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Activate now denies launch as row over "gas the chavs" comments escalates

Tory campaign group Activate was in disarray yesterday after it was forced to issue a statement denying it had ever launched following a string of sickening messages circulating on social media.

Sickening comments posted in a Tory WhatsApp group calling for "chavs to be gassed" were leaked on Wednesday night, with screenshots of the comments circulated on social media after they were published on the Guido Fawkes blog - run by Tory supporter Paul Staines.

The WhatsApp group was alleged to be a part of the new Tory organisation Activate, a campaign seen as the Tories’ attempt to appeal to young voters.

Members of the group swapped offensive messages including one calling for "Chavocide" and another describing working-class people as "vermin" who populate at high rates.

Others suggested using "chavs" as "substitutes for animals when testing" with one member posting: "Can we just introduce compulsory birth control?"

The group were warned to be careful as the conversation was "turning to a nazi chat," although it continued until others intervened to stop them.

It was the latest in a string of gaffes by the so-called "Tory Momentum" group – set up to try to woo the youth vote – which has been subjected to widespread derision since its "non-launch" earlier this week.

Activate's website quickly removed a list of key people after it was criticised for appearing to include only men.

And a page asking supporters to help raise £10,000 in campaign funds also disappeared after it raised just £39, with contributors named as serial killer Harold Shipman and child rapist Jimmy Savile.

Following the latest revelations, Momentum called on the Prime Minister to intervene. It said: "Theresa May, your youth wing is discussing gassing chavs. What are you going to do about it?"

And political commentator and author Owen Jones asked: "Why's there never been a national scandal about Tory activists focusing  on a culture of hatred and bullying on the right of politics?"

Activate was formed after Environment Secretary Michael Gove suggested the Tories should try to emulate Momentum following their disastrous general election result, saying they had much to learn from Labour's grassroots campaign group.

However, in another display of staggering ineptitude, Activate abandoned its original Twitter account but left the handle available for leftwingers to use as a parody account still linked to the official website.

Commentators scoffed at Activate's membership fee of up to £500 and a website shop which showed nothing available for sale.

Activate's national chair is reported to have stepped down one day after its “launch” and the Conservative Party has distanced itself from the organisation.

In a statement issued yesterday, an Activate spokesperson denied it was a Tory version of Momentum and claimed it had not even officially been launched.

While they claimed to enjoy the media attention, they insisted that the group and the individuals involved had been subjected to an "orchestrated attack."

"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,” the spokesperson said.

They denied the WhatsApp messages were written by supporters and said they would expel those who expressed such views.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said appeals to the youth were not new for the Tories, recalling former leader William Hague's claim to have drunk 14 pints of beer in a day before he donned a baseball cap and leather jacket on a log-flume ride.

"The Tories just don't get it. Young people see right through them. It's the policies, the actions, the belief that Labour will deliver for them, not glorifying Margaret Thatcher or boasting how many pints you can guzzle in a day that will inspire our young people.

"I suspect the Tories will have to "de-activate" their latest effort on attracting younger voters who abandoned them en masse in the general election," she said.


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