OBE FRSL MP
|Chair of the Defence Select Committe|
14 May 2014
|Preceded by||James Arbuthnot|
|Member of Parliament
for Penrith and The Border
6 May 2010
|Preceded by||David Maclean|
3 January 1973 |
|Alma mater||Eton College
Balliol College, Oxford
Roderick 'Rory' James Nugent Stewart OBE FRSL MP (born 3 January 1973) is a British academic, author, diplomat, and Conservative politician and chair of the Defence Select Committee. Since May 2010, he has been the Member of Parliament for Penrith and The Border, in the county of Cumbria, North West England.
Stewart was a senior coalition official in a province of occupied Iraq in 2003–04. He is known for his book about this experience, The Prince of the Marshes (also published under the title Occupational Hazards), and for his 2002 walk across Afghanistan (one part of a larger walk across Asia), which served as the basis for another book, The Places in Between, as well as his later cultural development work in Afghanistan as the Founder and Executive Chairman of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, a British charity.
Stewart, whose family seat is Broich House near Crieff in Perthshire, Scotland, was born in Hong Kong, raised in Malaysia and Scotland and educated at the Dragon School and Eton College. During his gap year, he was commissioned in the Black Watch on 2 November 1991 as second lieutenant (on probation). He attended Balliol College, University of Oxford, where he read modern history and politics, philosophy and economics (PPE).
While a student at Oxford, he was a summer tutor to Prince William and Prince Harry. He holds Honorary Doctorates from the University of Stirling, as well as from the American University of Paris. As a teenager, he was a member of the Labour Party.
After graduating, Stewart joined the Foreign Office. He served in the British Embassy in Indonesia from 1997 to 1999, working on issues related to East Timor independence, and as the British Representative to Montenegro in the wake of the Kosovo campaign.
After the coalition invasion of Iraq, he was appointed the Coalition Provisional Authority Deputy Governorate Co-Ordinator in Maysan and Deputy Governorate Co-ordinator/Senior Advisor in Dhi Qar, two provinces in southern Iraq. His responsibilities included holding elections, resolving tribal disputes and implementing development projects. He faced an incipient civil war and growing civil unrest from his base in a Civil-Military Co-operation (CIMIC) compound in Al Amarah, and in May 2004 was in command of his compound in Nasiriyah when it was besieged by Sadrist militia. He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his service in Iraq at the age of 31. While Stewart initially supported the Iraq War, the International Coalition's inability to achieve a more humane, prosperous state led him in retrospect to believe the invasion had been a mistake.
Walking and travel
From 2000 to 2002 he travelled on foot through rural districts of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, India and Nepal, a journey totalling around 6000 miles, during which time he stayed in five hundred different village houses. He also walked across West Papua in 1998, in addition to making a number of long walks through Cumbria and Britain. Recently, he travelled into Libya a day after the fall of Colonel Gaddafi. He has also written about theory and practice of travel writings in prefaces to Thesiger's Arabia Sands, Doughty's Arabia Deserta and Byron's The Road to Oxiana.
In July 2008, he was appointed Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights at Harvard University and Director of the John F. Kennedy School of Government Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. He has frequently been called on to provide advice on Afghanistan and Iraq to policy-makers, particularly in the US, UK and Canada. Having acceded to the position on 1 January 2009, he combined the role with his charitable work in Afghanistan and with service on a number of boards, including the International Development Research Centre of Canada.
Stewart was awarded the Royal Scottish Geographical Society's Livingstone medal in 2009 "in recognition of his work in Afghanistan and his travel writing, and for his distinguished contribution to geography". Stewart left his position at Harvard in March 2010 (maintaining, however, an advisory position there), and stepped down as Executive Chairman of the Turquoise Mountain Trust in May 2010.
In 2006, at the request of the Prince of Wales and Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, he established, as Executive chairman, the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, a human development NGO, in Afghanistan, and relocated to Kabul. The Foundation aims to revive and preserve traditional crafts through a series of urban regeneration projects and the establishment of an accredited vocational institute, in the historic neighbourhood of Murad Khane.
His first book, The Places in Between, was an account of his 32-day solo walk across Afghanistan in early 2002. It was a New York Times best-seller, was named one of the New York Times' 10 notable books in 2006 and was hailed by the NYT as a "flat-out masterpiece". It won the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, a Scottish Arts Council prize, the Spirit of Scotland award and the Premio de Literatura de Viaje Caminos del Cid. It was short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. The book was adapted into a radio play by Benjamin Yeoh and was broadcast in 2007 on BBC Radio 4.
Stewart's second book, The Prince of the Marshes, describes his experiences as a Deputy Governorate Co-ordinator in Iraq. It too was critically acclaimed, the The New York Times saying "Stewart seems to be living one of the most remarkable lives on record." His books have been translated into French, Spanish, German, Danish, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Lithuanian and Bosnian. Stage versions, TV documentaries and film scripts have been optioned. Until 2008, when he took up his position at Harvard, Stewart resided in Kabul as Executive Chairman of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation.
