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List of political parties in Scotland facts for kids

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This article lists political parties in Scotland.

Major parties

Parties represented in the Scottish Parliament, British Parliament or European Parliament (ordered by number of representatives):

Party MSPs MPs MEPs Ideology
Scottish National Party 63 54 2 Centre-left, Scottish independence, Social democracy, Civic nationalism,
Nuclear disarmament, Pro-Europeanism
Scottish Conservative Party 31 1 1 Centre-right, Conservatism, Unionism
Scottish Labour Party 24 1 2 Centre-left, Social democracy, Unionism, Pro-Europeanism
Scottish Green Party 6 0 0 Green politics, Scottish independence, Scottish republicanism,
Nuclear disarmament, Pro-Europeanism
Scottish Liberal Democrats 5 1 0 Centre, Social liberalism, Federalism, Pro-Europeanism
UKIP Scotland 0 0 1 Right-wing, Euroscepticism, Populism, Conservatism, Unionism

Minor parties

Other parties which contested the 2016 Scottish Parliament Election (by vote share):

Party Ideology
Solidarity Socialism, Trotskyism, Scottish Independence
Scottish Christian Party Right-wing, Christianity, Christian right, Euroscepticism
RISE Socialism, Environmentalism, Scottish Independence, Scottish republicanism
Women's Equality Party Feminism
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition Trade unionism, Socialism, Marxism, Trotskyism, Euroscepticism
Scottish Libertarian Party Libertarianism, Scottish Independence, Euroscepticism
National Front Far-right, British nationalism, British Fascism
Communist Party Far-left, Communism, Marxism–Leninism

Political parties

The Scottish National Party (SNP) is the main political party in Scotland which supports Scotland becoming an independent nation. They are overall centre-left, advocating social democracy, nuclear disarmament and closer ties to the European Union. They were founded in 1934 and formed a permanent grouping in House of Commons in 1967. Their best election result in the 20th century was at the general election of October 1974 in which they won 11 of Scotland's 72 Westminster seats as well as around 30% of the popular vote, however they lost all but two of these seats in 1979. Support for the party was bolstered under the leadership of Alex Salmond, who in 2011 led the SNP to their best electoral performance to date, in which they became the first party in the devolved Scottish Parliament to win a majority of seats. They form the Scottish government, and are now led by Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. They have 64 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), 55 Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (MPs) and 2 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

The Scottish Labour Party was the most successful party in Scottish elections from 1959 to 2007. Like the wider UK Labour Party, they are centre-left and they promote British unionism. They first overtook the Conservatives as Scotland's largest party at the 1959 general election. In 1997, the UK Labour Party under Tony Blair offered Scotland a referendum on devolution which was passed with around 74% of the electorate in favour. From 1999 to 2007, they were in power in the Scottish Parliament through a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. From 2008-2011, the party was led by Iain Gray in the Scottish Parliament, who announced his resignation after the party's defeat at the 2011 Scottish election. Johann Lamont became leader in 2011 and resigned in 2014 after an internal dispute within the party. They control just one Scottish seat in the House of Commons after a landslide defeat in the 2015 General Election to the SNP. They also have 37 seats in the Scottish Parliament and have two MEPs. They are currently led by Kezia Dugdale MSP, following Jim Murphy's resignation after the 2015 General Election.

The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party was founded in 1965 out of the old Scottish Unionist Party, which had been a dominant political force in Scotland for much of the early 20th century, winning the majority of votes and seats in the 1955 general election. However the party went into decline, being reduced from 21 Scottish seats in 1983, to 10 in 1987. The 1997 general election was a catastrophe for the Scottish Conservatives, who were left with no Scottish seats whatsoever. However the party won 18 seats in the Scottish Parliament in the 1999 election due to proportional representation. Since 2001 the Conservatives have held 1 Scottish seat in the UK parliament. Like the wider UK Conservative Party, the party is a centre-right party, which promotes conservatism and British unionism. They are currently have 15 MSPs, led in the Scottish Parliament by Ruth Davidson, 1 MP and 1 MEP.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats are a centrist, social liberal and British unionist party. The British Liberal Democrats they are part of were formed out of the old Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party in 1988. Their leader is Willie Rennie. Since the formation of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition at Westminster, support for the Liberal Democrats has fallen sharply, and the party won five seats at the 2011 Scottish parliamentary election. They also lost their Scottish MEP at the 2014 European Elections. They also lost 10 of their 11 House of Commons seats at the 2015 General Election, with Deputy Leader Alistair Carmichael the only MP managing to keep his seat.

