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What are the Main Political Parties in the United Kingdom?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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England has several major political parties, all of which hold seats in Parliament and work around the nation to advance their aims. The mixture of parties ensures an even distribution of opinions in Parliament. The system has sometimes been criticized for lacking efficiency, as it can result in prolonged debate in Parliament. Usually the various parties make cooperative ties with each other to work towards common goals.

England's primary right of center political party is the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party seeks to bolster traditional British values and institutions. It supports military spending along with other measures to protect Britain as a nation. The Conservative Party is well known in England, where it is considered a dominant party.

England has two major liberal political parties: the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party. The Labour Party tends to be associated with socialism, and promotes extensive social services and a heavy governmental role in society. It has traditional ties with trade unions and other representatives of the working class.

The Labour and Conservative parties have traditionally split dominance of the government. In the House of Lords, party members sit on either side of a central aisle, with the Government on one side and the Opposition on the other. Members of other parties may pick a side to sit on, or sit in a central area to indicate lack of affiliation with one of the two major parties.

The Liberal Democrats, founded in 1998, are a left of center party which promotes political and social liberalism. This party is opposed to military intervention in foreign affairs, cutting of social services, and heavy state involvement in personal affairs. It also promotes progressive environmental policy and ties with the rest of the European Union.

In addition to an Assembly, Wales is also represented by several political parties, including Plaid Cymru. This party works to represent Wales better in British parliament, and also promotes Welsh independence. As a party, Plaid Cymru feels that Wales is not being governed well from London, and does a great deal of work within Wales to improve life for residents.

Scotland's primary political party is the Scottish National Party, which is lobbying for Scottish independence. It is a left of center party which believes that Scotland would be better served if it was recognized as an independent entity by the European Union. Scotland has its own parliament for decision making

Northern Ireland has an Assembly and Parliamentary representation, with the major political party being Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. The party supports a union between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain. It also promotes cooperation with Ireland, along with progressive social policies for Northern Ireland.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Historical Index researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By SanSlayer — On Dec 09, 2013

Although it may not warrant mention as a "main political party" in the UK, it bears mentioning here that there is a sort of ultra right-wing, nationalist, anti-immigrant, anti-globalization party known as the British National Party that has somehow won a seat here or there over the last few years.

Essentially we're talking about a few thousand people whose main party platform is "voluntary" relocation of immigrants, or basically telling immigrants and their descendants that they're free to go back to their lands of ethnic origin whenever they like (but sooner than later suits the BNP types best).

Again, not a "main" political party, but it bears mentioning (at least in a comment) because now and again they are able to stir up some press, much like the Tea Party in America, and people may be curious as to what those people stand for.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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