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Please do make sure you’ve read Part One of our undercover investigation into Tory youth group Activate before beginning Part Two
The First Signs of Incompetence
So, now that Tory Thomas’ Facebook account was finalised – complete with poorly photoshopped, outrageously materialistic profile pictures and a ludicrously stereotypical Tory back story – Evolve‘s dastardly plan to infiltrate Activate really was beginning to take shape.
The next stage of our operation was to try and infiltrate Activate‘s secret members-only group on Facebook.
But, because Evolve weren’t willing to lie and fake a Tory Thomas PayPal account to purchase our membership, we really were expecting to fall at the very first hurdle.
Nonetheless, using our assigned Tory Thomas account, we sent a request to Activate‘s member’s group asking to join (this member’s group has subsequently been made secret, but was public when we requested access). Within minutes we had received a response from Fizarn Adris – Activate’s then Membership Director – asking us to join as a paid member before we could access the secret member group.
Unfortunately, after receiving this message, continuing with our investigation meant giving money to an organisation that we really didn’t want to be funding.
With hind sight on our side, we definitely feel it was £10 well spent.
Furthermore, because Activate have finally now decided to boot us from their secret member’s group (a group we are actually still entitled to be in due to being paid up for entire year as a Full Member and them having no code of conduct), we are, hilariously, entitled to a full refund from PayPal.
Had Activate’s leadership bothered to check the name on the PayPal account we used to pay for our year’s membership, they would have noticed that it was in fact a different name to that used on our ‘Tory Thomas’ Facebook account.
This failure to check the identity of members was the first sign of Activate’s incompetence, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last that Tory Thomas would witness in his brief stint at Activate.
Just minutes after confirming to Fizarn that we had signed up as a full member (using a PayPal account under a different name), Tory Thomas was added to Activate’s members group by their ‘National Chairman’, Gary Markwell.
Evolve had officially broken the first barrier in their investigation.
The first post Tory Thomas encountered in the member’s group was this one asking an admittedly decent question about Activate’s internal workings and plans for marketing:
Not only did Activate’s National Chairman Gary Markwell fail to properly address any of the pertinent points in Ryan’s post – indicating that Activate was essentially an amateur set up, completely devoid of organisation and structure (especially given the fact that a number of the leadership team had already resigned at this point) – Markwell also failed to spot the fact that Ryan’s name was Ryan; embarrassingly calling him Rory, and editing the post only after Ryan had replied to point this out.
A brief investigation into Ryan’s profile also uncovered a pretty worrying publicly available photo. One of him posing in front of the North Korean flag:
It’s safe to say that Tory Thomas’ first impression of Activate’s operation was particularly underwhelming and, quite frankly, a little worrying. Unfortunately for Activate, much, much worse was to come.
Just before Tory Thomas had joined the organisation, Activate decided to publish their now legendary ‘It’s a trap’ meme, subsequently thrusting Activate into the limelight, announcing their premature and widely-ridiculed launch to the general public.
Shortly after this meme was published, and coinciding with Tory Thomas’ entry into the organisation, the ridicule on social media became so great that the admins of Activate’s Greater London branch Facebook page – Activate Conservatives (Greater London) – decided to change their own Facebook group name to disassociate themselves with the already-tarnished Activate brand:
Even Activate’s own members were exasperated at just how poorly ‘tweetgate’ had been handled by Activate’s leadership:
And due to the sheer embarrassment of the entire situation, some members were already calling for the ‘sinking ship’ Activate to be disbanded entirely:
However, seeing all the ridicule and pessimism, Tory Thomas did the only thing he could to try and help the situation. He took to the Activate member’s group to offer his (actually rather insightful) advice.
The intentions behind Tory Thomas’ decision to intervene were multi-factorial. Firstly, Tory Thomas was trying to ascertain whether Activate’s leadership actually knew anything whatsoever about grassroots campaigning and what really ignites enthusiasm within politics (believe us, Evolve know a fair deal about igniting enthusiasm within politics).
Secondly, we were also trying to ascertain whether or not Gary Markwell and the already-disintegrating Activate leadership team were actually going to start something truly beneficial for younger people, or whether they were simply going to be another faceless spin-organisation trumpeting the same old Tory lies and deceit to an audience on social media that clearly doesn’t like them.
This was what we asked:
Unfortunately, Gary Markwell’s response was one that really couldn’t fill anyone with even the slightest sense of confidence whatsoever. Markwell essentially admitted that nobody, least of all himself, had a clue what was going on, what the group wanted to achieve, and essentially admitted that their aim was simply to follow the Conservative party policy line for line.
This was Markwell’s rather trite and completely uninspiring response:
To which Tory Thomas probed yet further into what Activate’s plan was:
Gary Markwell’s final response put to rest any semblance of doubt about the fact he really didn’t have the foggiest idea what Activate’s purpose or direction was.
