Sexy: Labour's new buzzword

IT IS one of the oldest tricks in the editor's book: spice up a dull cover line with the word "sex".

Or, in the Prime Minister's case, "sexy", the epithet which he used to describe economic stability in his speech at the Guildhall on Monday night, in the hope that it might lure journalistic browsers into pulling his sound-bite off the top shelf.

"It may not be sexy enough for the headline writers, but in my view, stability is a sexy thing," he said. This paints a truly dismal picture of the Prime Minister's home life, if he really means it; we would have to imagine Cherie softly whispering the monthly Bank of England figures into his ear, as a kind of statistical aphrodisiac. Is that an automatic fiscal stabiliser in your pocket, she would murmur huskily, or are you just pleased to see me?

But he didn't mean it, of course. The Prime Minister has an earnest streak to him, yet it is nowhere near wide enough to encompass this perversity of arousal. He knows, on the contrary, that "boom and bust" is naturally sexy, with its alternating rhythm of lustful urgency and post-coital slump.

One moment we're spending like crazy, the next we can't think what made us do it. Boom and bust has the dangerous allure of sin, particularly when it's denounced in the Presbyterian tones of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

But it's the Prime Minister's job to make virtue exciting and he clearly thought this was the best way to go about it, even if it made him sound like a vicar fruitlessly insisting that the thrills of a one-night stand pale beside the cosy rut of the marital bed.

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