Friday, 31 December 2010

Why aren't politicians allowed to go on holiday?

One of the things Tony Blair wasn't afraid of was taking a good holiday in the sunshine. Whatever one thinks about Blair's years in Downing Street here is a policy of his I wholeheartedly agreed with. Then came Gordon Brown who, despite having a young family, holidayed in rainy old Britain, allowing himself barely time to unpack his bucket and spade before he was racing back to London to stop Peter Mandelson stabbing him in the back take control of that week's crisis.

The politics behind holiday choices for politicians are led simply by the media. I remember every summer, about a week before recess, the Mirror would call CCHQ and ask where each shadow cabinet member was holidaying this year. Most came back with answers ranging from 'my constituency' to 'Bridlington' or 'Bude', others listed a UK and foreign destination, only David Willetts was robust enough to admit that he was off to Cape Cod.

This is yet another area where the power of the media over politicians has grown too strong. Why should any MP be afraid to say where they are off on holiday, unless it is somewhere like Zimbabwe?

I was reminded of all this by the row in the U.S over President Obama's Christmas holiday which, it has been reported, is costing taxpayers over $1 million. Obama is paying for the holiday himself, the cost is for security and moving the apparatus of government - which is a burden on the taxpayer wherever the President travels. He has done no wrong but is being reported in a way that suggests he is willfully and imprudently spending taxpayers' money. There has even been a suggestion, to save money, that he holidays on a military base.

I'm glad Obama and his family are on holiday and regret the negative reporting. I also regret the fact that David Cameron is holidaying in foggy, snowy Oxfordshire rather than enjoying warm sunshine to recharge his batteries. I understand the media storm that would have come his way if he had gone on his planned holiday to Thailand. The criticism from Labour stoked by the media would have been deafening. It would have been a good attack dog operation but, just like the Prime Minister's decision not to go on holiday, is very bad for the health of British politics and our politicians.    

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment and I will be interested in what you have to say.