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Does it matter where politicians go on holiday? | The debate

Category : Business

The French president François Hollande is staying in a state residence this year. Should our MPs holiday at home, too, and support the ailing British economy?

Viv Groskop, journalist and stand-up comedian

If I were a PR person for a politician, I would strongly advise staying at home this summer. They should all perhaps be handcuffed to a Mr Whippy van. Cornwall is nice. So are the Outer Hebrides. The Olympics and the jubilee have given us a cosmetic bounce. But we’re in the longest double-dip recession for 50 years. A recent poll by Family Action showed 54% of Brits are cutting back on holidays this year. Politicians of Britain: Butlins needs you. Abroad does not.

France’s president, François Hollande, aka “Mr Normal”, is staying in a state residence in Provence, avoiding even his own second home in Cannes because it might be seen as “too showy”. Of course, it’s a politically correct token gesture. But in a world where the collective memory of the expenses scandal is still painfully fresh, we would quite like to see some token gestures. Or just a wafer-thin sign of self-awareness. They keep telling us that we’re all in this together. So the last thing the rats should do is leave the sinking ship. Set up the road blocks. Close the seaports. Blockade the airports. Exit may be permitted to those visiting overseas relatives, provided they live in modest accommodation.

Quentin Letts, Daily Mail political sketch writer

Britain is certainly a grand place for a holiday. I have shivered many a happy day on the rain-lashed beaches of lovely Cardiganshire, so named presumably because you have to wear at least two cardigans to stay warm. But it would be a pity if politicians felt terrorised into doing the staycation routine. Can we media bullies not occasionally allow them some time off?

Was there ever a sight more pathetic than Gordon Brown when his wife Sarah hauled him off to Suffolk for a wet few days? Similarly, are we truly convinced that David Cameron prefers to be in Cornwall than in, say, a £10k a week villa in Tuscany? The “Prime Minister enjoying an ice cream in Padstow” spin is like something from the days of Gaumont British News. Image-conscious politicians use domestic holidays as political stunts. I’d prefer politicians to be true to themselves.

Are British beaches not already sufficiently challenging without the prospect of bumping into Eric Pickles in a pair of goolie-crushing skimpies? You think I exaggerate? Cast your mind back to the 1960s and that celebrated snapshot of Harold Wilson, the prime minister, on the dunes of the Scilly Isles, sucking on a pipe and talking to news reporters in a pair of above-the-navel shorts and open-toed sandals.

VG Quentin, show no mercy. Without media bullying politicians would behave even more abominably than they already do. Although, I agree, if we are to encourage them to populate the beaches of the British Isles, they should be issued with regulation, generously proportioned, MP swimwear to avoid any Pickles/Speedo action.

Of course no one is convinced by these recessionally motivated displays

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