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List of political parties in Scotland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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.[citation needed] 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 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.[1] [2] 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,[3] after attracting only 1.7% of the vote.[4]

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.

Party Founded Political position Ideology Leader Scottish Parliament House of Commons
(Scottish seats only)
Local Government Membership[a]
Scottish National Party 1934 Centre-left
Big tent
Scottish nationalism
Scottish independence
Social democracy
Nicola Sturgeon election infobox.jpg
Nicola Sturgeon
64 / 129
45 / 59
399 / 1,227
Scottish Conservatives 1965 Centre-right Conservatism
Economic liberalism
British unionism
Official portrait of Douglas Ross MP crop 2.jpg
Douglas Ross
31 / 129
6 / 59
263 / 1,227
Scottish Labour[b] 1994 Centre-left Social democracy
Democratic socialism
British unionism
AnasSarwarMSP (cropped).png
Anas Sarwar
22 / 129
1 / 59
249 / 1,227
Scottish Greens 1990 Centre-left
to left-wing
Green politics
Scottish independence
Scottish republicanism
Scottish Greens Leadership 2020.png
Patrick Harvie and
Lorna Slater
7 / 129
0 / 59
18 / 1,227
Scottish Liberal Democrats 1988 Centre to
Social liberalism
British unionism
Willie Rennie 2016.jpg
Willie Rennie
4 / 129
4 / 59
67 / 1,227
Alba 2021 N/A Scottish independence
Scottish nationalism
Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland (cropped).jpg
Alex Salmond
0 / 129
2 / 59
13 / 1,227

Local government

There are several parties in Scotland that have elected representation only at the local government level.

Party Founded Ideology Leader Council area Councillors
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

Council control

Political control may be held by minority governments (min), coalitions (co), joint leadership arrangements (j.l.) or partnership working arrangements (p.w.).[10]

Last update 30 March 2021.[11][12]

Council Control Website Total SNP Con Lab LD SGP Other Vacant Upcoming by-elections
Aberdeen NOC CON+ALAB[s 1]+IND co URL 45 19 9 9[s 1] 3 4
Aberdeenshire NOC CON+LD+IND co URL 70 18 18 1 13 1 18 1 East Garioch (LD) - TBC
Angus NOC CON+IND+LD co URL 28 9 8 2 9
Argyll & Bute NOC CON+LD+IND co[13] URL 36 11 10 5 10
Clackmannanshire NOC SNP min[14] URL 18 8 4 5 1
Dumfries & Galloway NOC LAB+SNP co URL 43 10 16 9 1 7
Dundee NOC SNP+IND co URL 29 14 3 8 2 2
East Ayrshire NOC SNP min URL 32 14 6 9 3
East Dunbartonshire NOC LD+CON co[15] 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
Edinburgh NOC SNP+LAB co[16] URL 63 16 17 11 6 8 5
Falkirk NOC SNP min[17] URL 30 12 7 9 2
Fife NOC SNP+LAB j.l.[18] URL 75 29 14 23 7 2
Glasgow NOC SNP min[19] URL 85 36 7 30 7 5
Highland NOC IND+LD+LAB co URL 74 18 10 3 9 1 33
Inverclyde NOC LAB min URL 22 6 2 8 1 5
Midlothian NOC LAB min URL 18 7 5 6
Moray NOC SNP min URL 26 8 9 1 8
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
Orkney IND IND URL 21 1 20
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
Shetland IND IND URL 22 1 21
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 Dunbartonshire NOC SNP+IND URL 22 9 2 8 3
West Lothian NOC LAB min URL 33 13 7 12 1
  1. ^ a b 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.

