Tory Bingo: Grant Shapps brings the house down as bingo and beer tweet to back Budget backfires

Tory party chairman tweets poster that says Chancellor's decision would help 'hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy'

Ian Johnston
Wednesday 19 March 2014 23:20 GMT
Grant Shapps sparked a backlash after tweeting this poster
Grant Shapps sparked a backlash after tweeting this poster

An attempt by Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps to celebrate cuts in tax on beer and bingo to help “hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy” has sparked a backlash.

Mr Shapps tweeted a poster with that message under the headline “ Bingo!” written in colourful bubbles, urging people to “spread the word”.

However it sparked a series of parodies, while Labour tweeted “ Dear Tories - what else do you think ‘they’ do that you don't?” followed by “Out. Of. Touch”.

Simon Blackwell, scriptwriter on the satirical comedy The Thick Of It, tweeted: “Genuinely, if that Conservative beer and bingo ad had come up at a Thick Of It script meeting we’d have rejected it as being too far-fetched.”

Another Twitter user, ‏@loveandgarbage, replied to Mr Shapps to say: “Do you remember the pasties @grantshapps? And the news programmes asking the people when they last had pasties?”

The hashtag, Torybingo, was trending on Twitter and was the only budget-related hashtag on the site at about 10pm. It quickly developed a life of its own with people tweeting bingo callers number-rhymes to make their point.

They included: “Bank off-shore? 44”; “Rickety hips that you can't get fixed - 66”; “No time to skive it's (p)45”; “Closed your local A&E, number 23” and “77, let's frack Devon”.

However the message was altered to say: “I say, you there! How is your whippet? Jolly Good, Jolly Good. Carry on.”

George Osborne's Liberal Democrat deputy in the Treasury said he thought Mr Shapps’ tweet was “patronising”.

Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander said: “I thought it was a spoof at first, it's just pretty extraordinary.”

He told BBC2's Newsnight: “It may be our Budget but it's their words, I think it's rather patronising. Also I think it actually demeans some quite sensible things.

“There are good reasons to be supporting bingo, there are good reasons to be encouraging our pub sector to be stronger - that's the analysis behind those measures.

“This language, well that's for Grant Shapps to justify.”

On Thursday morning,  a Tory source told The Spectator: "there never was a poster or digital campaign, it was only intended as an infographic. We’re not going to apologise for cutting bingo tax and beer duty. It’s a desperate attempt by Labour to deflect attention."

Bookmaker Ladbrokes was offering 10/1 that Mr Shapps would be soon seen playing bingo with a pint, ITV News reported.

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