Thursday, 28 April 2011

Calm Down Dear?

During Prime Ministers Questions yesterday I tweeted that David Cameron's line "calm down dear" line was poorly judged. I had little idea that it would blow up into an almighty row that featured in news bulletins throughout yesterday afternoon and evening, and is covered throughout the papers today. First off, if you missed the remark, watch it below (as it appeared on BBC news yesterday):

The line is from a series of insurance adverts featuring the film director and Sunday Times restaurant reviewer, Michael Winner (I can't find the famous one, but here's a shorter weather one from towards the end of the run):

Labour has gone on the attack in response, suggesting the remarks were indicative of sexism. Angela Eagle, to whom the remarks were initially focused, writes in the Guardian that 'it is becoming increasingly clear that this government has a problem with women. Despite promising to lead the most family-friendly government ever before the last election, the PM has shown scant regard for the needs of the 51% of the population who are women since he walked into Downing Street.'

I can only conclude that both Cameron and Eagle have spent too much time in the sun (both seem to be looking a little more coloured than their usual selves), and it's gone to their head. The comments were not, I think, a reflection of a sexist attitude by Cameron. However, nor were they merely a 'joke' as Downing Street has since suggested. The remarks were reflective of a public school arrogance that seems so common in the current Tory ranks. It is more Flashman than Winner. It was unbelievably patronising, and I'm pretty sure that Cameron didn't even realise it was that. However, trying to whip this up into a sexism row is equally silly and detracts from the real battles that need to be fought.

To anyone outside the UK, this whole thing probably looks ridiculously camp.

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