22 JANUARY 1972, Page 5

Change in the weather

It seemed very noticeable on Tuesday morning, the day after members of Parliament returned to Westminster from their Christmas recess, that the political weather had changed: there was a chill in the air, and heavy clouds and whippy winds presaged storms. Rhodesia was going wrong, the Common Market was far from going right, the miners' strike showed signs of turning very sour. I wonder whether there is a simple correlation between the popularity of a government and parliamentary recesses. Do administrations because more popular when members are away, and less so when they return?