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, the parliament was presided over by a speaker, who handled proceedings. The concept of right and left came originally from France, where the Right supported a smaller state with less influence on the lives of the public, the Left advocated a larger state with more influence on the lives of the public; in the late 19th century the Liberal Party began to lean towards the left, and the seating in the house of commons began to reflect this: Right of the speaker were those supporting right wing politics, the Conservatives; left of the speaker were those supporting Left wing politics, the Liberals. 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[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]

The start 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]

Parliamentary 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:

Party Date of foundation 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 1834 Centre-right Theresa May Official.jpg Theresa May 317 31 12 [Note 1] 0 8 19 9,234[10] Decrease 124,000 [11] (Does not publish official membership numbers, data based on 3rd party sources) 42.4
Labour Party

Co-operative Party

1900

•1917 (Co-operative)

Centre-left Jeremy Corbyn, 2016 Labour Party Conference 1.jpg Jeremy Corbyn 262 23 [Note 2] 29 [Note 3] N/A 12 20 6,470[10] Steady 552,000 [9] 40.0
Scottish National Party 1934 Centre-left Official portrait of Nicola Sturgeon (cropped 2).jpg Nicola Sturgeon 35 63 N/A N/A N/A 2 430[10] Steady 118,000 [12] 3.0
Liberal Democrats 1988 Centre Vince Cable, Cambridge.jpg Vince Cable 12 5 1 N/A 1 1 1,815[10] Increase 100,500 [13] 7.4
Democratic Unionist Party 1971 Right-wing Arlene Foster MLA (cropped) 2.jpg Arlene Foster 10 N/A N/A 28 N/A 1 104 Not Published 0.9
Sinn Féin 1905 (original);

1970 (current)

Left-wing Mary Lou McDonald (official portrait).jpg Mary Lou McDonald 7 N/A N/A 27 N/A 1 [Note 4] 105 Not Published 0.7
Plaid Cymru - Party of Wales 1925 Centre-left to left-wing Leanne Wood AM (27555056394).jpg Leanne Wood 4[9] N/A 11 N/A N/A 1 203[10] Decrease 8,000 [14] 0.5
Green Party of England and Wales 1990 Left-wing Lucas and bartley co-leaders.png Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley (job share) 1 N/A N/A N/A 2 3 187[10] Decrease 41,073 [15] 1.6
Social Democratic and Labour Party 1970 Centre-left Colum Eastwood MLA.JPG Colum Eastwood 0 N/A N/A 12 N/A 0 66 Not Published 0.3
Ulster Unionist Party 1905 Centre-right Dervock RBL (cropped).jpg Robin Swann 0 N/A N/A 10 N/A 1 87 Not Published 0.3
UK Independence Party 1993 Right-wing GerardBattenwithProtestors-cropped (cropped).jpg Gerard Batten 0 0 5 0 2 20 345[10] Decrease 21,200 [16] 1.8
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland 1970 Centre Cropped image of Naomi Long.JPG Naomi Long 0 N/A N/A 8 N/A 0 32 Not Published 0.2
Scottish Green Party 1990 Centre-left to left-wing PatrickHarvieMSP20110510.JPG
Maggie Chapman, Co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party.png
Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman 0 6 N/A N/A N/A 0 19[10] 8,120 [17] (December 2016)
Green Party in Northern Ireland 1983 Centre-left Steven Agnew MLA 2016.png Steven Agnew 0 N/A N/A 2 N/A 0 4[10] 406 [18] (May 2015)
Traditional Unionist Voice 2007 Right-wing JimAllister (cropped).jpg Jim Allister 0 N/A N/A 1 N/A 0 13 Not Published 0.1
People Before Profit 2005 Left-wing to far-left Eamonn McCann (cropped).jpg 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 and socially liberal 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.
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-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,[19] environmentalism,[19] sustainability[19] and non-violence.[19]
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 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.

