IF you've a moment, please spare it to glance to your right at today's From Our Files column and its entry for 1975 reporting that prime minister Harold Wilson was breaking into his Scilly Isles holiday to launch the government's anti-inflation campaign. There's dedication for you. Wilson was devoted to the Isles but the job came first. Ah well, times change. Why have we not been allowed to know where Tony and Cherie Blair and family are on holiday? The request to the media to keep quiet about the location (if they knew it) came from Mr Blair's director of communications who wrote to newspaper editors some three weeks ago asking them not to publicise the prime minister's destination until after his return. The letter stressed that there was no specific intelligence of a threat to Mr Blair while on holiday but suggested that it was just common sense to avoid giving any information unnecessarily. I don't believe that security is the issue, although it provides a convenient excuse for keeping the Blair's holiday arrangements under cover. There could be a number of reasons for wanting to do this, apart from the obvious one of privacy; Mr Blair's penchant for accepting the hospitality of rich friends has been criticised in the past but this aspect of his holiday will doubtless be examined when he returns. No, I think that this security blanket is simply another facet of Mr Blair's increasing detachment from contact with possible sources of criticism. His preference is for a presidential-style premiership in which he appears only occasionally to deliver set piece statements at a press conference. He deals with the inescapable Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons by ignoring the question and answering one of his own. He hates being caught out as he was in the TV election debate over doctors' waiting times. There's another thing. When it was announced that Mr Blair woud not break his holiday for Robin Cooke's funeral the reason given was that the necessary security arrangement would be distracting for the mourners. This week The Times dropped the news that Gaynor Cooke had asked Mr Blair not to attend. I wonder which account is right.
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