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, Humza Yousaf. 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 1931 general election and 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 31 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 1964 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 22 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 Alex Cole-Hamilton. 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 7 MSPs, but have never returned any MPs.

Reform UK Scotland is the Scottish wing of the UK-wide Reform UK. It is a Eurosceptic and right-wing 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 Westminster 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[edit]

Scottish Parliament and/or House of Commons[edit]

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 and the Alba Party have representation in both. In addition, all parties except the Alba Party have elected representation at the local government level.

Party Founded Political position Ideology Leader Scottish Parliament House of Commons
(Scottish seats)
Local government Membership[a]
Scottish National Party 1934 Centre-left Scottish nationalism
Scottish independence
Social democracy
Catch-all party
Humza Yousaf
63 / 129
43 / 59
453 / 1,227
Scottish Conservatives 1965 Centre-right Conservatism
British unionism
Douglas Ross
31 / 129
7 / 59
214 / 1,227
Scottish Labour[b] 1994 Centre-left Social democracy
British unionism
Anas Sarwar
22 / 129
2 / 59
282 / 1,227
Scottish Greens 1990 Centre-left
to left-wing
Green politics
Scottish independence
Scottish republicanism

Patrick Harvie and
Lorna Slater
7 / 129
0 / 59
35 / 1,227
Scottish Liberal Democrats 1988 Centre to
Social liberalism
British unionism
Alex Cole-Hamilton
4 / 129
4 / 59
87 / 1,227
Alba Party 2021 Scottish nationalism
Scottish republicanism
Scottish independence
Alex Salmond
1 / 129
2 / 59
0 / 1,227

Local government[edit]

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

Party Founded Ideology Leader Council area Councillors
British Unionist Party 2015 British unionism, Scottish unionism, Social conservatism, Social democracy John Mortimer North Lanarkshire 1
Rubbish Party 2017 Localism, Environmentalism Sally Cogley East Ayrshire 1
West Dunbartonshire Community Party 2016 Socialism Louise Robertson West Dunbartonshire 1

Parties with no elected representation[edit]

Notable registered parties[edit]

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
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
Christian Party 2004 Christian right, Social conservatism, British unionism, Euroscepticism Jeff Green
Christian Peoples Alliance 1999 Christian democracy, Social conservatism, Euroscepticism Sidney Cordle
Communist Party of Britain 1988 Communism, Marxism–Leninism Robert Griffiths
Independence for Scotland Party 2020 Scottish independence Colette Walker
Independent Green Voice 2003 Scottish unionism, British unionism, Euroscepticism Alistair McConnachie
Liberal Party 1989 British 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 Alan Hope
Reclaim Party 2020 Right-wing populism, Anti-lockdown Laurence Fox
Reform UK 2018 Right-wing populism, Euroscepticism, Anti-lockdown Richard Tice
Scottish Family Party 2017 Christian right, Social conservatism, Familialism, Anti-abortion, Anti-feminism, Anti-LGBT, Hard Euroscepticism Richard Lucas
Scottish Libertarian Party 2012 Libertarianism, Classical liberalism, Minarchism, Euroscepticism, Cultural liberalism, Scottish independence Tam Laird
Scottish Socialist Party 1998 Democratic socialism, Scottish independence, Scottish republicanism Colin Fox and Róisín McLaren[d]
Scottish Unionist Party 1986 Scottish unionism, British unionism, Anti-Scottish Parliament Jonathan Stanley
Social Democratic Party 1990 Social democracy, Social conservatism, Communitarianism, Euroscepticism William Clouston
Socialist Labour Party 1996 Socialism, Fiscal localism, Republicanism, Hard Euroscepticism Arthur Scargill
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition 2010 Socialism, Trade unionism Dave Nellist
UK Independence Party 1993 Euroscepticism, Right-wing populism, National conservatism, Economic liberalism, British nationalism Neil Hamilton
Volt UK 2020 Social liberalism, Progressivism, Pro-Europeanism Alex Haida
Women's Equality Party 2015 Feminism, Pro-Europeanism Mandu Reid
Workers Party of Britain 2019 George Galloway
Workers Revolutionary Party 1973 Trotskyism, Euroscepticism, Healyism Frank Sweeney

Historical and deregistered parties[edit]

Notable historical parties[edit]

Notable deregistered parties[edit]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ Both of the Alba Party's MPs were elected for the Scottish National Party (SNP) before leaving to join Alba in 2021.
  4. ^ 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 News. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  5. ^ a b Morrison, Hamish (25 April 2023). "SNP slam 'hypocrite' opponents after they hide membership numbers". The National. Retrieved 25 April 2023.
  6. ^ Hutcheon, Paul (3 February 2021). "Scottish Labour 'crisis' after leaked figures show fall in membership". Daily Record. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  7. ^ "Scottish Liberal Democrats Annual Report and Financial Statements". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 29 August 2022.
  8. ^ Robertson, Adam (13 May 2023). "Alba Party says they have more members than Scottish Tories or LibDems". The National. Retrieved 13 May 2023.

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