‘Calm down, dear’: Cameron apologises to women

By Ian Dunt

David Cameron has apologised to anyone offended by his use of the phrase 'calm down dear', in a further sign of concern at gender relations in No 10.

The comment comes after a leaked Downing Street document showed the government was worried about being seen as hostile to women.

"It's my fault. I've got to do better, I totally accept. I'm the one who's got to explain who I am and what I'm like and what I think," Mr Cameron told the Sunday Times.

"What I find frustrating is that I'm not a sort of 'all right luv, I'm down at the pub tonight' whatever. That's not me. But obviously I've come across in this way.

"If I offended anyone [with the 'calm down, dear' comment] I am hugely sorry. That is not what I wanted to do. It was a light-hearted reference."

The coalition government has attracted an unwelcome reputation for clumsily handling gender issues after the row over anonymity for rape suspects, Ken Clarke's comments on rape and several off-the-cuff comments from Mr Cameron. The spending cuts being implemented also disproportionately affect women.

"David Cameron is typically out of touch if he thinks his only problem with women is spin and presentation," Yvette Cooper, shadow equalities minister, said.

"Women are angry about what the government is doing, not what he is saying."

The 'calm down dear' comment came during hostile exchanges of PMQs, where Mr Cameron suggests he is regularly sworn at by Labour MPs.

"The noise in that place is unbelievable. The things that people shout at you … you just wouldn't … you just couldn't print them in a family newspaper," he said.

"Is it an enjoyable half-hour that I look forward to every week? No, it bloody isn't."

Mr Cameron did a round of interviews this morning ahead of the Tory party conference in Manchester.