The Sketch: The PM's pupil - full of charm, comic timing and excellent hair

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It seemed an indecorous remark to me, and I'm at home in the gutter, remember. Nonetheless, there are decencies the House likes to maintain and while I have a low - some say vile - mind, even I maintain there are some things better left unsaid. Not to beat around the bush any further, Keith Vaz called Alan Milburn a prick.

It seemed an indecorous remark to me, and I'm at home in the gutter, remember. Nonetheless, there are decencies the House likes to maintain and while I have a low - some say vile - mind, even I maintain there are some things better left unsaid. Not to beat around the bush any further, Keith Vaz called Alan Milburn a prick.

I agree, I agree, awful, appalling, I shouldn't have reported it, I blame myself and apologise on behalf of everyone concerned. "The political willy's there!" Mr Vaz announced, referring down to Mr Milburn there at the dispatch box once again. Extraordinarily unparliamentary thing to say, especially in parliament. Colleagues try to excuse Mr Vaz on homophonic grounds, that he was trying to say, "The political will is there," but I know what I heard.

Now that the phrase is on the record we might as well make use of it. Mr Milburn is back as Tony Blair's political willy. Sometimes the Prime Minister leads with his chin and sometimes he doesn't. Mr Milburn has been recalled from his wilderness year to a £130,000-a-year cabinet job where he bears the heavy responsibility of shafting Gordon Brown.

He was spotted by the Sketch a couple of years ago harbouring leadership ambitions (it was the hair that gave him away). When he left the Government last year and returned to the back benches it was remarkable how he didn't return to the back benches. He would stand in a watchful, slightly sinister way behind the Speaker's chair. He never sat down with the chooks. "I am with you but not of you," was the message he conveyed. "I am among you but above you. I can't sit down because destiny is about to call and I need to be near the door."

It was an astonishingly stupid mistake for an ambitious politician to make (the chooks observed it, as did we all, and they resented it). Perhaps it's why Mr Vaz called him what he did.

Julian Lewis - fangs dripping audibly with saturated venom - welcomed him to the dispatch box. He made a point so intricate about Alastair Campbell and the switchboard routing of calls to Downing Street that it was hard to take at face value. Mr Milburn ignored it; he has learnt well the lessons that his Prime Minister has to teach.

Mr Milburn has charm, comic timing, intelligence, toughness, insouciance and excellent hair. He is pushing the reform agenda; the "things can only get better" motif that you may have forgotten. In a pre-question time press conference he announced that he was an optimist and Tories were pessimists. Actually, I'm a pessimist but I wouldn't call myself a Tory. I believe that things will get worse and that Alan Milburn will be playing a prominent part in the process.

I'm very optimistic that I'll be proved right. As an optimistic pessimist I'm probably New Labour. Shall I stand up and be counted, along with Alan Milburn and all the other political willies?

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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