Meet Rory Stewart
Meet Rory Stewart
Rory Stewart - the Independent candidate for Mayor of London - has spent his life tackling challenges in some of the toughest contexts in the world.
He lives now in the same London house, which he lived in as a child - the son of a civil servant and soldier and the grandson of a London doctor.
After a very brief period as an infantry officer (a Short Service Limited Commission in the Black Mp Watch before University) he joined the UK Diplomatic Service, serving overseas in Indonesia, the Balkans and as the coalition Deputy-Governor of two provinces in the Marsh Arab region of Southern Iraq following the Iraq intervention of 2003. There, he worked to bring communities together that had been ripped apart by a generation of dictatorship, extremism and war: rebuilding schools, hospitals and roads, resolving tribal disputes and holding elections.
On leave from the Foreign Service he walked for 21 months crossing Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal, staying in 500 village houses on the journey. From 2005 to 2008 he was the Chair and Chief Executive of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation based in Kabul, which he built from one to three hundred employees, rebuilding a section of the city, establishing a clinic, primary school, and businesses. After leaving Afghanistan, Rory was made a professor at Harvard University: teaching students about war, international development and the importance of good leadership.
He took up an invitation from David Cameron for people who had never been involved in politics before to become a Member of Parliament and was elected MP for Penrith and the Border in 2010. There Rory focused on the issues that mattered to local people: saving the local cinema and community ambulance, and bringing high-speed broadband to this large rural community. He served in government in numerous roles, as Africa Minister – fighting climate change in some of the world’s poorest countries – and as an Environment Minister, tackling issues from flooding to protecting hedgehogs. He took the plastic bag tax through the House of Commons, which has reduced the number of plastic bags by billions.
As Prisons Minister, he focused his energy on reducing violence - and promised to resign if he didn’t successfully cut assaults in Britain’s ten most troubled jails. He took a hands on approach: setting up a war room and bringing in a military commander to run it. He combined a tough focus on security, especially stopping drugs getting inside, with meaningful rehabilitation programmes for offenders. He succeeded in reducing violence within seven months.
Rory was promoted to International Development Secretary last May, and doubled his department’s spending on combating climate change.
When Theresa May announced she was resigning as Prime Minister, Rory was an underdog candidate in the race to succeed her. His campaign focused on flying the flag for centre ground practical politics.
Last September, when Boris Johnson made it clear he was prepared to countenance a No Deal Brexit, Rory worked with MPs from all parties to stop this - and resigned from the Conservative Party.