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Politics on the Edge: A Memoir from Within…
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Politics on the Edge: A Memoir from Within (edição: 2023)

de Rory Stewart (Autor)

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2387115,311 (4.37)5
"Rory Stewart was an unlikely politician. He was best known for his two-year walk across Asia-in which he crossed Afghanistan, essentially solo, in the months after 9/11-and for his service, as a diplomat in Iraq, and Afghanistan. But in 2009, he abandoned his chair at Harvard University to stand for a seat in Parliament, representing the communities and farms of the Lake District and the Scottish border-one of the most isolated and beautiful districts in England. He ran as a Conservative, though he had no prior connection to the politics and there was much about the party that he disagreed with. How Not to Be a Politician is a candid and penetrating examination of life on the ground as a politician in an age of shallow populism, when every hard problem has a solution that's simple, appealing, and wrong. While undauntedly optimistic about what a public servant can accomplish in the lives of his constituents, the book is also a pitiless insider's expos of the game of politics at the highest level, often shocking in its displays of rampant cynicism, ignorance, glibness, and sheer incompetence. Stewart witnesses Britain's vote to leave the European Union and its descent into political civil war, compounded by the bad faith of his party's leaders-David Cameron, Boris Johnson, and Liz Truss. Finally, after nine years of service and six ministerial roles, and shocked by his party's lurch to the populist right, Stewart ran for prime minister. Stewart's campaign took him into the lead in the opinion polls, head-to-head against Boris Johnson. How Not to Be a Politician is his effort to make sense of it all, including what has happened to politics in Britain and the world and how we can fix it. The view into democracy's dark heart is troubling, but at every turn Stewart also finds allies and ways to make a difference. A bracing, invigorating mix of irony and love infuses How Not to Be a Politician. This is one of the most revealing memoirs written by a politician in living memory"--… (mais)
Membro:alisonfrances
Título:Politics on the Edge: A Memoir from Within
Autores:Rory Stewart (Autor)
Informação:Penguin Audio (2023)
Coleções:Sua biblioteca, Lendo atualmente
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Etiquetas:Nenhum(a)

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Politics On the Edge de Rory Stewart

Adicionado recentemente porClivePugh, mkmcgraw, LascaSartoris, KathrynEastman, biblioteca privada, DannyClaydenChambers, brads104, Carlos_C
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Mostrando 1-5 de 7 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Illuminating and frustrating, but a good read.
I enjoyed this book, which provides some insight into Rory Stewart’s time as a member of the UK’s parliament. Stewart comes from a very privileged background and fits easily into my image of a typical Conservative Member of Parliament, benefiting from not being a career MP, and being an ex-MP now allowing him to be reasonably candid in his views.

I found myself skipping through the Brexit negotiations chapter, not because it was uninteresting, but because I am still so angry at the economic and social shortsightedness of the “hard Brexit” gamblers.
But then the chapters about Stewart’s attempt to become the leader of the Conservative Party (and Prime Minister), primarily against Boris Johnson, were fascinating and gripping, as I had not followed this at the time. These chapters of course also have the inevitability of Greek tragedy, as we know that Johnson wins the leadership contest (and the almost complete mess that followed). ( )
  CarltonC | Apr 3, 2024 |
A magnificent read, just like everything else that Rory Stewart has turned out - this is the third of his that I've read, and each one has left me with the unmistakable impression of being in the company of a writer whose work will be fit for posterity.

In this book, Rory summarises his political career, from the decision to run for office through to his withdrawal from this side of public life after failing to become the next Prime Minister. It is a book of honesty - and at times, about Rory's startling naivety, such as when he agreed to meet the unreliable Michael Gove around the time of the leadership contest, as if he though anything could come of that... - and one that paints a brighter picture of some political figures, while simultaneously suggesting that the whole system is broken. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Feb 9, 2024 |
I don’t often read the memoirs of politicians. One thinks of those invariably huge and unbelievably tedious books written by former prime ministers which are little more than extended essays in self-justification. Every ex-PM gets one, but who reads them? Rory Stewart isn’t a former prime minister, though not for want of trying. His book is certainly not short on self-justification but is also reflective, passionate and unusually frank.

Stewart was, in many ways, a Tory politician from central casting: a patriotic Old Etonian who revered the monarchy and the military, and believed in limited government, tradition and slow change. His pro-European views and mild social liberalism, not to mention his intelligence and charm, would once have placed him at the head of his party. That he was eventually expelled from the parliamentary Conservative Party, along with twenty other MPs for voting against a no-deal Brexit, tells you nothing about him, but a great deal about the Conservative Party’s reinvention as a populist party of the right.