The Scottish Green Party sit between the centre-left and the left-wing. The party promotes green politics, Scottish independence, Scottish republicanism, equality and radical democracy. It retains close ties with the Green Party of England and Wales and the Green Party in Northern Ireland, having all originated in the breakup of the UK Green Party. However all three parties are now fully independent. It won a seat in the Scottish Parliament in 1999, which was increased to 7 in 2003, and then reduced to 2 in 2007. The Greens retained both these seats in 2011.

UKIP Scotland, the Scottish section of the eurosceptic UK Independence Party, has contested many Scottish elections for the Westminster Parliament and the Scottish Parliament, and in 2014 it won one of Scotland's six seats in the European Parliament, gaining 10.5% of the Scottish vote, coming fourth. Its Scottish MEP is David Coburn.

The far-right British National Party (BNP) contests Scottish seats on a regular basis, with little success.

The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) was founded in 1998 and achieved 6 seats in the Scottish Parliament in 2003. They are left-wing, and campaign for democratic socialism, anti-capitalism, Scottish independence, Scottish republicanism, local tax reform, free school meals, free public transport and drug policy reform. A party split in the SSP in 2006 caused the then party leader Tommy Sheridan to leave the party and establish Solidarity. Both parties currently hold one seat at local government level in Scotland.

Other parties

Registered parties

  • A Better Britain – Unionist Party
  • Britain First (Great Britain-wide party)
  • Christian Peoples Alliance (Great Britain-wide party)
  • Independent Green Voice (Great Britain-wide party)
  • Pirate Party (Great Britain-wide party)
  • Scottish Unionist Party
  • West Dunbartonshire Community Party

Unregistered parties

The following parties were not registered with the Electoral Commission as of 6 May 2016, and may be defunct:

  • Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
  • Communist Party of Scotland (Scottish party formed after collapse of the Communist Party of Great Britain)
  • East Dunbartonshire Independent Alliance
  • Free Scotland Party
  • Left Alliance (have 2 councillors in Fife)
  • Nine Per Cent Growth Party
  • NO2EU (Great Britain-wide electoral alliance)
  • Pride In Paisley Party
  • Publican Party
  • Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party (SSCUP)
  • Scottish Wind Watch
  • Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers

Defunct parties

  • Adam Lyal's Witchery Tour Party (1999-2009)
  • Communist Party of Great Britain (1920-1991)
  • Crofters Party (1885-1890s)
  • Fife Socialist League (1950s-1960s)
  • Fishing Party (2003-2004)
  • Highlands and Islands Alliance (established by 1999, inactive by 2001)
  • Highland Land League (1909-1920s)
  • Independent Labour Party (1893-1975)
  • Labour Party of Scotland (existed around 1973)
  • National Party of Scotland (1928-1934)
  • Scottish Enterprise Party (2004-2009, succeeded by the Scottish Democratic Alliance)
  • Scottish Labour Party (1888-1893)
  • Scottish Labour Party (1976-1979)
  • Scottish Militant Labour (1991-2001)
  • Scottish Party (1930s)
  • Scottish Republican Socialist Party (1982-1998, joined the SSP and became the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement)
  • Scottish Socialist Party (1987-1990)
  • Scottish Unionist Party (1912-1965)
  • Scottish Voice (2007-2012)
  • Scottish Workers Republican Party (established in the 1910s, wound up after 1925)
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