Vote for me! (I'm having a cheap holiday)

Labour's leadership candidates are vying for left-wing support – even on vacation

It was Harold Wilson who first turned a Labour leader's choice of holiday destination into a political statement. Before he took office in 1964, the country was accustomed to the idea that the Prime Minister went grouse shooting in Scotland every August. Wilson's choice of the Scilly Isles was his way of saying that he was just like everybody else – because although not many could actually afford a Scilly Islands' holiday, most people felt they might be able to.

This summer, five candidates are engaged in a drawn-out contest to be the next Labour leader. By agreement, there is a ceasefire this week, and with it a brief chance for a vacation, but, of course, as they choose where to spend their well-earned rest, they are anxious not to indulge in any extravagance as the nation endures economic hardship.

The example they cannot afford to follow is the one set by Tony and Cherie Blair, for whom a holiday was a statement of a different kind – a demonstration that New Labour had no hang-ups about hanging out with the seriously rich. Silvio Berlusconi's villa on Sardinia, Cliff Richard's £3m pad on Barbados, Sir Richard Branson's game reserve in South Africa – there was not a rich man's home too luxurious for the Blairs to borrow.

The difficulty with Gordon Brown, of course, was getting him to go on holiday at all. For his three summer breaks as PM, he and Sarah first chose Dorset (but he abandoned that holiday to deal with the foot-and-mouth outbreak), then bucket-and-spade favourite Suffolk, and in 2009, they took a break in the Lakes and then Scotland, where Brown spent part of his time working.

If we were rating the former premiers' holidays on a "How in touch with Labour's roots are you?" scale, Brown's arrangements would merit Four Cloth Caps, while it is obvious that freeloading off Silvio Berlusconi is a Nil Cap. Only Margaret Beckett and her caravan would be worth the full Five Cloth Caps and Ferret.

Ed Balls

Destination New England, US

Until recently, the former education secretary and his wife, Yvette Cooper, had two Cabinet ministers' salaries. They still have two MPs' wages, so can afford to fly away. They seem to have the same fondness for the north-eastern US states as Gordon Brown, who holidayed there almost every year when he was chancellor. They have hired a large camper van and are driving their three children to destinations including Boston and Maine.

Cloth Cap Rating 1 stars

Diane Abbott

Destination Remaining coy

She campaigns as the most left-wing candidate in the field, but has never been embarrassed about accumulating money and spending it. She could afford a recession-defying break in the Seychelles, but is not going to take it. Her office said: "She might take a holiday somewhere in Britain later, but she has not got anything organised yet."

Cloth Cap Rating Awaits judgement

David Miliband

Destination Northumberland

The older Miliband worked closely with Blair in Downing Street, and has a phalanx of the old Blairites supporting his campaign. Therefore, he is the one you might expect to be holidaying in a villa borrowed from a multi-millionaire somewhere exotic. But actually, he, his wife Louise, and their adopted sons are in a holiday cottage in a beautiful but not highly fashionable part of rural Northumberland.

Cloth Cap Rating 4 stars

Ed Miliband

Destination Cornwall

Ed has tacked to the left a bit in the campaign, creating political space between him and his older brother, so it would not have helped his image if he had jetted off somewhere plush. Besides, his other half, Justine Thornton, is expecting their second child in November, so flying would not be a good idea. They are spending 12 days on the south coast of Cornwall with their one-year-old son, Daniel.

Cloth Cap Rating 3 stars

Andy Burnham

Destination Oban, Scotland

Since he entered the leadership race, the former Health Secretary has been on a voyage of rediscovery of his northern working-class roots. As the son of a telephone engineer, he has the most down-to-earth background. He is heading for a break near the seaside resort of Oban, on the west coast of Scotland.

Cloth Cap Rating 4 stars

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Specialist - Document Management

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading provider of document ...

Recruitment Genius: Legal Secretary

£17000 - £17800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to work ...

Recruitment Genius: Ad Ops Manager - Up to £55K + great benefits

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a digital speci...

The Green Recruitment Company: Operations Manager - Anaerobic Digestion / Biogas

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Operation...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent