Activate UK was founded back in August 2017 and was set up as a political group, which describes itself as a “national grassroots campaign organisation.” It seeks to engage young people in the right of centre politics actively” and is often likened to Momentum regarding the appeal to the youth wing.
On top of engaging young people into politics, Three of the group’s core aims is to; promote and hold a global economic outlook, promote home ownership and to make a success of Brexit.
The launch party took place over a week ago, and it was clear that although they didn’t have an overwhelming turnout, from the people who did turn up, you could see that these were members who viewed Activate as being the future of the party. One member, in particular, talked about the fact that he believed the Young Conservatives were going to be just like Conservative Future and that the only reason they had been brought back it to produce canvassers for elections. In many ways, that’s a fair point to make; however you are always going to see that within youth groups, in fact, I distinctly remember the leader of the Harrow Conservatives saying at the launch party that they needed people to help out canvassing in the area. So in fairness, that element of a youth wing is never going to die out.
Like any political organisation, Activate isn’t without its fair share of controversial moments. The Guido Fawkes blog was one of the first to uncover a story about gassing chavs on a Whatsapp group chat. Guido had already mentioned that the youth movement needed a bit more work, so when this incident came up, it was only natural that Mr Staines was going to rip into the grassroots group. Activate came back stating that: “none of the commenters was involved in its top team.” This fiasco then led to all its top members such as the campaigns director leaving the group chat and with no official launch taking place that year it seemed as though things were about to end for Activate UK before they had even started.
With the announcement of the Young Conservatives just a day before the Activate UK launch, it seems as though this has been a scathing attack from the Tories. The fact that Activate had never received direct funding or any official donations from the party just goes to show how much the party doesn’t want to be affiliated with an informal youth group, so to then create a new Youth wing a day before the launch is merely adding salt to the wound.
In many ways, it has tried to fill the gap that was left behind by the disbandment of Conservative Future. However, with the announcement of the new Young Conservatives, it could start to raise the question as to whether or not Activate UK is still necessary. You could argue that the same applies to Momentum, but unlike Activate, Momentum is carrying a heftier following. So what other youth groups are there at the moment?
Well, there are the Young Liberals: Which is the youth and student group of the Liberal Democrats. Members of the Liberal Democrats under the age of 26 are automatically members of the Young Liberals, while those aged 26–30 can opt to join in addition to their party membership. The political components and ideologies again as you would expect are the same as the Lib Dems, and it’s also financially supported by the party. The same principle is applied to Labour, Greens and now the Conservatives, whilst UKIP has its own “Young Independence” wing, though back in 2013 its then Chairman was reportedly fired for supporting same-sex marriage.