MOST journalists are, or at least used to be, familiar with stories that set the antennae twitching: one is the “too good to be true” story, often pitched by one-man-band news agencies. Parrots that expose extra-marital affairs by repeating incriminating phrases; giant pike in village ponds eating local dogs; women who lost engagement rings on honeymoon cruises, to recover them when cutting open a fish six months later — that sort of thing.

Another is the political story, often a leak, designed to forestall some awkward question or to divert attention, or, quite often, created entirely for the purpose of being denied, so that some later announcement looks better by comparison. These are often Sunday newspaper splashes that (as daily reporters instructed to follow them up discover) don’t even stand up to scrutiny by Sunday afternoon.

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But the most obvious are also the ones that end up, somehow, in the paper anyway, with the excuse that it’s the “silly season”. In August, when there’s often a dearth of material, even stuff that would normally instantly be judged too flaky to merit consideration can end up in print. And we’ve just had a prime example, in the form of Caroline Lucas’s proposed “all-female cabinet” for a putative “Government of National Unity”.

The Green Party MP has presumably achieved her aim of reminding people that she exists and that her party’s keen to stop Brexit. This was, one has to assume, a policy for getting column inches, retweets and likes on social media, rather than anything anyone was expected to take very seriously.

As I say, she’s succeeded in the attention-getting, but perhaps not quite as she intended. One of the problems that “progressive” politicians face in these days of identity politics, grievance-mongering, and ganging up to ratio your opponents on Twitter is that there’s always somebody who’s woker than thou.

Within moments of Ms Lucas’s idea hitting the ether, it became clear that in her haste to strike a blow against Brexit and the patriarchy, she’d forgotten to check her privilege and lend equal weight to the battle against racism, and had selected a Cabinet of National Unity which was white as ice cream. It may have been all-female, but it otherwise suggested a notion of National Unity that would have cheered the heart of the late Eugene Terre’Blanche.

When this was pointed out, Ms Lucas did the only thing that you can do if you’re progressive and caught out in this manner, which was to grovel unreservedly, and say that there was an important lesson to be learnt here, and she would certainly be mindful of it in future. That must have been a bit annoying for her, because Ms Lucas may have some daft and even dangerous ideas, but she’s not stupid. I’m pretty sure the whole thing was a silly season stunt – though naturally, she isn’t able to admit as much.

Not, of course, that the idea of an all-female Cabinet is itself at all silly. We’ve had all-male Cabinets for most of Parliamentary history; now that a third of MPs are women (and most people hope and expect the figure will move towards rough parity), an all-female Cabinet should be welcome and uncontroversial.

Just not Ms Lucas’s version of one, or her justification for it. She advocates the idea on the basis that women are better at co-operating and compromising, and might get something useful done to sort out Brexit (she means stop it, of course). This is precisely as patronising as the idea that men are fundamentally better suited to govern because of some supposed shared characteristic: toughness, perhaps, or resilience.

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In any case, at this moment, you could argue that we’ve tried co-operation, and what is required is more bloody-mindedness and nerve. Or you could point out that we’re in the mess we’re in because of bloody-mindedness and failure to compromise on the part of a woman, in the form of Theresa May. Or that female politicians — one of them, Nicola Sturgeon, is actually on Ms Lucas’s list — aren’t universally noted for their nation-uniting qualities.

If the idea that the sexes automatically embody peculiar virtues weren’t demonstrably silly, Ms Lucas’s Cabinet of National Unity ought to have had newsdesks checking the calendar. Is there anything sillier as a name, when the issue automatically divides the electorate, and when Ms Lucas’s proposed Cabinet contains not one of the many senior women in parliament who support Brexit?

It’s not just the Leave/Remain divide. It’s the divisive question of whether the clear result of the largest popular vote ever should be enacted by a Parliament elected to do just that, and which initially voted for it by a huge majority; or whether government and Parliament, by dint of at best incompetence, and at worst, active obstruction of a democratic vote, should now be given licence to do the opposite.

In either case, a new Cabinet of National Unity that is made up entirely of those opposed to Brexit, even if they’re all white women, is the silliest yet of many silly suggestions.