The Sketch: Enter Mr Boris, or was it Mr Scruffy or Mr Silly?

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The Independent Online

There is a notice outside the Oxford Union library. They are withdrawing their Mr Men books. The whole set is named in the notice. Only two have ever been taken out, once each, five years ago.

There is a notice outside the Oxford Union library. They are withdrawing their Mr Men books. The whole set is named in the notice. Only two have ever been taken out, once each, five years ago.

Which ones, you wonder? Mr Grumpy, Mr Grumble, Mr Greedy or Mr Mean? As you go down the list you can't help thinking what a manual for the Conservative Party they seem to be. There's Mr Muddle and Mr Noisy and Mr Mischief. And our old friends Mr Silly and Mr Nonsense. Ah, and Mr Impossible: he's needed more than ever. Say hello, Mr Impossible!

On a completely different subject, Mr Boris is in the Oxford Union. He's come to address the student body. He draws the closest thing to a full house. After lunch, mid-week on a Thursday, a month from finals - that's very impressive. He's a celebrity they say.

He's clearly a star. He draws the eye. You know you ought to know who he is. Well, you know who I mean and I haven't even given his full name. He shambles through the door in that particular way he has, his head set low, tucking his shirt into the back of his pants as he stalks up to the table and already we're smiling.

He makes everyone laugh. He says "staphylococcus" and they laugh. He says the Tory party has no objection to anyone, man or woman, wearing a bra, and they laugh. He makes a point about the Common Agriculture Policy saying: "They discriminate in a way I would describe as evil" and they laugh. That couldn't be right, surely?

But he went on: "Act one, scene one, day one, line one, on becoming president of the European Union we will change the infamous Common Agriculture Policy!" And then I was laughing too. Mrs Thatcher couldn't do it. Tony Blair hasn't been able to do it. But Boris says his front bench of has-beens and never-will-bes is going to dispense with the CAP before morning tea.

Because he has a comically disorganised exterior, people assume - and this is peculiar when you think about it - that he is ferociously organised inside. Entre nous, I suspect it's worse inside than out. I'm afraid he's become a character, a card. Is that helpful to his party? How selfless he must be, to put himself into this sort of service.

Later, Boris got on a bus. It was a photocall: Tory uses public transport! I looked at the people in the Cornmarket. Hooded youths, hair gel, facial metal, aggressive hangovers, sports kit. How far - how very far - the Tories are from being able to address those people. Boris makes me think his party will never get back into power, not (and I say this in the nicest possible way) while he's in it.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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