When you tell people you work in or around politics, and if you can break through the initial contempt or boredom, one type of question tends to surface first: 'what is so-and-so really like?' There are three answers to that question, only one of them good:
'They're exactly how they come across on telly', which — unless you're the likes of Boris Johnson or William Hague — is usually not a compliment. It tends to mean the individual is the kind of wooden, humourless, unthinking, battery hen politician that makes the public yawn, scream or both;
'They're a total (uncomplimentary word)'. That word might refer to their private behaviour towards colleagues, staff or civil servants; their obsession with self-adoration and self-promotion; or their excessive indulgence in various vices, from frequent hard liquor to casual sexual harassment; or
'You'd really change your mind about them if you met them in private'.