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The Independent Online

As Mr Blair and Mr Hague return from their holidays, they could be forgiven for wondering if we'd missed them. We wouldn't want them to be hurt by this, but "a bit" would seem to be the verdict of the public. There should be no misunderstanding here. Life isn't as grand without Mr Blair's cheeky, schoolboyish grin. The gaiety of the nation has been diminished, too, by a sudden lack of tales from Mr Hague's Yorkshire boyhood.

As Mr Blair and Mr Hague return from their holidays, they could be forgiven for wondering if we'd missed them. We wouldn't want them to be hurt by this, but "a bit" would seem to be the verdict of the public. There should be no misunderstanding here. Life isn't as grand without Mr Blair's cheeky, schoolboyish grin. The gaiety of the nation has been diminished, too, by a sudden lack of tales from Mr Hague's Yorkshire boyhood.

But most of us have been grateful for a break from politics. Life went on. Anthea Turner got married, Madonna had a baby and Big Brother obsessed us. The economy didn't collapse. We managed. Indeed, maybe the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition should take vacations more often, for their own sakes as well as ours. Sustained only by a trickle of stories about his prowess on the tennis courts of Tuscany, Mr Blair saw his personal poll ratings jump. Mr Hague has fared less well but, given that even his most frenetic efforts hardly seem to make much difference to his party's popularity, the significance of this can be overstated.

The model of modern political leadership then: out of sight and out of mind. Just don't expect them to conform to it.

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