It’s been a bizarre week for the new group which hoped to become the Tory Momentum. Within days, the details of a WhatsApp chat among members revealed conversations about ‘gassing chavs’ and “shooting peasants”. And while the group has attempted to distance itself from the WhatsApp chat, it has been caught in a lie.
What is Activate?
Activate is a right-wing attempt at a Momentum-style campaign. It was sold as an independent grassroots campaign for young right-wingers. But the organisation’s National Chairman is Gary Markwell, a Tory councillor who has worked as a “Campaign Manager for the Conservative Party over the last ten years”. And the Twitter account of Membership Director Fizarn Adris revealed a hostile attitude to poor and vulnerable people.
Then came the leak of an Activate WhatsApp chat. During the conversation, members argued in favour of ‘gassing chavs’ and “shooting peasants”:
Young Tories Joke About ‘Gassing Chavs’ in Activate WhatsApp Group https://t.co/7qRRv5OWrB
Continue reading below...
— Guido Fawkes (@GuidoFawkes) August 30, 2017
The WhatsApp leak triggered a meltdown within the organisation. When East Midlands representative Sam Ancliff appeared [from 43:40] on BBC Radio Five Live on 31 August, he claimed that no one participating in the WhatsApp chat was a member of Activate. A statement, which appeared in a pop-up on the Activate homepage on 31 August, said:
The ‘Whatsapp’ [sic] posts that are being connected to Activate by the media did not originate from Activate or any of our members
Activate does not tolerate those views and would withdraw the membership of any member caught purporting [sic] such ignorant nonsense.
This is untrue. Adris was in that WhatsApp chat, and remains with the organisation. Internal messages seen by The Canary show Adris discussing the leak and other matters with Markwell.
But they were not done yet. Because that same day, Activate’s official Twitter account issued a bizarre misspelt meme. And although the group deleted the tweet, claiming it was the subject of a hacking attempt, it was too late.
— EL4C (@EL4JC) August 31, 2017
Hack or no hack, the infighting and confusion have made the group a public laughing stock, even before the official launch.
Such was the chaos that a rival group set up its own Twitter account called Our Conviction, claiming to be the authentic voice of the young right. But its muddled statement triggered open season on social media.
Please read our statement below: pic.twitter.com/Ney9wEmZVJ
— Our Conviction (@Our_Conviction) August 31, 2017
Insiders have approached The Canary with news that the group is now desperate to crack down on the internal leaks. With suspicion rife, accusations are beginning to fly. An insider contacted The Skwawkbox to claim that former north-east representative Emmet O’Leary was the source, saying:
Emmet has been leaking stories to left and right publications. He resigned from Activate over the Whatsapp chat and I’m certain he was responsible for leaking that, but I know for a fact he has been talking to various publications about other things. I’m sure he’s behind the Activate knock-off ‘Our Conviction’ too.
An embarrassment of riches
In a few short days, Activate has provided an embarrassment of riches to the left; demonstrating the worst attributes of the right, at full volume. And as the group self-combusts, it is serving as a better advert for the left than Momentum could ever have hoped.
– You can find out more about Momentum here.
– You can find out more about Activate here.
Featured image via Twitter
Since you're here ...
We know you don't need a lecture. You wouldn't be here if you didn't care.
Now, more than ever, we need your help to challenge the rightwing press and hold power to account. Please help us survive and thrive.