Holyrood 2016: Meet the parties aiming for their first seats

As the Holyrood elections draw near, a number of lesser-known parties are hoping to win their first seats in the Scottish Parliament.

Cat Boyd, a lead candidate for RISE, speaks at an anti-fracking protest in Grangemouth. Picture: Michael Gillen
Cat Boyd, a lead candidate for RISE, speaks at an anti-fracking protest in Grangemouth. Picture: Michael Gillen

There will be 129 seats up for grabs when voters go to the polls on Thursday, 5 May.

The 73 constituency seats are more than likely to be won by the ‘big four’ of the SNP, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives. But the remainder are decided by the list vote - offering some of Scotland’s newer parties the chance to return their first MSPs.

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UKIP's Scottish spokesman and Holyrood candidate David Coburn speaks at the party's manifesto launch in Edinburgh. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor/JP License

A party thatrequires no introduction. While UKIP has never returned an MSP at previous elections, members are confident of making a Holyrood breakthrough in May. The forthcoming EU referendum ensures its central message of Euroscepticism will be making headlines for weeks to come.

Where are they standing? UKIP will have candidates on all eight regional lists, but is not contesting any constituencies.

What the party is saying: “All the parties in Scotland have been pro-European Union and nobody has been challenging the nonsense that’s been put out, particularly by the so called Nationalists,” said party leader Nigel Farage at the launch of the UKIP Scottish manifesto this month.


UKIP's Scottish spokesman and Holyrood candidate David Coburn speaks at the party's manifesto launch in Edinburgh. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor/JP License

A left-wing electoral alliance founded to fight May’s election, RISE is an acronym of Respect, Independence, Socialism, Environmentalism. It is supported by a number of prominent left-wing activists, including Scottish Socialist Party leader Colin Fox and pro-independence campaigner Cat Boyd.

Where are they standing? RISE is focusing its attentions on the list vote, with candidates in all eight regions.

What the party is saying: RISE co-founder Jonathan Shafi said: “What we want to do is to put on the agenda very, very firmly that there needs to be a massive redistribution of wealth. Without that, without someone provoking that argument, it’s just not going to happen.”

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The newest party standing in May, Women’s Equality campaigns for gender equality to the benefit of all. It was established in 2015 in London and has since founded branches across the UK.

Where are they standing? Ten candidates in the Lothian and Glasgow list regions.

What the party is saying: “We aim to end the scandal of violence against women and girls in Scotland with real, practical measures, and bring equal representation to politics, business and public life,” said lead Lothian candidate Lee Chalmers. “We will introduce truly affordable childcare from nine months old and make sure caring work is valued properly. We will push for equal education and equal pay conditions for all women.”


The Libertarians claim to be the only party in Scotland “dedicated to reducing the size of government and maximising liberty”.

Where are they standing? Thomas Laird is standing in the Edinburgh Central constituency and three other candidates are on the regional lists in West Scotland, Fife and North East.

What the party is saying: “We not only want to liberate the Scottish people from the predations of Westminster and Brussels,” said deputy leader Thomas Laird. “We genuinely wish to liberate each individual from Holyrood and allow them to live their lives as they think best. Don’t hurt people, don’t take their stuff. Other than that, knock yourself out.”


The party works together to “bring Christian concern, goodwill and action into the community, education, business and politics”.

Where are they standing? Five out of eight regions will have Scottish Christian Party candidates on the ballot papers: Highlands and Islands, North East, Glasgow, Central, and West Scotland. John Cormack is also standing in the Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency.

What the party is saying: Party leader Dr Donald Boyd, lead candidate in the Highlands and Islands, said: “We are standing on a wide platform of banking reform as the long term solution to our economic ills, promoting mental health in the work force and teaching entrepreneurship in our schools.

“We support leaving the EU to recover control of our own affairs, and we oppose the SNP’s Named Person state guardian scheme.”


The Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) claims to be the only socialist and anti-austerity party standing in constituency seats in May’s election. It is backed by the RMT trade union and was co-founded by its late leader, Bob Crow.

Where are they standing? The TUSC is contesting six constituencies: Dundee West, Dundee East, Glasgow Cathcart, Glasgow Pollok, Glasgow Shettleston and Renfrewshire North and West.

What the party is saying: “Our central policy is the Scottish Government should refuse to implement any more cuts and use the powers of the parliament to set a no-cuts budget,” said party spokesman Philip Stott. “The time for so-called anti-austerity politicians to turn words in real action has long passed. TUSC candidates will never vote for cuts and will fight for a defiance of Tory austerity.”


The party emerged in 1988 from a dispute between Eurocommunists and Marxist-Leninists in the long-established Communist Party of Great Britain. The latter dissolved in 1991, with some members joining the CPB.

Where are they standing? One candidate, Raymond Bennie, is standing on the North East Scotland list.

What the party is saying: “Since 1979 there has been an unprecedented shift in wealth from the poor to the rich with wages as a percentage of GDP falling from 65 per cent to 51 per cent - at today’s prices an average weekly loss of £160 for every worker, £40 a week since the great recession,” said candidate Raymond Bennie. “Communists are campaigning for the re-introduction of rent controls in the private sector, banning landlord demands for fees and money up front, and stronger powers for councils to enforce housing repairs and renewals.”


Solidarity was established in 2006 as a breakaway from the Scottish Socialist Party by then MSPs Tommy Sheridan and Rosemary Bryne. The party aims to elect ‘socialist fighters’ and is in favour of a second referendum on Scottish independence.

Where are they standing? Solidarity has candidates on all eight regional lists.

What the party is saying: The party says it is “against the punishment of the poor for the mistakes of the rich. Austerity is an ideological attack on the poor and vulnerable in our society and while big businesses are raking in profits, people are going to foodbanks to survive. We say no more attacks on the poor.”


The Animal Welfare Party aims to highlight to politicians in other parties “how deeply the public cares about animal welfare”.

Where are they standing? Barry Quinn and Andrew Orr are list candidates for the party in the Glasgow region. 

What the party is saying: The Animal Welfare Party believe “human beings have an obligation to respect and protect the interests of non-human animals. Doing so will lead to a more compassionate and healthy society.”


The National Front is known for far-right views on race and immigration, including a policy of expelling all “non whites” from the UK. The Scottish branch describe themselves as “White racial nationalists” and recently came out in support of Donald Trump to become the next American President.

Where are they standing? Dave MacDonald will stand for the party in the North East region.

What the party is saying: The British National Front (of which the Scottish NF is part of) “Multiracialism has been a disaster for Britain - only a policy that enforces a total ban on immigration can save this country from chaos.”