Budget 2014: Tory party chairman’s ‘patronising’ tweet is widely condemned

 

Grant Shapps, the Conservative chairman, has come under fire from all parties after he was accused of running a “patronising” advert suggesting that working people relax by drinking beer and playing bingo.

Although David Cameron’s official spokesman insisted that the Prime Minister had “full confidence” in Mr Shapps, there was growing speculation in Tory circles that he will be moved to another job in a Cabinet reshuffle after the May European and local elections and will not head his party’s campaign at next year’s general election.

“This gaffe shows he is not a wartime chairman,” one senior Tory said. That view is said to be shared by Lynton Crosby, the Australian strategist brought in to oversee the Tories’ election effort.

In public, the Tories insisted they were “relaxed” about the ad, which Mr Shapps tweeted after Wednesday’s Budget halved bingo tax and cut the price of beer by 1p a pint. It said the two measures were “to help hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy”. 

But in private, senior Tories were furious that the row distracted attention from favourable headlines about Mr Osborne’s radical reforms to pensions and savings, and risked reinforcing criticism that the Chancellor and Prime Minister are “out of touch” with ordinary people.

Thousands of people mocked the Shapps advert on Twitter. Spoofs featured whippets and other class-based jokes, recalling Mr Cameron’s Eton education and membership of the Bullingdon Club at Oxford University.

Mr Osborne criticised the BBC for covering the controversy, claiming it had been “whipped up by a Labour Party that didn’t have anything else to say about the economy”. The Chancellor said: “We are communicating what’s in the Budget. The more people hear about the Budget the more confident people can be that they are on the right track.”

The advert ended the Coalition parties’ show of unity over the Budget as the Liberal Democrats distanced themselves from it. The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said the poster was “a bit silly”. Asked on his weekly radio phone-in on LBC 97.3 if it would be right to describe it as a “Budget for plebs”, he told a listener: “It certainly wouldn’t be.”

Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, said the use of the word “they” to describe working people showed the Tories were cut off from the real world.

He said Mr Osborne must be “frustrated that his head of campaigns puts out an advert patronising working people by saying they’ll be happy with a bingo tax and a beer tax. What nonsense that is.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower