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Activate (organisation)

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Formation29 August 2017; 2 years ago (2017-08-29)
National Chairman
Gary Markwell
AffiliationsConservative Party (unofficial)

Activate is a British political organisation, which describes itself as a seeking to engage young people in centre-right politics.[2] It was founded in August 2017 by young members of the Conservative Party.[3] It has been likened to the left-wing Momentum, although the group rejects the comparison.[2][4][5][6]

In an interview with indy100, Activate spokesman Sam Ancliff stated it was filling the gap left for "young Conservatives to join since Conservatives Futures was rightfully disbanded".[6] According to both Activate and the Conservative Party, Activate receives no funding or support from the party.


Following the disbanding of Conservative Future and the recent success of Labour in capturing the youth vote, Sam Ancliff claimed that Activate "evolved" from a collaboration of a lot of different people from different communities of people looking for a new Conservative youth group.[3] The group appointed Gary Markwell as their chairman.[3] Activate's spokesperson claimed that they did not expect to receive any traction to begin with, though the group was quickly escalated to the national stage.[3][4]

Despite gaining prominence in August 2017, Activate held a launch event in March 2018 in London, booking a room for 150 people and attended by 28 people, which saw speeches from two Conservative councillors. Chairman Gary Markwell said at the launch, "It's amazing what a response Tommy Robinson and Britain First get on Facebook, how they engage people."[7]


Left-wing magazine Red Pepper alleged that it is a Conservative astroturf group, due to the fact that Gary Markwell is a Conservative councillor and campaign manager.[8] The organisation has been criticised for being out of touch with younger people.[4] Additionally, the membership costs of up to £500 per person were widely seen as extortionate.[9] This number was however corrected by Activate's spokesman when he clarified on Daily Politics that membership is £10 for standard members and the original price range was to allow for donations, their website no longer shows the price range on the membership page.[10]

The group was criticised when conservative blogger Guido Fawkes revealed that individuals within a WhatsApp group described a by Fawkes as a "precursor" to Activate made comments about gassing "chavs", performing "medical experiments on them ... [using] them as substitutes for animals", as well as mandating "compulsory birth control on chavs".[11] The Mirror claimed that at least two people involved in the chat had links to Activate.[12] A spokesperson later said that none of the individuals "have any seniority" within Activate, and that they found the comments "sickening and are totally incompatible with what Activate is trying to achieve".[11]

In Vice, Ben van der Merwe wrote that the group was "doomed from the start", having an "impossible mission".[7]

Internal schism and trolling[edit]

It was claimed by a source within Activate that one of the key founders of the organisation received death threats to his home address in the light of Activate's emergence and that almost all of the main figures within Activate have been targeted by abuse and harassment.[13]

Tory Generation have alleged that London Young Labour chair Fraser Watt impersonated Activate's "founder" on the left-wing Novara Media, saying that the organisation was supportive of Jacob Rees-Mogg as Conservative leader.[14]


  1. ""Memes are not the way to look at it": inside the Tory membership crisis". www.newstatesman.com.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Nathoo, Leila (31 August 2017). "How are the Tories going after young people?". BBC News. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "EXCLUSIVE: Activate leader explains groups motives and future plans". The Backbencher. 2017-09-18. Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Elgot, Jessica. "Activate: Tories mimic Momentum with grassroots campaign". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  5. Belam, Martin (5 September 2017). "Tory Momentum clone Activate at war as 'hackers' back Jacob Rees-Mogg for PM". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "What Activate say really happened with their 'hacked' account, and how they want to grow from 'over 200' members". indy100. 2017-09-14. Retrieved 2017-09-14.
  7. 7.0 7.1 https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/7xde7g/we-snuck-into-the-tory-momentum-re-launch-party
  8. Stevens, Samantha. "Activate, the new 'Tory Momentum', is 100% astroturf". Red Pepper.
  9. Maguire, Patrick (30 August 2017). "Tory rival for Momentum is ridiculed over £500 fee". The Times. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  10. "Join – Activate". www.activate.uk.net. Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Kentish, Ben (30 August 2017). "Young Tory activists caught joking about 'gassing chavs'". The Independent. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  12. Bloom, Dan (30 August 2017). "Members of young Tories' WhatsApp group send vile messages about 'gassing chavs'". The Mirror. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  13. "REVEALED: 17-year old Activate founder receives death threats at home address". The Backbencher. 2017-09-15. Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  14. Tory Generation (7 September 2017). "Labour/Momentum Activist Fraser Watt posed as Activate Founder". Twitter. Retrieved 22 January 2018.

External links[edit]

Others articles of the Topic British politics : List of Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, Games for the Many, Al-Zebabist Nation of Ooog, Ed Miliband bacon sandwich photograph

Others articles of the Topic Conservatism : Bob Reese, The Tower (Magazine), America First Party (2002), William Marshner
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