The UK’s Many Political Parties Explained


In the aftermath of the UK voting to leave
the European Union, leaders of Britain’s political parties have begun to jump ship
to avoid dealing with the Brexit crisis. Party leaders David Cameron and Nigel Farage have
both resigned, and Boris Johnson has decided not to run for Prime Minister. The country
will likely see radical changes, so we wanted to know, what are the UK’s political parties
that will dictate its future? Well, not unlike the United States, the United
Kingdom primarily operates under two major parties, however third parties are not nearly
as disregarded as they are in the US. Early UK politics was primarily between the Whigs,
which represented the English aristocracy versus Tories, made up of the Church of England
and the landed gentry, or landowners. Once official political parties began to form
between the 1830s and 1860s, most Tories became the right leaning Conservative Party, while
the Whigs turned into the left wing Liberal Party. By the early 20th century, the Liberal
Party was replaced as the majority left party by a similar, but workers’ rights focused
Labour Party. These two parties have since alternated power, but third parties have seen
major support within Parliament, and are able to influence government policy in a significant
way. The largest party by vote is the “officially
called” Conservative and Unionist Party, which will be led by David Cameron until his
official resignation as Prime Minister. In the 2015 General Election, the party received
nearly 37% of the vote, and represents moderate economic principles and Euroscepticism, or
opposition to the European Union. The next largest party, with about 30% of
the vote is the Labour Party, headed by Jeremy Corbin. Like its original incarnation, it
is pro-workers rights and supports the EU, as well as implementing democratic socialism,
such as the type found in some Nordic countries. However, the Labour Party also implements
a process called “The Third Way”, which is a centrist mixture of left and right economic
principles. In fact, much of UK politics is more centrist than ideologically rigid. The
Labour Party also has a reliant partnership with the Co-operative Party, which holds 25
seats in Parliament, and IS an officially registered party, but does not have a central
leader. While both Labour and Conservative lean ideologically
away from each other, they are closer to the center than other, third parties. The largest
third party following the 2015 general election is the UK Independence Party, which received
12 and a half percent of the vote. It is a right-wing group promoting anti-immigration,
Euroscepticism, and a relative free market economy called “liberalism”. Its soon
to be ex-leader, Nigel Farage, was accused of encouraging the Brexit vote through dishonest
propaganda, such as promising millions of pounds to be used for health care, which it
likely will not be. On the other side of the political spectrum
is the Liberal Democrats party. These are progressives who oppose overreaching government
intervention, while supporting a government safety net for things like housing and medical
care. In the recent election, they received less than 8%. There are actually more than ten political
parties holding seats in the House of Commons, with some of the smaller ones focused on Irish
and Scottish independence, and various green parties focused on environmentalism and social
equality. But besides those with direct representation, there are also dozens of local parties, including
one “Fancy Dress Party”, a protest group formed in 1979. But with party leaders resigning en-masse
following the Brexit vote, the future of the UK and its political system seem uncertain,
and may just see a third party finally end the domination of two parties.

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