Turning point UK (TPUK), an off-shoot of their American counterparts Turning Point USA (TPUSA), was launched online in early February. The group describes itself as a “grassroots organisation deadicated to educating students and other young people on the values of free markets, limited government and personal responsibility.”
TPUK seeks to challenge the general consensus that young people will always be bastions of the left. While the group has no official affiliation to the Conservative Party, many MPs have voiced their backing of this novel youth movement.
Sharing a recruitment video on twitter, Jacob Rees-Mogg wrote: “People of all ages make up their own minds. The left has no monopoly on the ‘young’”.
Priti Patel, Brexit campaigner and former International Development Secretary, opined the group represented a “a new generation” of Conservative values, whilst Conservative MP Chris Green wrote: “Choose your side and I’m with Turning Point UK.”
Turning Point UK’s website declares Mr Farmer as Chairman and Ollie Anisfield, the founder of YouTube channel J-TV, as CEO. Other prominent members include BeLeave and BrexitCentral founder Darren Grimes – who was recently found guilty of breaking EU referendum spending laws, which garnerd him a fine of £20,000.
TPUSA was established in 2012 by Charlie Kirk, a then 18-year-old activist who stood for military expansion, free-market economics and policies that would severely limit immigration – both the legal and illegal kind.
Kirk spent a significant portion of time contributing his ideas on social outreach to the Trump campaign, cultivating a close relationship with the Trump family in the process. Donald Jr, a headline speaker at TPUSA’s annunal summit, overtly gave kirk a warm embrace before erecting himself to the stage. Indeed, the President himself dubbed kirk “a great warrior” at a White House conference last March.
TPUSA, led by Kirk, set about targeting university campuses across America with its message and now boasts to have “the nation’s largest campus-based conservative student organisation”. In addition to claiming to have aided more than 50 supporters elevate themselves to student body presidents (a claim that has been contested as fraudulent), TPUSA also created the website “Professor Watchlist”. This website functions to expose professors who, in TPUSA’s perspective, discriminate against conservative students and uncritically espouse a leftist agenda. A new form of McCarthyism has apparently reared it’s ugly head, only this time round it has the awesome power of social media to add potency.
Preceding the group’s UK launch on social media, TPUK was physically launched at an private event in London 2018. Kirk held a speaking position at this event as too did Candace Owens, the communications director of TPUSA and Kanye West’s favourite “free thinker”. Owens spoke in Trumpian-like hyperbolic terms, as she voiced her anxieties about the on-going “ideological world war” and the evaporation of traditional Western values. Not only that, when questioned on nationalism, Owens offered an interesting thought regarding Hitler: “if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, okay, fine. The problem is that he wanted, he had dreams outside of Germany. He wanted to globalise”. Owens and TPUSA, evidenced by this statement and their blind loyalty to Trump, clearly don’t consider domestic authoritarianism to be undesirable.
TPUSA, under the guise of Kirk and Owens, encapsulates a new prototype of conservatism that attempts to obfuscate and make palatable the underlying far-rightedness of the group: speak in defence of free speech, yet simultaneously monitor disagreeable speech; defend free-markets to then support isolationism and restrictions to movement of labour; claim to be tolerant, only to then be fine with a child separation policy that leaves children in cages. The strategy being: speak in paradox and nobody will suspect anything untoward. Expect the British branch of Turning Point to follow suit.