Here we go again, I thought, when I walked into the newsagent and saw The Sun's front page: "Crisis? I'm off to Ibiza." Once again we had a prime-minister-takes-a-break' scandal on our hands. Sure enough, Sun readers on Monday woke up to a picture of the murdered drummer Lee Rigby's estranged wife weeping, next to one of the Camerons sipping coffee "on a carefree holiday". Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch tweeted: "With UK on terror alert, Cameron off on holiday in Ibiza. Unbelievable."
Actually, "UK" wasn't on terror alert. The terrorism alert level hadn't changed and, as The Independent noted, British PMs have sunned themselves in far bleaker times. In mid-World War II, Churchill broke off discussions with the Allied chiefs of staff during a conference on military strategy, insisting that he needed a few days R&R in Marrakesh. And "it wouldn't have been coffee that Churchill was sipping", said Dominic Lawson, while chillaxing in the sun.
One wonders what today's Daily Mirror would have made of Churchill's behaviour. "This is the picture of holiday bliss that will infuriate relatives of butchered soldier Lee Rigby," it raged this week, under the now familiar photo of the PM engaged in the shameless act of drinking coffee. "Surrounded by sun, sea and sand in Ibiza, David Cameron looks as if he hasn't a care in the world as the country he is meant to be running lies in the grip of terrorist turmoil."
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Poor Cameron. A few Labour MPs, none of them, as Dan Hodges said in The Daily Telegraph, likely ever to be bothered with high office themselves, did express "ritualistic outrage" at his holiday, though Labour's justice spokesman, Sadiq Kahn, sensibly rejected the criticism. A few equally silly MPs were always ready to attack Tony Blair when he took a holiday.
Do we really want exhausted prime ministers who never take time off? Cameron can't win. Last Wednesday, in the wake of Lee Rigby's murder, he flew home and called a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee. Or, as Simon Jenkins mockingly put it in The Guardian, he "slavishly cleared his diary', plunged into his favourite Cobra bunker and summoned the mightiest in the land to co-ordinate a response". Cameron was "too quick on the draw", said a former Downing Street security official.
Now he's derided for not doing enough. We criticise our leaders "for being drunk on ambition, and hungry for power", says Hodges, then we chide them for abandoning the corridors of power for Balearic sun loungers. "The chillaxing jokes are good fun, but a normal day for David Cameron involves him rising at five in the morning and completing his last box at 10 o'clock at night. The guy hasn't had a proper holiday since Christmas, nor a trip abroad with his wife and children since last summer. Last week he switched on his television and saw a man, his hands dripping in blood, holding a meat cleaver and calling out his name. The Prime Minister deserves a break."
Tabloid money: Donald Trump's spat with His Sugary Holiness
I always promise myself I won't watch The Apprentice but something keeps me coming back, says Dom Joly in The Sun. Alan Sugar "is a man I should loathe with an intensity normally reserved for a traffic warden still working at eight in the evening". Yet there is something watchable about him. It's fun seeing him lay into the "monkeys" who take part. "Every year we await a smattering of self-awareness and humility from the contestants and every year we are disappointed." But it's also fun following the spats between Donald Trump and "His Sugary Holiness" on Twitter. "Trump told Sugar that he didn't think he should have got the UK Apprentice job." Sugar later hit back by asserting "that Trump didn't actually have as much money as he claimed, which was a bit of a weird line of attack to take with a billionaire".
Last week "Ed Balls sounded horribly smug when he said the Tories were wrecking the country and had no rescue plan", writes Carole Malone in the Sunday Mirror. "He also slated George Osborne as reckless and said he knew nothing about economics. On the same day, his boss, Ed Miliband, made a speech to Google chiefs in which he hailed Willy Wonka as a genius and compared bank bosses to Mr Burns from the Simpsons. And that's the way to win an election, is it?"
"Griff Rhys Jones, the comedian, has criticised plans for a solar farm near his Suffolk home," says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun. "And now, of course, eco-enthusiasts have accused him of nimbyism. Right. Well, move aside Griff and let me take up the baton because I don't live in Suffolk and will be completely unaffected by the idiotic field of mirrors. There will be 43,000 panels which will cover a massive 95 acres and cost a whopping £25m. And if the sun comes out for more than five minutes at a time... they will generate enough electricity for fewer than 6,000 homes. So that's 95 acres. Gone. To supply power for what, these days, is little more than one medium-sized village."
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