“How dare the Tories stereotype working class people as beer and bingo addicts?”
Ok eyes down for Tory Bingo.
Two Fat Ladies weren’t an official part of George Osborne’s budget, but the Chancellor’s cunning plan to woo older voters was totally eclipsed by one little tweet from his own party chairman.
Grant Shapps trilled about a poster praising George’s big achievement: “Cutting bingo tax and beer duty to help hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy.”
Within minutes the Twittersphere was 28 two and eight, all in a state.
How dare the Tories stereotype working class people as beer and bingo addicts?
How dare they suggest a penny off beer duty could offset the longest fall in living standards since 1870?
Above all, how dare George Osborne address Britain’s hardworking heroes as “they”?
The slogan immediately conjured up the vision of a Tory toff, clothes peg on nose, addressing the unwashed from the safe distance of his private club. Coming just days after UK Minister Michael Gove’s complaint about loadsa Old Etonians in the cabinet, it was bad timing to put it mildly.
Twitter was soon awash with spoof versions including an impression of the beer and bingo cabinet at work.
There were new suggestions for bingo callers, including ‘Eton’s Den, number 10’ and ‘Bullingdon mates, 88’ plus ‘NHS privatised, 25’ and ‘tuition fees, 33’ once Alex Salmond got in on the act at First Ministers Questions.
Another poster quoted writer George Orwell in 1984: “Beer and gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.”
As one newspaper pundit put it: “This is the real plebgate.”
Well buckle my shoe, 32. Poor old Grant had brought the house down and not in a good way. Or did we all miss something?
Perhaps the beer and bingo poster was actually a cunning ruse to distract from the financial chaos introduced by the Budget.
Perhaps something was needed to disguise George Osborne’s naked bid to woo older voters from the clutches of UKIP by scrapping annuities and placing a large lump of cash straight into their hands.
In the Budget, George insisted this was a sensible move and denied pensioners would be tempted to blow the cash on beer and bingo or more likely heating bills and baked beans.
But of course if pensioners do go crazy and spend the lot, they’ll wreck their own retirement, but help pump-start the economy.
And in the meantime, they’ll vote Tory and improve the fortunes of George, Grant and Dave by rejecting the blandishments of Nigel Farage in the forthcoming European elections.
Is that a bit too duck and dive, 25?
Well, hitherto private pension pots were turned into annuities on retirement to guarantee a steady, predictable income. If a pensioner died young though, most savings went back to the company not the widow or widower.
Now, George Osborne has made it possible for pensioners to grab, invest or blow the lot. So what will they do?
I’d say today’s pensioners are a canny lot perhaps too canny. They’ve seen their own parents preyed upon by fast-talking city spivs in the ’80s and ’90s with ‘dead-cert investment vehicles’.
That could encourage thousands to take the cash but then stick it under the bed to avoid being ripped off. And that will guarantee a shortfall for long-lived pensioners without an effective cushion from an ever-shrinking state pension.
By then, of course, it’ll be too late to complain and Baronet Osborne will be safely ensconsed in the House of Lords sipping claret.
Bad news for the hard-working British pensioner. But 62, tickety-boo for George and his millionaire friends.