Local Government[edit]

Principal authorities[edit]

Party Ideology Local authorities Leader Councillors
Residents Associations of Epsom and Ewell Localism Epsom and Ewell, Surrey Keith Lugton 34[20][21]
Mansfield Independent Forum Localism Mansfield, Nottinghamshire Martin Wright 19[22]
Thurrock Independents Localism Thurrock Graham Snell 17
Canvey Island Independent Party Localism Castle Point, Essex David Blackwell 16[23][24]
Residents for Uttlesford Localism Uttlesford John Lodge 11[25]
Havering Residents Association Localism Havering Ray Morgon 11
Liberal Party Liberalism, Euroscepticism Liverpool, Mid Devon, Peterborough, Ryedale Steve Radford 9[26]
East Devon Alliance Localism, transparency[27] East Devon Ben Ingham 9[28]
Derwentside Independents Localism Durham Watts Stelling 7[29] (+5 parish cllrs)[30]
Llais Gwynedd Regionalism Gwynedd Owain Williams 6[31]
Runnymede Independent Residents' Group Localism Runnymede 6
Spennymoor Independents Localism Durham 5[10]
Progressive Unionist Party Unionism, democratic socialism Belfast, Causeway Coast and Glens Billy Hutchinson 4[32][33]
Independent Community and Health Concern Single-issue politics Wyre Forest, Worcestershire, Shropshire Dr Richard Taylor 4[10]
Mebyon Kernow Cornish nationalism Cornwall Dick Cole 4[10]
Barnsley Independent Group Localism Barnsley Phillip Birkinshaw 4[34]
People Against Bureaucracy Localism Cheltenham, Gloucestershire 3[35][36]
Guildford Greenbelt Group Localism Guildford Susan Parker 3[37]
North East Party Regionalism Durham 3[38]
Middlewich First Localism Cheshire East James Basford 3[39] (+5 parish cllrs)
Putting Hartlepool First Localism Hartlepool Kelly Atkinson 3[40]
Highwoods Group Localism Colchester Beverley Oxford 3[41]
Morecambe Bay Independents Localism Lancaster Roger Dennison 2[42]
Henley Residents Group Localism South Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire 2[43] (+6 parish clllrs)
People's Alliance of Tower Hamlets Social democracy Tower Hamlets Rabina Khan 1
West Dunbartonshire Community Party Localism West Dunbartonshire Drew MacEoghainn 1[44]
Lincolnshire Independents Localism Lincolnshire Marianne Overton 1[45]
Renew Pro-Europeanism Portsmouth James Torrance 1[46]
Yorkshire Party Regionalism Hambleton Stewart Arnold 1[47]
Harold Hill Independent Localism Havering Lorraine Moss 1[48]
The Rubbish Party Localism East Ayrshire Sally Cogley 1

Civil parishes and community councils[edit]

Party Political Position Leader Councillors
Independents for Frome Localism Mel Usher 17[49]
Devizes Guardians Conservationism, Localism Nigel Carter 11[50]
Official Monster Raving Loony Party Satire Howling Laud Hope 6
Social Democratic Party Social democracy Peter Johnson 2
Pirate Party Pirate politics Harley Faggetter 1

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 right-wing and far-right parties[edit]

Minor UK centrist and pro-European 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.[57]

Defunct left-wing and far-left parties[edit]

