Friday, 21 March 2014

Beer and bingo for the patronised

One definition of the word 'patronising' from the Collins dictionary is 'having a superior manner, condescending'. You may prefer a definition that tells you about an apparent kindness which betrays a feeling of superiority but however you define the word you need to know something about the feelings of others if you are going to call them patronising.

Consider the wording of the latest Conservative advert: "Bingo! Cutting the bingo tax & beer duty to help hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy."

Not only do we save a whole penny on a pint of beer, we get a pat on the head for being hardworking too! I think they imagined that we'd feel good about that. I suppose their thinking was that the sort of people who drink beer and play bingo wouldn't notice if they were being patronised.

I find this puzzling because there must be some Tories who do such things. Let's presume it is just those Tories who make decisions - about policy, about adverts - who don't drink beer and play bingo. Then it becomes easier to understand. There's still one other puzzle though - the wording of the ad does not appear to include themselves among the hard working. Can that be right? I doubt it - even the ones who've never done a day's work in their lives because they have servants to do everything for them will still claim to be hardworking, I'm sure.

I would think that Tories don't usually drink beer - why have beer when you can have champagne? - but they still need to have the occasional pint as a prop for photo opportunities in bistro pubs on the campaign trail. Even if you only take a sip of the disgusting brew it still has to be paid for.  And if you save a penny on each pint, those pennies soon mount up.

If you feel that the general opinion of Tory policy makers is that drinking wine is superior to drinking beer, or playing croquet (or whatever pastime they prefer) is superior to playing bingo then they are being condescending. It is a badly written advert simply because it confirms what we all know. It is patronising.

I suspect that the Tories took what was presumably initially a good idea and messed it up, getting it completely the wrong way round. After all, while the advert was pure Tory, the actual policy behind it had Lib Dem input.

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