionist Voice Right-wing Jim Allister 0 N/A N/A 1 N/A 0 13 Not Published 0.1
People Before Profit Alliance Left-wing to far-left Eamonn McCann 0 N/A N/A 1 N/A 0 1 Not Published

Party descriptions[edit]

Party Description
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 but socially conservative One Nation Conservatives, and the socially conservative, deeply Eurosceptic Cornerstone Group.
Labour Party A big tent party, broadly centre-left with roots in the trade union movement. The party has changed position over time, from 1994 until 2010, it was reinvented as New Labour, advocating Third Way policies. Since 2015, it has shifted to a more centre-left position. Within the party reside, social democrats, democratic socialists, trade unionists and Keynesians.
Scottish National Party Scottish nationalist and social democratic party which supports membership of the European Union.
Liberal Democrats Liberal and social liberal. The party's main two branches are the social-liberal grouping, 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 - Party of Wales 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,[21] environmentalism,[21] sustainability[21] and non-violence.[21]
UK Independence Party Eurosceptic and right-wing populist party. Favours national sovereignty, direct democracy, social conservatism and economic liberalism.
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland Liberal and centrist political party in Northern Ireland.
Scottish Green Party Green political party in favour of Scottish independence and Scottish republicanism.
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 Alliance Socialist party.

†Sinn Féin MPs do not take their seats in the UK House of Commons as they refuse to swear allegiance to the Crown, nor recognise Westminster's right to legislate for any part of Ireland.

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 Localism Keith Lugton 34[22][23]
Independents for Frome Local issues Mel Usher 17[24] Frome-based localist agenda
Liberal Party Centre Steve Radford 10[25] Liberal Eurosceptic party
Llais Gwynedd
(Voice of Gwynedd)
Owain Williams 6[26] Gwynedd regionalism
Residents for Uttlesford John Lodge 10[27] Essex-based localist agenda
East Devon Alliance Local issues Ben Ingham 9[28] 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.[29]
Derwentside Independents Watts Stelling 7[30] (+5 parish cllrs)[31] Localism
Independent Community and Health Concern NHS & local issues Dr Richard Taylor 4[10] Mainly local party campaigns on NHS and local issues.
Democratic Independent Group Ash Ashbee 5[32] Formed when five UKIP councillors defected over allegations that the leader of the council prevented the reopening of Manston Airport.
Yorkshire Party Centre Stewart Arnold 5[33] Campaigning for devolution for Yorkshire.
Barnsley Independent Group Phillip Birkinshaw 4[34] Localism
Mebyon Kernow (The Party for Cornwall) Centre-left Dick Cole 4[10] Cornish nationalist party
Guildford Greenbelt Group Susan Parker 3[35] Localism
North East Party 3[36] Localism
Middlewich First James Basford 3[37] (+5 parish cllrs) Localism
Independence from Europe Mike Nattrass 3[38] Eurosceptic party
Putting Hartlepool First Kelly Atkinson 3[39] Localism
Borders Party Nicholas Watson 2[40] Localism
Morecambe Bay Independents Roger Dennison 2[41] Localism
Henley Residents Group 1[42] (+6 parish clllrs) Localism
British National Party Far-right Adam Walker 1[43] (+3 parish cllrs[44]) Neo-fascist, White nationalist, Eurosceptic party
West Dunbartonshire Community Party Left-wing Drew MacEoghainn 1[45] Socialism and localism

Political parties with elected representation at civil 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]

Minor UK far-right parties[edit]

Minor UK religious parties[edit]

Minor English parties[edit]

Minor Scottish parties[edit]

Minor Welsh parties[edit]

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.[54]

