A new Tory campaign to win over young voters crashed and burned with its very first tweet

Bex Sumner

A new campaign to get young people to vote Conservative has just launched, and it did not go well.

The campaign

The ‘Activate’ campaign, run by Conservative Party supporters including councillors and students, describes itself as:

an independent national grassroots campaign organisation that seeks to actively engage young people in the right of centre politics, make a case for what conservatism can offer and provide a platform to enable their voices to be heard.

The meme

On the evening of 28 August, Activate sent its very first tweet – a meme that had something to do with Jeremy Corbyn and Admiral Ackbar of Star Wars, and was helpfully hashtagged #meme:


Lots of people on Twitter pointed out the obvious:

And, within hours, spoof accounts were up and running:


But unfortunately for the campaign, there was a bigger problem. This is what people viewing the tweet on their mobiles saw:

Bad policy

But the real problem Activate has isn’t bad memes. It’s bad policy.

Since 2010, coalition and Conservative governments have introduced policies that have hit young people hard. They’ve scrapped housing benefit entitlement for 18-to-21-year-olds. They’ve tripled tuition fees. They’ve slashed spending on mental health services for young people by nearly £50m. They’ve stalled the economy, giving us what some say is the UK’s slowest recovery since records began. And they’ve plunged millions of people into precarious work.

As Labour MP Richard Burgon has pointed out:

A young person in my constituency now, leaving university, has less chance of a debt-free life, less chance of a well-paid job, less chance of a mortgage, less chance of a council house, and less chance of a decent pension at the end of their working life than someone leaving school at the age of 15 in my constituency did 40 years ago. Now that’s not right.

So it’s no surprise that, according to The Prince’s Trust:

young people’s happiness and wellbeing are at their lowest levels since the study was first commissioned in 2009.


One Twitter user summed up the campaign perfectly:

The Conservative Party is struggling to win over the youth vote because its policies have hammered young people. And terrible memes will do nothing to fix that.

Get Involved!

– Buy Naomi Klein’s latest book, No Is Not Enough: Defeating The New Shock Politics.

– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

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