This article lists political parties in the United Kingdom.
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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.
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%).
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.
As of 2 August 2019the Electoral Commission showed the number of registered political parties in Great Britain and Northern Ireland as 408.
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:
Following the 2019 United Kingdom general election, the number of seats for each party in the House of Commons is:
No other party had any elected representation in the House of Commons.
|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 % (2019 general election)|
|Conservative and Unionist Party||1834||Boris Johnson||365||31||11||N/A||8||4||7,530||191,000||43.6|
|Centre-left||Jeremy Corbyn||202[Note 3][Note 4]||23[Note 5]||29[Note 6]||N/A||12||10||6,344||485,000[Note 7]||32.2|
|Scottish National Party||1934||Centre-left
|Liberal Democrats||1988 (1859 as Liberal Party)||Centre to centre-left||Ed Davey and Mark Pack (Acting)||11||5||1||N/A||1||16||2,552||120,845||11.5|
|Democratic Unionist Party||1971||Centre-right||Arlene Foster||8||N/A||N/A||27||N/A||1||122||Not published||0.8|
|Sinn Féin||1905 (original);
|Centre-left to left-wing||Mary Lou McDonald||7[Note 8]||N/A||N/A||27||N/A||1||105||Not published||0.6|
|Plaid Cymru||1925||Centre-left to left-wing||Adam Price||4||N/A||11||N/A||N/A||1||204||11,500||0.5|
|Social Democratic and Labour Party||1970||Centre-left||Colum Eastwood||2||N/A||N/A||11||N/A||N/A||59||Not published||0.4|
|Green Party of England and Wales||1990||Left-wing||Siân Berry and Jonathan Bartley (job share)||1||N/A||N/A||N/A||2||7||360||49,500||2.7|
|Alliance Party of Northern Ireland||1970||Centre||Naomi Long||1||N/A||N/A||8||N/A||1||53||Not published||0.4|
|Brexit Party||2019||Single-issue||Nigel Farage||N/A||N/A||4||N/A||N/A||23||32||115,000||2.0|
|Scottish Green Party||1990||Centre-left to left-wing||Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater||N/A||6||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||19||6,412||0.1|
|Ulster Unionist Party||1905||Centre-right||Steve Aiken||N/A||N/A||N/A||10||N/A||N/A||75||Not published||0.3|
|UK Independence Party||1993||Right-wing to far-right||Patricia Mountain (Acting)||N/A||N/A||1||N/A||2||N/A||35||26,447||0.1|
|Green Party in Northern Ireland||1983||Centre-left||Clare Bailey||N/A||N/A||N/A||2||N/A||N/A||8||406(May 2015)|
|Traditional Unionist Voice||2007||Right-wing||Jim Allister||N/A||N/A||N/A||1||N/A||N/A||6||Not published||0.0|
|People Before Profit||2005||Left-wing to far-left||Eamonn McCann[Note 9]||N/A||N/A||N/A||1||N/A||N/A||5||Not published||0.0|
|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 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 nonsectarian 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.|
|Ashfield Independents||Ashfield, Nottinghamshire||Jason Zadrozny||37 (+12 Parish Cllrs)|
|Residents Associations of Epsom and Ewell||Epsom and Ewell, Surrey||Keith Lugton||34|
|Mansfield Independent Forum||Mansfield, Nottinghamshire||Martin Wright||19|
|Thurrock Independents||Thurrock||Graham Snell||17|
|Canvey Island Independent Party||Castle Point, Essex||David Blackwell||16|
|Residents for Uttlesford||Uttlesford||John Lodge||11|
|Havering Residents Association||Havering||Ray Morgon||11|
|Temple & Farringdon Together||Localism||City of London Corporation||10|
|Liberal Party||Liberalism, Euroscepticism||Liverpool, Mid Devon, Peterborough, Ryedale||Steve Radford||9|
|East Devon Alliance||transparency||East Devon||Paul Arnott||11|
|Independent Union||Hartlepool Borough Council||John Tennant||8|
|Derwentside Independents||Durham||Watts Stelling||7(+5 parish cllrs)|
|Yorkshire Party||East Riding, Selby, North Yorkshire||Chris Whitwood||7|
|Llais Gwynedd||Regionalism||Gwynedd||Owain Williams||6|
|Runnymede Independent Residents' Group||Runnymede||6|
|Spennymoor Independents||Durham||5 (+16 Parish Cllrs)|
|Morley Borough Independents||Leeds||Robert Finnigan||5|
|Socialist Labour Party||Socialism||Hartlepool Borough Council||Arthur Scargill||4|
|Progressive Unionist Party||Unionism, democratic socialism||Belfast, Causeway Coast and Glens||Billy Hutchinson||4|
|Independent Community and Health Concern||Single-issue politics||Wyre Forest, Worcestershire, Shropshire||Dr Richard Taylor||4|
|Mebyon Kernow||Cornish nationalism||Cornwall||Dick Cole||4|
|Barnsley Independent Group||Barnsley||Phillip Birkinshaw||4|
|Newport Independents Party||Newport, South Wales||Kevin Whitehead||4 |
|Nottingham Independents||Nottingham City Council, Gedling Borough Council, Nottinghamshire||Francesco Lari||3 (+ 1 Parish Cllr)|
|People Against Bureaucracy||Cheltenham, Gloucestershire||3|
|Guildford Greenbelt Group||Guildford||Susan Parker||3|
|North East Party||Regionalism||Durham||3|
|Middlewich First||Cheshire East||James Basford||3(+5 parish cllrs)|
|Putting Seaton First||Hartlepool||3|
|Democrats and Veterans||Euroscepticism||Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Hartlepool Borough Council||John Rees-Evans||3|
|Highwoods Group||Colchester||Beverley Oxford||3|
|the BOROUGH first||Windsor and Maidenhead||Charles Hollingsworth||2|
|Morecambe Bay Independents||Lancaster||Roger Dennison||2|
|Henley Residents Group||South Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire||2 (+6 parish clllrs)|
|For Britain Movement||Far-right politics||Hartlepool Borough Council, Epping Forest District Council||Anne Marie Waters||2|
|West Dunbartonshire Community Party||West Dunbartonshire||Drew MacEoghainn||1|
|Lincolnshire Independents||Lincolnshire||Marianne Overton||1|
|Harold Hill Independent||Havering||Lorraine Moss||1|
|Merthyr Independents||Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council||Stephen Brown ||1|
|The Cynon Valley Party||Rhondda Cynon Taf||1 |
|The Rubbish Party||East Ayrshire||Sally Cogley||1|
|Cross-Community Labour Alternative||Fermanagh and Omagh District Council||Owen McCracken||1|
|Aontú||Derry City and Strabane District Council||Peadar Tóibín||1|
|Women's Equality Party||Feminism, Egalitarianism, Pro-Europeanism||Congleton Town Council||Mandu Reid||1|
|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|
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.
Data from the House of Commons Library shows the SNP has just under 125,500 registered members, compared to 124,000 for the Tories.