Party Founded Ideology Leader
Abolish the Scottish Parliament Party 2020 Scottish Parliament abolition, Anti-devolution, Scottish unionism John Mortimer
Action for Independence 2020 Scottish independence Dave Thompson
All for Unity 2020 Scottish unionism, British unionism, Anti-nationalism, Big tent George Galloway
Animal Welfare Party 2006 Animal welfare Vanessa Hudson
British National Party 1982 British Fascism, White nationalism, Right-wing populism, Ethnic nationalism, Ultranationalism, Hard Euroscepticism Adam Walker
British Unionist Party 2015 British unionism, Scottish unionism, Social conservatism, Social democracy John Mortimer
Christian Party 2004 Christian right, Euroscepticism, Social conservatism, British unionism Jeff Green
Communist Party of Britain 1988 Communism, Marxism–Leninism Robert Griffiths
Liberal Party 1989 Liberalism, Georgism, Euroscepticism Steve Radford
National Front 1967 British Fascism, Neo-fascism, British nationalism, White supremacy Tony Martin
Official Monster Raving Loony Party 1983 Political satire, Big tent, Populism Alan Hope
Reform UK 2018 Populism, Euroscepticism, Anti-lockdown Michelle Ballantyne
Renew Party 2017 Reformism, Pro-Europeanism James Clarke
Restore Scotland 2020 Scottish independence, Hard Euroscepticism David McHutchon
Scottish Democratic Alliance 2009 Scottish independence, Hard Euroscepticism Robert Watson
Scottish Socialist Party 1998 Democratic socialism, Scottish independence, Scottish republicanism Colin Fox and Róisín McLaren[c]
Scottish Unionist Party 1986 British unionism, Scottish unionism, Anti-Scottish Parliament Daniel Houston
Social Democratic Party 1990 Social democracy, Communitarianism, Social conservatism, Euroscepticism William Clouston
Socialist Labour Party 1996 Socialism, Fiscal localism, Republicanism, Hard Euroscepticism Arthur Scargill
Solidarity 2006 Socialism, Scottish independence, Scottish republicanism, Euroscepticism Tommy Sheridan
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition 2010 Socialism, Trade unionism, Euroscepticism Dave Nellist
UK Independence Party 1993 Euroscepticism, Right-wing populism, National conservatism, Economic liberalism, British nationalism Donald Mackay
Women's Equality Party 2015 Feminism, Pro-Europeanism Mandu Reid
Workers Revolutionary Party 1973 Trotskyism, Euroscepticism, Healyism Joshua Ogunleye

Historical and deregistered parties

Notable historical parties

Notable deregistered parties

See also


  1. ^ Political parties are under no legal obligation to publish membership statistics and there is no uniformly recognised definition of membership.
  2. ^ Some candidates stand as Labour and Co-operative joint candidates due to an electoral alliance with the Co-operative Party.
  3. ^ Styled by the party as co-spokespersons.


  1. ^ "Former Tory MSP to lead Scots wing of rebranded Brexit Party". BBC News. 11 January 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  2. ^ "MSP Michelle Ballantyne quits Scottish Tories". BBC News. 24 November 2020. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  3. ^ Soussi, Alasdair (8 May 2021). "SNP to seek Scottish independence vote after election victory". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  4. ^ Sim, Philip (8 May 2021). "Scottish election 2021: Results in maps and charts". BBC. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  5. ^ Audickas, Lukas; Dempsey, Noel; Loft, Philip (9 August 2019). "Membership of UK political parties". House of Commons Library. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  6. ^ Hutcheon, Paul (3 February 2021). "Scottish Labour 'crisis' after leaked figures show fall in membership". Daily Record. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  7. ^ "Scottish Green party loses 30% of members since 2014 indyref". The National. 4 August 2019. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  8. ^ "Scottish Liberal Democrats Annual Report and Financial Statements". Electoral Commission. 24 June 2019. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  9. ^ Paton, Craig (2 April 2021). "Scottish election 2021: Alba membership soars past 4,000, party says". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  10. ^ "Political control | COSLA". Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Councils". 24 January 2020.
  12. ^ "Open Council Data UK - compositions councillors parties wards elections".
  13. ^ "Economic growth and education priorities in Argyll | Press and Journal". Press and Journal. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Cooperation and collaboration on the agenda at Clacks Council". Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Protests as new Lib Dem/Tory coalition takes control at East Dunbartonshire Council". Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  16. ^ Gordon, Rebecca. "Leaders sign coalition agreement to run the Capital". Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  17. ^ "SNP minority takes control of Falkirk Council". Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  18. ^ "Fife Council agree to SNP and Labour joint partnership". Dunfermline Press. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  19. ^ Glasgow Young Scot, 20 Trongate (18 May 2017). "Councillor Eva Bolander chosen as Glasgow's Lord Provost". Retrieved 25 March 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 10 June 2021, at 14:41
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