Stewart spent nearly ten years in Parliament. What he has to say about it has been said many times before by others, though not usually - with the notable exception of Tony Benn - by former cabinet ministers. He portrays a parliamentary system in which loyalty to the leader is rewarded and independent thought and action punished. A politics dominated by empty slogans and party self-interest. Senior civil servants who stand in the way of change and a highly centralised system in which all power flows downwards from the prime minister. Ministers appointed to departments they have little knowledge of and then quickly reshuffled to new ones before they can learn. As Stewart observes, some of the appointments themselves look to the innocent eye wilfully perverse: doctors appointed to the Department of Justice and lawyers to the Department of Health. A little learning in a minister evidently being regarded as a dangerous thing. Stewart himself served in six different ministerial positions in four departments in less than four years. Before becoming an MP he had extensive experience as a diplomat in the Middle East and Asia, but in the Foreign Office he was made Minister for Africa (despite protesting to the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, that he knew nothing about Africa). After that, having by his own admission never given a thought to the subject of prisons, he was put in charge of all the prisons in England and Wales. Still, Prisons Minister was a role he came to love and have some success at.

Stewart emerges from his own account as a complex, self-divided, and even paradoxical figure. His disillusionment with Parliament started not long after entering its hallowed portals. ‘Parliament’, he writes, ‘increasingly reminded me of a boarding school, stripped by scarlet fever of most of the responsible adults and all the nicer and kinder pupils’. Yet he remained politically ambitious. He was, it seems, simultaneously sceptical of power and desirous of it; appalled by the reality of Parliament, he nonetheless remained spellbound by the idea of Parliament and the political life. He admits that, as a backbencher, he usually towed the party line and didn’t speak out publicly about things he privately disagreed with. He was deeply serious with a strong self-publicising streak. He also combined formidable intellect with a capacity for breathtaking naivety which sometimes landed him in trouble. He once told a tabloid journalist that parts of his rural constituency were ‘pretty primitive’ and some of the old farmers held their trousers up with twine. He genuinely meant no offence and was horrified by the entirely predictable media storm in a teacup which followed (he reveals in the book that he briefly contemplated suicide).

He writes affectionately about his Cumbrian constituents and admiringly of Ken Clarke, David Gauke and Theresa May. Most of the Conservative big hitters he encountered during his parliamentary career, however, are summarily dispatched in elegant yet lethal prose: David Cameron, Liz Truss and, of course, Boris Johnson. But, although it contains a great deal of anger, frustration and sadness, Politics on the Edge is remarkably free of bitterness. Stewart’s critique is essentially of structures and culture. The individual actors enabled by the system are almost incidental and certainly interchangeable. Stewart is writing about a Conservative administration but most of what he has to say about it would also apply to a Labour one. And, although his personal political drama took place in Britain, it has much wider relevance. This is the story of a moderate and rational politician gradually being engulfed by the rising tide of populism, fantasising demagogues, and the polarising tendencies of social media. He also writes well about print and broadcast journalists obsessed with political trivia. All these themes come together in the gripping final chapters which deal with his 2019 leadership bid.

I’m not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Conservative Party, but I admired Rory Stewart even when he was an MP and, after reading this powerful and thoughtful memoir, I admired him even more. ( )
  gpower61 | Jan 31, 2024 |
I had the good fortune, perhaps I should say the privilege, to meet Rory Stewart several times during his period as Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, during which time he was generally referred to by the media as ‘the Prisons Minister’. Indeed, such was his profile at that time that I suspect that many of the public thought he was in charge of the department, although it was Rt Hon David Gauke who was Secretary of State. Stewart and Gauke had a strong working relationship (which has not always … indeed, seldom … been the case between ministers in some of the other departments in which I have worked). That relationship worked because both Gauke and Stewart were small L liberals, intent upon improving a system that had been creaking under the burden of years, or perhaps even decades, of poor administration and lamentable under-funding. But more of that in a moment.

Rory Stewart’s path into politics was unusual. He had previously served as a soldier and then a diplomat, and had acted as Deputy Governor of one of the provinces of Iraq following the invasion by American and British forces in 2003. He had also undertaken spells as an academic, teaching at Yale University. Having decided to enter politics, he was initially unsure which most closely aligned with his own views, eventually becoming Conservative MP for Penrith and the Borders (the largest parliamentary constituency by area in England). He sets out a lot of the frustrations that a constituency MP faces, especially when their constituency is as geographically remote from London – even the simple act of travelling to and from the constituency took up so much time. He also sets out in some details a lot of the ridiculous ritual and time-wasting that makes Parliament so laborious, and which contributes so heavily to the growing public disengagement from the political process. He shows the complete intransigence of the Whips, whose insistence upon toeing the party line provokes resentment among otherwise loyal backbenchers.

