What Vince Cable actually said about the party’s name

Speculation about plans by Liberal Democrat leaders wanting to change the name of the party is a long-running favourite of the media and, for those who remember the post-merger years of pain, a source of angst for activists given how long it took for the party to get its name right.

The headlines today suggest another round, such as PoliticsHome‘s, “Vince Cable: Lib Dems could change name in push for new centrist movement”.

But what Vince Cable actually said was rather more tepid than the use of ‘could’ in the headline implies:

Changing names is a superficial thing. Maybe because I am not a marketing person I don’t understand the importance of it.

This new enlarged movement that we are creating – if the membership of it wants to change its name, it can change its name, I am not pushing for that…

In two words [with the party’s name, Liberal Democrats] we capture the group of values – we are liberal people, a lot of us are social democrat as well.

If someone wants to stick ‘new’ on the front – I have an open mind on it.

Likewise, a few days previously he told Sky News:

I wouldn’t rule it out, but really it’s for the party to decide.

I think the present name is perfectly satisfactory, I like it, it conveys in two words what we are. But it’s not something we are going to be precious about.

Vince Cable added on Facebook:

Personally, I like our name and think it represents who we are and would prefer to keep it. But it’s important that it isn’t a barrier to the centre ground transformation of British politics that we need and want.

As New Labour demonstrated, a change of name can be a crucial party of a political party’s recovery. It is also, though, a tempting shortcut – we need a new name, we need a new slogan – when the most successful name changes and the most successful slogans are but a small part of a much bigger programme of work, as was the case with New Labour.

That bigger programme of work has started in the Liberal Democrats, on which if you missed it see Lib Dem Newswire #115: the new party slogan.



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