Camerons set for Italian Villa holiday - at £9,500 a week

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The nation performed a collective squirm every time it emerged where the Blairs were holidaying - and which lavish freebie they were taking advantage of next. The news of the Camerons' holiday has emerged, and it has inspired less squirming, and more jaw-dropping, because their villa is said to cost £9,500 a week.

So is this level of luxury right and air at a time like this?


Luxury holiday
The Camerons seem a bit unsure. On the one hand they are staying in a property with no expense spared. The 18th century villa they are rumoured to be staying in is in the hills of Tuscany and has no shortage of space for the three families travelling together. To keep them entertained the property has a swimming pool, tennis court, billiard table, and state of the art TV. They can also wander the vineyards and olive groves, browse the antique furniture and crystal chandeliers - while putting to the back of their minds the camping holidays the rest of us will be taking.

The total bill is said to be around 11,000 euros, of which the Camerons will be paying around £5,800. Downing Street didn't confirm the details but said the family was paying the market rate for their break - no special deals for David and Samantha.

It's a world away from the Cornish break they took last summer just before the birth of their youngest daughter Florence, and in another league from the caravanning breaks the Labour cabinet used to treat themselves to. It reveals that essentially the family have put their need for a proper break and a bit of luxury above the need to pretend we are all in anything together. And why not? It's not as if they are short of money.

Veneer of austerity
However, there is still the veneer of austerity, as they are taking a budget flight. It means the airport photographers have shots of them being careful with money, they have to endure a few hours of less than luxurious travel, then they get to cosy themselves away for a fortnight in luxury - away from the cameras.

This cynical ploy goes to show that somewhere deep down they realise that this holiday shows us that the Camerons themselves have no idea of the kind of financial bind the majority of the country is in. While we struggle to afford even the shortest and cheapest of breaks, staying with friends and family, or going away for the day, they have no hesitation in booking a fortnight of opulence.

There's no reason why we should resent this holiday. Just like any other highly-paid, wealthy family, they are entitled to splash their cash. Just as they have been entitled to take short breaks for the rest of the year to Granada, Ibiza and all the rest of it.

It just means that next time they don their hair shirts and tell us that we all need to make sacrifices for the good of the country, we're not going to be convinced they have the slightest idea what they are talking about.