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Britain's traditional summer holiday period is drawing to a close. But for smart MPs their holidays are only just beginning.

Wordly-wise politicians know that August is far and away the last month in the year in which to give their campaigns – and their ego – a good airing.

It is usually the time of year when the newspapers are crying out for stories to fill their columns.

In accountancy of course this August has not been a silly season. Stories of football’s financial woes, the continuing concerns surrounding the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and further tribulations of Andersen’s UK staff, have made it a particularly interesting time.

In politics veteran Labour MP Tam Dalyell, father of the House of Commons, is prime example of a someone who knows better than any spin doctor in Whitehall how to work the media.

Dalyell, who is at the forefront of the campaign against going to war with Iraq and who campaigns so tirelessly on the issue of Lockerbie, enjoyed huge newspaper coverage during August. It was campaigning which would barely have seen the light of day at any other time.

And that was why David Davies, the deposed chairman of the Conservative Party was delighted to be in charge during August while his ‘assassin’ Iain Duncan Smith was reclining on his sunbed.

And Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool, Riverside, has been getting huge publicity for her campaign to improve the West Coast railway line.

That was also why the deputy PM, John Prescott chose August to liken his ‘enemy’ Peter Mandelson to a river crab.

So it is only now that Tam Dalyell and his friends are heading for the sand and the sea. For all these people August has never been the ‘silly season’. It is, and always will, be the eminently sensible season.

  • Chris Moncrieff is a senior political analyst at PA news

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