Iain Dale’s Bracknell Campaign 46

If I were a resident of Bracknell, I would not vote in the Tory Open Primary as I think the concept of choosing candidates of your political opponents is silly. Taken as given that I am not a Conservative and disagree with him on many points, I would hope that they choose Iain Dale, who is harmless by Tory standards and can be fun.

One person I would not vote for is the crusading neo-Conservative Rory Stewart. It is particularly annoying that he is constantly referred to as a former diplomat. Stewart was an MI6 officer and not a member of the FCO.

Three years ago I received a message from the FCO asking me not to mention this as, at that time, Stewart was still very active for MI6 in Afghanistan and his life could have been endangered. I agreed, and even removed a reference from my blog. However now that he is safely and lucratively ensconsed at Harvard, I see no reason to conceal the truth. I is necessary to reveal this so that people can correctly evaluate his political pronouncements on Iraq and Afghanistan, and his motives in making them.

In putting himself forward for election, Stewart has forfeited the right to conceal his background from the electorate.

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46 thoughts on “Iain Dale’s Bracknell Campaign

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  • Barendina Smedley

    Presumably, if Rory Stewart had been, in fact, as you claim, an MI6 operative, he would have made an undertaking not to go around blabbing about this – and would have been further restrained from doing so by the amendment to the 2000 Terrorism Act cited above?

    In which case, isn’t what you are saying, in essence, this: ‘Don’t vote for Rory Stewart, because he keeps his promises and obeys the law of the land?’

    Really, I’m warming to him more by the moment.

  • Chris


    looking at your website, it seems that you are a bit of a cheerleader for Mr Stewart. In fact it seems a little more than cheerleading….

    Phrases such as: “extravagant personal sacrifices…” and “no stranger to penitential hardship…” seem to over egg the pudding just a smidge.

    Calm yourself… a little herbal tea might help.

  • Brian Tong

    Thank you Craig for this information. What do you think of the books written by Rory Stewart?

  • Barendina Smedley

    Oh Chris, I can’t decide whether I’m more bowled over by your daringly selective quotation or your bracingly patronising tone … but I’m pretty sure it isn’t your grasp of irony.

  • Craig


    Yeah, and nobody would ever have suspected that the ex special forces man from the British Embassy was a spy before? Bollocks, and you know it.

    He will have mey his contacts with the cover that he was a British diplomat – that is what they will say they knew.

  • Jon

    Christ, some of the folks here – Jeannie in particular – need to emerge from mediaeval times. Comments like “traitor to my country” demonstrates how the default flag-waving culture of patriotism creates a thought-crime atmosphere that stifles people who – going against the grain – try to do the right thing.

    It’s a shame, of course, that most people involved in this primary won’t get to hear of this important information, the media being what it is. Still, it’s not as if the electorate are in general keen to be much informed about candidates beliefs and principles – though I hope this gentleman’s support for our disgraceful war in Iraq at least is raised by the people involved in the election.

    The same would go for Barendina, who I think implies that obeying the law of land is more important than operating to a decent moral code. Do these examples, I wonder, solidify the argument that people of a conservative persuasion are generally given to “authoritarian-type” personalities?

  • Chris


    no irony intended and I didn’t regard the quotes as particularly selective, rather reflective of an article on your blog. How you wish to interpret my views is of precious little concern to me.

  • S

    Could you address the charge that locals with whom Mr. Stewart had worked, in his capacity as an intelligence official, may be at risk? If their meetings were known but previously seen to be harmless, surely the disclosure of Stewart’s status now places them under suspicion? This is true whether or not local foreign office staff suspected that he was a spy, which is probably likely.

    I have no doubt that your intentions are honorable and you are acting on the principled belief that a candidate for public office should be entirely honest about all aspects of his life. But I disagree that that principle ought to just trump the right of intelligence personnel to anonymity without a much more pressing interest, and I think that that’s for reasons beyond just “his life is at risk”.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    Jon wrote “Comments like “traitor to my country” demonstrates how the default flag-waving culture of patriotism creates a thought-crime atmosphere that stifles people who – going against the grain – try to do the right thing.”


  • Caroline Gurney

    It is not uncommon for army officers to make a second career in the Dip Service. Over the years I worked with three such people, none of whom were MI6.

    Intelligence services find it much harder than people suppose to tell the difference between another country’s diplomats and their spies. Tit for tat diplomatic expulsions often show how hilariously wrong they can be, when some hapless visa clerk is expelled whilst the Head of Station is left unscathed. A diplomat friend of mine in an Iron Curtain country was heavily targetted by local intelligence services who were convinced she was MI6 when she was not.

    As for contacts of a known spy being able to get out of trouble by claiming they thought he was a diplomat – try telling that to the old KGB or Stasi.

  • Jon

    Caroline, since you are posting here, it would be of great interest to know your thoughts on the wider question, either here or on the more recent “James Bond” thread (link supplied).

    My wider question is this. The position Craig is taking, I think, is that it is not just of interest whether someone has worked for MI6 for reasons of abstract detail. It is of critical importance because of the disastrous, politicised role the UK intelligence services played in invading Iraq. I am not of the view that the US administration thought that Iraq/Saddam had WMD – I believe they were lying through their teeth, and there is some evidence that the political establishment here privately believed the same thing.

    The distortions in the report appears to have cost over 1 million Iraqis their lives, and that there has not been (to my knowledge) any public resignations from the intelligence service speaks volumes. I see no reason why they could not have opposed the govt publically on this, or stuck up for Gilligan’s “45 minute claim” story that turned out in essence to be true.

    It should therefore already be quite obvious to you why people opposed to neo-conservativism and militarism are angry with the degree to which the security services colluded with this deception. But your posts here don’t seem to be at all nuanced with this awareness – why is that?

    If you are able to, an expansion on your views of the Iraq war in general may be illuminating.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    There is of course a very long history of ‘ex’ (but are they really ever, ‘ex’?)-intelligence officers and associated assets moving into overt, democratic politics. Apart from Paddy Ashdown, it also has been alleged that Andrew Fulton, Margaret (‘Meta’) Ramsey and Pauline Neville-Jones were SIS officers, to name but three of the more prominent figures who hold or have held key positions of influence/ gatekeeping in major political parties and national institutions (eg. the BBC). This is concerning. Frankly, I am surprised that anyone would be at all surprised that a similar trajectory may apply in the case of Rory Stewart; to anyone with eyes and ears, it’s been rather obvious for some time. He’s an excellent writer, as many know, and on a personal level, even though it’s likely that if we got down to it, we would disagree on many things, particularly as regards imperialism, at the risk of sounding hopelessly naive, I have to say on a personal level that he has always been very decent, generous and affable to me. I know this has nothing to do with the geo-political angle and I think the matter which Craig has raised points to deeper issues in relation to the hard state, social control and British politics.

  • Jeremy Smithe


    We need to see the original letter you mentioned, otherwise this is not reliable.

    Please post, post haste.


  • rwendland

    A few quotes from Rory in a rather interesting 2007 exchange with UK ambassador to Afghanistan – Sherard Cowper-Coles:

    “[current policy] is an extravagance we will regret when we need to engage in other countries”

    “We will have to reduce numbers to deal with new crises and do more globally with fewer troops.”

    “We need a strategy, one which is smarter, more honest and more efficient with our resources; one which can be applied to Somalia, Sudan or anywhere else where trouble emerges.”

    This is however leavened with a lot of common sense like:

    “For 40 years, Afghans have witnessed international support roar from feast to famine, from high moral rhetoric to lowest cynicism; from billions of dollars to nothing and back. In the absence of a sustainable policy, we will flee again.”


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