List of political parties in the United Kingdom facts for kids

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This article lists political parties in the United Kingdom.

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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 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, 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 as other parties have significant support. The Liberal Democrats had been the third largest party until the 2015 general election when it was overtaken by the Scottish National Party in terms of seats 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 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.

Debating chamber, Scottish Parliament (31-05-2006)
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 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.

As of 3 August  2015 (2015 -08-03) the Electoral Commission showed the number of registered political (inc. 'minor') parties in Great Britain and Northern Ireland as 492.

Major parties

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

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 % (2015 General Election) Notes
Conservative and Unionist Party Centre-right Theresa May 330 31 11 0 8 20 8706 149,800

(Estimated December 2013, does not publish official membership)

36.9 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 Centre-left Jeremy Corbyn 230
(inc 24 as Lab Co-op)
23
(inc 8 as Lab Co-op)
29
(inc 11 as Lab Co-op)
N/A 12 20 6882 Increase 698,541

(July 2016)

30.4 A big tent party historically allied with the trade union movement; based upon mixed market Third Way policies since the party's reinvention as New Labour in 1994; it generally supports greater Pro-Europeanism. As a big tent party, it includes a range of views including New Labour, Socialists such as those belonging to the Socialist Campaign Group and Social Democrats.
Scottish National Party Centre-left Nicola Sturgeon 54 63 N/A N/A N/A 2 418 Increase 116,000

(April 2016)

4.7 Scottish nationalist and
social-democratic party which supports membership of the EU.
Liberal Democrats Centre Tim Farron 9 5 1 N/A 1 1 1835 Increase 80,000

(January 2017)

7.9 Socially liberal and progressive; supports democratisation of the political system. The party's main two branches are the social-liberal grouping, and the 'Orange Book' grouping. Strongly supports membership of the EU.
Democratic Unionist Party Right-wing Arlene Foster 8 N/A N/A 28 N/A 1 104 Not Published 0.6 Unionist and national conservative party in Northern Ireland. Socially conservative with close links to Protestantism.
Sinn Féin Left-wing Gerry Adams 4 N/A N/A 27 N/A 1 105 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 Centre-left to Left-wing Leanne Wood 3 N/A 11 N/A N/A 1 171 Increase 7,863

(Jan 2015)

0.6 Left-wing party in favour of Welsh independence.
Social Democratic and Labour Party Centre-left Colum Eastwood 3 N/A N/A 12 N/A 0 66 Not Published 0.3 Social-democratic and Irish nationalist party supporting a United Ireland.
Ulster Unionist Party Centre-right Mike Nesbitt 2 N/A N/A 10 N/A 1 87 Not Published 0.4 Unionist party in Northern Ireland, conservative but with liberal factions.
UK Independence Party Right-wing Paul Nutall 0 0 6 0 2 23 494 Decrease 32,000

(Nov 2016)

12.6 Eurosceptic and right-wing populist party. Favours national sovereignty, direct democracy, social conservatism and economic liberalism.
Green Party of England and Wales Left-wing Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley (job share) 1 N/A N/A N/A 2 3 164 Decrease 53,000

(August 2016)

3.8 Green political party that favours Eco-socialism, Environmentalism, Sustainability and Non-Violence.
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland Centre Naomi Long 0 N/A N/A 8 N/A 0 32 Not Published 0.2 Liberal and centrist political party in Northern Ireland linked with the Liberal Democrats via ELDR.
Scottish Green Party Centre-left to Left-wing Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman 0 6 N/A N/A N/A 0 13 Increase 9,000 +

(May 2015)

Green political party in favour of Scottish independence.
Green Party in Northern Ireland Centre-left Steven Agnew 0 N/A N/A 2 N/A 0 4 406

(May 2015)

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.
People Before Profit Alliance Left-wing to Far-left Eamonn McCann 0 N/A N/A 1 N/A 0 1 Not Published Socialist party formed by the Socialist Workers Party (Ireland).

†Sinn Féin MPs do not take their seats in the UK House of Commons as they refuse to swear allegiance to the crown.

Minor parties

Political parties with elected representation at local government level only

Party Political Position Leader Local Government members Notes
Residents Associations of Epsom and Ewell Localism Keith Lugton 34
Independents for Frome Local issues Mel Usher 17 Frome-based localist agenda
Liberal Party Centre Steve Radford 13 Liberal Eurosceptic party
Llais Gwynedd Centre-left Owain Williams 10 Welsh nationalist local party
Residents for Uttlesford Centre John Lodge 10 Essex-based localist agenda
East Devon Alliance Local issues Ben Ingham 9 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.
Derwentside Independents Watts Stelling 7 (+5 parish cllrs) Localism
Independent Community and Health Concern NHS & local issues Dr Richard Taylor 5 Mainly local party campaigns on NHS and local issues.
Democratic Independent Group Ash Ashbee 5 Formed when five UKIP councillors defected over allegations that the leader of the council prevented the reopening of Manston Airport.
Yorkshire First Centre Richard Carter 5 Campaigning for devolution for Yorkshire.
Barnsley Independent Group Phillip Birkinshaw 4 Localism
Mebyon Kernow (The Party for Cornwall) Centre-left Dick Cole 4 Cornish nationalist party
Guildford Greenbelt Group Susan Parker 3 Localism
Middlewich First James Basford 3 (+5 parish cllrs) Localism
Independence from Europe Mike Nattrass 3 Euro-sceptic party
Putting Hartlepool First Kelly Atkinson 3 Localism
Borders Party Nicholas Watson 2 Localism
Morecambe Bay Independents Roger Dennison 2 Localism
Henley Residents Group 1 (+6 parish clllrs) Localism
British National Party Far-right Adam Walker 1 (+3 parish cllrs) Neo-fascist, White nationalist, Eurosceptic party
Solidarity Left-wing to Far-left Rosemary Byrne and Pat Lee 1 Socialist and trotskyist

Political parties with elected representation at civic parish/community council level only

  • Devizes Guardians, has 11 cllrs on Devizes council, Wiltshire
  • North East Party, 9 cllrs on Peterlee council.
  • Official Monster Raving Loony Party, 7 cllrs.
  • Pirate Party, 2 cllrs; St Athan & Parton.

