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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 September, 2004, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Tories unveil 'strong' new logo
New Tory logo
The new logo symbolises 'strength and unity'
The Conservatives have revamped their famous torch logo in an effort to re-brand the party.

The logo has grown an arm to symbolise "unity and strength" - but the party denies any resemblance to communist iconography.

The new Saatchi-created design was unveiled to the press as the party launched its 2004 conference agenda.

Party chairman Liam Fox said he wanted to break with convention and involve ordinary voters in policy debates.

Far right

Dr Fox said the public's recognition of the existing torch logo was "very positive" but it had undergone "modest changes signify clarity, strength and unity".

The use of red, white and blue in the new logo would reclaim those colours from the far right, "specifically the BNP", he added.

Tory logo
The old logo will be dumped

"We will not surrender the colours of our flag to the political fringes," Dr Fox told reporters at the party's new headquarters in Victoria Street.

Dr Fox denied the new logo had "communist" overtones, saying voters had told the party it was "stylish and modern".

In another break with convention, he said party leader Michael Howard would address next month's party conference twice.

His first speech, on the Tuesday, would focus on policy issues, while his second outing will be on the final day to rally the party faithful.

Dr Fox said he also wanted to throw the floor open to ordinary voters and people outside of the party.

Debates will be organised around themes such as "quality of life" and "freedom from fear", rather than departmental headings that only appeal to the Westminster village, he added

He said Margaret Thatcher would not, to his knowledge, be attending the Bournemouth conference.

The Tories have also unveiled an online recruitment drive, which allows people to join up without becoming involved in local party associations.

'Busy lives'

The technology for the new Conservatives Direct online members site is currently being tested, with party managers hoping to roll out the system after this month's party conference.

Party chairman Liam Fox told BBC News Online: "What we wanted to do is offer an alternative way for people to be involved.

"People are used to online shopping, online banking, why not online politics?"

Information on the party, forthcoming events and local news will be available for the online members, who could also download campaign material.

It is also to sign up to standard membership of Labour and the Liberal Democrats through their websites.

Dr Fox said parties had to move into the 21st century and realise that people with busy lives were not necessarily interested in committing themselves to the kind of political organisations seen in the past.

"They do not want to sit through committees or be involved in fundraising," he said. "We want to be as open as possible and able to attract people from a wide spectrum."

'Voter Vault'

Dr Fox suggested such moves were an "antidote to cynicism" about the political system and acknowledged many people were not interested in political social events such as cheese and wine parties.

The new scheme may annoy local Tory associations, who until now have held a monopoly on signing up new members.

But Dr Fox said: "This is about bringing in people who are not currently within the system and it will be an additional part of the party, rather than an alternative."

With the general election expected next spring, the Tories are using a new computer system called the Voter Vault.

The Tory chairman said the database, said to cost 250,000, used census data and gave the party a better idea of the political landscape.

He said it was not the Conservative answer to Labour's Excalibur database, used in the 1997 election as a rapid rebuttal tool.

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