The United Kingdom Labour Party was founded at the turn of the 20th century. For over one hundred years following its foundation, its name has remained unchanged. However, it would be advantageous for it to conceive of a new name for itself. This would enable it to undergo a much needed reorientation. It would be enabled to identify its raison d’être, namely the pursuit of social democracy. In so doing, it would be more able to align its policy agenda with its reason for being.
The name ‘Labour’ concisely evidences the Party’s origins. The Party was originally established as a vehicle through which the working class could be represented in the politics of the United Kingdom. Indeed, it began life under the name of the ‘Labour Representation Committee’. Eventually, it established itself as a conventional party, crafting policy platforms and standing candidates in elections to public office. Around the time of its foundation, universal suffrage was still in the process of being achieved, and as such the Party served an important role in representing a particular section of society which simply did not have a vote.
However, with the achievement of universal suffrage and the political currents of the modern world, Labour has grown to be much more than a party of one particular section of society. At its core, Labour is a social democratic party. The purpose of such a party is to implement the philosophy of social justice in a practical context. It should exist to make the world fairer and more equal; to maximise opportunity, guarantee wellbeing, and ensure a dignified existence for everyone; to have concern not for some, but for all.
Some may be reluctant to adopt a new name. They might perceive it as being a withdrawal from Labour’s traditional constituencies. This would be a misconception, however. Social justice is an all encompassing philosophy which urges us to have concern for all, including Labour’s traditional constituencies. Moving to a new name would not herald a movement away from Labour’s traditional constituencies, but rather enable the Party to consolidate its philosophical basis and in so doing faithfully pursue the goals of social justice to which it is committed at its heart.
To this end, ‘The Social Party’ would be a strong candidate for a new name. It concisely embodies all that the Party strives for. First, ‘Social’ is aligned with a conviction which lies at the heart of the Party, and is stated in Clause IV: ‘by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone’. Second, the philosophical basis of the Party is firmly oriented around social justice. In one simple word, ‘Social’, the essence of the Party is succinctly captured and made clear to all. The core of the Party should be a concern for the wellbeing of everyone, in pursuance of a better world. For this, Labour should become The Social Party.