List of political parties in Scotland
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This article lists political parties in Scotland.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) is the main political party in Scotland which primarily supports Scotland becoming an independent nation. They have also supported further devolution as a progression towards independence. They are overall centre-left, and sometimes considered big-tent, 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) and 45 Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (MPs).
The Scottish Conservatives are the Scottish wing of the UK-wide Conservative Party. They were founded in 1965 out of the merger of the 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. From 2001 to 2017, the Conservatives held one Scottish seat in the UK parliament, but had its best result in the 21st century in the 2017 general election when it returned 13 seats and just short of a third of the vote. Like the wider UK Conservative Party, the party is a centre-right party, which promotes conservatism and British unionism. They currently have 30 MSPs, led in the Scottish Parliament by Douglas Ross, and 6 MPs, including Ross himself.
Scottish Labour is the Scottish wing of the Great Britain-wide Labour Party. It 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 to 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. Subsequently, they were led by Jim Murphy, Kezia Dugdale and Richard Leonard. They currently have one MP and 24 MSPs. As of 2021[update] they are led by Anas Sarwar MSP.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats are the Scottish wing of the Great Britain-wide Liberal Democrats party. It is a centrist, social liberal and British unionist party. The British Liberal Democrats they are part of were formed in 1988 when the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party merged. 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. They currently have four MSPs and four MPs.
The Scottish Greens sit between the centre-left and the left-wing. The party promotes green politics, Scottish independence, equality and radical democracy. It retains close ties with the Green Party of England and Wales and the Green Party Northern Ireland, having all originated in the breakup of the UK Green Party. However, all three parties are now fully independent. The Scottish Greens won their first seat in the Scottish Parliament in 1999 and currently have eight MSPs, but have never returned any MPs.
Reform UK Scotland is the Scottish wing of the UK-wide Reform UK. It is a Euroscepticism and populist party. The party gained its first elected representative in January 2021, when sitting independent MSP Michelle Ballantyne joined the party and became leader of the party in Scotland. Ballantyne was previously a Conservative MSP. She resigned from the party in November 2020, citing differences with the new leader Douglas Ross before joining. Ballantyne lost this seat in the 2021 Scottish Scottish Parliament election, leaving the party with no elected representatives in Scotland.
The Alba Party is a Scottish independence supporting party formed in February 2021 and led by former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond. Shortly after it announced its plans to run in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election, two SNP MPs defected to the new party, making the Alba Party the fourth largest Scottish party at the Westminister Parliament after the SNP, Scottish Liberal Democrats and Scottish Conservatives. In the run up to the 2021 Scottish Parliament election there was a succession of SNP representatives defecting to the party. The party failed to win any seats in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election, after attracting only 1.7% of the vote.
Parties with elected representation
Scottish Parliament and/or House of Commons
There are six parties in Scotland that have elected representation in either the Scottish Parliament or the House of Commons. All except the Scottish Greens, the Alba Party have representation in both. In addition, all parties have elected representation at the local government level.
There are several parties in Scotland that have elected representation only at the local government level.
|Orkney Manifesto Group||2013||Localism, Social liberalism||Rachael King||Orkney Islands||2|
|Independence for Scotland Party||2020||Scottish independence||Colette Walker||Argyll and Bute||1|
|Rubbish Party||2017||Localism, Environmentalism||Sally Cogley||East Ayrshire||1|
|Scotia Future||2020||Scottish independence||Charles Brodie||Renfrewshire||1|
|Scottish Libertarian Party||2012||Libertarianism, Scottish independence, Cultural liberalism, Classical liberalism, Minarchism, Euroscepticism||Thomas Laird||Aberdeenshire||1|
|West Dunbartonshire Community Party||2016||Socialism||Drew MacEoghainn||West Dunbartonshire||1|
|Aberdeenshire||NOC||CON+LD+IND co||URL||70||18||18||1||13||1||18||1||East Garioch (LD) - TBC|
|Argyll & Bute||NOC||CON+LD+IND co||URL||36||11||10||5||10|
|Dumfries & Galloway||NOC||LAB+SNP co||URL||43||10||16||9||1||7|
|East Ayrshire||NOC||SNP min||URL||32||14||6||9||3|
|East Dunbartonshire||NOC||LD+CON co||URL||22||7||6||2||6||1|
|East Lothian||NOC||LAB min||URL||22||6||7||9|
|East Renfrewshire||NOC||SNP+LAB co||URL||18||5||5||4||1||3|
|Na h-Eileanan Siar||IND||IND||URL||31||6||1||24|
|North Ayrshire||NOC||LAB min||URL||33||10||7||11||5|
|North Lanarkshire||NOC||LAB min||URL||77||27||8||31||11|
|Perth & Kinross||NOC||CON+LD+IND co||URL||40||13||18||1||5||3|
|Renfrewshire||NOC||SNP min||URL||43||19||8||13||1||1||Paisley Southeast (Ind) - TBC|
|Scottish Borders||NOC||CON+IND co||URL||34||8||15||2||9|
|South Ayrshire||NOC||SNP+LAB+IND p.w.||URL||28||9||12||5||2|
|South Lanarkshire||NOC||SNP min||URL||64||25||12||17||3||7|
|Stirling||NOC||SNP+LAB||URL||23||7||8||4||1||2||1||Forth and Endrick (SNP) - 6 May 2021|
|West Lothian||NOC||LAB min||URL||33||13||7||12||1|
- 9 Aberdeen Labour (Councillors suspended by Labour from party for their coalition with Conservatives).
