Activate (organisation)

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Activate was a British political organisation which described itself as a seeking to engage young people in centre-right politics.[1] It was founded in August 2017 by young members of the Conservative Party, and shut down in May 2018.[2][3][4] It had been compared to the left-wing Momentum.[1][5][6]

The group appointed Conservative councillor and campaign manager Gary Markwell as their chairman.[5] Because of this, Red Pepper described it as a Conservative astroturf group.[7]

An Activate source claimed that one of the founders of the organisation had received death threats, and that almost all of the main figures within Activate had been targeted by abuse and harassment.[8]

The organisation had been criticised for being out of touch with younger people.[5] The membership fees of up to £500 were seen as extortionate.[9]

The group was criticised when conservative blogger Guido Fawkes revealed that individuals within a WhatsApp group described 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".[10] The Mirror claimed that at least two people involved in the chat had links to Activate.[11]

Having gained prominence in August 2017, Activate held a launch event in March 2018 in London, attended by twenty-eight people in a room booked for 150. 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."[12]

In Vice, Ben van der Merwe wrote that the group was "doomed from the start", having an "impossible mission".[12]


  1. ^ a b Nathoo, Leila (31 August 2017). "How are the Tories going after young people?". BBC News. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  2. ^ "Evolve Politics on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-06-03. 
  3. ^ Activate deactivated: Conservative's Momentum imitation folds after 8 months. The London Economic. Author - Jack Peat. Published 31 May 2018. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  4. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Activate leader explains groups motives and future plans". The Backbencher. 2017-09-18. Retrieved 2017-11-04. 
  5. ^ a b c Elgot, Jessica. "Activate: Tories mimic Momentum with grassroots campaign". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 September 2017. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ Stevens, Samantha. "Activate, the new 'Tory Momentum', is 100% astroturf". Red Pepper. 
  8. ^ "REVEALED: 17-year old Activate founder receives death threats at home address". The Backbencher. 2017-09-15. Retrieved 2017-11-04. 
  9. ^ Maguire, Patrick (30 August 2017). "Tory rival for Momentum is ridiculed over £500 fee". The Times. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  10. ^ Kentish, Ben (30 August 2017). "Young Tory activists caught joking about 'gassing chavs'". The Independent. Retrieved 6 October 2017. 
  11. ^ Bloom, Dan (30 August 2017). "Members of young Tories' WhatsApp group send vile messages about 'gassing chavs'". The Mirror. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  12. ^ a b