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. ^ Including 1 Independent Conservative.
  2. ^ Estimated, does not publish official membership.
  3. ^ Including 8 as Lab Co-op.
  4. ^ Including 11 as Lab Co-op.
  5. ^ 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 2017 – BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Local Council Political Compositions". Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  11. ^ https://www.conservativehome.com/thetorydiary/2017/09/conservative-party-membership-is-down-by-a-quarter-could-it-drop-below-100000-next-year.html}}
  12. ^ Perry, Alice (20 July 2017). "Labour NEC Report - July 2017". Alice Perry. Retrieved 31 August 2017. 
  13. ^ "Membership of UK political parties". www.parliament.uk. Retrieved 21 April 2017. 
  14. ^ https://twitter.com/LibDems/status/856528359404310529
  15. ^ "Election 2017 – BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 9 June 2017. 
  16. ^ Martin Shipton. "No surge in membership for Plaid Cymru under Leanne Wood's leadership despite predictions to the contrary". Wales Online. 
  17. ^ "Electoral Commission 2016". 31 December 2016. Retrieved 30 August 2017. 
  18. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38125432
  19. ^ Electoral commission. Statement of accounts for the year ended 31 December 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  20. ^ "Greens' growth has just begun". Belfast Telegraph. 31 March 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  21. ^ a b c d "The Green Party's Core Values". Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  22. ^ "MyEpsomandEwell". eplanning.epsom-ewell.gov.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  23. ^ Surrey County Council, County Hall (2016-09-30). "Your Councillors". Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  24. ^ "Frome Town Council Elections 2015". Retrieved 6 November 2015. 
  25. ^ "Local Council Political Compositions". www.gwydir.demon.co.uk. Retrieved 31 August 2017. 
  26. ^ Your Councillors. Gwynedd Council. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  27. ^ "Residents for Uttlesford County & District Councillors". Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  28. ^ "East Devon District Council Elections 2015" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 March 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  29. ^ "East Devon Alliance History". Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  30. ^ http://www.durham.gov.uk/article/2299/Councils-political-make-up
  31. ^ "Councillors – Stanley Town Council". Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  32. ^ Thanet District Council. "Modern Gov Your Councillors". thanet.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 February 2016. 
  33. ^ "Our People". Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  34. ^ "Independent1". www.barnsleyindependentgroup.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  35. ^ http://www.guildford.gov.uk/article/15342/Councillors-and-Committees
  36. ^ "Your Councillors by Party". Retrieved 2017-08-21. 
  37. ^ "Councillors – Middlewich Town Council". Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  38. ^ "Your Councillors by Party". Lincolnshire County Council. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  39. ^ https://www.hartlepool.gov.uk/councillors/specificParty/9/putting_hartlepool_first
  40. ^ "Councillors » The Borders Party". www.bordersparty.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  41. ^ "Your Councillors". 2016-09-30. Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  42. ^ "Councillors". www.henleytowncouncil.gov.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  43. ^ http://www.pendle.gov.uk/councillors/35/brian_parker
  44. ^ "Heybridge BNP win with 44.71%". British National Party. 2016-05-07. Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  45. ^ "2017 Council Election Results - West Dunbartonshire Council". www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk. Retrieved 2017-05-08. 
  46. ^ "Contact a Devizes Town Councillor". www.devizes-tc.gov.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  47. ^ Bluer, Jordan (2 March 2015). "OpenPolitics: 'Wikipedia-like' manifesto lets YOU decide the agenda". Mancunian Matters. Retrieved 12 March 2015. 
  48. ^ "Something New". OpenElectoralCommission. Retrieved 16 Mar 2015.  A mirror of data from the Electoral Commission PEF entity registration search[permanent dead link].
  49. ^ Perraudin, Frances (13 March 2017). "The mayoral candidate fighting for women in the northern powerhouse: ‘We need a better deal’". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 18 April 2017. 
  50. ^ Goodwin, Matthew (19 August 2012). "The far right is fragmenting". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  51. ^ Gable, Sonia (8 April 2012). "Britannica Party fields four candidates". Searchlight. Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  52. ^ Beaton, Connor (21 June 2014). "BNP splinter joins anti-indy campaign". The Targe. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  53. ^ Bristow, Ned (30 March 2016). "'I am a bit of a radical': Salford mayoral candidate looking to 'break up' Labour stranglehold on local politics". Mancunian Matters. Manchester, England. 
  54. ^ 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. 
  55. ^ "Ex-Tory donor launches Trust Party on expenses pledge". BBC News. 29 March 2010. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  56. ^ Boggan, Steve (25 February 1993). "Miss Whiplash faxes by-election promise". The Independent. London. Retrieved 15 April 2010. 
  57. ^ "United Kingdom Unionist Party – Statement of Accounts for 2006" (PDF). Electoral Commission. 22 May 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-13. [dead link]

External links[edit]