Jeremy Corbyn and the non-Progress section of the Labour Party enthused a desire to vote for people under forty at the first of this year’s general elections; this included many first-time voters. A variety of surveys and polls since the election have revealed a large majority of support for Labour for people aged twenty-five and under.
Even when the Tories have had large majority support in the entire electorate Labour received more votes from first-time voters but the size of Labour’s majority support among younger people now is the largest it’s ever been. There are several reasons for the gap between Labour’s and the Tories’ respective appeals to the younger voters including Labour’s shift leftward, Tories’ increasing incompetence, a reaction to Brexit – a minority of younger people voted to leave the EU, and the success of Momentum as a galvanising organisation. Momentum is not specifically a youth movement but its strength is that people of all ages, who agree with its political stance, find it useful.
The Tories are keen to imitate Momentum, while continuing the slanderous attacks on it. They are trying to invent a youth movement with the intent of persuading younger people to support conservatism.
There are obvious problems with an artificially created pseudo-grassroots Tory movement:
a) No new leader to focus a campaign. Momentum was created to support the politics of Jeremy Corbyn immediately after he was first elected as Labour leader; an opportunity arose to try to adjust Labour’s position and to add votes from the normally non-voting socialists. But, for the Tories, a new leader would be one of the current hapless discredited fools in the cabinet – Johnson, Davies, Rudd, Hammond, etc., or a robotic, sarcastic careerist like Hands, Cleverley or Mercer, or pantomime character and ultra-libertarian Rees-Mogg. There is no potential leader to enthuse anyone. It is a clown cupboard.
b) No alternative political vision. Corbyn, and Momentum, offer a clear alternative to the mess of Progress Labour’s adherence to capitalist exploitation. Clearly, a new Tory leader or Tory subgroup cannot offer an alternative to capitalist exploitation. The only possibility for change is to go further right, but UKIP already exists. There is nowhere to go on the political spectrum.
c) Tory activism is a job not a passion. There are live police investigations into illegal practices by the Tories during both the 2015 general election and the first of this year’s general elections. One of the accusations is the use of paid campaigners. The decision to use employees rather than volunteer activists is one of necessity: Tory activists lack the intrinsic desire to work to promote their political ideology if there isn’t something in it for them individually.
d) Political activism is naturally a social occupation. To be successful, political activists must often work as a group. They must be aware that not every activist is a decision-maker, that small compromises are commonplace, that personal disagreements should be set aside and that there will be several disappointments and set-backs. The key point is the necessity for mutually supportive work among the activists so that the focus is on achieving a political objective. All that is obvious, of course, and it is also impossible for self-obsessed sociopathic Tory activists who view the party they support as a career stepping stone and enabler.
e) It’s difficult to sell blatant lies. Momentum succeeds because it supports a change in Labour that is significantly different to the Tories (and to the Liberal Democrats). Activists promoting SNP or Plaid Cymru have independence as a constant theme, supporters of DUP and Sinn Féin respectively can refer to the long history and ongoing diametrically opposed stance on the future of Northern Ireland as a tool of persuasion, Green Party presents itself as the party of protecting the planet and, currently, Liberal Democrat activists focus on the party’s anti Brexit position. But the Tory activists have nowhere to go except repeating the intrinsic lies and confidence tricks that define their party. The Tory manifesto for the first of this year’s general elections was full of lies and nothing else: Election 2017: A few lies from the Tory manifesto. They have been found out.
A new Tory youth movement was activated a few weeks ago called, er, Activate. Yes, it does sound like a cure for constipation for sentient robots. It was exposed swiftly as closely aligned to Tory MPs (and, thus, not “grassroots”) – Activate Astroturf, and peopled by nasty bigots who gleefully expressed their extremism on a message board – Activate Bigotry, including an obsession with homophobia – Activate homophobia.
BBC Radio 4 obediently gave airtime to one of the protagonists of Activate, Sam Ancliff, to allow him to whine about naughty lefties making fun of him and his colleagues. Ancliff claimed, without challenge from the interviewer, that Activate members were not involved in any abuse. Almost immediately, Ancliff was shown to be lying: Here is an example of the views and attitude of Activate “Membership Director” Fizarn Adris responding to a Grenfell Tower Fire victim’s comment about financial assistance from the government:
Adris closed his Twitter account after his true views were exposed.
After a couple of days of existence Activate collapsed in on itself comically. Some members thereof departed to form a rival group called Our Conviction, the respective Activate twitter and facebook accounts went to war on one another – each accusing the other of misrepresentation and not being the real Activate, one of the Activates gave full support to Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Tory leadership challenge before an abrupt about-turn following Rees-Mogg’s impersonation of Sarah Palin in a TV interview, and there was a false claim that the Activate twitter account had been hacked. Fuller summary here: Activate disorder. It’s been Gogol meets the Chuckle Brothers.
The Activate debacle highlighted the intrinsic difficulties faced by any nascent Tory youth movement and showed how quickly independent left-wing media (Canary, Skwawkbox, Evolve, Red Pepper, etc.) can step in, expose the facts and send the blighters into teary free fall.