Defunct right-wing and 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. ^ Including 8 as Lab Co-op.
  3. ^ Including 11 as Lab Co-op.
  4. ^ 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. ^ a b c "Election 2017 – BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 9 June 2017.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "auto" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Local Council Political Compositions". Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  11. ^ Audickas, Lukas; Dempsey, Noel; Keen, Richard. "Membership of UK political parties". 
  12. ^ Keen, Richard; Audickas, Lukas (1 September 2017). "Membership of UK Political Parties" (PDF). www.parliament.uk. House of Commons Library. p. 13. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 September 2017. Retrieved 30 September 2017. There are around 118,000 members of the Scottish National Party, as of August 2017, according to information from the Party's Central Office. 
  13. ^ Audickas, Lukas; Dempsey, Noel; Keen, Richard. "Membership of UK political parties". 
  14. ^ https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN05125#_ftn3
  15. ^ "Membership of UK political parties". House of Commons Library. 1 May 2018. Retrieved 3 May 2018. 
  16. ^ Audickas, Lukas; Dempsey, Noel; Keen, Richard. "Membership of UK political parties". 
  17. ^ Electoral commission. Statement of accounts for the year ended 31 December 2016. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  18. ^ "Greens' growth has just begun". Belfast Telegraph. 31 March 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  19. ^ a b c d "The Green Party's Core Values". Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  20. ^ "MyEpsomandEwell". eplanning.epsom-ewell.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  21. ^ Surrey County Council, County Hall (2016-09-30). "Your Councillors". Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  22. ^ "Mansfield District Council - List of Councillors". Retrieved 26 February 2018. 
  23. ^ "Councillors". Castle Point Borough Council. Retrieved 26 February 2018. 
  24. ^ https://www.essex.gov.uk/Your-Council/Councillors/Documents/Members.pdf
  25. ^ "Residents for Uttlesford County & District Councillors". Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  26. ^ "Local Council Political Compositions". www.gwydir.demon.co.uk. Retrieved 31 August 2017. 
  27. ^ "East Devon Alliance History". Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  28. ^ "East Devon District Council Elections 2015" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 March 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2016. 
  29. ^ "Council's political make-up - Durham County Council". www.durham.gov.uk. 
  30. ^ "Councillors – Stanley Town Council". Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  31. ^ Your Councillors. Gwynedd Council. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  32. ^ "Your Councillors". Belfast City Council. 2018-02-21. Retrieved 2018-02-21. 
  33. ^ "Councillors". Causeway Coast and Glens District Council. Retrieved 21 Feb 2018. 
  34. ^ "Independent1". www.barnsleyindependentgroup.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  35. ^ List of Councillors in Cheltenham Borough Council.
  36. ^ List of Councillors in Gloucestershire County Council.
  37. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-05-16. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 
  38. ^ "Your Councillors by Party". Retrieved 2017-08-21. 
  39. ^ "Councillors – Middlewich Town Council". Retrieved 2016-09-30. [permanent dead link]
  40. ^ Council, Hartlepool Borough. "Hartlepool Borough Council - Find Councillors". www.hartlepool.gov.uk. 
  41. ^ https://colchester.cmis.uk.com/colchester/Councillors.aspx
  42. ^ "Your Councillors". 2016-09-30. Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  43. ^ "Councillors". www.henleytowncouncil.gov.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  44. ^ "2017 Council Election Results - West Dunbartonshire Council". www.west-dunbarton.gov.uk. Retrieved 2017-05-08. 
  45. ^ https://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/local-democracy/about-your-county-councillor/
  46. ^ https://renewbritain.org/2018/05/01/third-councillor-a-veteran-labour-politician-defects-to-renew-as-new-centrist-party-contests-local-elections/
  47. ^ http://www.yorkshireparty.org.uk/leading-district-councillor-joins-yorkshire-party/
  48. ^ "Councillor Jan Sargent". Havering London Borough Council. 
  49. ^ "Frome Town Council Elections 2015". Retrieved 6 November 2015. 
  50. ^ "Contact a Devizes Town Councillor". www.devizes-tc.gov.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  51. ^ Goodwin, Matthew (19 August 2012). "The far right is fragmenting". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  52. ^ Gable, Sonia (8 April 2012). "Britannica Party fields four candidates". Searchlight. Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  53. ^ Beaton, Connor (21 June 2014). "BNP splinter joins anti-indy campaign". The Targe. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  54. ^ Bluer, Jordan (2 March 2015). "OpenPolitics: 'Wikipedia-like' manifesto lets YOU decide the agenda". Mancunian Matters. Retrieved 12 March 2015. 
  55. ^ "Something New". OpenElectoralCommission. Retrieved 16 Mar 2015.  A mirror of data from the Electoral Commission PEF entity registration search[permanent dead link].
  56. ^ 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. 
  57. ^ 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. 
  58. ^ "Ex-Tory donor launches Trust Party on expenses pledge". BBC News. 29 March 2010. Retrieved 30 March 2010. 
  59. ^ Boggan, Steve (25 February 1993). "Miss Whiplash faxes by-election promise". The Independent. London. Retrieved 15 April 2010. 
  60. ^ "United Kingdom Unionist Party – Statement of Accounts for 2006" (PDF). Electoral Commission. 22 May 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 

External links[edit]