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Last Updated: Friday, 21 September 2007, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
'Cameron rock' is off Tory menu
Blackpool rock
Michael Howard's name ran through rock at the 2005 conference
Sticks of rock bearing Tory leaders' names will not be sold at the party's Blackpool conference after apparently falling foul of its modernising agenda.

The novelty rock is usually sold to raise funds for the local Tory party, but this year's order was cancelled.

Jason Evans, whose company had been expecting to make the rock, said they were told "it's not that type of conference".

The party says "times are changing" for both it and for Blackpool.

Conservative party conferences have undergone an image change since Mr Cameron took over as leader in 2005.

Last year's event, in Bournemouth, featured a General Well Being juice bar, selling fruit smoothies - and a stage set inspired by Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, in place of the traditional torch logo and union flag backdrop.

When the party was in Blackpool in 2005, there was a stall selling rock with then leader Michael Howard's name running through it.

Blackpool tradition

An order had been placed with the Promotional Candy Company for a David Cameron rock for this year's conference, which gets underway on Sunday, 30 September.

But Mr Evans told BBC North West Tonight: "About a fortnight later we got a phone call saying they didn't need the rock anymore. The reason was - it wasn't that type of conference. That's what they said to us."

Sticks of rock are fun but we have other priorities and other ways to ensure this year's conference is a lively event
Conservative Party

Blackpool, a traditional venue for Conservative party conferences, has been making its famous sticks of rock for more than 100 years.

In a statement, Conservative central office said: "Times are changing and both Blackpool and the Conservative Party are changing with them.

"Sticks of rock are fun but we have other priorities and other ways to ensure this year's conference is a lively event."

Blackpool Conservatives say they are not concerned and were told there was not room for a rock stall.

The seaside resort hosted its first Tory conference in 1931, but the party has said it wants to attract new delegates by holding them in major cities - next year it will be held in Birmingham, and, in 2009, Manchester.

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