“Calm down dear”


             It is typical of modern spin led politics that the Prime Minister’s choice of this catch phrase to a noisy Commons should be regarded as so significant. Whilst it is a phrase that the rest of us do not normally use, it is hardly the cruellest put down.

            The country is at war in two Middle Eastern countries. The country is seeking to recover from a huge debt and banking crisis. The government is embarked on reforms of the NHS, benefits system and education. We are a few days away from a referendum on our voting system and from numerous Council elections about local services and the Council Tax. Yet the thing which gets the Opposition Spin doctors into orbit is the use of the phrase “Calm down dear”.

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  1. Pat
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    I suspect that the man on the Clapham omnibus wil think the opposition is childishly over-reacting.

    • Mike Fowle
      Posted April 28, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      “Man” on the Clapham Omnibus? How patronising and sexist, they will say.

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 28, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

        Spot on this word business is rather tricky.

        I also see Jack Straw is questioning why Messrs Blair and Brown have not been invited some wedding I understand is happening soon.

        Might it perhaps be because one took us into a pointless (in fact totally counter productive) war on the basis of clear lies and the other destroyed private sector pensions, while both destroyed the economy with socialist big state borrow tax, waste and regulate.

        Alas still continuing under the coalition.

        Well done to whomever prepared the list.

  2. Alte Fritz
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink


  3. Barry Laughton
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Political correctness, mad as usual. Aren’t our left wing MP’s sensitive little flowers, it’s enough to make violet blush.

    • Bazman
      Posted April 28, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

      And after that the game was mine…

  4. Eric Arthur Blair
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Absolutely agree, 100%.

    Bet you won’t censor that comment! 😉

    …but I actually do agree, 100%.

    Now, about that Climategate scandal that you didn’t want me to discuss yesterday…

  5. lifelogic
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    BBC also seem very excited by this, they love anything that might be construed as sexists or better still racist and can thus be used attack people. Thus avoiding the need for any real arguments. It is the “dear” that seems to be the main problem to them. Perhaps he should just have told them to all “shut up” while he answered the questions. Or to “stop being a stupid hysterical woman dear” had he really wanted the BBC to go into overdrive.

    • Bazman
      Posted April 28, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      Damn! It’s open season. Regulate that one.

  6. WitteringWitney
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    And that, Mr. Redwood, illustrates the paucity in the standard of politics today. Says it all really, does it not?

  7. Electro-Kevin
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid it is a PR disaster – though I agree that it shouldn’t be.

    This is sound-bite-Britain remember.

    If Labour have any nouse they will use it against Mr Cameron mercilessly.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted April 28, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      On further reflection maybe it’s a good thing Mr Cameron did this. I suppose to counter it the best way would be to make a stand against ‘the evil forces of political correctness.’

      This is not a trivial issue. This is how Nu Labour have pinned people down for so long.

      Political correctness is their most potent weapon and most of us are sick of it.

      Time to make them look childish and petty.

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 28, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        Indeed political correctness is basically closing down arguments without needing any real argument (or basically lying to people because they do not want to hear the truth). Telling them they with make life fair and level, they will ban discrimination and that people of 102 are just as good at working as a 25 year old. That green energy works very efficiently and you can pick yourself up by pulling on your laces and all the rest of the lies.

        I particularly like the way they keep changing the name of medical conditions and nuclear power stations so that they can keep refreshing the concept. And distinguish between the lefty in and out crowd on a particular issue.

        Such as: Lady/Woman/Girl/Dear/Black/Brown/Coloured/Ms/Mrs/Actor/ Actress/Chair/Chairman/Chairwoman

        But a rose or a thorn is still what it is whatever it is called and always will be.

    • Robert Eve
      Posted April 28, 2011 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      For what purpose?

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted April 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        Winning the next election, Robert.

        Political correctness is thought control. There is nothing more insidious and corrosive in our democracy. It is serious and it is wicked. The deliberate misrepresentation of what was meant to be a play on a popular TV advert in this instance. Taking the offensive by taking offence – over nothing.

        Let Balls et al try to drive their message home and then hammer them for it.

        The vast majority will love it.

  8. Bryan
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    As President Obama said yesterday – ‘there are more important things that need to be done …’

  9. Helen
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I’ve said it to my husband and he to me. We use it as a jokey phrase. It means nothing sinister and isn’t taken that way.

    The Opposition are an embarassment. In a week when Scottish terrorists are sending out parcel bombs, they choose to be outraged by a car commercial catch phrase. Surely they’ve got their priorities wrong?

    Perhaps Labour hark back to the days when they could simply open up a new quango and send out newly employed civil servants to re-educate white men in the work-place on how harmful this phrase is to women’s sensibilities.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 30, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      I said “shut up you silly hysterical woman to mine”. It was quite reasonable under the circumstances at the time – but did not seem to be a very effective command in practice!

  10. Iain Gill
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    To be fair to the British public it does demonstrate loudly and clearly that Cameron is from the silver spoon part of society with little handle on how the rest of us think or speak

    Along with his views that its OK to give plum training posts to children of friends it shows a total lack of empathy for those from the humblest of backgrounds who really struggle for every chance in the rat race

    Its cast iron proof of everything thats wrong with the party, and the party will never win votes in the inner cities or industrial heartlands with this style

    Yes the media and labour benches highlight often the least important issues but this is not one of them in my view

    We need more Conservative MP’s and ministers who started off with real humble backgrounds, certainly more in line with the average proportions in the rest of society or even educated rest of society

    Reply Being an intern or work experience person is not a plum job. Most MPs try to fit in people who apply from their constituency whatever their background.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 30, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      You will never stop people giving jobs (plum or otherwise) and a helping hand to friends and family – whatever daft legislation is enacted. Sensible legislation works with human nature rather than against it. Trying to create a utopian world of equality and fairness is absurd and just an excuse for a bigger state and yet more lawyers.