Political parties with 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 UK parties

  • 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
  • One Love Party
  • Peace Party
  • Populist Party, launched after a split from UKIP.
  • Social Democratic Party
  • Something New, launched in 2014 with an open source manifesto
  • United in Europe
  • Whig Party
  • Women's Equality Party, feminist party established in 2015. Claims to have 45,000 members.
  • Young People's Party UK

Minor UK left-wing and 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)
  • New Communist Party (1977–present)
  • Socialist Workers Party (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) (1991–present)
  • Alliance for Workers' Liberty (part of Left Unity) (1992–present)
  • Independent Working Class Association (1995–present)
  • Socialist Labour Party (1996–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)
  • TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) (2010-present)
  • Left Unity (2013–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)
  • British Unity Party (2015–present) led by former BNP leader Nick Griffin

Minor UK centre-right parties

  • Christian Peoples Alliance (1999–present)
  • Christian Democratic Party (UK) (1999–present)
  • The Common Good (2004–present)
  • Christian Party (successor to Operation Christian Vote) (2005–present)

Minor English parties

See also: List of political parties in London
  • Community; local party in the London Borough of Hounslow.
  • Community Action Party; local centre-left party in Wigan.
  • Community Group; local party in Doncaster.
  • English Democrats; campaign for self-government for England.
  • Idle Toad; independent party in Lancashire.
  • Lewisham People Before Profit.
  • National Health Action Party.
  • People's Democratic Party, a populist party focused on Northern England.
  • Roman Party.
  • Wessex Regionalist Party, campaigning for devolution for Wessex.

Minor Scottish parties

  • Communist Party of Scotland
  • Independent Green Voice
  • RISE – Scotland's Left Alliance; electoral alliance formed by SSP and former ISG
  • 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.
  • Socialist Party Scotland

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
  • NI21
  • Labour Party of Northern Ireland
  • Republican Sinn Féin
  • Socialist Party (Ireland)
  • Workers' Party

Joke/satirical parties

See Joke political parties in the United Kingdom
  • Al-Zebabist Nation of Ooog
  • Church of the Militant Elvis Party
  • Fancy Dress Party

Defunct and historical parties in the United Kingdom

  • Boston Bypass Independents
  • Liberal Party (1839–1988)
  • Liberal Unionist Party (1886–1912)
  • Women's Party (1917–1919)
  • National Democratic and Labour Party (1918–1923)
  • National Liberal Party (1922–1923)
  • National Liberal Party (1931–1968)
  • New Party (1931–1932)
  • Social Credit Party of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1931–1951, 1965–1978)
  • Fellowship Party (1955–2007). Environmentalist, pacifist and socialist party.
  • Democratic Labour (1972–1979)
  • Campaign for Social Democracy (1973–1974)
  • 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
  • Social Democratic Alliance (1975-1981)
  • Social Democratic Party (1981–1990)
  • Islamic Party of Britain (1989–2006)
  • Natural Law Party (1992–2004)
  • Democratic Party (1998–2010)
  • Legalise Cannabis Alliance (1999–2006), deregistered and became a pressure group in 2006.
  • Countryside Party (2000–2008)
  • New Party (2003–2010)
  • Make Politicians History (2005–2009)
  • Science Party. Launched in April 2010, with initial press support from Newscientist.com. Campaigning for increased importance and use of Science in Politics.
  • Trust Party (2010–2011)

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)
  • Northern Party (2015-2016)
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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 SNLA 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 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 UK religious parties

  • ProLife Alliance. Still operating as a pressure group, ProLife deregistered as a political party in 2004.

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)
  • National Socialist Party (1916–1919)
  • 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)
  • Workers' Power (1974–2015)
  • 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)
  • Democratic Left (1991-1993) [de-registered as a political party from 1993-1998]
  • Socialist Alliance (1994–2005)
  • Socialist Peoples Party (1995–2015)
  • Democratic Labour Party (1998–2016)
  • Red Party (2004–2005)
  • United Socialist Party (2004–2010?)
  • Peace and Progress Party (2004–2015)
  • Respect Party (2004–2016)
  • Permanent Revolution (2006–2013)
  • Left List (2008–2010)
  • No2EU (2009–2014), (electoral alliance & registered party, formed by the Socialist Party, Communist Party and RMT)
  • Class War (2014–2015)
  • Reality Party (2014–2016)

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
  • Citizens for Undead Rights and Equality
  • 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 (2000–2007)
  • Teddy Bear Alliance

Defunct Single issue Eurosceptic parties

  • Anti Common Market and Free Trade Party (1967-1988)
  • Referendum Party (1994-1997)
  • Veritas (2005-2015)
  • We Demand a Referendum (2012-2014)

List of political parties in the United Kingdom Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.