The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, riding high in the polls due to concerns over the unilateral imposition of a tax on carbon emissions, has used an expression while addressing the “No Confidence Convoy” protest against the government that is a clear reference to her unmarried status.
The Canberra Times reports he said:
“I am giving the Prime Minister an opportunity to redeem herself. I am giving the Prime Minister an opportunity to make an honest woman of herself … to overcome the honesty deficit that she currently displays.”
The Cambridge Idioms dictionary explains:
make an honest woman of somebody (humorous)
if a man makes an honest woman of someone that he is having a relationship with, he marries her You’ve been living with Jean for five years, isn’t it time you made an honest woman of her?
to make an honest woman
(idiomatic, informal, now, usually with “of”) To marry (a woman), especially if she is having a sexual relationship.
I thought about just asking Rosalyn to move in with me, but I decided it was time to make an honest woman out of her.
Perhaps this was a Freudian slip by Abbott but in the context of personal sledging in Parliament House corridors by Chris Pyne and Joe Hockey, it does suggest that the Coalition is deliberately targeting the PM in a strongly personal way.
It’s an awkward and somewhat old-fashioned expression, at best. Speaking to protest gatherings full of enthusiastic people can often provoke excitable remarks from those roped in to addressing them.
Given how far the Coalition is ahead in the polls, the heavily personal tactics are a perplexing and gratuitous approach from which they cannot gain, in our view.