Wednesday, 24 August 2011

We're all off on a summer holiday, maybe!

What is it about politicians that they always feel that the world will stop if they dare take a holiday? Us mere mortals can take rest and recreation but they don’t seem to have the same requirement.

The question came to  mind as a result of coming across the new Welsh Conservative leader in the Pembrokeshire Show.

He proudly declared that he wasn't going to take a holiday. He was to spend his summer working.

Work presumably means politicking. Whilst the rest of the visitors to the show were enjoying such exciting events such as the parade of tractors and animal based pleasures, the politicians would do the ritual flesh pressing. Human flesh, of course. And in the case of Andrew RT urging his party in Westminster to repeal the laws on fox hunting.

In contrast the spiritual head of the Anglican Church Archbishop Rowan Williams was able to shed his Ecclesiastic duties, depart the corridors of Lambeth Palace turn his back on the Synod and take to the Pembrokeshire Coastal path.

The Archbishop will likely turn up to work refreshed. His energy levels up, batteries recharged, all the better to knock sense into the warring factions that constitutes the modern Anglican Church.

It never used to be so. At one time our politicians  would take the summer off and leave the Palace of Westminster.

When Harold Macmillan wasn’t shooting grouse, he had a stock of books that he would plough through during the summer recess. Clem Attlee would spend his summers watching cricket and out of the public gaze.

Edward Heath when he wasn’t playing the organ would be sailing the oceans and Harold Wilson would take himself off to the Scilly Isles. There would be one photo opportunity, usually of him wearing unfashionable shorts and sensibly sandals, and that was the last we’d see of him until the party conference in October.
No one seemed to be one pennyworth the worse for these months of inactivity.

What has changed?  Well, the nature of politicians. 

Politics today is more of a career choice. At one time most politicians would enter parliament having done other jobs. Now the root to politics is through politics itself.

After leaving University you become a researcher or special advisor to a politician, this gets you known in the tribal world of the “party.” In time you are rewarded with a seat and then you’re ‘In’.

In the last Labour leadership election every candidate had been a special advisor before entering Parliament. Oh, all so similar - a small pool of life experience and back-ground. Was there a real choice, it was either Tweedledum or Tweedledee.

Politicians that know nothing but politics, have no other interests other than politics and have known nothing else.  

Ideas and fresh thinking are commodities you buy into. Books and ideas are for other people “we’re doers.’ They're consummate politicians  Completely obsessed with being seen to be doing and if not doing, simply being seen. Either they do the rounds of summer events or they go on holidays not to enjoy, but as locations for a photo-ops that play up to the self-image.

What a life it must be, always to be on duty. It's little wonder that these limited men and women get it wrong so often. They’re blinkered and usually tired.

Better government, demands that we tell our politicians to chill out. Get a book, get a life, and leave the rest of us to enjoy our summers.


  1. Perhaps the piece could do with another read through ...

  2. How long did Belgium tick along without a government? Have they got one now?

  3. Neil (Jock) Greer24 August 2011 at 22:12

    Lot'a truth here but will they listen no is the norm however your point is strong