Political parties in the UK

A political party is a group of people with similar ideas and beliefs who have come together to work to achieve their aims. The ideas of a political party are written down in a document called a manifesto. The party manifesto provides the basis for action should a party win an election.

There are several different parties in the UK each with different ideas and policies. The largest parties include the Conservative Party, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrat Party, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and in Scotland, the Scottish National Party. There are other smaller parties such as the Green Party and Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalist party. Northern Ireland has a number of other, different parties.

Participation in political parties

Apart from voting in elections, individuals can become involved in political parties by:

  • joining
  • standing as a candidate
  • making a donation
  • campaigning in elections including handing out leaflets and putting up posters

Political parties are usually more successful if they have large, active memberships and can attract donations from supporters and party members.

Anyone can join a political party. The membership fees for the main political parties are quite low in order to attract as many people as possible. At election time there are rules about the amount of money parties can spend.

Political parties invested heavily in their websites and social media, to improve their communication with voters and supporters. The SNP have used social media particularly effectively to support their election campaigns in 2015 and 2016.