Rory the Tory?

File under “Who knew?” The Guardian reports that Rory Stewart has been selected as a candidate for the UK’s parliament from a safe (10,000 majority) Conservative seat. In one of those moves that makes me think that parliamentary systems are odd sometimes, one of his first actions will be to move so that he actually lives in the district he will represent. “I will be straight on to the estate agent in the morning,” the Guardian quotes him as saying. “I’m very much looking forward to living in the constituency and getting to know everybody.”

(Stewart’s been a soldier, a diplomat, a wanderer, a provincial governor in Iraq, a professor at Harvard and is currently a director of a significant charity helping part of Afghanistan, yet the Guardian web edition’s headline writer chooses to identify him as “Former royal tutor Rory Stewart.” What does that say about Britain? Or the Guardian? Or perhaps the Guardian’s perceptions of its audience?)

I would not have pegged the author of The Places In Between as a Tory, though on closer consideration I think he’s too much of a loose cannon an independent thinker to be much of a back-bencher at all. Anyone who drops everything to walk across Asia and spends the winter of 2001 walking across central Afghanistan is not likely to be fazed by a party whip. I haven’t yet read The Prince of the Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq, which probably gives a better sense of how he’ll do in constituent service. Maybe he’ll turn out splendidly. Still, he’s had a decade of changing jobs every year or two, is he likely to settle down to work in Westminster? (On the other hand, I asked the same question about Bobby Jindal, with whom I have a passing acquaintance, and he’s still on the job.)

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