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Thank goodness for summer holidays

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Anywhere, just anywhere. Gobi desert? Arctic Circle? Patagonia? Papua New Guinea? Tierra del Fuego? Anywhere to get away from Westminster!

Never have MPs been so anxious to get away from the suffocating pressure cooker of Westminster. They will find it hard to escape. Even in Tierra del Fuego and Papua New Guinea they have heard about the great parliamentary expenses row.

MPs might feel that they have been horribly disabled by the scandal: they might reflect that Britain’s ability to punch above its weight in the world has been massively undermined as its claim of effortlessly superior governance has been put to the sword.

What will niggle away at the party leaders as they head for the “well-deserved break”?

Poor old Gordon. He must be relieved that the Cornish Nationalist Party did not stand in the Norwich North by-election.

It was clear from the start that the winners would be those whom wild horses would not get to the poll. A Conservative victory was always going to be regarded as no more than was necessary to keep David Cameron’s momentum going.

A Labour defeat was, equally certainly, going to reignite the row about Gordon Brown’s leadership.

Even in Tierra del Fuego and Papua New Guinea they have heard about the great parliamentary expenses row

David Curry (Con) MP for Skipton & Ripon

Just what is the problem with Mr Brown? Why is it so difficult to admit the obvious? He certainly has many enemies but it is hard to fi nd a more effective one than himself. If he were asked to agree that Monday normally followed Sunday he would find it impossible simply to say “yes”.

He fought an entirely counter-productive battle against admitting that his own plans meant spending cuts in real terms.

If ever he needed to rally public opinion behind straight talking and consensual leadership it is over Afghanistan (where only two sorts of news are possible: bad and worse), yet his capacity to dig himself into a hole and keep digging is almost heroic.

And all the time the question mark hangs over his leadership: will the Labour Party be more damned for getting rid of him or for keeping him?

The holiday looms under a sunnier sky for David Cameron, though the Tory percentages of the June elections vote were well short of a landslide, and the fervour with which he was whipping his MPs up to Norwich indicates that he knows he cannot afford to slip up.

He has had a good but brutal war over expenses. What mattered to him was that he should be seen to be acting decisively, not that the justice (retribution, atonement?) should be even-handed.

He has, of course, staked his future on a huge gamble: that the British people not only know that the public finances are in a desperate position but that they are ready and eager for a government that will apply the bitter medicine over a long haul.

It is worth noting the change in politics when the Conservative answer to the Labour charge that “the Tories will slash public spending” is “you bet, and so would you”.

Nick Clegg will head for Spain with mixed feelings. At Westminster he has had his own triumph over the Gurkhas, and his Treasury spokesman Vince Cable continues to be the public’s favourite poet of the recession. But the local elections saw Liberal Democrat bastions, in the south-west in particular, falling to the Tories.

Alex Salmond seems to have ridden the spectacular implosion of the Celtic arc of prosperity and now has a Glasgow by-election and a general election to look forward to.

I shall repair to Chateau Curry. I can almost smell the sardines barbecuing already!

David Curry (Con) MP for Skipton & Ripon

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