Week 12: Prat – Grant Shapps

by Jackie_South on March 23, 2014

Shapps_pratThis week, our regular award for the biggest prat of the last seven days goes to Conservative Party chairman, Grant Shapps


Unlike, I suspect, most of the Cabinet, I learned about bingo at my grandma’s knee. She taught my brother and I the rules and the calls. I remember being disappointed when I realised that my gran had said “Maggie’s Den” for number 10, rather than “Maggie’s Dead”. Grandma had a mischievous chuckle as she put me right about that one.

I now find those lessons more useful than I anticipated: I’ve been drafted in on more than one occasion to call the numbers  for a group of local pensioners. Politics has you doing some unexpected things at times.

None of those pensioners, I think it is fair to say, will have been very impressed by the Budget announcement this week that tax on the professionally-run version of the passtime will be reduced. They are even less impressed by the patronising attitude of Her Majesty’s Government about this.

Following the Budget, Grant Shapps and other Conservative Central Office flunkeys tweeted the now infamous add. “Bingo!” It cheered, before adding “Cutting the Bingo Tax & Beer Duty to help hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy”.

“They” enjoy. That dismissive contempt. Give the working people a penny off every pint and an extra book at the bingo and everything’s fine: that’s all they need to make sure they don’t worry their pretty little heads about tax cuts for the rich, public sector cuts or their neighbours having their benefits snatched from them. Bread and circuses indeed. Let them eat bingo.

Cue a flood of outrage and ridicule. John Prescott sought contributions for #ToryBingo on Twitter – our favourites include “Burlington Bertie, number 30”, “Food bank queue, 62” and “Looking after … number 1”.

And so, the Tory Party has found itself frustrated that the headlines they wanted over the budget have been submerged beneath a tide of mickey(green)-taking.  Osborne in particular of course, although we now know that he had agreed the ad before it went out.

But 2013’s Prat of the Year Grant Shapps has rightly taken most of the flak (see Huffington Post’s spoof below) – it is his job after all to look after this sort of campaigning. You do have to wonder how much longer the Tories will keep him as their Chairman.

My money’s on until just after this May’s elections.

grant shapps bingo

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Killingworth March 25, 2014 at 9:04 am

Despite all that, the Labour lead in the polls (never that big to start with) crumbles daily. People trust Labour to spend their taxes – when there’s any money to spend. What’s Miliband done wrong? He’s failed to address the reality that people see the increase in inequality as something like winter weather, unpleasant but nothing to be done about it.

Not that any of the other candidates, not even dear Diane Abbott, would have been any better.

It’s important to understand why the Tories are making such stress on the “hard-working” meme. The proportion of income tax gathered through PAYE is falling annually so that painless taxpaying is becoming a thing of the past. (I expect there’s a regular battle between Tory politicos – Shapps may indeed be one himself – and the Inland Revenue high-ups about scrapping PAYE altogether.)

And the only government we’ve ever had committed root and branch to equality was Attlee’s. His landslide occurred in unique circumstances which will not happen again. As a (Muslim) colleague told me years ago: “people don’t want equality, they want power and privilege”. And many would sooner pretend to themselves that they have them in some fashion, even when it’s a lie, than to desire to be merely equal to those they intend to despise anyway. (Ask yourself why so many people want to blame Gordon Brown for a crisis that bit far deeper in many other countries.)

The Tories will win the next election because they are better psychologists than their opponents.


George_East March 25, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Mike – even with the worrying budget bounce poll shifts, a Tory outright majority is really hard on the basic numbers. I agree that they look stronger than they did before the budget, but the Ashcroft mega-poll undertaken in January (though only published at the weekend) showed a Labour lead of 8, which would be enough for a three figure majority.
The question is whether the shift over the last week is the beginning of a trend or a blip for the budget. If it is the beginning of a trend, then the Tories still need to get to a position where they have more than a 7 point lead over Labour.


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