We would like to place strictly necessary cookies and performance cookies on your computer to improve our website service.
To find out more about how we use cookies and how you can change your cookies settings, please read our  cookies statement.                
Otherwise, we'll assume you are OK to continue.   Please close this message

Ofcom consults on “major parties” list

16 January 2015

Ofcom has published a consultation on its review of the Major Parties List ahead of the General Election in May 2015. The consultation looks at whether the current parties should remain on the list and considers whether other parties (Green party, Traditional Unionist Voice and UK Independence Party (UKIP)) should qualify for major parties status. The initial view is that the existing parties on the list should remain and that UKIP should qualify for major party status in England & Wales for the purposes of the General Election and English local (and mayoral) elections 2015.


Under Section 6 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code (Code) and the Ofcom Rules on Party Political and Referendum Broadcasts (PPRB Rules), before a General Election, broadcasters must offer each major party (as defined in the Ofcom List of Major Parties) at least two Party Election Broadcasts (PEBs). The list of major parties reflects the level of electoral support and elected representatives of the political parties and previously sat within the PPRB Rules and the Code. However, in a 2012/13 consultation on the PPRB Rules, it was decided that there should be more flexibility surrounding the concept of major parties and the list was removed from both the PPRB Rules and the Code and placed in a separate annex. Ofcom agreed that it would carry out periodic reviews of the list with a view to updating it where appropriate. A review of the list ahead of the 2014 European Parliamentary Elections (EPE 2014) and English Local & Mayoral Elections resulted in UKIP being added to the list of major parties for England & Wales for the EPE 2014 only.


In considering which political parties should be on the major parties, Ofcom take into account factors such as:

  • Electoral performance of the parties (including number of elected candidates and percentage of vote received) across a range of elections over at least 2 electoral cycles; and
  • Current levels of support and opinion polling.


Ofcom found that there was sufficient evidence that the Conservative Party, Labour Party and Liberal Democrats had achieved significant levels of electoral support to remain on the list. As had Plaid Cymru in Wales, SNP in Scotland and the DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP, UUP and Alliance Party in Northern Ireland.

In considering whether or not to add any parties to the list, Ofcom found that TUV and The Green Party (including the Scottish Green Party) had not demonstrated significant past electoral support in their regions to qualify for major party status. In relation to UKIP however, Ofcom found that they had performed strongly since the 2010 General Election, most notably:

  • winning two seats in Parliament in the 2014 by-elections;
  • achieving a significant level of support in the EPE 2014 (29% in England and 27.6% in Wales);
  • receiving significant levels of support in the English local elections (15.7% in 2014 & 19.9% in 2013); and
  • opinion poll data indicates that UKIP currently has significant levels of support in England & Wales which has been growing steadily since 2010.

As a result, Ofcom has found that UKIP has demonstrated sufficient electoral support to qualify for major party status in England & Wales for the purposes of the General Election and English local (and mayoral) elections in May 2015.

The Consultation

Ofcom are currently taking comments on this consultation which will close on 5th February 2015. A final statement with any revised major parties list will be published in early March 2015. The consultation paper can be read in full here.

This article was written by Dionne Alveranga and Oliver Price. For more information please contact Oliver on +44 (0)20 7203 8994 or oliver.price@crsblaw.com.