GOVERNMENT MPs need to be educated that working class culture is not just about beer, bingo, pigeon fancying, flat caps and whippets, the House of Commons heard today.
Shadow minister Diana Johnson insisted a debate is required in Parliament on the issue, adding a visit to Hull would be needed for any politicians who remain unsure.
The MP for Kingston upon Hull North made the call after a Conservative advertisement trumpeting Budget measures to cut bingo hall tax and beer prices was criticised for stating the policies helped “hard working people do more of the things they enjoy”.
The image was labelled “patronising” by shadow chancellor Ed Balls and “extraordinary” by Liberal Democrat Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander.
Commons Leader Andrew Lansley denied the advert was patronising as he noted several Tory MPs had campaigned to reduce bingo duty.
Speaking in the Commons during business questions, Labour’s Ms Johnson asked Mr Lansley: “Can we please have a debate in Government time to educate the benches opposite that working class culture is not just about beer and bingo or for that matter pigeon fancying, wearing a flat cap or having a whippet.
“And if they are left in any doubt perhaps a visit to Hull, the City of Culture 2017, might be in order.”
Mr Lansley replied: “I certainly will look forward to the opportunity to visit Hull as the City of Culture, that certainly would be something I appreciate.
“But I’m afraid I can’t agree with you on the first point.
“It doesn’t patronise or disparage anybody to recognise that if in a budget we actually address the issues people care about... there was a considerable backbench effort on the part of my colleagues on these benches to secure a reduction in bingo duty, they got what they were looking for, in fact they got more than they were looking for from the Chancellor.
“But actually it’s in the context of a Budget which was about, yes, supporting hard working people, not least because all of those who are basic rate taxpayers as a virtue of a personal tax allowance going to £10,500 will have seen their tax reduced by £800.”