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In the run up to the general election, Ian Waller hears from former Conservative party potential leader Rory Stewart about the state of UK politics

The timing couldn’t been better. A former candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party in Bath for a double-header of shows to discuss the condition of British politics, the dated nature of its structure and what the next Government need to deal within the first few months of power.

The speaker was Rory Stewart, a former Tory MP and minister, author, podcast host and one-time tutor to the young Princes William and Harry. He’s also someone who has taken a step back from elected position to focus on a role of critic of the system, a kind of Eton-educated revolutionary catalyst, set to rally against the strangulation of convention and shortsightedness that’s currently rife – as he tells us – throughout the corridors of power.

Politics on the Edge – also the name of his latest book handily on sale in the foyer – sees Rory taking the stage with esteemed historian and host for the event, David Olusoga. The first part of the event has Rory discussing politics with David, before questions from the audience take over the second half.

At a time when the appeal of politics and politicians is at an all-time low, it was perhaps surprising to see The Forum so full. Clearly Rory’s pulling power was helped by his hugely popular The Rest Is Politics podcast, alongside Alistair Campbell, and also by his knack of putting modern politics into context with an understanding of both the history behind the modern trends and conventions of Parliament.

So early on we’re treated to stories from the desk of his role minister for the environment under the department leadership of a certain Liz Truss, who Rory described as “wooden”, without a care for the environment and “a very bad minister.” And this was at the heart of his criticism of a dysfunctional Government when ministerial posts are chopped and changed by the week, and routinely given out to politicians with absolutely no knowledge of the department they were asked to lead.

Along the way there’s a potted history of 21st century politics, alongside a concern that until the mechanics and processes behind the scenes improve, real meaningful change is going to be difficult to achieve.

Throughout Rory is engaging and charming, without being massively likeable – but then, for a politician, two out of three is really quite impressive. He clearly has a real concern for the direction that the Western world appears to be heading in and would love to see things change. What I failed to grasp was where his eureka moment came from – one minute under the leadership of the likes of Truss and Johnson, the next a vocal opponent against them and not at all against taking up a post with the Labour government of Keir Starmer.

The refreshing side is a someone from a distinctly privileged upbringing becoming such a critic of elitist and fault-ridden practices, and able to share his journey with a mass of similarly disaffected voters.

I’m not sure if I came away from the event feeling any better about politics or confident that whoever wins in a few weeks time will generate the type of change that Rory sees as a crucial to a 21st British success story. What it did achieve, however, was an appreciation that even on a sunny summer’s Saturday, there are still plenty of people eager to attend, listen and learn, and perhaps that will sew the seeds from which real change will grow.

To find out about upcoming shows at The Forum Bath, go to