Tories embrace the oak in effort to modernise image

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The Conservative Party could be about to undergo a greenmakeover by replacing its torch logo with a spreading oak tree.

The Tory leader, David Cameron, has ordered the rebranding exercise to give the party a softer image. Officials said the "mighty oak" was the frontrunner among the suggestions for a new logo to be adopted by the Tories in time for the annual Conservative Party conference in October.

The image was shown to party workers behind closed doors yesterday but news of the rebranding exercise leaked out on a website for Conservative activists.

One party official said the torch was being replaced because it reminded voters too much of the negative image of the Tories' past. The party leadership is clearly hoping that the spreading oak tree logo will be more "cuddly" than the torch, which was adopted in the 1970s. The torch reminded critics of a design celebrating the workers of the former Soviet Union.

If the oak tree is adopted, the final image will not be quite as soft as the one that appeared on an activist's website. "The image on the website is very blurred, which may have been copied using a mobile phone to photograph it," said a senior Conservative official. "We are talking about using a clearer image. The oak tree image is one of a wide range of designs on which party members and workers are being consulted throughout the summer."

There are risks about presenting the Conservatives as the party of the "tree". It may prove difficult for Mr Cameron to live up to the green image. He launched his leadership by riding a bicycle to work at the Commons. But this week he admitted he only rode to Westminster once a week. He has resorted to the chauffeur-driven limousine because he has so many papers to read.

The oak proved popular yesterday among Tory supporters. A similar design was backed by more than half of those polled in an internet survey of activists by

But some traditional Tory voters were outraged at the idea. "Cameron, don't do this," said one activist. "I hate the look of this tree. The torch was a great symbol and there's no need to change it."