Bob Stewart (British Army officer)
|Member of Parliament
7 May 2010
|Preceded by||Jacqui Lait|
7 July 1949 
|Awards||Distinguished Service Order|
|Service/branch|| British Army
United Nations Protection Force
|Years of service||1969–1996|
|Commands||1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment|
|Battles/wars||The Troubles (Operation Banner)
Bosnian War (Operation Grapple)
Colonel Robert Alexander Stewart, DSO (born 7 July 1949) is a former British Army officer, former United Nations commander in Bosnia, commentator, author, public speaker and Conservative Party politician. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Beckenham constituency in South-East London since the 2010 general election.
Born to a father serving in the military, Stewart was selected for officer training at the age of seventeen, and after two years of training at RMA Sandhurst was commissioned into the Cheshire Regiment as a second lieutenant on 25 July 1969. He was promoted to lieutenant on 25 January 1971. In 1974 he undertook an in-service Bachelor's degree in International Politics at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, graduating with first class honours. He was promoted captain on 25 July 1975. He guarded Rudolf Hess in Spandau Prison, Berlin.
Career in Northern Ireland
From 1977 served in Northern Ireland both as intelligence officer and, after attending Staff College, Camberley and promotion to major on 30 September 1981, company commander of A Company 1 CHESHIRE, with an intermediate period spent at RMA Sandhurst as an instructor. During his time in Northern Ireland he was the Incident Commander at the Droppin Well bombing in Ballykelly which killed seventeen people. Stewart heard the explosion and arrived at the scene two or three minutes later. Six of the dead soldiers were from his company, including his clerk and storeman. He received a personal commendation from the General commanding in Northern Ireland for his actions on the day.
He served in the Ministry of Defence, and was second in command of an infantry battalion. He was promoted lieutenant-colonel on 31 December 1987, and served as a military attaché to the NATO military committee in Brussels. In March 1991 he assumed command of 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, and as commanding officer returned to Northern Ireland for a further two operational tours and then became the first British Commander of United Nations forces in Bosnia from September 1992 to May 1993. It was as commanding officer in Bosnia, as part of Operation Grapple, that he earned the nickname "Bosnia Bob" and became something of a media personality. During his time in Bosnia he discovered the Ahmići massacre in which 103 people were killed. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order on 12 June 1993 on his return to the United Kingdom. He was promoted colonel on 31 December 1993, and went on to take up the position of Chief of Policy at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, before officially retiring from the army on 1 February 1996.
Career after the army
In 1997 Stewart took three weeks' leave from the public relations company Hill & Knowlton to help his friend Martin Bell who was standing for Parliament in Tatton as an Independent candidate. Stewart was alongside Bell when they were confronted by the sitting Conservative Member of Parliament for the constituency, Neil Hamilton and his wife Christine on Knutsford Heath. Bell, who was opposing Hamilton as a result of accusations that Hamilton had accepted money for promoting causes in Parliament, gave Stewart the credit for defining his criticism of Hamilton as having already admitted to "conduct unbecoming".
Since leaving the army Stewart has become a well-known commentator upon military and political affairs, frequently commenting upon the defence policy of the British Government and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2009 he condemned the system compensating injured soldiers, accusing the MOD of acting with "the speed of a striking sloth". He also accused the government of repeatedly refusing the requests of army commanders for more troops and more helicopters in Afghanistan.
On 28 July 2009, it was revealed that he had been approved to put himself forward for selection to constituency associations as a PPC for the Conservative Party. As the former commander of the Cheshire Regiment he was linked to the safe Conservative East Cheshire seats of Macclesfield and Congleton, however the final shortlists for Macclesfield and for Congleton from Conservative Central Office did not contain his name. In summer 2009 he was shortlisted for Beckenham, one of the safest Conservative seats in the country, and on 6 December it was announced that he had been selected as Conservative candidate there, winning an overall majority on the second ballot.
Stewart has been vocal in criticising cuts to the defence budget, suggesting In March 2015 that if the Joint Chiefs of Staff were to resign over the issue it would "make a very powerful message". When asked if he would resign as an MP himself, he said that he was considering it
In the 2015 general election he retained his seat.
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- Waller, Martin (20 July 2009). "Can Colonel Bob conquer books on business?". The Times. London. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
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- The London Gazette: . 26 January 1971. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
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- "HC Deb c216". Hansard. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- The London Gazette: . 11 January 1988. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
- "Desert Rats ready after rehearsal in bandit country". The Times. London. 16 September 1992.
- Badsey & Latawski 2004, p. 35.
- Finlan 2004, p. 56.
- "Ahmici sentences 'are just a start'". BBC News. 14 January 2000. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
- The London Gazette: . 11 June 1993. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 1993. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
- The London Gazette: . 5 February 1996. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
- Jenkins, Russell; Midgley, Carol (9 April 1997). "Bell's first dispatch from the front line". The Times. London. p. 1.
- "Martin Bell's campaign diary". The Guardian. Manchester. 6 May 1997.
- Brady, Brian; Owen, Jonathan (26 July 2009). "Revealed: £12bn hidden costs of Afghan war". The Independent. London. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
- Kirkup, James; Simpson, Aislinn; Britten, Nick (29 July 2009). "2,500 wounded British soldiers waiting for compensation, figures show". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
- Howie, Michael (31 July 2009). "Disclose full horror of our boys' injuries". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
- "Helicopters 'do not end war risk'". BBC News. 12 July 2009. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
- "Winterton's possible successor – six hopefuls revealed". Macclesfield Express. Retrieved 30 September 2009.
- Morgan, David (21 November 2009). "Middlewich candidates aim to start a new era for Tories". Retrieved 24 November 2009.
- "Col Bob Stewart accepted as Conservative candidate". The Daily Telegraph. London. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
- "Bob Stewart selected for Beckenham". ConservativeHome. 6 December 2009.
- "Beckenham Conservative: Bob Stewart". The Guardian. London. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
- "Defence Committee Chair election: Rory Stewart MP elected" (PDF). parliament.uk. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- Morris, Nigel (4 March 2015). "Col Bob Stewart: Defence chiefs 'should resign over Army cuts'". Independent. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
- Miles, Tim. "General Election Result 2015: Beckenham". bromley times. Archant Community Media. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- Col Bob Stewart DSO MP Official website
- Bob Stewart MP Conservative Party profile
- Beckenham Conservatives
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- 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
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Beckenham