Activate (organisation)

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round predominantly blue emblem stylised on Union Flag with Activate script
Formation29 August 2017 (2017-08-29)
Dissolved31 May 2018 (2018-05-31)
National Chairman
Gary Markwell[2]
Lewis Parkes[2]
Membership Director
Fizarn Adris[2]
Campaign Director
Luke Ibbotson[2]

Activate was a British political organisation, which described itself as a seeking to engage young people in centre-right politics.[3] It was founded in August 2017 by young members of the Conservative Party.[4] It had been compared to the left-wing group Momentum.[3][5][6][7] The organisation was shut down on 31 May 2018 after less than 12 months.[8][9]


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 following the suspension of Conservative Future.[4] 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.[2]

The organisation 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] 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".[10] The organisation had been criticised for being out of touch with younger people.[5] The membership costs of up to £500 per person were widely seen as extortionate.[12]

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.[13]

Having gained prominence in August 2017, Activate held a launch event in March 2018 in London, attended by 28 people in a room booked for 150. The event 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."[14]

In Vice, Ben van der Merwe wrote that the organisation was "doomed from the start", having an "impossible mission".[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ""Memes are not the way to look at it": inside the Tory membership crisis".
  2. ^ a b c d e Stevens, Samantha. "Activate, the new 'Tory Momentum', is 100% astroturf". Red Pepper.
  3. ^ a b Nathoo, Leila (31 August 2017). "How are the Tories going after young people?". BBC News. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b "EXCLUSIVE: Activate leader explains groups motives and future plans". The Backbencher. 2017-09-18. Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  5. ^ a b c Elgot, Jessica (2017-08-29). "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. ^ "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.
  8. ^ "Evolve Politics on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-06-03.
  9. ^ Activate deactivated: Conservative's Momentum imitation folds after 8 months. The London Economic. Author - Jack Peat. Published 31 May 2018. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  10. ^ a b Kentish, Ben (30 August 2017). "Young Tory activists caught joking about 'gassing chavs'". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2017-08-30. 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. ^ Maguire, Patrick (30 August 2017). "Tory rival for Momentum is ridiculed over £500 fee". The Times. 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. ^ a b "We Snuck into the 'Tory Momentum' Re-Launch Party". 2018-04-09.