It is that time of year when the summer holiday mass migration begins as we seek an escape from the daily grind. Admittedly the initial euphoria of brushing down the trusty fedora and slipping into those ‘summer shoes’ is often dashed on the rocky reality of queues, crowds and a wallet that appears to be leaking quicker than a Government cabinet meeting…
Once upon a time, in an age pre-dated by social media, smart phones and a general state of interconnectedness, the parliamentary summer recess used to offer some sort of respite for politicians – a 6 week window to get out there, forget about running the country and catch up on some R+R.
Nowadays, just as in most areas of a politician’s life, holiday plans are up for scrutiny and there is nothing that will make the blood rise quicker than an MP throwing around a phrase like ‘we’re in it together’ and then jetting off to Antigua for a luxury vacation.
Since Tony Blair caught some serious flack for taking up the invitations to crash in the villas of well connected acquaintances, high ranking British politicians have been wary of being seen to enjoy the delights of an all-frills holidays. In the early Noughties, Mr Blair caused a stir by hopping off to the Med aboard the Royal Flight (£40,000 cost to the taxpayer) and was even dubbed a ‘scrounger’ by the Italian press for abusing the country’s hospitality. By 2015 he had enough cash to be able to ‘fork out for his yacht’!
This new found interest in the holidaying habits of party leaders saw something of a staycation war going on in the years to come. Gordon Brown and David Cameron both made sure to score points by taking summer breaks within the UK. The Camerons did their best to fit in with holidaymakers in Cornwall by getting jiggy on bodyboards in the Atlantic surf, while Mr and Mrs Brown lost all Brownie points for eschewing the Med for Suffolk when media pundits picked apart their summer outfits for being too formal (should’ve dusted down the Fedora…).
As for this summer, we know that Theresa May is heading away for a three week break to Italy and Switzerland where she will be doing her best to get away from it all with some contemplative walking. According to Labour, this holiday will cost her and husband Phillip an extra £700 thanks to Brexit. Meanwhile, according to reports, Jeremy Corbyn has cancelled his summer holidays in order to keep campaigning. As one would expect, Mr Corbyn tends to holiday in the UK (although he did take a spa break to Malta last year).
Of course, we will only hear about those MPs who have foolishly let themselves be exposed for perceived summer holiday excesses. On the flipside, there will be many lower ranking MPs, especially those with children, who will be just about managing their way through the next 6 weeks much like the rest of us, juggling family holiday time with constituency matters and keeping up appearances at various local summer events. But who wants to read about them?!
And of course, any talk about the ‘excess’ of British politicians on holiday pales into insignificance compared to current holiday schedules at the top of the United States’ political tree. President Trump very much enjoys getting away from it all and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Since becoming president he has spent 11 of his first 27 weekends luxuriating at his Mar-a-Lago or Bedminster resort, where such essentials as jetting there on Air Force One and security locking down the neighbourhood is estimated to have cost US taxpayers $29 million dollars…
Luan de Burgh
Luan de Burgh is a speaker, writer and founder of de Burgh Training – a specialist business communication training provider dedicated to helping people perform at their highest potential.