There are many established UK political parties. However, their views on many issues range, and have ranged internally for many years. This blog post will highlight the policies of the traditional and emerging UK political parties.
UK Political Parties: An Overview
There are hundreds of registered UK political parties. However, only a few stand for election across several constituencies. Many of these only stand in specific regions, such as the Yorkshire Party only standing candidates in Yorkshire. Other parties stand candidates in almost all seats across the UK.
Their views differ on issues including the economy, immigration, foreign policy, and other issues.
The Conservative Party
Following the ideology of conservatism, the Conservative Party is one of the largest UK political parties. Their policies include low taxation to increase competition in the market. They support a meritocracy, a system in which those best suited to lead should lead.
As with conservatism, the Conservative Party believe that humans are flawed and can make bad decisions. Therefore, they support strong law and order, and increased spending on the police and the power of the justice system.
In recent years, the Conservatives have supported making a success of Brexit, opposed a second Scottish independence referendum, and supported the lowering of personal and business taxes.
However, some unexpected turns of events have meant that their policy programme has been disrupted. Due to the pandemic, they oversaw the ‘furlough’ scheme, which paid people 80% of their wages directly from the government. This is not usually considered a conservative policy as it has the impact of creating larger dependency on the state.
The Labour Party
Another of the biggest UK political parties, the Labour Party has historically aligned more with socialism. It has historically supported policies in touch with the working class. Its current leader, Keir Starmer, looks to find middle ground between social democracy and the Third Way.
In an article published in September 2021, Starmer said he would “build an effective partnership of state and private sector to prioritise the things that we have seen really matter: health, living conditions, working conditions and the environment.” This includes the creation of a national energy company, a windfall tax on energy company’s huge profits, but the continuation of the railways in private companies.
This is in stark contrast to policies supported at the last general election, which included nationalised internet and railways, an increase to the minimum wage, scrapping university tuition fees and reducing the voting age to 16.
The Liberal Democrats
The Social Democratic Party merged with the Liberal Party in 1988, making them one of the newest UK political parties. The Liberal Democrats experienced their first time in power in 2010 as part of the historic coalition. Their support has since dwindled, however their policies still remain popular with many voters today.
Subscribing to the ideas of liberalism, their underlying principles are individual freedom and the power of the free market.
Their most notable policy in recent years was opposing Brexit, something they would cancel if they won the 2019 general election. However, they only picked up 12 out of 650 seats. Other policies included £130bn investment in infrastructure, replacing First Past the Post with a more proportional system, and introducing a legal and regulated cannabis market.
Scottish National Party
The Scottish National Party are arguably one of the most successful of the regional UK political parties, holding 48 out of 59 Scottish seats in the House of Commons. Their main policy is to hold a referendum on Scottish independence. They merge the ideas of socialism and liberalism.
They also pledge to end austerity and give additional powers to the devolved Scottish government. They have also criticised the Conservative government’s rollout of universal credit, labelling it as ‘fundamentally flawed’. However, their leadership in recent months has been marred by scandals regarding their finances. Their former leader, Nicola Sturgeon, was arrested in connection with financial mismanagement within the party.
The Green Party are the UK’s largest ecologist party, developing from the Ecology Party in the 1980s. They have one MP in the House of Commons, but the Scottish branch is in government with the SNP. Their main policy is for extensive legislation to tackle the climate crisis, and move the UK to net-zero by 2030.
They have also supported the UK’s re-entry into the EU, increased taxes on the rich, and investment in new technology to create green jobs for the future.
Reform UK are one of the newest of the UK political parties, forming in 2019. Formerly called the Brexit Party, it looks to reform large parts of the UK’s economic and social aspects. These include introducing proportional representation to Westminster elections, reducing taxation and introducing ‘smart regulation’. They also pledge to fight “woke nonsense”, instead focusing police resources on fighting violent criminals.
Find out more about UK political parties
As mentioned earlier in this article, there are hundreds of registered UK political parties. They stand on a range of issues, ranging from Socialism, to rejoining the EU to the independence of Cornwall. This article has explained the policies and range of UK political parties, from traditional to emerging ones.
You can find out more about the policies of major and minor UK political parties as part of our Summary Grids and Course Notes. Available with a Study Politics membership, you can access all of our A Level Politics resources in one place.