The now infamous “Bingo!” infographic eagerly published by Tory Party chairman Grant “Spiv” Shapps this week to a chorus of derision was condemned across the political spectrum. Even Daily Mail journalists passed severely adverse comment. Referring to “hardworking people” enjoying beer and bingo as “They” made the Tories look patronising, which many of them in fact are.
Behold a purveyor of truly dodgy motahs
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014
So the otherwise vocal response from Young Dave’s MPs was, in this area at least, muted. This caused the murmurs to start: Shapps was in trouble (possible)! He was rubbish (which everyone outside the party already knows)! He was just a spiv in disguise (ditto)! This state of affairs could not be allowed to continue: a rescue mission was in order. So the spin began.
Sadly, first over the top was the serially clueless Tim Montgomerie, former stalwart of ConHome and recent taker of the Murdoch shilling, offering “The Tories messed up with that Bingo Tweet. Labour messed up by pinning all hopes on Osbournomics failing. I know who has a bigger problem”. No thanks Monty, I don’t want to look over there. Shapps has alienated a whole block of voters.
More substantial, if flagrantly dishonest and unprincipled, support followed from Harry Phibbs (he does? There’s a surprise – not). “In 2009 Labour increased Bingo Tax from 15% to 22% - causing many clubs to close. They should be apologising rather than sneering”. As the industry says the 5% reduction will make no difference to those who play the game, I’ll take that one with a large pinch of salt, thanks.
And, of course, Phibbs is yet more patronising to characterise all those calling out Shapps as “Labour”, but there are limits to Harry’s intellect: he can’t help it. Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell had a straightforward response: cut the detail and just say Shapps was a good chairman. “Forget this Twitter storm. Grant Shapps is an effective Tory chairman” he posted at Telegraph blogs.
That’s not a bad idea, especially for Carswell. Would anyone else care to pile in in support? Stewart Jackson, MP for Peterborough, certainly would. Linking to Carswell’s post, he told “Labour know Shapps is a fighter and a doer and that’s why they want to damage him. It ain’t going to happen”. Sadly, it came out like a cast-off from Baron Mandelson of Indeterminate Guacamole.
But then, to undermine any work that had been done to shore up the spiv, came a truly batshit intervention from (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries: “I think [Grant Shapps] was set up and I don’t think that poster had anything to do with him. I know him. It’s just not his style”. Yes, if in doubt, deploy the “A big boy did it and ran away” excuse. That’ll have them rolling in the aisles. But there is a small problem.
Grant Shapps still looks like a patronising spiv. Because he is a patronising spiv.