Parties with no elected representation
Notable registered parties
There are a number of notable registered parties in Scotland with no elected representation. Some operate exclusively within Scotland, while others may also be active in other parts of the United Kingdom.
Historical and deregistered parties
Notable historical parties
- Communist Party of Great Britain
- Communist Party of Scotland
- Crofters Party
- Fife Socialist League
- Fishing Party
- Highland Land League
- Independent Labour Party
- Labour Party of Scotland
- Left Alliance
- Liberal Unionist Party
- National Labour Organisation
- National Liberal Party (1922)
- National Liberal Party (1931)
- National Party of Scotland
- New Party
- Protestant Action Society
- Referendum Party
- Scottish Democratic Fascist Party
- Scottish Labour Party (1888)
- Scottish Labour Party (1976)
- Scottish Land Restoration League
- Scottish Liberal Party
- Scottish Militant Labour
- Scottish Party
- Scottish Prohibition Party
- Scottish Protestant League
- Scottish Republican Socialist Party
- Scottish Socialist Federation
- Scottish Socialist Party (1932)
- Scottish United Trades Councils Labour Party
- Scottish Voice
- Scottish Workers' Representation Committee
- Scottish Workers Republican Party
- Shetland Movement
- Social Democratic Party (1979)
- Social Democratic Party (1981)
- Social Democratic Party (1988)
- Socialist Labour Party (1903)
- Unionist Party
- Workers Party of Scotland
Notable deregistered parties
- Borders Party
- Britain First
- Britannica Party
- Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol
- Change UK
- Countryside Party
- East Dunbartonshire Independent Alliance
- East Kilbride Alliance
- Glasgow First
- Highlands and Islands Alliance
- Legalise Cannabis Alliance
- Natural Law Party
- Pirate Party UK
- ProLife Alliance
- Rock 'n' Roll Loony Party
- Scottish Enterprise Party
- Scottish Jacobite Party
- Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party
- Scottish Voice
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Political parties in Scotland.|
- Political parties are under no legal obligation to publish membership statistics and there is no uniformly recognised definition of membership.
- Some candidates stand as Labour and Co-operative joint candidates due to an electoral alliance with the Co-operative Party.
- Styled by the party as co-spokespersons.
- "Former Tory MSP to lead Scots wing of rebranded Brexit Party". BBC News. 11 January 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
- "MSP Michelle Ballantyne quits Scottish Tories". BBC News. 24 November 2020. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
- Soussi, Alasdair (8 May 2021). "SNP to seek Scottish independence vote after election victory". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
- Sim, Philip (8 May 2021). "Scottish election 2021: Results in maps and charts". BBC. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
- Audickas, Lukas; Dempsey, Noel; Loft, Philip (9 August 2019). "Membership of UK political parties". House of Commons Library. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
- Hutcheon, Paul (3 February 2021). "Scottish Labour 'crisis' after leaked figures show fall in membership". Daily Record. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
- "Scottish Green party loses 30% of members since 2014 indyref". The National. 4 August 2019. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
- "Scottish Liberal Democrats Annual Report and Financial Statements". Electoral Commission. 24 June 2019. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
- Paton, Craig (2 April 2021). "Scottish election 2021: Alba membership soars past 4,000, party says". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
- "Political control | COSLA". www.cosla.gov.uk. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
- "Councils". 24 January 2020.
- "Open Council Data UK - compositions councillors parties wards elections". www.opencouncildata.co.uk.
- "Economic growth and education priorities in Argyll | Press and Journal". Press and Journal. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
- "Cooperation and collaboration on the agenda at Clacks Council". Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
- "Protests as new Lib Dem/Tory coalition takes control at East Dunbartonshire Council". Retrieved 30 March 2018.
- Gordon, Rebecca. "Leaders sign coalition agreement to run the Capital". www.edinburgh.gov.uk. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
- "SNP minority takes control of Falkirk Council". Retrieved 25 March 2018.
- "Fife Council agree to SNP and Labour joint partnership". Dunfermline Press. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
- Glasgow Young Scot, 20 Trongate (18 May 2017). "Councillor Eva Bolander chosen as Glasgow's Lord Provost". Retrieved 25 March 2018.