‘Activate’ was supposed to be the Conservative’s response to Labour’s ‘Momentum’.
The thought of it a month ago made me scoff when I was first introduced to the group on Facebook.
Momentum is an independent, highly charged, energised organisation full of fanatical, misguided socialists who go about infecting university campuses and national events like Glastonbury with their rabid support for Jeremy Corbyn.
Momentum kind of happened on its own, representing an immense uprising from the left-leaning youth in protest of a political establishment they felt sick and tired of.
Regardless of what rosette you wear, Activate did not.
Whilst I was happy to join Activate as a member, simply interested in the potential for conservatives to be as excitable as Momentum activists, I did not join with much enthusiasm and I left fairly exacerbated after each interaction with fellow members.
It’s not in the nature of conservatives to behave in such ill informed and volatile ways like Momentum supporters.
Let’s forget my initial impressions of the group, like the fact the name itself sounds like some cheap remedy for constipation, or a pro-biotic yoghurt…
Before Activate officially launched I tried to convince members that the group’s approach was wrong.
I spent time trying to poke holes in their plans and find the flaws in their organisation before they went public, in the hope they would act to make their cause more watertight.
I feared they would receive a much harsher treatment from those out to do them harm once they became public… Instead, members interpreted my actions as trolling…
I briefly entertained making a logo for them (pictured) which I thought I’d include here.
The logo that they did use to initially represent the ‘Activate’ brand was just simply awful.
This was the original artwork (pictured).
Despite the awful lack of synchronicity regarding the ‘v’ there were more important issues that deserved my attention.
The idea that a butterfly could represent young conservative’s “finding their wings” was ridiculous.
How about the idea that butterflies are fragile, that they can have their wings easily snapped off, how they can be ‘netted’ and ‘caught’?
I’d love to have seen Momentum supporters refer to ‘netting’ or ‘clipping’ the wings of these fragile conservative butterflies, just as much as I enjoy thawing fragile snowflakes.
It was a disaster waiting to happen, so I didn’t have much faith for any of their other policy decisions.
It turns out that the overzealous ‘constitution’ written by the founders and the subsequent decision to charge a membership fee – despite how they were barely well known – was the typically arrogant, conservative behaviour that killed off their would-be movement before it even started.
Too much time on their hands sorting procedure, and not enough time spent getting on with the PR and the actual grassroots business. It’s the Conservative Party all over.
Momentum had enthusiasm, Activate had process.
My other gripe at the time was the fact they purported to be an ‘individual’ organisation, separate from the Conservative Party.
Okay, sure, I can appreciate members of Activate also being members of the Conservative Party… However, the Chair is a Tory Councillor who’s clearly too old to fit into the box of being a ‘youth’, the second in command is a party activist who’s got no people skills whatsoever yet in charge of membership, and the 3rd, an Oxbridge student (which says it all).
This all meant that they weren’t ever going to be in a position to inspire much grassroots support from your average youth student anyway.
There is no media management to dissipate this perception either.
They looked, pure and simple, like a line up of rejected Conservative Future leadership candidates.
And then there was the midnight release of the Activate_uk_net (memorable) Twitter account, along with an uninspiring message and an amateur meme (below).
It just looked desperate when compared to the content produced by Momentum or even more reputable conservative sites such as Moggmentum.
It had been done before. And the meme drew derision from all over the Twit-o-sphere.
Activate – It is a trap!
They eventually changed the handle to something more professional, but neglected to create a new Twitter account, leaving the old handle open to being exploited as a parody account.
As soon as Activate faced its first controversy, which I must say was fairly notorious for their first outing as the glorified conservative firebrand they wished to become. The left were all over them!
Instead of launching into the fray with legions of savvy ‘activators’ or ‘activated butterflies’ (whatever they wanted to be called), instead of comrades, arm-in-arm, weaponised with explosive 140 character put-downs ready to face the tirade of Momentum… Our revolutionary conservatives who can only be described as revolutionaries in this sense, decided instead to take their faces off the official website and lock half their Twitter accounts.
I’ve established they’re shit and badly organised by a bunch of amateurs who shouldn’t be trusted with a constituency office, never mind understanding that the Conservative (with a big C) membership are not going to be doing things like this:
Ooooooh, Jerrremy Corrrrbyn!
So, let’s talk about that controversy. What actually killed them. The membership.
Ironic, but the thing Momentum supporters had been getting away with for over a year now has been the systematic bullying and harassment of conservatives online.
Not putting pressure on the conservative movement – if there ever was one – through facts and intellectual debate but through shouting louder and hurling volatile abuse.
‘Tory scum’, ‘pig’, ‘fascist’ etcetera. The kind of stuff us conservatives are subjected to so often, it’s second nature to ignore it.
Unfortunately, the membership of Activate decided to confirm the suspicion from the left that Conservative members are also closet Nazi’s (one of my favourite lines from the left).
Yesterday the Independent, Guardian and some other independent left-wing papers wrote about this screenshot leaked to Guido Fawkes:
I remember ‘shooting peasants’ – it didn’t go down well.
This is Activate’s WhatsApp chat. And now part of the handbook on how to kill off a grassroots organisation before it’s even started.
Momentum get away with their class-baiting nonsense.
It’s cool to beat up Tories, to hurl abuse and vitriol at conservatives because they can supposedly wipe away their tears with £50 notes and drown their sorrows with Prosecco.
I don’t doubt for a second that Momentum have comparable chats amongst their membership with shit that is much, much worse that this. I mean, I’ve seen the stuff they dare to say in public.
However, that’s not what this article is pointing out.
The point is, no one expects this from conservatives, never mind ‘big C’ Tories who are an “independent” organisation but none-the-less linked explicitly to a government in power.
This is perhaps why they were so quick to remove any links of the leadership to the main party, which subsequently disowned them soon after the controversy.
If there was ever going to be a rule in the group’s overly complex constitution that made sense, it would be to ensure that opening yourselves up to class-baiting socialists by making highly offensive remarks is forbidden!
It should be as forbidden as standing by an open window in full view of the press at party conference with a glass of Champagne in your hand.
It just looks bad.
Let’s put it simply, I saw it coming.
I was just surprised this morning to wake up and realise it was all practically over.
Anyway, here’s to trying… Trying to make conservatism cool again.
We are modern day punk rock, but we definitely didn’t show the world that mainstream conservatives can be as anarchic, revolutionary, and classically liberal as their fringe groups anytime soon.
I fear the Conservative Party might lose an election before that’s a reality.
Those supposedly trusted with our beloved conservative youth movements are old, fat, outdated, old fashioned, offensive and certainly do not represent the same kind of patriotic, anti-left, conservative, future that I do.
Give me a break.