Robert Halfon

Robert Halfon’s campaign for re-election in marginal Harlow may offer solutions to some of the Conservatives’ biggest electoral problems

My sister and I decided to go to Gala Bingo in Tooting on a recent Saturday night to celebrate the tax on bingo being cut to 10 per cent, thanks to Robert Halfon MP and the “Boost Bingo” campaign, backed by 330,000 people who signed a petition supporting the game. We had no idea what to expect and almost no idea how to play.

The received idea is that bingo players are elderly and female, as in Peter Brookes’s recent Times cartoon which depicted a naked Silvio Berlusconi, ordered to do community service by the Italian courts, inviting a wheelchair-bound pensioner to take part in a “bingo-bingo” party. Recent advertising has tried to substitute a different stereotype: fun-loving young women going for a night out with the girls.

The up-and-coming backbencher is an unlikely champion of blue-collar conservatism