Political Symbols & Colours – Part 3 The Conservatives

After searching thoroughly, we were unable to find any evidence that there was a logo before the ‘Freedom Torch’, which Thatcher introduced in 1987. However, searching through past election posters, we found that there was a consistent use of ‘The Conservatives’, in yellow and blue – with the national flag embedded in the poster too. The designer of the 1987 Torch based their ideas on the USA Statue of Liberty, as it was intended to represent British liberty, pride and unity. Interestingly, a quote from Disreali helps explain the meaning behind the Torch:

“…in a progressive country change is constant…[but] in deference to the manners, the customs, the laws and the traditions of a people”

By this, the Torch can be said to be the symbol for change, however, it is conservative continuous change. The Torch burning represents the continuity, but the way in which the flame would transform in the wind represents the gradual change that also takes pace.

Michael Howard, however, was not happy with the Torch in 2004, and decided to revamp its look. This was mainly due to UKIP seemingly taking voters off the Tories, and so Howard decided to change the colours of the Torch to red, white and blue to represent Britain more clearly. Furthermore, Howard made the arm that carries the Torch have a rolled up sleeve to fit into a national campaign to show that he was ‘getting the job done’, so to speak. Nevertheless, the Tories have of late once again been shown to be dissatisfied by the logo…

…if the Torch played the new logo in a game of rock, paper and scissors it would invariably win (presumably many Conservative activists have secret fantasies about the flamey torch raising the tree to the ground which is perhaps allegorical for how they feel about some aspects of Cameron’s leadership). In fairness, it does try and carry on the theme of change through continuity but it is hard not to see it in the light of the critiques at the time dismissed it as ‘scribbling’. Gone is the strong affinity with national colours and the idea that nation is central {and the somewhat arrogant ‘natural party of government’ notion that the nation is nothing without a Conservative government} and in is the somewhat random green daubs which are meant to show a affinity with tree hugging.

Petitions sprung up to keep the Torch which does say something we feel about the fact that maybe activists will not be as compliant once Cameron marches into Number 10 as he would hope they would be. One advantage Blair had is that his party at least is underpinned by the notion that it should stand as and be the fulcrum of radical change so changing it is somewhat culturally easier where as the Conservative Party is totally a different beast.

By Darrell Goodliffe & Jane Watkinson


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