Turning Point UK is not what Conservative students need
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Turning Point UK is a new Conservative organisation aiming to challenge the ostensible progressive monopoly on the young. Big deal you might say, there are loads of those. But this one comes with a difference.
Turning Point UK is an import of the highly successful American sister organisation Turning Point USA, a student-run initiative that attempts to promote ‘free markets, limited government and personal responsibility’. Turning Point is the real deal - between July 2016 and June 2017 the group brought in $8.2 million, and they claim to have a presence on 1,300 campuses across the United States. Its British counterpart launched in December and already claims to have chapters established at King College London, UCL, the LSE and Oxford.Nonetheless, at present Turning Point UK exists as little more than a social media campaign, its Facebook and Twitter accounts essentially functioning as glorified meme pages forwarding their perspective. That is understandable - the power of social media should not be underestimated and after all, they’re only just getting started. There is a problem, however, with the contents of Turning Point’s commentary. Critically, it’s simplistic, hyper-partisan, and unlikely to resonate with anybody who doesn’t already agree with their values. One might argue that this is simply par for the course when it comes to politics on social media. An examination of their American sister organisation reveals, however, that it’s probably more a symptom of the Turning Point brand than it is the typographical limitations of internet meme culture. Turning Point USA (TPUSA) has always favoured an aggressive hyper-partisan approach. Founder Charlie Kirk made a name for himself touring college campuses in the United States, aggressively debating progressive students. Their YouTube channel sports obscene sensationalised titles like ‘Alexandria Ocasio Cortez Wants to KILL American Jobs’ and ‘The Left HATES Black Conservative Leaders’. It’s a tribal approach that trades outwards appeal for inward conformity. Critically, it’s symptomatic of a complacent, self-congratulatory organisation that is more interested in patting itself on the back than appealing to those with whom they disagree. That’s not an approach any movement seeking adherents needs, yet alone one as stagnant and villainised as conservatism at British Universities.
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