  11. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    The word “dear” looks as though it is set to be removed from the lexicon of words which can be used when addressing women by those self-appointed people who decide they know best about such things. Strange when my Oxford dictionary tells me that it means “beloved”. Perhaps they thought Cameron was being too familiar! I thought he was far too polite.

  12. les
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Labour do have to pick up crumbs as they fall including Urgent Questions!

  13. English Pensioner
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Poor sensitive little dear! If she’ had to work in the real world, even now with its political correctness, she’d get far worse than that!

    Perhaps Cameron should look at some of Churchill’s remarks – my favourite is
    “The Hon Member opposite hasn’t got the brains of a sheep”
    “I’ll withdraw. The Hon Member opposite HAS got the brains of a sheep”.

    Parliament mus have been far more interesting in those days.

    • rose
      Posted April 28, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      And what about, on being accused of being drunk: “And you Madam are ugly, but I shall be sober in the morning.”
      Or in retort to a Mr Paling who had called him a dirty dog: “And we all know what dirty dogs do to palings.”

  14. Man in a Shed
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I don’t think Mr Cameron has anything to worry about here. Banging on about this just makes Labour look mean and the liberal media vindictive.

    He should keep using the phrase – the public supports him. People are far smarter than the BBC and Guardian give them credit for – they know this is a fake row.

    Next time try aiming it at one of the Eds.

    Calm down dear, and carry on.

  15. Doppelganger
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood’s comment would have more traction if our government was committed to dealing seriously with the problems facing our nation. But the Cameroon Conservatives have always seemed to put presentation before substance without being good at either of them.

  16. efgd
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Oh come on now sweetie if you can’t be a grown up in a grown up world and use language that is applicable to grown ups darling, then may be you should go back to the class structure and disrespectful and ignorant behaviour that once was the Victorians towards woman. Poor Cameron, for him to only to be able to resort to saying “calm down, dear” (would he have said that to a chap?), then his articulation ability must be well and truly stunted – poor chap, so put upon by those nasty men and woman. Grow up both sides. You are right John, there is far too much to be concerned with in government business than good manners and proper etiquette between ministers, but it does help to make things more grown up and respectful, after all dear boy, it is a sign of a gentleman to behave respectfully towards a woman, or have the modern Conservatives thrown that out as well?

  17. Stuart Fairney
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    I use alternate words to describe the honourable lady and her colleagues. I fear none would be approved by the moderators.

  18. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I think it was meant to be, as Mr Winner remarked on Radio 4 yesterday, a joke.

  19. norman
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Fortunate that he said it under Parliamentary privelege otherwise he could have been charged as committing a hate crime or contravening the absurd (in)Equalities Act.

    How did the Cameron led Conservatives vote in that division?

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 30, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      That is the truly serious and evil danger or it all.

  20. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Although always said with innocent intent, a similar remark more or less cost our last prime-minister (Balkenende) his re-election. Then again the Netherlands and the UK are a little different with 21% women MPs in the UK and 42% in the Dutch parliament.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted April 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      As Rhett Butler said in Gone With The Wind: “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”.

      • Stuart Fairney
        Posted April 28, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        Now there is a triple alpha-male

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 30, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      Silly little Dutch dears.

  21. john miller
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Compare and contrast:


    “Old bigot”

  22. Mike Fowle
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Bit reluctant to comment really, as there’s been too much written about this trivial episode already. I’ll just say I thought it was funny – as it was clearly meant to be, doubly so as it got under the skin of the (il)liberal establishment. And the more serious point that Labour always gets excessively aerated over anything to do with the NHS otherwise people might start looking more closely and questioning the gravy train that it has become for some.

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 30, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      Gravy train for some and death row for others.

  23. Edward.
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Like most [or even all] of the opposition front bench, they’re all a very dull and uninteresting bunch of; Socialist shills, pernicious ideologues and driven equality pedagogues. Put together [Liebour] they have little or no idea of how to provide a coherent and cogent alternative.
    Socialism is a failed dogma, it can never provide a blueprint for viable and prudent government.

    The honourable member for Wallasey should be grateful that Dave acknowledged her presence in the house, it may well be the first and last time.

  24. rose
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    He was only quoting from a well known advertisement, as an aside, a light joke. He got the tone exactly. At least the Chancellor twigged, even if other people didn’t. Never under-estimate the stupidity of the opposition and the media who seem only to understand really coarse, crude humour.

  25. Bazman
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Ching! Peoww! Fwoww! That was close. If you don’t get it you don’t get it. LOL! Tells a lot. Who needs to see the Doctor? Michael Winner the man everyone hates to love.

  26. JimF
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Luckily for us the microphone didn’t pick up the lady’s screeching, but many of us have heard the same on TV. I think the remark was fairly applied by Cameron. If he can be called a Toff, the lady can be inferred to be a screecher.

  27. Bazman
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    It’s a political Rout. Did I spell it right? LOL!

  28. Martin
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if anyone in cabinet ever used those words to Mrs Thatcher!

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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