Barton joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP) and was elected chairman of the Stretford Trades Council. By 1944, he was the chairman of the Manchester Federation of the ILP, and was the party's second choice to contest the Manchester Rusholme by-election after Fenner Brockway, but neither accepted the opportunity, and Robert Edwards stood instead.
In April 1954, Barton was succeeded as chairman by Annie Maxton. Later in the year, he resigned from the ILP and joined the Labour Party. At the 1955 general election, he was the unsuccessful Labour candidate in Stretford, taking 39.1% of the vote, and in 1959, he took 40.4% in Middleton and Prestwich. He became the Liverpool district organiser of the Tobacco Workers' Union. In the run-up to the 1964 general election, he was the Labour Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Liverpool Kirkdale, but he died suddenly in late 1963 of a thrombosis.
- "I.L.P. Candidate for Ormskirk", Manchester Guardian, 22 March 1951
- "Rusholme Contest", Manchester Guardian, 5 June 1944
- "Four I.L.P. candidates", Manchester Guardian, 15 November 1949
- "Fred Barton", Manchester Guardian, 18 December 1963
- "Trade union colour bar denounced", Manchester Guardian, 22 September 1952
- "I.L.P. view of trade depression", Manchester Guardian, 14 April 1952
- LSE Library Archives Catalogue: Independent Labour Party
|Party political offices|
| Lancashire Division representative on the Independent Labour Party National Administrative Council
| Chair of the Independent Labour Party