Summer is here – and the British weather is predictably terrible.
So where do you think MPs will be heading to escape the weather woes when Parliament is in recess?
Today is the first day of the government’s holidays. MPs start their 47 day break and the House of Commons doesn’t reconvene until Monday, 3 September.
According to blogger John Hyde MPs were literally “stampeding for the exits” in their rush to escape for the summer break.
His blog post was rather cruelly called “Let Rome burn! We’re off on holiday”.
Naturally, MPs defend their extended summer break fiercely.
And yesterday David Jones MP was keen to stress that Parliament in recess does not mean that MPs are “on holiday”. Many are still attending to constituency business over the break.
For the record, he said that he wouldn’t be taking a vacation till September.
So let’s take a look at where our best-known politicians are heading on vacation this summer.
And what message does their holiday of choice send out to the public and their political rivals?
Holidays at home
Holidays in the UK are incredibly fashionable this year. It looks like very poor form to be heading off on a luxury yacht to Barbados or a millionaire’s retreat in Tuscany.
So let’s not mention Tony Blair’s parties with Berlusconi from days of old.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, a staunch Scottish nationalist, is staying close to home for his holidays. He’s bracing himself for grey skies and gloomy weather in the Highlands.
Mr Salmond scores maximum brownie points for his commitment to Scottish culture and tourism. Staying in Scotland makes him look prudent, thrifty and in touch with what’s going on in the current economic climate.
He also scores highly on the ‘Scottish’ factor at a time when independence is on the agenda north of the border.
Prime Minister David Cameron is planning his country retreat to Cornwall, a destination that suggests he is like any ordinary family guy, playing on the beach with his kids and building sand castles.
It also makes him look like he’s cutting down on expensive foreign trips at a time when we’re all tightening our belts. Yes, David – “we’re all in it together”.
It also has the advantage that he’s close at hand if there’s any Olympic scandals and rows during London 2012.
Let’s just hope he doesn’t leave any of his children in a charming country pub again.
But it’s not the first time that politicians have demonstrated their love of our great island.
The trail blazer for holidays at home was former Cabinet Minister Margaret Beckett who liked nothing better than leaping into her caravan and staying on a very British camp site.
There were frequent reports of special branch officers hiding in the bushes nearby in case national security was breached.
One can only imagine the furore when she popped out to empty the porta-potty!
And then there was Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson who enjoyed nothing better than a couple of weeks smoking his pipe in the Scilly Isles – the height of an exotic British holiday in the 1960s!
Whatever the weather (come rain or shine) he was always seen wearing his trademark Gannex raincoat!
Tory PM Ted Heath loved sailing his yacht off the Isle of Wight which looks like a cheap holiday until you realise that it cost £20,000 a year to run Morning Cloud.
Spare a thought for those politicians for whom an exotic summer holiday is off the agenda this year.
Home Secretary Theresa May will be stuck in London looking after Olympic security – and the less said about that current hot potato the better!
And there’s no prizes for where the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, will be spending most of his summer break.
Oh well, at least they’ve probably got front row tickets for the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies – which is more than can be said for the rest of us.
Over the pond US President Barack Obama is forsaking his annual vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, New England to campaign for re-election whilst his daughters head off to summer camp.
In the meantime Deputy Nick Clegg is visiting France and his in-laws in Spain. This shouts out the message ‘I have strong family values’. It also suggests a sensible European holiday that isn’t too expensive or excessive in tough times.
And it reinforces his pro-European credentials.
But perhaps Labour leader Ed Miliband has the smartest and most politically astute holiday plan.
He will be spending two weeks in Greece.
Does this perhaps send out a message of brotherly solidarity with our struggling EU neighbours?
Or perhaps he’s taking some valuable lessons in economic policy making and recessionary tactics which could come in useful further down the line?
So are any MPs taking lavish holidays in the Cayman Islands or on a idyllic South Pacific atoll this year?
No doubt the tabloids already have their paparazzi hiding behind palm trees in Polynesia to spot any coalition ministers splashing out on luxury lifestyles.
All eyes are no doubt on the Chancellor, George Osborne, who has previously shown an enthusiasm for the ‘high life’.
Labour MP John Mann cheekily asked this week if George Osborne will be “sneaking through more U-turns from a luxury yacht or from the corporate seats at the Olympics?”
Perhaps Mr Osborne will be taking a beach staycation in Bognor or Bangor this year?
Just look what happened last time he went on a glitzy trip abroad when the Chancellor joined Lord Mandelson on a Russian oligarch’s yacht a few summers ago.
Mr Osborne now says he deeply regrets that holiday decision.
In my view his best bet might be a trip to Benidorm to show solidarity with Spain. It also has the bonus of him enabling him to develop some credibility and a much-needed rapport with the ‘common people’.
Imagine him being snapped as he flies back to Luton Airport wearing a ‘kiss me quick’ hat and carrying an oversized straw donkey with a giant pack of duty-free lager under his arm.
But it’s more likely that George will be spending his holidays at home doing some extra homework balancing the country’s books.
Proof perhaps that MPs don’t spend all the summer recess having fun in the sun!