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Saturday 30 April 2011

Calm Down Dear, It’s Only A Smear

Last week in the House of Commons, there was much heckling from the opposition benches directed towards Young Dave. One Labour front bencher, Angela Eagle, was clearly getting on Cameron’s nerves, so much so that he delivered the wonderfully witty and original put down “calm down dear” to her.

This was not well received. Dave, though, doesn’t do apologies, well, not since he strode into 10 Downing Street, so despite further stick from the likes of “Auguste” Balls, the remark – which Cameron repeated, so side-splittingly funny was it to the more tribal of his jolly good chaps – was allowed to stand.

But there was clearly some concern about this utterance in the right leaning part of the Fourth Estate, because while pundits lined up to show support for Young Dave, they were so hasty to kick Labour as to show their ignorance of Parliamentary procedure, and more than a little hypocrisy.

For starters, Cameron – or anyone else speaking at PMQs or in any other Commons debate – should be addressing the Chair (that being the Speaker, or deputy Speaker). He must not address other MPs directly: this is a weakness that Young Dave has shown before. So his remark was a blatant display of unparliamentary language, and in that context alone is indefensible.

But this cut no ice with the hacks, particularly those taking the shilling of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre at the Daily Mail. Here, both tired and boorish Quentin Letts – who is supposed to know his parliamentary procedure – and overmonied windbag Richard Littlejohn – who is supposed to do research (but never mind, eh?) – knew the answer to the problem.

Quent and Dick were as one: it was because Ms Eagle was a lesbian. Straightforward hypocrisy: neither would use such patronising language towards openly gay MPs like Alan Duncan or Ben Bradshaw. And Littlejohn’s idea of being close enough to “pat” the victim of his cheap and sneering laddism might just land the clumsy dinosaur in more than a little trouble in future.

Neither hack could concede the obvious point: Cameron shouldn’t have said it, but as he did, should then have had the grace to withdraw it: to do the latter would have shown real Prime Ministerial quality, not weakness (according to one David Cameron, when Pa Broon was PM). And to justify comments with “It’s what Michael Winner said on the telly” really is scraping the barrel.

Heck, that’s almost as bad as saying “I read it in the Quentin Letts or Richard Littlejohn column in the Daily Mail”: not even a Tory MP would contemplate sinking so low.

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