Ask a group of parents of small children if they would like to take them on four holidays over the summer, and I suspect most would say no. Four rounds of packing and unpacking. Four round trips through security. Eight fights over who gets to sit by the window. It would all be too exhausting.
David Cameron is made of sterner stuff. Earlier this summer he spent a week in Ibiza. After that, two weeks in Portugal. Then, a shorter break in Jura, on his father-in-law’s estate, where he and the family swam, fished and rode horses. This showed particular grit, given the “phenomenally bad back” that has forced him to give up stalking (he is no longer able to crawl through gorse carrying a gun). Now, finally, he has made it to the traditional summer destination of the southern upper middle classes, Cornwall, where he is braving the weather along with hordes of other Londoners.
Except for there being four of them, most of these holidays make good PR sense. Cornish and Scottish holidays hint at joint experiences with the rest of us, and everyone loves to see a leader indulging in Putin-style outdoor pursuits. Portugal works too. It’s cheap, family friendly, and needs all the help it can get. Who can criticise a man for taking his family on holiday there?
But then there is Ibiza, a place The Times describes as a curious “collision between hippies and hedge funds”. In Ibiza, there has been no credit crunch and no recession. Villas change hands for millions of euros (you can pick up a beach house in Portugal for €50,000 but the “real action” on Ibiza starts at €4m); cocktails cost €50; reserving a nightclub table comes in at €10,000; and when people complain of not being able to park, they are talking about their yachts not their Hummers.
A quarter of villa buyers are Russian, many of whom commute to Moscow. The “peak of this kind of thing”, says Hugo Rifkind, is – for now at least – the Blue Marlin, “a gorgeous stretch of beach leading down to a rocky cove where the beautiful people bob”.
Renting a day bed, albeit a luxurious shaded white double one, costs an “easy four-figure” sum. It is, says Rifkind “very nice”. Cameron’s Ibiza holiday did come with some experiences the rest of us might recognise (he arrived at the airport without his passport), but for PR pics that won’t upset non-super-rich voters too much. He’d be better to stick with Polzeath and Jura next year.
Still, when it comes to holidays, the Camerons have nothing on the Ecclestone sisters. According to the Daily Mail (who carefully keeps track of this stuff for the rest of us), Tamara has been “happier than ever” since she tied the knot with husband Jay Rutland on the French Riviera in June. She is also sporting a marvellous “bikini body” and “impressive tan” as a result of having taken an “incredible 17 holidays in this year alone”. She has been to Las Vegas, LA, Dubai, Miami, Mexico, Beverly Hills, Venice, Cannes, Monaco and Paris among other places, with a couple of Mediterranean cruises to round things off. What stern stuff she must be made of.
Tabloid money: “the Big Six are taking you for suckers”
• “If I ever go into the manufacturing business, it’ll be as a foundry, making brass necks for gas and electricity company bosses,” writes Paul Routledge in the Daily Mirror. “They never suffer from metal fatigue.” Indeed, “energy giant E.ON has become the latest firm to announce a monster surge in profits from gas and electricity sales, up by 15% to £273m in the first six months of the year”.
Yet, “no matter how much they gouge from the poor consumer, shameless industry chiefs demand big price rises”. Despite hiking prices earlier this year, they are saying that further above-inflation increases are “inevitable”. Of course, “the industry’s weak-as-hiss regulator, Ofgem”, is incapable of reining in “the corporate greed”. If Ed Miliband really wants to boost his ratings with voters, all he has to say is: “I’ll take on the Big Six who are taking you for suckers.”
• “It’s a long time since the Church of England was seen as the ‘Tory Party at prayer’, but at least under Archbishop Justin Welby it is becoming a voice for common sense,” writes The Sun’s Trevor Kavanagh. “First he rampaged against grasping payday loans scams… then he stood up to the anti-fracking lobby.” However, his best decision has been to decline to become patron of the “aggressive and controversial” RSPCA. “The animal charity often behaves like a uniformed quasi-police force, rampaging over innocent civilians and dragging them through the courts.”
• “Here we are, three years into a deeply unpopular Old Etonian coalition government, having endured the worst recession in living memory,” says Rod Liddle in The Sun. And yet, “the Tories have been swiftly clawing back the lead and are now only six points behind” Labour. So “it’s no wonder then that the knives are out for poor Ed [Miliband]”. Indeed, “whenever Miliband is interviewed on TV I cower behind the sofa or watch through my fingers”. Overall, Miliband looks like “Wallace without even the companionship of Gromit to help him”.
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