The Volunteer Political Party (VPP) was a loyalist
political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a country's elections. It is common for the members of a political party to have similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific political ideology, ...
launched in
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Northern Ireland
on 22 June 1974 by members of the then recently legalised Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The Chairman was Ken Gibson from East
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, an ex-internee and UVF chief of staff at the time.Coogan, p. 209 The success of the Ulster Workers Council Strike had shown some UVF leaders the political power they held and they sought to develop this potential further. The UVF had been banned by the Government of Northern Ireland (1921–1972), Government of Northern Ireland in 1966, but was legalised at the same time as Sinn Féin by Labour Secretary of State Merlyn Rees in April 1974 in order to encourage a political path for Loyalist and Irish republicanism, republican paramilitary groups. It launched its manifesto "The Volunteer Political Party - a progressive and forward thinking unionist party" at a press conference on 27 September. Influenced by the thinking of the Northern Ireland Labour Party, it opposed internment without trial and the idea of independence for Northern Ireland and supported a more equitable distribution of resources to deprived parts of the United Kingdom. The party applied to join the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) but was rebuffed, with the mainstream unionist parties wary of being linked to paramilitaries. Ken Gibson contested the West Belfast (UK Parliament constituency), West Belfast seat, which included parts of the Shankill Road, Belfast, Shankill district, in the October 1974 United Kingdom general election, October 1974 general election. Despite the security risks, the VPP also carried out some limited canvassing on the Catholic Falls Road.Frenett, Ross. "‘Protestant Socialists’? Ulster Loyalism and Working-Class Politics:1969-1974," Scrinium, University College Cork (2010), p.39 The VPP claimed to stand for the working class and an election pamphlet attacked the disgraceful social conditions on the Shankill. In the election, Gibson was supported by Glen Barr of Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party, Vanguard, Charles Harding Smith, the leader of the West Belfast Ulster Defence Association and the independent Shankill councillor Hugh Smyth, who went on to become one of the founders of the Progressive Unionist Party. Standing against the official UUUC candidate, John McQuade, Johnny McQuade of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), they won only 2,690 votes (6%), 14% of the total unionist vote. Because of this failure, the party was dissolved the following month by a meeting of all UVF commanders. A statement announced; "The low poll for the VPP candidate indicates that the general public does not support the political involvement of the UVF. It would therefore be fruitless to promote the Volunteer Party as a party political machine". Most of its members returned to the UVF (some of whom were later to form the Progressive Unionist Party). The UVF turned back to violence and was banned again by the Her Majesty's Government, British government on 4 October 1975.



*Steve Bruce, ''The Red Hand'', 1992, *Jim Cusack & Henry McDonald, ''UVF'', 2000, *Sarah Nelson, ''Ulster's Uncertain Defenders'', 1984, *Tim Pat Coogan, ''The Troubles: Ireland's Ordeal, 1966-1996, and the Search for Peace''. . Hutchinson, 1995. *Frenett, Ross. "‘Protestant Socialists’? Ulster Loyalism and Working-Class Politics:1969-1974," Scrinium, University College Cork (2010). https://www.academia.edu/24559678/_Protestant_Socialists_Ulster_Loyalism_and_Working-class_Politics_1969-1974/ {{Ulster Volunteer Force Defunct political parties in Northern Ireland History of Northern Ireland Political parties established in 1974 Ulster Volunteer Force 1974 establishments in Northern Ireland