“Blue Beyond is grass-roots initiative created to engage Young Conservatives from across the United Kingdom.” As soon as I land on their website I already have a feel for the essence of Blue Beyond: a surprisingly radical phrasing of a mundane quality (grass-roots), a dash of defeatism (in the assumption that the party means nothing to youth outside of them), and grammatical errors to round it all off. I wouldn’t have thought double checking their indefinite articles would be that difficult.
I first met Blue Beyond at the Party Conference. It was one of the livelier ones, with the freshly elected BoJo at the helm; we finally felt like we were going to Get Brexit Done, in order to move on to important domestic issues. Attendance was up and everyone had something to share. Everyone, that is, except for the ever infamous youth wing: the YC.
The YC stall was essentially a glorified seating area. Every so often a think tank would send along one of their youngest (read: most junior) people to give a talk. I think the most exciting moment was when a certain Oxford postgraduate engaged in a lively debate with Owen Jones just outside of the YC area.
Blue Beyond, of course, sees itself as the legitimate interface between the youth and the party – stepping up where the faceless bureaucratic YC fails. They actually unify conservatives across the country into a central group.
Events such as their recent online quizzes are more unifying than anything the YC has ever done. They also possess basic competency at social media, running a very active Twitter (with only a slight feel of How do you do, fellow kids). Seemingly Blue Beyond is better than nothing.
However, it is crucial not to mistake ‘better than nothing’ for ‘performing their role to an adequate level’. First and foremost, they claim to represent the youth to the party, as a kind of think tank. What do you expect from a think tank? Well, I for one would expect to see some new ideas.
A quick perusal of their website is sufficient to scupper all such hopes: they proclaim a wish to make the Conservatives less Westminster orientated, and then have a blog which might just about be on par with a university association blog. Nowhere do they actually act as the representative for the thousands upon thousands of Conservative youth in this country, unless you count listing the percentage of members who had free school meals as forming an ambitious policy proposal.
Blue Beyond also claims to represent youth groups. To this end, they incorporate YC associations and university associations. Why should your group sign up to be part of Blue Beyond, I hear you ask? Well. Um. You get to take part in quizzes (which were already open to any teams that wished). You get to list your executive on their website. That is, if Blue Beyond can ever get beyond listing Kent University – an executive which currently occupies a very lonely position on the website.
Finally, I am compelled to mention the less fortunate elements of Blue Beyond. They have always been a very excitable bunch. They are certainly excitable in terms of being keen: they reach out to groups which they barely know and expect cooperation on the basis of little information. They launch project after project and contact person after person. This becomes tiring to those who already have groups to organise. The members of Blue Beyond – at least from my experience – can also be excitable in terms of being quick to argue. I’ve had my share of less than productive debates with ‘Beyonders’, and it is quite telling that a lot of them inhabit the ‘Twitter-sphere’, a breeding ground for meaningless arguments.
All in all, Blue Beyond started off well, but has never reached the point at which it can truly fulfil the role of the Conservative youth group. Harmless but lacking in purpose, it acts as more of a distraction than an aid to the party. The public at general would do well to remember that it does not represent all “Young Conservatives”, as its webpage might suggest.
This article was written two months prior to publication, and as such does not contain references to the updated graphical design of the Blue Beyond website.