Leading article: Oh dear, dear

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The Independent Online

In Armando Iannucci's political satire The Thick of It a minister is instructed by a spin doctor to watch a "zeitgeist tape" containing "EastEnders highlights, choice bits from all the reality shows, 10-second news and videos, that kind of thing" so that he can pass himself off as in touch with the public.

Was it a viewing of the zeitgeist tape that prompted David Cameron to use a catchphrase from a notoriously irritating advert in Prime Minister's Questions yesterday in response to an interjection from a female opposition frontbencher? If so, the tape will probably be going straight in the bin.

It is safe to assume that the response generated by Mr Cameron's "Calm down, dear" quip was not what the Prime Minister anticipated. Opposition MPs immediately labelled his words patronising and sexist. Alone, that would have been bearable. The problem is that the influential Mumsnet lobby agreed. So was there anyone smiling yesterday? The offending catchphrase comes from adverts by Esure. But since the insurer no longer runs the commercials, their ability to capitalise on the free publicity is limited. So the person who really benefits is the man who came up with the catchphrase, a well-known former film director, self-publicist and bon viveur. Yes, the only winner from this affair is Michael Winner.