When he eventually succeeded in securing a ministerial appointment, during the administration of David Cameron, he found himself as a junior minister in Defra – the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. While this made sense given his rural constituency, he found he had little scope for action. During his time in Defra the Secretary of State was Liz Truss (another minister with whom I have had close involvement, having been her Correspondence manager while she was parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education).. Following her brief (so brief) tenure as Prime Minister, she has become the butt of much humour suggesting her lack of grasp or realistic perspective. Stewart’s depiction of her as Secretary of State at Defra more than backs that up, although I wondered whether the depiction included the benefit of hindsight. Based on my own experience (I generally had to be reintroduced to her each week, although whether that reflects worse upon her powers of focus and recall, or my wholesale lack of personal impact, is for the reader to determine.), I would be inclined to agree with his judgement

Stewart’s next ministerial role was as a Foreign Office minister, under the then Foreign Secretary (and another future Prime Minister) Boris Johnson. I am not going to offer too many of my own thoughts about him. Stewart’s portrayal (again, possibly tainted by the intrusion of hindsight) is of someone who had no strong grasp of what was happening around him, or of any clearly delineated policy.

Stewart is harsh about many of the officials with whom he had to work at these departments, and that continues when he comes to address his move to the Ministry of Justice. He quite clearly had a very low opinion of the Permanent Secretary there (and perhaps tactfully refrains from naming him). That is fair enough – it closely matches the opinion that I and most of my colleagues had about him, too. I feel that he is, however, rather unfair about the officials working in HM Prison and Probations Service, finding them lacking in imagination, innovation or dedication. From my vantage point in the Ministerial briefing and Communications Division, I felt that any lack of imagination, innovation or dedication on the part of the prison service was an inescapable consequence of having been ground down by the frustration of dealing with Stewart’s predecessors who seemed impermeable to advice or the evidence of precedent. Still, that, too, is for others to judge.

He gives a wonderful depiction of his first appearance before the Justice Select Committee, alongside the Chief Executive of the Prisons and Probation Service. He was a prickly character – a former prison officer, prison governor and long-term official, who was venerated by prison staff – and the Committee went after him with a vengeance. They were, however, markedly different when confronting Minister Stewart, on whom they showered their approbation although he had only been in post for a couple of weeks. My colleagues and I watched the Committee session – often almost peering through clenched hands from behind the sofa as they tore into the Chief Executive – and I remember feeling that I had never seen a parliamentary scrutiny committee be so unctuous towards a government minister.

The rest of the book recounts the divisions that fell across Westminster, and indeed the country as a whole, as parliament went through repeated deadlock while trying to resolve the Brexit impasse. That was such a painful period to live through that I haven’t the heart to comment more deeply on it here. However, Rory Stewart’s account of it, and the impact of the principal characters such as Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson is fascinating. While it is uncomfortable reading through the accounts of such turbulent and recent history, Stewart does lend an intriguing angle to it all. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Nov 27, 2023 |
Authentic and absolutely chilling. ( )
1 vote LilyBart | Sep 28, 2023 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 7 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
They [moderation over extremism. Reason over irrationality. Optimism and resilience, tempered by the memory of dictatorship and oppression but never overwhelmed by it] are values the former Tory minister-turned-podcaster Rory Stewart doubtless shares, but in Politics on the Edge (Jonathan Cape) he offers a more disillusioned if equally beautifully written take on putting them into practice, reflecting with "a sense of shame" on a frustrating Westminster career. Defiantly burning bridges as he goes – Michael Gove, George Osborne, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss all come off memorably badly – Stewart lists everything he thinks ails conventional politics: over-mighty party members, the prizing of simplicity over complexity, the way ministers are never in a job long enough to master either the brief or their civil servants.
adicionado por Cynfelyn | editarThe Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff (Dec 4, 2023)
 
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"Rory Stewart was an unlikely politician. He was best known for his two-year walk across Asia-in which he crossed Afghanistan, essentially solo, in the months after 9/11-and for his service, as a diplomat in Iraq, and Afghanistan. But in 2009, he abandoned his chair at Harvard University to stand for a seat in Parliament, representing the communities and farms of the Lake District and the Scottish border-one of the most isolated and beautiful districts in England. He ran as a Conservative, though he had no prior connection to the politics and there was much about the party that he disagreed with. How Not to Be a Politician is a candid and penetrating examination of life on the ground as a politician in an age of shallow populism, when every hard problem has a solution that's simple, appealing, and wrong. While undauntedly optimistic about what a public servant can accomplish in the lives of his constituents, the book is also a pitiless insider's expos of the game of politics at the highest level, often shocking in its displays of rampant cynicism, ignorance, glibness, and sheer incompetence. Stewart witnesses Britain's vote to leave the European Union and its descent into political civil war, compounded by the bad faith of his party's leaders-David Cameron, Boris Johnson, and Liz Truss. Finally, after nine years of service and six ministerial roles, and shocked by his party's lurch to the populist right, Stewart ran for prime minister. Stewart's campaign took him into the lead in the opinion polls, head-to-head against Boris Johnson. How Not to Be a Politician is his effort to make sense of it all, including what has happened to politics in Britain and the world and how we can fix it. The view into democracy's dark heart is troubling, but at every turn Stewart also finds allies and ways to make a difference. A bracing, invigorating mix of irony and love infuses How Not to Be a Politician. This is one of the most revealing memoirs written by a politician in living memory"--

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