Man About Town: Getting in the Whitehall state of mind

George Osborne told me that he thought the book was interesting

It’s tough for modern-day politicians. Outside Westminster, they have to make a great effort for the media, showing how much time they spend with their families and pretending to like the latest music. Back inside the political-media bubble they are meant to be in a permanent state of alertness, ready at any time.

None suffer from this more than those in government. So it was something of a surprise to be invited to Number 11 Downing Street last week for the launch of a book about taking time off.

 Whatever your view of the Chancellor (and I know some i readers have particularly strong ones), it’s hard to argue with the suggestion that he is rather busy.

He might be expected to think of the concept of “mindfulness” as a bit wishy-washy. But if anyone could convince him otherwise it would be Arianna Huffington (pictured), whose book, Thrive, was launched on Tuesday.

One of the central themes was mindfulness – meditation using a variety of techniques to cope with the stresses that modern life brings.

Huffington, it must be said, doesn’t strike you as someone who takes lots of time off: her website Huffington Post was sold to AOL for over £200m.

But part of her success, she insists, is down to taking time out to focus on the self. And judging by her guests, other members of the political classes are taking note. At the party Osborne told me he thought that the book was .interesting. Other MPs there included Diane Abbott and Chris Ruane, who heads up the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mindfulness that includes over 90 MPs and Lords.

In these stressful times, I can imagine a few politicians could do with reflecting. Don’t be surprised if you spot mindfulness cropping up in manifestos soon.

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