27 Apr 2011

Cameron’s ‘calm down dear’ comment triggers sexism row

David Cameron has been accused of being sexist and patronising after telling a female shadow cabinet minister to “calm down, dear” during Prime Minister’s Questions.

If channelling Michael Winner seems like a losing strategy at Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron clearly didn’t get the memo.

The PM’s return to the despatch box after the Easter break was meant to be dominated by the AV referendum and the Royal Wedding but all that changed when Mr Cameron told Labour’s Angela Eagle to “calm down dear!”

The jibe – mimicking the famous car insurance advert starring Michael Winner – was directed at the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury as she heckled him in the Commons.

Amid uproar from the Labour benches, Mr Cameron ignored calls for a swift apology.

A senior Labour source has described the outburst as “patronising, sexist, insulting and un-prime ministerial”, adding: “He certainly should apologise.”

A Downing Street aide tried to play down the row, telling reporters: “I think you will find it is a popular advert. I think you are maybe over-analysing a humorous remark.”

Was Cameron out of order? Your reaction on Twitter:
@PlanetTots "calm down" isn't sexist/ patronising. Adding "dear" makes it both! Would he have added "dear" if directed at a man?
@TheCellarTapes Look at Clegg's face then look at Osbornes, interesting how 2 very wealthy men can have different reactions to mocking a woman.
@SempaiScuba It might have been better if he'd just said: "Stop flapping your gums and try listening for a change". Ah well.
@CameronYardeJnr David Cameron channeling Michael Winner at #PMQS. Has he got a Death Wish or something?
@stevegreer It's a trick question. Cameron's gaffe was patronising, sexist AND #pmqs panto all at the same time.
@OAJP24 typical storm in a teacup, nothing in it, perhaps they could concentrate on actual politics for once rather than showmanship.

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