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List of political parties in Scotland

This article lists political parties in Scotland.


  • Major parties 1
  • Minor parties 2
  • Political parties 3
  • Other parties 4
    • Registered parties 4.1
    • Unregistered parties 4.2
    • Defunct parties 4.3
  • See also 5
  • External links 6

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 64 56 2 Centre-left, Social democracy, Scottish nationalism, nuclear disarmament, Pro-Europeanism
Scottish Labour Party 37 1 2 Social democracy, Democratic socialism, Centre-left, British unionist, Trade-unionism, Pro-Europeanism
Scottish Conservative Party 15 1 1 Centre-right, Conservatism, British unionist
Scottish Liberal Democrats 5 1 0 Centre, social liberalism, British federalist, Pro-Europeanism
Scottish Green Party 2 0 0 Left, Green, Environmentalism, Pro-Europeanism, Feminism, Trade Unionism, Republicanism
UKIP Scotland 0 0 1 Right-wing, Euroscepticism, Populism, Conservatism, British unionism

Minor parties

Other parties that contested the 2010 general election (by vote share):

Party Ideology
British National Party Far-right, British nationalism, Euroscepticism
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition Left-wing, Socialism, Environmentalism, Feminism, Scottish Independence, Trade Unionism
Scottish Socialist Party Left-wing, Socialism, Environmentalism, Feminism, Scottish Independence, Republicanism
Socialist Labour Party Left-Wing, Socialism, Trade Unionism, Euroscepticism
Scottish Democratic Alliance Centre-right, Scottish nationalism, Euroscepticism
Scottish Christian Party Right-wing, Christianity, Christian right, Euroscepticism
Liberal Party Centre to Centre-left, Liberalism, Social Liberalism, Euroscepticism
Scottish Jacobite Party Scottish Independence, Euroscepticism, Republicanism
Communist Party Far-left, Communist, Marxism–Leninism
Pirate Party UK Pirate politics, Freedom of Speech, Privacy, Copyright and Patent Reform

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 61 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), 56 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 centre to centre-left social liberal party. They are also British unionist 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 is centre-left and promotes Scottish independence, equality, radical democracy, and environmentalism. It retains close ties with the Green Party of England and Wales, both having originated in the breakup of the UK Green Party. 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 by Tommy Sheridan and achieved 6 seats in the Scottish Parliament in 2003. They are left-wing, and campaign for Scottish independence, the abolition of council tax, Free school meals, free public transport and an end to the Afghan War. A party split in 2006 caused party leader Tommy Sheridan to establish Solidarity, whose policies were quite similar to the SSP. Both the SSP and Solidarity won no seats at either the 2007 or 2011 Scottish parliamentary elections.

Other parties

Registered parties

Unregistered parties

The following parties were not registered with the Electoral Commission as of 2 September 2006, and may be defunct:

Defunct parties

See also

External links

  • Electoral Commission: Database of Registers, includes Register of Political Parties
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