Westminster Times
Westminster Times (Reuters)

David Cameron has a problem with women, as everyone knows.

But it is not just about failing to win over the so-called Mumsnet vote, which appears immune to his charms. It appears he has got a problem keeping hold of his female MPs as well.

It is not that long ago that 42-year-old chick-lit author Louise Mensch (Bagshawe as was) quit parliament to spend more time with her rock music manager hubby in the States, write columns for tabloid newspapers and so on.

Now successful businesswoman Laura Sandy's, 49, has surprised Westminster by announcing she too is standing down from her South Thanet seat at the next election. Ukip's Nigel Farage is already said to be sniffing around as part of his bid to become the party's first MP.

The two women have some things in common. Both were elected in 2010 amid claims this was evidence the Tories were trying to close the gender gap on its benches. Both were tipped for great things. And both were, er, "overlooked" when it came to dishing out the jobs.

As Westminster attempted to work out exactly why she had gone - amid rumours there will be "plenty more" going before the election - one cynical/perceptive (delete as appropriate) MP said: "They both stood down so they could spend more time with their money".

Still, whatever the reason, it doesn't help Cameron in his task of persuading ambitious women there is a place waiting for them at the cabinet table, particularly when he might have to accommodate more Liberal Democrats - purely on talent of course.

Bicycling Baronet

Another retiree is the government chief whip the lanky "bicycling baronet" (guess why) Sir George Young, who can be seen during Commons debates lounging on the green frontbench like a praying mantis at rest.

Young, full name Sir George Samuel Knatchbull Young, 6<sup>th Baronet, is an old Etonian (get away) and you don't get many of them on the Tory frontbench.

Despite his many achievements after 41 years in politics, many on the frontbench will always remember him for one unfortunate quote.

He was housing minister under John Major in 1990 and was recorded describing the homeless as "what you step over when you come out of the opera".

Not any more, Sir George, the government had them all moved on.

Quote of the week

Treasury secretary Danny Alexander takes the award for the best quote of the week.

He gave listeners to the BBC's Today programme reason to smile when he declared: "I hope offshore wind farms will take off."

Tweet of the week

Remember minister Owen Paterson claiming that the government's badger cull was not going to plan because the badgers kept "moving the goalposts"?

Now the ever-reliable Labour MP Paul Flynn has spotted similar excuse-making by the latest minister wheeled out to defend the failing scheme.

After listening to George Eustice talking about the cull he tweeted: "Clueless Tory minister George Eustice flounders, claims badger cull failed because badgers refused to cooperate."

Rising star of the week (year?)

Labour's Caroline Flint had a difficult time in Gordon Brown's top team and resigned in 2009 claiming she was being treated as female window dressing.

Now she is back with a vengeance and, in her job pushing Ed Miliband's energy freeze is proving a formidable performer.

That is particularly bad news for well-meaning Liberal Democrat minister Ed Davey who has been saddled with the difficult task of flogging the government's new "green crap-less" policy which he obviously wholeheartedly supports (cough).

It was like watching Cruella de Vil skinning a puppy, according to one observer.

Lucky Lola

Somebody needs to tell Chancellor George Osborne - a dog is for life not just the autumn statement.

On the eve of his big mini-budget Osborne revealed that the family had a new pet in the shape of a sort of terrier-type thing called Lola.

The chancellor posted a picture of the cute little mutt and added: "Some early issues with toilet training ... but we don't care. We love her."

Now I am assuming it is no coincidence that the more famous Osbourne (Ozzy) had a bulldog until recently which was also called Lola and became a TV star largely for the fact that Ozzy was regularly heard complaining "Sharon, Sharon, the dog's sh*t on the carpet again."

Lola by name, Lola by nature by the sounds of it.