Politics On The Edge

Politics On The Edge


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Lane Books Review

I first encountered Rory Stewart when reading his amazing memoir, The Places in Between (2004), detailing his solo walk across north-central Afghanistan in 2002, and then later his moving, The Marches (2016), which details his thirty-day walk with his ninety-year-old father Brian, through Scotland and England 2011. And then came the podcast in 2022, The Rest is Politics, which he co-hosts with Alistair Campbell. Already an avid fan, reading Stewart’s latest literary contribution was non-negotiable.  

Rory Stewart has an impressive CV – A British academic, diplomat, author, broadcaster, former soldier and former politician. In Politics On the Edge: A Memoir From Within (2023), Stewart details in an uncompromising and candid manner, the “cronyism, ignorance and sheer incompetence” he observed during his time as a Conservative MP, during the Cameron, May Prime Ministerships, resigning when Boris Johnson was elected in 2019. Walking being in his DNA, the first thing Stewart did when seeking pre-selection in the seat of Cumbria, was walk.  He walked through villages, towns and the rural areas, speaking with locals about what were the issues most affecting them.  He wanted to make a difference. Something he felt he did not achieve during his time in Iraq. But, to his great regret he quickly realised that party politics ruled and making any change was nigh on impossible. To vote against the party-line was career-ending, something Stewart ultimately experience firsthand.  

A worthwhile, intelligent read, but which prompts the more than occasional wry smile. You will want to then pick up his other books, and maybe even tune in to the podcast!   

Publishers Review

Over the course of a decade from 2010, Rory Stewart went from being a political outsider to standing for prime minister - before being sacked from a Conservative Party that he had come to barely recognise.

Tackling ministerial briefs on flood response and prison violence, engaging with conflict and poverty abroad as a foreign minister, and Brexit as a Cabinet minister, Stewart learned first-hand how profoundly hollow and inadequate our democracy and government had become. Cronyism, ignorance and sheer incompetence ran rampant. Around him, individual politicians laid the foundations for the political and economic chaos of today. Stewart emerged battered but with a profound affection for his constituency of Penrith and the Border, and a deep direct insight into the era of populism and global conflict.

Politics On the Edge invites us into the mind of one of the most interesting actors on the British political stage. Uncompromising, candid and darkly humorous, this is his story of the challenges, absurdities and realities of political life; a new classic of political memoir and a remarkable portrait of our age.