A friend of mine once told me that he unplugs his house phone and switches off his mobile when he goes to bed.
My reaction was to ask what would happen if there was a crisis at work, or a family issue, that demanded his attention. In that case, he said, it would be much better if it were tackled after he'd had a good night's sleep.
This exchange was brought to mind by the fuss confected by the papers and a couple of rent-a-quote MPs about David Cameron taking a short break with his wife and children in Ibiza. Didn't he know we were in a state of crisis? The country is in lockdown. The streets are unsafe. We are fearful to leave our homes. Britain is on a war footing. Now I know this might come as a surprise to some of you who queued up at garden centres or made your way to the seaside over the Bank Holiday weekend, but, in the hyperbolic spirit of the age, we are being told that Britain is in the grip of the biggest terrorist crisis since 7/7.
What happened at Woolwich was beyond horrific, but it has no equivalence to 7/7 any more than a random act of poisoning does to chemical warfare. It does us no favours if the terrorist threat is ramped up for political gain. Which brings me back to the Prime Minister. Why shouldn't he go on holiday? There will always be a reason, some crisis, why he should stay chained to his desk at No 10. And what do people think he does when he's away? Switch off his phone? Not answer emails? I'm sorry, he'll say, I don't care if the Chief of Defence Staffs is desperate to get hold of me, but I've promised to take the kids go-karting. Of course not.
Despite what the photographs may lead you to believe, holiday with David Cameron will not be an unending series of espresso breaks at beachside cafes, or carefree strolls in casual wear. What we don't see are the hours glued to his Blackberry or the pile of faxes that have arrived from London. We are even told that he has been accompanied to Ibiza by a small number of key staff, so it's safe to assume they haven't been dragged along to make up the numbers for beach volleyball. A couple of opportunist Labour MPs weighed in with criticism of Mr Cameron. Sarah Champion said his decision to take a break showed he was "utterly out of touch" and John Mann thundered that it would be hard to imagine Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair being out of the country at a time like this. Quite. One of the things I like about David Cameron is that he isn't a swivel-eyed loon. He appears to be a normal family man, who - touched by personal tragedy as he has - puts an emphasis on spending time with his wife and children. It must help to give him a sense of perspective and, just like my friend who needed his sleep, a short spell away from Downing Street will give him renewed energy to tackle the real problems Britain faces.
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