Rory Stewart’s CV would put most of us to shame. Still only fifty, he’s been a tutor to princes, a serving soldier, a British diplomat (and, some say, an intelligence officer), an acclaimed travel writer, deputy governor of an Iraqi province, a charity founder, a Harvard professor, a Member of Parliament, a cabinet minister and a Tory leadership contender. But it’s only in the last year or two, primarily in his role as co-presenter of one of the country’s most popular podcasts, The Rest is Politics, that he’s become something of a national treasure.
Not everyone would put him in that category, of course, especially if they happen to be one of the Tory politicians skewered by Stewart in this memoir. Admittedly, one or two of his erstwhile colleagues (David Gauke, now one of the country’s most astute political columnists, being the standout example) emerge from this tale with their reputations intact – or indeed enhanced. But they are the exceptions.
Some of the rest – Messrs Shapps, Hancock and Gove, for instance – appear simply to be snakes. Others are even worse. David Cameron not only proves even more arrogant and insouciant than we thought he was but also, by dint of his preference for promoting media darlings rather