Boris Johnson, the new London mayor, has already decided it is time for some R&R and has gone on a yachting holiday in Turkey. Good for him. Even better still if he can properly sail the thing. I like to think that politicians have some abilities beyond pulling the levers of power, fiddling expenses and writing terrible memoirs. For all that I loathed the late Tory leader Edward Heath, the fact the he sailed in a number of major competitions, including the Fastnet, put him up a peg in my estimation.
What is it with people who want to complain that politicians take holidays? Take a look at this rather sulphorous leftwing site, full of bile at the very idea, unless it is two-week camping holiday in some crappy part of the UK. As a fan of small, restrained government, I think there is a lot to be said for encouraging the political classes to get as much down-time as possible. That way, they can do less damage. Ideally, of course, such holidays should be paid for out of their own resources and not from the taxpayer.
Political leaders of great talent have taken plenty of time off in the past, arguably to the benefit of their job and country. Sir Robert Peel enjoyed his trips to the Highlands of Scotland; Stanley Baldwin liked to relax in France. For a contrast, Gordon Brown has had hardly a day off since he was given the job, and look at what has happened to him.
In an ideal world, politicians would be on holiday 12 months a year.
Update: lest anyone suffer from the illusion that I think that Boris is going to be a good mayor, I agree with much of what the columnist Brendan O’Neill has to say over at Reason about Johnson. However, O’Neill’s argument would be a bit more persuasive if he was not, himself, a self-declared fan of Karl Marx, who is not exactly a poster child for individual liberty.