Sunday, 13 January 2008

Why Nick Clegg won't rebrand us as "The Liberal Party"

Nich says that Iain says (having heard from Dizzy) that Nick Clegg wants to rebrand the Liberal Democrats as "The Liberal Party".

Except he can't. That's because there's already a party registered as the Liberal Party. The rump party that stayed on under the old name, after the merger in 1988. The party that, until fairly recently, campaigned under the very catchy slogan of "Stuff the Euro!".

All parties have to register their names with the Electoral Commission, and a name can be disallowed if it sounds too similar to an existing one. This is to stop the sort of shenanigans that went on in Winchester at the 1997 election, where some joker stood for parliament under the label of "Liberal Democrat - top choice for parliament", and helped himself to several thousand votes that were really destined for Mark Oaten.

If a party goes defunct, its name is still treated as copyright for a set period afterwards - I think it's a year, but it might be two. All Clegg needs to do is persuade the continuing Liberal Party to disband, wait a long time, and then surprise the media with his daring, bold and entirely unexpected rebranding.

Alternatively, he could just stick with a well-established and really quite successful brand, and call us the Liberal Democrats.

PS. Dizzy - if you're prepared to put "LDYS" and "the beautiful people" in the same sentence, you need your head testing!


Anonymous said...

Of course it would be possible that Nick Clegg could negotiate a merger with the existing Liberal Party, which would enable the united party to use that name. But it might be difficult, given the differences in the programs. However, wouldn't a return to the name "Liberal Party" satisfy those who left and found their own party because they didn't accept abandoning the historical name?

Anonymous said...

AND John Dixon reported already last June, that he had heard a rumour going on in the Ealing Southall by-election, that "There's a long term plan within the party to change our name back to the 'Liberal' party."

Anonymous said...

the idea of returning to the party name of Gladstone, Lloyd George and Campbell-Bannerman is no bad idea. Especially when one considers that "liberal democracy" is actually a system of government, not a comprehensive political philosophy. Either we are liberals or we are social democrats; we cannot pretend to straddle the two terms any longer. The term "liberal democrat" is confusing in so far as a liberal is, by nature, a democrat and therefore there seems little merit in adding the term on the end.

As to the breakaway "Liberal party" that currently exists, their leader has recently joined the Lib Dems, and i'm sure that given that the membership of that party probably numbers in the tens, we could persuade them all to join or at least give up the term with relative ease.

Anonymous said...

Leo, though the founder of the continuation Liberal Party, Michael Meadowcroft, joined the Liberal democrats, the current leader of the party is Steve Radford, who seems to be very anti-LibDem, like his comments in this comments thread of the Liberal Democrat Voice prove.

Anonymous said...

"This is to stop the sort of shenanigans that went on in Winchester at the 1997 election, where some joker stood for parliament under the label of "Liberal Democrat - top choice for parliament", and helped himself to several thousand votes that were really destined for Mark Oaten."

At my age, memory can play funny tricks, but if I recall correctly, the guy in Winchester actually called himself a "Literal Democrat", not "Liberal Democrat"

Jonny Wright said...

No - the same person had stood in the Euro elections a few years previously as a Literal Democrat, and got about 10,000 votes. In 1997 he stood as "Liberal Democrat - top choice for parliament".

He also got a few hundred votes in WInchester, rather than a few thousand - apologies for the mistake. But in an election that was won with a majority of 2, it's a lot of votes!

Tom Wilde said...

The trouble is, Leo, that there are various important differences between the policies of the Liberal Party and the LibDems. For instance, most Liberals (and some LibDems) are deeply miffed at the moment by the decision of the LibDem leadership to break a solemn promise and deny the public a referendum on the EU constitution. This doesn't exactly encourage talk of a merger. Also the Liberals are on a bit of a roll at the mo, and we have several tens of councillors, not several tens of members!
Tom Wilde (new-but-enthusiastic Liberal Party supporter!)

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