Basically, Gary Markwell’s ‘masterplan’ was to run the group like a glorified Conservative Press Office. An organisation tasked with trying to appeal to a demographic the Tories have long ignored – 18-35 year olds – without any policies or ideas to benefit them; without any members or organisers that had the faintest clue what young people wanted or even what an ordinary young person did or looked like; and whilst all the time giving their undying support to an incredibly unpopular Prime Minister in Theresa May.
They literally had no idea what they were doing. It was a f*cking sh*tshow from day one.
After releasing the ill-advised ‘It’s a trap meme’, Activate’s initial reaction to the huge level of ridicule on their Facebook page was to simply ban everybody who disagreed with them. Much like how far-right groups like Britain First ban anybody who might make their followers think for themselves, Activate’s initial social media policy was to simply block any interaction from all dissenting voices.
After gaining access to the Facebook account, our Editor took screenshots of everybody that Activate banned within the first 24 hours after launch.
Get ready for some exercise, scrolling finger:
These screenshots were taken on the first day that our Editor had control of the Facebook account. We can only estimate how many people Activate have now banned from their page for simply criticising their incompetence or disagreeing with their politics. But, given this extremely large ratio of people who were banned within a mere 24 hour period, the total number is now almost certainly at least many hundreds, if not over a thousand.
When Tory Thomas asked what code of conduct Activate had for banning people from their social media accounts, he was told by the new Social Media Director Joshua Wooliscroft that anything considered to be ‘lowering the tone of debate’ could be a blockable offence:
The following screenshot was the type of message we were told was ‘abusive’ and that we could simply ban the sender from the page:
Contrary to claims made by the Activate’s leadership during interviews with the media, our Editor found absolutely no evidence of serious abuse, threats, or name-calling within the comments on Activate’s Facebook page or, indeed, within private messages directed towards the admins of either the Twitter or Facebook pages.
Other than the odd private message requesting more details about Activate’s operation, the majority of private messages or comments received on the page were simply straightforward criticism of their organisation, or simply making fun of their inept Star Wars meme.
Literally the worst abuse we could find directed towards Activate’s social media accounts was this rather childish attempt:
It seems that, at least for the 4-day period that our Editor had access to the back-end of their Facebook page, Activate’s leadership simply didn’t like the endless criticism of their inept operation – inevitably resorting to playing the victim by leveling accusations of bullying against all those ridiculing them, and then simply banning these people for whatever reason they saw fit.
Indeed, on September 4th Sam Ancliff – Activate’s current spokesman – whined in a particularly snowflakey blog post that, in his view, it was the left who were supposedly ‘suppressing the voices of the right’.
Given the fact that Sam and the Activate leadership team banned so many people from their Facebook page in the first 24 hours for simply expressing their opinion about Activate’s god-awful meme, it is extraordinary that these same people have now attempted to level accusations of ‘silencing’ from the left.
In fact, the truth is that because Activate were completely unwilling to adequately answer questions or even acknowledge legitimate criticism from people on their social media accounts – be it of Activate’s politics, their provably non-existent media strategy, or questions and criticism of their incompetent leadership – they resorted to playing the victim, making accusations that were simply not true about supposed serious abuse from the left in a vain attempt to deflect attention away from the fact that they obviously had absolutely no clue what they were doing.
Indeed, Activate’s National Chairman Gary Markwell was so unbelievably hostile to any form of criticism, and so unprepared to deal with even the briefest amount of personal scrutiny, that just two days after setting up his very first personal Twitter account on August 28th, he deleted it.
Handing Out Passwords Like Haribo
After being a member of the group for just over a day, Evolve witnessed Activate’s leadership team disintegrate into a desperate farce of infighting and resignations – resignations which ultimately paved the way for Tory Thomas to become even more involved within the organisation.
After seeing a thread on the Activate member’s group about the resignation of their Media Director, we spotted our chance to get Tory Thomas into a position of trust in order to ascertain answers to our initial questions.
The following thread was literally all we had to say in order for Gary Markwell to add us into the ‘Activate Media Crew’ group chat. There was no vetting and absolutely no security. It’s safe to say they were pretty desperate for ideas and free labour.
Minutes after posting our offer to help out, Gary Markwell added us to the Activate Media Crew chat.
The following screenshots are the exact transcript of that group chat conversation, detailing how incredibly easy it was for us to gain access to Activate’s official social media account passwords and usernames, and how Activate’s National Chairman Gary Markwell seemingly could not wait, without any prior vetting whatsoever, to get someone, anyone, to take the social media accounts “off [his] hands”.
Well there we are. That’s how easy it was to get in.
Do stay tuned for Part Three of our investigation where we give you the inside story of the now infamous ‘gassing chavs’ Guido leaks, Activate’s numerous social media ‘hacks’, and how the organisation descended into an utter farce as estranged Activate members leaked compromising information all over the media.