Coffee House

#ToryBingo: why politicians can’t ignore twitterstorms

21 March 2014

The row over Grant Shapps’ bingo poster is an example of what happens when politicians assume that what goes in the Westminster bubble stays there. David Cameron and Paul Dacre may be right that ’too many tweets make a twat’ and Twitter can be a ‘phoney world’. But occasionally, one tweet can move into the real world too.

As Isabel reported yesterday, Conservative HQ’s ineffectual response to the misjudged Bingo poster suggests that they hoped the anger could be contained amongst the anti-Conservative brigade, many of whom spend their days tweeting abuse to George Osborne. But the number of spoofs (a selection can be seen above) and the fury within the Conservative party made this irresistible for the print media. One day after the row, there were still 3,400 tweets an hour, or 56 every minute, of #ToryBingo, according to


Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 11.33.04

Today’s newspapers show the damage of simply dismissing what happens on social media. Given that the 2014 Budget has received a generally positive response, the Bingo posters are one of the few spoilers. The Daily Mail, which had a very positive splash on the Budget yesterday, is asking what many in the Tory party will be wondering: ‘Will “patronising” ad cost party boss Shapps his job?’


Nearly all the other papers of varying political slants have some coverage of the #ToryBingo row. We even had Danny Alexander and Ed Balls popping up on the BBC attacking the poster and explaining why it was such a stupid idea. Maybe it was a case of timing, bad procedures or maybe it was sheer ineptitude from the Tories’ digital team. But perhaps Conservative HQ, and all political parties, should be more careful with Twitter storms in the future.

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • perdix

    “twitterstorms” are the result of kneejerk reactions by unthinking twits and are useful for lazy journalists to write about.

  • Iain Hill

    Presumably this was just meant to be a private snigger at the plebs.

  • Raw England

    They need to accept, NOW, that they’ve lost all touch with the native people.

    If these uneducated politicians care one BIT about this country and its native people, they’ll MOVE ASIDE and allow the exponentially swelling, natural Nationalism to rise and take power.

    They can retire/do what the fuck they want; but they need to move aside and let Nationalists bring in RADICAL changes; changes that will magnificently, majestically transform the lives of native British people.

    • Hello

      You’re over-stretching yourself.

      • Raw England

        Oh I think we’re quite past the point of being subtle, now, Hello.

        What’s needed is overt passion.

        • HookesLaw

          You are a nasty racist knuckle dragging gobsh!te all dressed up in a pseudo patriotic flag.

  • gerontius

    “one tweet can move into the real world too.”

    No it can’t. There is no Twitter in the real world. Nobody in the real world cares what the twitterati thinks about anything.
    Just how divorced fron reality are you people?

    • David Lindsay.

      Sadly Twitter is at the vanguard of the future.

    • Raw England

      Unfortunately, politicians think the mostly Leftist scums on Twitter actually represent the people.

  • starfish

    more proof if it were needed that politicians are far too concerned with media profiles and not in touch with real people. the twitterati are not real people

  • Hello

    So the Tories have essentially said “We don’t give a damn about bingo, and we don’t give a damn about beer, but we think you do so we’re cutting the duty”?

    For Labour, it may be very important to be “in touch” and only cut taxes and duties that Labour politicians and their ilk would personably like cut, but isn’t the Tory position more admirable in a politician? To understand that not everyone shares the same habits and preferences, and for that not to effect your policies, rather than to pretend to be “in touch” and allow that pretence to dominate your policies?

    • Thatcherite Lee

      I’ve never played bingo in my life but I know a lot of people do and recognise the importance the bingo industriy has in some people lives which is why I’m so appalled at the way Labour and their lefty chumbs are sneering at the tax cut.
      It is them who are patrionising the working class and as they also demonstrated yesterday they don’t give a damn about about pensioners too.

    • HookesLaw

      The affront is all manufactured. There is no secret about cutting bingo tax – the chancellor stood up and announced it and no shame is lauding it.
      ‘They’ refers to the ever popular ‘hard working’ people and the remainder the ‘non they’ are clearly the scroungers on society that labour have left as a sad inheritance.
      Clinging to misrepresenting one innocent word shows how devoid of policy labour are.
      All the ‘spoofs’ show is what a sad crummy group of people there are out there who are ever eager to take any excuse to pour out their sad prejudices.

      • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

        Do only ‘hard working’ people play bingo? Do Mecca have someone asking your current employment on the door? It’s typically considered an entertainment of the retired and home-makers.

        The reaction is to the small-minded cynicism of a Treasury team that very obviously wanted a policy that superficially looked proletarian, while not costing any money.

  • Kitty MLB

    Well regardless of the idiocy of Mr Shapps who should not be chairman
    of a political party and despite Labour jumping on this to hide the fact they have
    nothing to offer and are quite pointless. The excellent and progressive Budget
    by the chancellor is seen as a success and apparently 67% of the electorate believe so. But clearly some need to get their act together and fast.

  • WatTylersGhost

    Let them eat cake.

  • Thatcherite Lee

    Oh please.
    Most of us ordinary folk wouldn’t have seen anything wrong with it and frankly you lot in the Westminster bubble only insult our intelligence by telling what us we should be offended by.

    • WatTylersGhost

      You remind me of Two Ronnies sketch in which working class Ronnie Corbett, when being patronised by his “betters” declared “I know my place”. You can allow yourself to be patronised by the Tory Party if you wish – I prefer not.

      • HookesLaw

        It was not a two ronnies sketch. If you want to be taken seriously and have people look up to you, you should know your place and do proper research.

        • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

          It was from The Frost Report, but it did include the two Ronnies, so your retort is pedantry at best.

Can't find your Web ID? Click here