Many of Stewart's articles (which have appeared in newspapers and magazines from the New York Times and the Guardian to the London and New York Review of Books), like his interviews on CNN, Al Jazeera, the BBC and Channel 4, have cautioned against over-ambitious foreign interventions, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. His 2008 cover article in Time magazine, where he debated against Presidential candidates Obama and McCain, arguing against a troop surge in Afghanistan has been shortlisted for an American Journalism Association Award.
Stewart's reflections on the circumstances under which outside military and political intervention in countries' internal affairs may or may not hope to achieve positive results are further distilled in a 2011 book, Can Intervention Work?, co-authored with Gerald Knaus and part of the Amnesty International Global Ethics Series.
Entry into politics
He was also shortlisted as one of three male and three female candidates for the Penrith and the Border constituency open caucus on 25 October 2009. He won the open primary (a process in which any registered voter from the constituency could attend and vote) to become the parliamentary candidate for the Conservatives for the 2010 election. He was returned as the MP for the constituency on 6 May 2010.
On 25 July 2010, Stewart apologised to his constituents after blogging about the relative poverty of rural areas and need for more public services. He was quoted in the Scottish Sun as saying that "Some areas around here are pretty primitive, people holding up their trousers with bits of twine." A light-hearted Guardian article, "In praise of … binder twine", whilst acknowledging the "serious effort" Stewart had made "walking hundreds of miles" to get to know his constituency believed he had simply underestimated the importance of the "ubiquitous and indispensable" twine to the rural community.
Stewart attended the exclusive Bilderberg Conference in June 2011, along with leading world politicians and bankers including UK Conservative Chancellor George Osborne. Columnist Charlie Skelton commented in the Guardian that this made it likely that Stewart would receive a "forthcoming promotion", based on the history of other politicians invited to the exclusive Bilderberg group. Stewart won the election for Chairman of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee on 14 May 2014 following a vote of all MPs.
Stewart is a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and contributed notably to the committee's report on Afghanistan. He is chairman of the APPG for Mountain Rescue and the APPG for Local Democracy. He is also an officer of the APPG for Rural Services. Within his constituency, Stewart's policy focus has been on broadband, mobile coverage, rural services and agriculture.
Hands Across The Border
In July 2014, Stewart launched a project in support of the union between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. The campaign, named Hands Across The Border, aims to construct a cairn built by members of the British public on the precise Scotland-England border in Gretna in the run up to the Scottish independence referendum. Stewart has said of the project: "We wanted to come up with a lasting marker of our union, something that future generations will look back at and remember, with deep gratitude, the moment we chose to stay together." The campaign has received support from several notable public figures in the UK, including actress Joanna Lumley, explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, mountaineers Alan Hinkes and Doug Scott and historians Simon Schama and David Starkey.
Veterans in the justice system
In January 2014 Stewart was asked by Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Justice, to lead a Government review into the reasons why a number of British veterans become criminal offenders after returning to civilian life. The review will also look at ways in which support and prevention for veterans in the justice system can be improved.
- On 16 & 23 January 2010, Stewart presented a two part series on The Legacy of Lawrence of Arabia on BBC2 in the UK.
- In May 2012, Stewart wrote and presented Afghanistan: The Great Game – A Personal View by Rory Stewart, a documentary in two parts written and presented by Stewart that tells the story of foreign intervention by Britain, Russia and the United States in Afghanistan from the 19th century to the present day, which aired on BBC2.
- On 30 March and 6 April 2014, Stewart presented a two-part BBC television documentary, Border Country: The Story of Britain's Lost Middleland, which investigates the rift created by Hadrian's Wall, and the issues of identity and culture in a region divided by the fabricated border.
- In August 2008, the UK media widely reported that Studio Canal and Brad Pitt's production company Plan B had bought the rights to a biopic of Stewart's life. The actor Orlando Bloom will apparently play Stewart. That Brad Pitt had bought the rights was confirmed on Lateline, on Australia's ABC on 29 July [year?]
- Stewart speaks some French, Persian (Dari), and Indonesian. He has also studied at school, in the Foreign Office, and on his Asian travels Latin, Greek, Russian, Chinese, Serbo-Croat, Urdu, and Nepali languages. He acknowledges that the latter three languages are "very rusty".
- Stratton, Allegra (26 October 2009). "Former royal tutor Rory Stewart selected for safe Tory seat". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- Penrith and the Border Conservatives Rory Stewart becomes MP for Penrith and the Border
- About Us Turquoise Mountain
- The London Gazette: . 13 January 1992. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
- Graduating Stirling students reap their rewards University of Stirling, 23 November 2009
- AUP official website
- Glover, Julian (14 January 2010). "Rory Stewart's awfully big adventure". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- Biography Rory Stewart
- "Interview: Rory Stewart". Harcourt Trade Publishers. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
- Rory Stewart biography Penrith and the Border Conservatives
- Can Rory Stewart Fix Afghanistan? National Geographic Adventure Magazine
- Paths of Glory New Yorker
- "Rory Stewart: A new kind of Tory". The Daily Telegraph (London). 1 November 2009.
