In both the UK and New Zealand there are Labour parties spelt with a u.

The Labour Party.

The New Zealand Labour Party

In Australia, it's The Labor Party.

Australian Labor Party

What explains this discrepancy? Given that all three have similar spellings for everything else (eg. 'colour', 'realise').

closed as off-topic by choster, Mari-Lou A, Kristina Lopez, ermanen, Drew Jun 2 '15 at 4:43

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  • 3
    Remember that Australia is in the southern hemisphere, so an awful lot of things appear upside down and a bit strange. – WS2 Jun 1 '15 at 21:16
  • 5
    The answer was in the same Wiki link you provided :) there's even a menu saying "name changes" – Mari-Lou A Jun 1 '15 at 22:01
  • "[T]he American-born King O'Malley, was successful in having the spelling 'modernised'." It's amusing to think of an American-born Australian insisting on changing labour to labor in the name of "modernising" (rather than modernizing) the country's orthography. – Sven Yargs Mar 8 '17 at 5:26

The Australian spelling of labour is just like the BrE one. The reason why labour is spelled labor in Australian Labor Party is an important historical one:

Australian Labor Party:

  • The ALP adopted the formal name "Australian Labour Party" in 1908, but changed the spelling to "Labor" in 1912. While it is standard practice in Australian English both today and at the time to spell the word "labour" with a "u", the party was influenced by the United States labor movement, and a prominent figure in the early history of the party, the American-born King O'Malley, was successful in having the spelling "modernised".

  • The change also made it easier to distinguish references to the party from the labour movement in general.


  • 4
    God that must be grating to literate Australians. – dwjohnston Jun 1 '15 at 22:45
  • 2
    @dwjohnston the worst part is when you accidentally spell it "correctly" and then people take pride in telling you "It doesn't have a U in it, you know..." – Mark Henderson Jun 2 '15 at 2:36
  • 1
    @aaa90210 in that case the question would be "Why is it called L4bor?". What's your point? – Mark Henderson Jun 2 '15 at 3:49
  • @MarkHenderson are you slow or something? The point is names don't have to follow normal English rules, and can contain incorrect spellings, like the incorrect spelling of Labor (under Australian English), or L4bor as it would be. – aaa90210 Jun 2 '15 at 3:52
  • "American-born King O'Malley" now there is a contentious issue, O'Malley insisted he was born in Canada! – user53089 Oct 25 '15 at 23:53

The "Australian Labor Party" is a name (note the capitalized L). Names don't have to follow language rules, much like the name of the airline QANTAS does not have a U after the Q.

Given that all three have similar spellings for everything else (eg. 'colour', 'realise').

You can add "labour" to that list. That is how the word "labour" is spelt in Australia. Even members of the Labor Party spell "labour" as "labour". How they write the name of their party has nothing to do with the general use of the word "labour".

Spelling of words in general have nothing to do with spelling of names and trademarks. Does that help break your confusion?

  • 4
    QANTAS is an acronym. Labor is not. – Mark Henderson Jun 2 '15 at 2:36
  • 1
    @MarkHenderson you are wrong, QANTAS is NOT an acronym, the airline is not known as the "Queensland and Northern Territory air service". Maybe you are stuck in the 1920's when it was last known as so. Your point is also irrelevant, as names, trademarks, acronymns all don't need to follow standard English rules. – aaa90210 Jun 2 '15 at 2:55
  • 2
    Not sure if trolling or just... nevermind – Mark Henderson Jun 2 '15 at 3:48
  • +1 for the whole post, but esp Even members of the Labor Party spell "labour" as "labour". Love this line! – pazzo Jun 2 '15 at 5:12

It is the English UK spelling. Most british colonized countries would use this spelling.

Just to let you know.. Its not wierd, the world doesn't run on American spelling :) Just like most of the world uses the metric system, unlike America.

  • This is, y'know, wrong. The BrE spelling (and the Australian spelling) is "Labour." – user867 Jun 2 '15 at 3:06
  • Ivan, I think you may have misread the title. It says without a "U". – Dog Lover Jun 2 '15 at 4:07
  • 1
    The American spelling of "wierd" is "weird". (And sometimes we spell "its" with an apostrophe.) – bof Jun 2 '15 at 9:44

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