Things got off to a shaky start for the group dubbed “Tory Momentum” - but the group has suffered yet another PR disaster after their Twitter account was hacked.
Things began badly when Activate, described as an independent, grassroots campaign to “engage young people with conservatism”, was mocked for its very first tweet (which has now been deleted).
The problems seemed to escalate from there when screenshots of messages discussing “gassing chavs” emerged from a WhatsApp group named “Young Tories”, which the Mirror claimed had at least two members linked to Activate.
Activate strongly denied this, saying: “The ‘Whatsapp’ 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 such ignorant nonsense.”
Activate then suffered a hack of its Twitter account last week, though that seemed to yield nothing much more embarrassing than a misspelled Star Wars meme. The hack was reported to the police.
But now the group seems to have lost all control of its Twitter account, which appears to have gone rogue and declared its support for “MP for the 18th century” Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Activate told HuffPost UK that they had identified the hacker as a Momentum activist and said they were in contact with the police and Twitter.
A Momentum source told HuffPost UK: “This is the first we’ve heard of this and no one from Activate has got in touch to complain about any of our members. We’d suggest they concentrate on dealing with their many internal issues, including their activists joking about ‘gassing chavs’, instead of making allegations against our members without offering any evidence.”
In a post on the official Activate Facebook page, the group said: “We regret that the person who hacked our Twitter account last week has now begun to post tweets claiming to represent Activate.
“They are not from us or anybody associated with Activate.
“Since setting up our Twitter account we have not published any tweets and have been waiting for Twitter to allow us access to our account again following the hack.
“Until further notice, any tweet from our Twitter account is not from us.”
The now out-of-control Activate account is currently regularly declaring its support for Rees-Mogg and criticising Theresa May...
When the group’s spokesman Sam Ancliff announced he would be appearing on BBC Two’s Daily Politics show, whoever has control of the account further muddied the waters by claiming he no longer represented the group.
Speaking on the programme, Ancliff was forced to clarify that he was still the group’s spokesman (are you still following?).
He added that the recent issues were “teething problems”.
The Activate website, where those interested can join for a membership fee of between £5 and £500, now features a pop-up notice to explain that they haven’t even officially launched yet and address some of the recent problems.
In longer version of the message posted to its Facebook page, Activate also tried to distance itself from the comparisons to Momentum and claiming it is “in no way, shape or form associated with the Conservative Party”.
Although we have enjoyed the attention that Activate has received over the past few days, we believe it to be important to clarify our official position.
Activate has not officially launched… yet. We were only established over the last couple of weeks and are yet to formally launch our organisation. We are currently setting up our social media presence and our structure. The recent media attention we have received was not courted by us, but was in fact a response to the orchestrated attack on Activate and the individuals who helped form the movement that Activate was born out of. The media coverage received was neither accurate, nor evidence based. We are disappointed by the viciousness of these personal attacks, some of which were against members under the age of 18, which ultimately lead to many of our young members afraid to continue working on the movement.
For clarification; Activate is in no way, shape or form associated with the Conservative Party. Activate is a collection of young adults from a wide variety of backgrounds who share a common political belief and want to provide a common meeting point for young Conservatives. Activate is not a “Tory-momentum” but we do hope it will be a vehicle for young conservatives to get engaged.
Activate members, including those who helped create the movement, are a wide-ranging demographic; yes one of our board went to Cambridge, but we also have another who left school at 16 to join the army. We are inclusive of everyone with a similar mindset and anyone who can help Activate grow will be welcomed.
Finally, the ‘Whatsapp’ 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 such ignorant nonsense.
In the mean time, we encourage everyone who believes in Activate to show your support and back Activate. Share this message and go to our website to join us ready for our official launch. www.activate.uk.net. When we are ready to launch, we will send press releases and shout proudly about it.
An “interview” purporting to be with the group’s “founder” by YouTube channel Novara Media also appeared online.
But Activate also confirmed that this was a fake.