End of the RoadTrip Cost Tories This Time Round

Since the election there has been much talk of the need for a “Tory Momentum”, a grassroots, youth-based movement to hit the streets and take the fight to the Corbynista hordes. The problems with this are numerous. The Tories are not in vogue. There is no young, modern leader and the boring old grey hairs are in charge. Labour has the marketing advantage: it is much easier to capture youthful imagination with idealistic fantasies about writing off student debts, than honest and uninspiring messages pointing out the other lot would ruin the country. And there is also another issue which Tory MPs have identified…

There was a Tory Momentum in 2015. It was called RoadTrip, organised by Tatler Tory Mark Clarke. With the promise of free booze and getting laid, it inspired hundreds of young Tories to sign up. Like Momentum it aroused media attention and controversy: bullying, factionalism, rule-breaking, lines crossed, wrong ‘uns misbehaving. Yet it was punchy, aggressive, ideologically committed, hugely successful and played a significant role in the 2015 election victory, managing to get large numbers of activists to travel across the country and help Tory candidates. It then became mired in scandal – battle bus expenses and the death of Elliot Johnson – so was shut down and not replaced at the 2017 election. 

A number of MPs believe the RoadTrip scandals and ensuing collapse of a pugnacious Tory youth movement cost them the election. MPs felt outnumbered and outgunned by Labour’s highly organised young activists, yet there was no Tory equivalent because replicating RoadTrip had become politically impossible. Flashy Twitter graphics and videos produced centrally from CCHQ are one thing, they don’t compare to an organic, genuine youth movement which can push the boundaries with a degree of plausible deniability for HQ. If RoadTrip 2015 hadn’t ended in disgrace, RoadTrip 2017 might just have tipped the Tories towards a majority…




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