Possibly the most eccentric living English politician, Boris is the MP for Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. Notable for spectacularly missing the point on Have I Got News For You (comic current affairs quiz in "scripted" shocker!), he has gone on to present it in characteristically meandering and benign style, liberally sprinkled with entertaining propaganda. In a bid to make the business of political campaigning more open to the reading public, he wrote "Friends, Voters, Countrymen" about his rise to as much power and glory as an opposition politician is likely to see, including dodging the occasional bread roll missile and quite a lot of tactless but very funny observations about the people he met along the way. Easily the Conservative party's most popular member (except in Liverpool - something about 'grief junkies'...), he was very recently (November 2004) sacked from the shadow cabinet for supposedly deceiving the Conservative leader about an alleged affair with a colleague. He originally described this story with the immortal words "an inverted pyramid of piffle", but has gone a little quiet more recently.

However, his foremost work has been as a journalist, working for the Daily Telegraph for many years and, more recently, as editor of the Spectator he has given the world intelligent reporting and opinion pieces about everything from British integration in Europe to... err... Liverpudlians, living up to his avowed wish to infuriate and educate. His background includes an education at Eton and Oxford (Balliol College, where he studied Classics), several years as the Telegraph's Brussels correspondent and a long-standing interest in politics (president of the Union in his student days).

His detractors would have it that he's tactless, upper-class, an overgrown schoolboy and a snob (this last, at least, seems untrue), but they can't deny that he's brought a level of principle and integrity to British politics that are otherwise not very evident. He's never been afraid to criticise any party, including his own, when he believes that what they're doing is wrong and takes every opportunity to argue the case for what he believes in. His media role has allowed him to reach a far greater public than is possible for most Conservative politicians and he has enthusiastically used this to attack the government with considerable effectiveness, believing that "they now seek to achieve through oppressive regulation what they used to try to do through nationalization". In somewhat tongue-in-cheek style, he defines what he believes Conservatism should be about as "free-market, tolerant, broadly libertarian (though not, perhaps, ultra-libertarian), inclined to see the merit of traditions, anti-regulation, pro-immigrant, pro-standing on your own two feet, pro-alcohol, pro-hunting, pro-motorist and ready to defend to the death the right of Glenn Hoddle to believe in reincarnation". (Glenn Hoddle sample quote: "His tackle was definitely pre-ordained".) Boris's description of Tony Blair as "a mixture of Harry Houdini and a greased piglet" also tends to stick in the mind.

He must be about the only politician to have several fan sites devoted to him that aren't actually run by his campaign team: www.wibbler.com/boriswatch is quite fun.

'Lend me your ears' - Boris Johnson (collection of his newspaper columns from the past fifteen years or so)


I missed a couple of very important points, thank you a scar faery and Oolong. Firstly, his hair. It's like no other, what you might get if a thatched cottage and an exploding feather pillow shared a night of passion. And secondly, his official website, www.boris-johnson.com, is a regularly updated mine of information about the great man.