Phew! So that’s it, then. The House has risen for the long summer recess. MPs have packed their bags and escaped from the hot and smelly, crowded, bad- tempered London to look for inspiration and solace, relaxation and refreshment in the green fields of home (in my case bar a small expedition which I will tell you about when I get back), at assorted destinations.
It’s been an intense and rather bad-tempered June and July. We all want a chance to do some constituency work and recharge the batteries before our return in September with the prospect of the Scottish referendum, the party conferences, then the longest general election campaign on record until next May.
Yet the world will not stop while we are away, and there are many reasons why we may well be recalled. The unspeakable Lockerbie-like horror of the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner will have consequences not dissimilar to 9/11 or 7/7. It was either the Russians who did it, or bad people under their command and using their weaponry.
It was not intentional, but President Putin’s guilt is not assuaged by that. He is guilty of mass manslaughter at the very least. The West must not ignore it, or we will be sending an unmistakeable message about our weakness. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are in his sights, and we should never forget that they are full members of the EU and NATO.
Russian influence is also felt in the carnage of the Middle East. There is terrorism in Libya, instability in Egypt, total collapse in Syria and Iraq, probable troubles to come in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and all of that is without mentioning a land-war and increasing tension in Gaza. A region which stretches from the Sahara to the Chinese border (in the Hindu Kush) from the borders of Europe (in Turkey) to the Indian Ocean is in melt-down. It makes the Scottish referendum and the ministerial reshuffle feel like playground politics.
So while it is right that we should all enjoy our summer, let us always spare a thought for the millions of people who are suffering most dreadfully. The families of the innocent victims of the Malaysian flight; Christians in Iraq being crucified; millions of displaced people in Lebanon, the Jordan, and within Syria and Iraq; Palestinians and Israeli civilians alike receiving incoming rocket fire; bombing and killing in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is no summer recess for them.