Luke Robert-Black, Director of Blue Beyond, founded the group just 6 months ago. Frustrated by the top-down approach the usual young Tory organisations, Luke set out to make politics more accessible for the thousands of young Tories outside of the Westminster bubble who are so often ignored.
What started as a tweet, quickly grew into a network of thousands of young Conservatives across the country engaging with previously London-centric activism and events that were often forced upon them by the old guard, not understanding what the youth wing really wanted.
Although not affiliated directly to the party, Blue Beyond were given a section of the conference hall for their events, holding a series of debates on many issues facing young people today. For many young Conservatives, this was their first experience of conference, and without Blue Beyond, their ability to engage would often not have been possible.
Young Conservative activist Lilliah spoke at one of Blue Beyond’s three debates.
“I am proud to be an Executive at Tories for Climate Action, Policy Researcher at British Conservation Alliance and a Blue Beyond member”.
Speaking on the impact of Blue Beyond just 6 months after their launch, Lilliah said: “Blue Beyond’s presence was a welcome scene”, adding that “it’s impossible to ignore the correlation between the significantly increased turnout of YC’s at conference and the exponential growth at Blue Beyond”.
It is believed that this year had one of the highest proportions of young people to ever attend the Conservative Party Conference, with an estimated 20 per cent of all delegates being under the age of 25.
Luke said of their launch event “nearly two-hundred people” came along “all listening to me – some guy from a working-class family in Gravesend”. The achievement of this cannot be understated, with fewer than 40 per cent of young Conservatives typically attending Young Conservatives events – the official youth wing of the party.
For many of the activists at the Blue Beyond launch, it was their first experience of conference, with all of them loving the experience.
Having joined the party at 19, Matt works as a health and safety manager in the environment industry but is also the regional coordinator for Blue Beyond in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
A particular mission for Blue Beyond is to engage all regions of the UK, with Luke Robert-Black saying that “this summer there wasn’t a single YC event in Wales” – Blue Beyond are looking to fill that gap.
On the success of Blue Beyond Matt said: “Blue Beyond received an enormous response at conference this year”. Adding that “we recruited Andrew Bowie MP as our Vice-Chair and so many more MPs, MSPs, AMs and councillors flocked to our stand to welcome our hard work in promoting the young conservative movement”.
19-year-old James is one of the large contingents of non-home counties Tories who have engaged deeply in the party since the Blue Beyond movement came into being.
Speaking about how Blue Beyond have helped him engage in the party: “One thing that has definitely helped me is the Blue Beyond WhatsApp group… it helped me know where everything was and know the types of events that are occurring”.
“[There were activists] from Barnet to Bolton, from also a variety of economic backgrounds that helped people understand why we truly voted Tory”.
Law student and rugby enthusiast Sophie has only recently joined the political sphere but found herself at home straight away. “Being a member of Blue Beyond changed my experience massively… I knew people [before attending] so I wasn’t alone”.
“BB’s debates not only helped inform me of some of the issues at the heart of youth politics but allowed me to present my own policy idea”, with many of the favoured suggestions being sent to the Conservative Party Policy teams in the wake of conference.
Blue Beyond attracted much media attention during the conference with Sophie saying: “I seemed to end up in front of so many cameras and microphones… I was on Politix and Chill with Brandon Lewis!”
Former Labour party member George has made the switch to the Conservatives, having a passion for housing and LGBT rights issues.
Considering himself as more of a moderate, George said that “Blue Beyond is largely what made conference viable for me… it put me in touch with like-minded Conservatives who would come with me to events and receptions that interested us”.
“It also gave a platform to people like me to talk about the things we were passionate about – the Pecha Kucha debates were the perfect way to put across vibrant new policies from the young people of the party.
Conservative Party Conference has shown just how far Blue Beyond has come in a short time; with even bigger plans for the future, the Conservatives might finally have an engaging youth wing in their party.
Speaking about where Blue Beyond will go next, Luke said: “[we want to be] a force for unionism, BB is so popular in Scotland and Wales and I’d like us to be proud of our unionist stance”.
“There are still too few female activists in the youth wing and this has to change”, with Blue Beyond looking to make a more inclusive and engaging youth Tory movement that young women can feel comfortable and confident getting involved with.
The future of Blue Beyond is looking bright and with an election on the horizon, perhaps this new breed of engaged young Conservatives can be crucial at the ballot box.