Activate's social media baptism was one of fire.
The grassroots campaign for young Conservatives launched on Twitter early, towards the end of August, and were immediately mired in controversy.
The account began tweeting memes. Memes so poorly made, people were confused as to whether it was a parody.
The account then appeared to be at war with itself.
Activate's Facebook page asserted their Twitter account had been hacked. The Twitter account asserted the Facebook page had been under the control of a pro-May splinter contingent.
It transpired the Twitter account had indeed been out of the hands of the group, as people learned when control was returned to the campaign on 8 September.
While this social media circus was ongoing, political blog Guido Fawkes published screengrabs of a WhatsApp group which advocated "gassing chavs", alleging that the chat was a precursor to the Activate group as it's currently known.
Among other technical issues.
The website addresses this all head on when you visit it - a banner message implores you to see the group in a different light to the perception you may have been left with in the previous few weeks.
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.
Activate is in no way, shape or form associated with the Conservative Party.Activate is not a 'Tory-momentum' but we do hope it will be a vehicle for young conservatives to get engaged. 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.
The group is certainly on the back foot.
We chatted with Activate's East Midlands Representative Sam Ancliff to get some answers, and to find out how Activate can ever possibly get on the front foot.
Sam said the group hadn't even intended to launch this early, but they hope to utilise the current attention, regardless of the negative context in which the group is currently seen:
Originally we weren’t expecting to launch until the new year, even, we were intending to take it far slower.
But as we’ve been thrust into the public limelight, to be honest it would be stupid of us not to take advantage of the national publicity that we have. If we’d waited until the new year, quite frankly it’d be a case of starting all over again.
We’ve accelerated our plans forward but the plans are still very much the same. We’re a campaigning organisation, we’re here to bring together young conservatives and to support the party in an independent manner.
The group will be hosting a launch event in October, doing some door knocking and gathering vote intention for local Conservative associations. Sam also hopes it will also be more of a social occasion:
It’s going to be more of a social event because many of our members haven’t met each other, I still haven’t met the national chairman – that says quite a lot in itself.
So it’d be a good thing for everyone to get together and meet each other.
There will be some press invited to the event as well as some guest speakers. Hopefully we’ll have a bit of a Q and A session, and a few drinks.
The group is also planning events at a regional level in Wales, the East Midlands, the South West and the South East in the coming months:
They’re going to be staggered, some may not happen for quite a while - we don’t have a representative in Scotland yet, so we don’t have any plans in place for there yet.