The Sketch: Why Gordon is not what women want

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The Independent Online

Bear in mind that the Prime Minister's support has collapsed among women. It's why backbenchers are going round with their bicycle clips on. Fear works in unpleasant ways, I agree. Now, ask yourself whether these refractory or disenchanted women can be wooed back to the Prime Minister's part, and if so, how? Language is important, obviously. Tone and manner counts. Content has its place.

So, the statement on the EU Reform Treaty. How would you pitch that? Would you get the PM to say, for instance, that the financial sector's prudential framework is to be improved? Would that do it? It might, you think. But, the PM asks himself, is it true? There is the moral compass to listen to (the one that talks to him, you remember). This ingenious device must have pointed out that it's over-egging the pudding to say the prudential framework (whatever it is) is actually and in fact being improved. It's more accurate to say that work is "being taken forward" to improve said prudential thing. Is that better? Ah, no well, strictly speaking that's a little extravagant because the Council isn't actually doing that itself, no. To be completely factual, the PM would need to say that the Council is "underlining the importance" of "international partners" taking forward this improvement of the prudential framework.

I'm afraid my feminine side has nodded off and my masculine side is counting the number of rivets in the chandeliers.

The statement on the Lisbon Treaty was so boring it should get an award. And just because it was boring doesn't mean it had substance. Listen to this, it's so hollow it echoes. "The Council state specifically that in the institutional frame-work we expect no change for the forseeable future." When he was asked on Friday, what was meant by the "foreseeable future?" he said, "The next period of time."

Women, in my experience, hate this sort of shilly-shallying, this evasive equivocation. Whatever the content, women sense it conceals more than it reveals. They don't like that, in my experience. Oh, dear me no, they don't. And they are unforgiving of it. But to return from a flash of retrospection.

The PM attracted more casual abuse than any British prime minister this century. Second rate would be a bonus. Ill-judged. Clumsy. Weak. Dithering. Duplicitous. Incompetent. Discourteous. Contempt. Surly.

But, I sense that he doesn't entirely mind, yet. Because whatever anyone says, he is the Prime Minister. As of the time of writing.