- "Medals and Awards". Royal Scottish Geographical Society. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
- Declarations of Interests Rory Stewart
- "The Turquoise Mountain Foundation becomes The Prince's 18th charity". Prince of Wales. 25 March 2007. Retrieved 28 September 2008.
- Tom Bissell "A Walk Across Afghanistan", New York Times, 11 June 2006
- Letters Prospect Magazine, 22 January 2006
- Rory Stewart Rory Stewart Books
- Packer, George (28 September 2009). "The Last Mission. Richard Holbrooke's plan to avoid the mistakes of Vietnam in Afghanistan". The New Yorker.
- "Royal Society of Literature All Fellows". Royal Society of Literature. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
- Residents choose Tory candidate BBC News, 17 October 2009
- Rory Stewart for PM? Paul Waugh's Blog, London Evening Standard, 25 October 2009
- Ex-diplomat heads list to succeed Penrith MP David Maclean Cumberland News, 7 October 2009
- Tories confident Rory Stewart will take over from David Maclean News & Star, 8 April 2010
- Election 2010 – Penrith & the Border BBC News
- Tory Rory Stewart wins in Penrith Cumberland News, 8 May 2010
- "Tory MP 'sorry' for twine remark". BBC News. 25 July 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
- "In praise of … binder twine". London: Guardian Newspapers. 27 July 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
- "Bilderberg: lista dei partecipanti".
- ["http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/jun/10/bilderberg-2011-charlie-skelton" "Bilderberg 2011: George Osborne attending as chancellor"].
- "Scottish independence: 'cairn to celebrate union love'". BBC. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
- "Joanna Lumley shows support for union with Scotland". BBC. 31 August 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
- Home & Background, Rory Stewart, UK.
- "Conservative MP Rory Stewart to marry American volunteer at his Afghan charity".
- The London Gazette: . 12 June 2004. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
- The Legacy of Lawrence of Arabia BBC Two
- Official BBC site
- Desert Island Discs – Rory Stewart, BBC Radio 4, 20 January 2008.
- Orlando Bloom to make a star of Rory The First Post, 19 August 2008
- The Places in Between, Picador, 2004–2006
- Occupational Hazards: My Time Governing in Iraq, Picador, 2006, ISBN 0-330-44049-7
- Published in the US as The Prince of the Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq, Harcourt, 2006, ISBN 0-15-101235-0
- Can Intervention Work? Amnesty International Global Ethics Series, co-authored with Gerald Knaus. W.W. Norton and Co. (Published in the USA on 15 August 2011; due for UK publication on 7 October 2011). ISBN 0-393-08120-6.
- Rory Stewart MP Official constituency website
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Electoral history and profile at The Guardian
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
- Articles authored at Journalisted
- Rory Stewart Books, Official books site
- The Turquoise Mountain Foundation
- Biography and picture, from Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
- "Afghanistan: What Could Work", by Rory Stewart in the "New York Review of Books", Vol. 57 No. 1 dated 14 January 2010
- "The Irresistible Illusion", by Rory Stewart in the London Review of Books, Vol. 31 No. 13 dated 9 July 2009 – Concerning Afghanistan
- "Degrees of Not Knowing", by Rory Stewart in the London Review of Books, Vol. 27 No. 7 dated 31 March 2005 – Concerning Iraq
- "My enemy's enemies", by Rory Stewart. Reprinted from the Financial Times, 18 September 2004 – Concerning Afghanistan
- "Diary", by Rory Stewart in the London Review of Books, Vol. 23 No. 17 dated 6 September 2001 – Walk across Iran
- "Losing the south", by Rory Stewart in Prospect Magazine, November 2005
- "Dervishes", by Rory Stewart in Granta, 15 June 2002
- "Iranian girls", by Rory Stewart in Prospect Magazine, November 2001
- "Days of hope and hubris", interview by Robert Hanks in The Independent, 23 June 2006
- "In the thick of it", profile by David Robinson in The Scotsman, 24 June 2006
- "Stewart of Afghanistan", profile by Aryn Baker in Time, 19 April 2007
- "Can Rory Stewart Fix Afghanistan?", profile by Paul Kvinta in National Geographic Adventure Magazine, June 2007
- "A new kind of Tory", profile by Anna Van Praagh in Daily Telegraph, November 2009
- "Paths of Glory", profile by Ian Parker in the New Yorker, 15 November 2010 (subscription required)
- “Rory Stewart: adventurer, academic, MP ...PM?”, profile by Sathnam Sanghera in The Times, 4 December 2013 (subscription required)
- “The secret of modern Britain is there is no power anywhere”, profile by Decca Aitkenhead in The Guardian, 3 January 2014
- “The Old Etonian David Cameron should have been”, profile by Peter McKay in The Spectator, 11 January 2014
- “Rory Stewart wants the Scots and English to join hands over Hadrians Wall”, profile by Michael Buerk in Radio Times, 30 March 2014
- "Authors @ Google: Rory Stewart" YouTube – Discussion of his walk across Afghanistan and his NGO, the Turquoise Mountain Foundation
- Stewart on Afghanistan London Frontline Club, 11 March 2009
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Penrith and The Border