The election victory of Rory Stewart, over Julian Lewis by 14 votes for the chairmanship of the Commons defence committee had all the hallmarks of a well orchestrated Conservative Establishment manoeuvre. The full result is here.
It meant that one Old Etonian replaced another. James Arbuthnot, as Tory chair of the defence committee, stood down. Rory Stewart. replaced him. It also blocked a troublesome Tory who helped humiliate Cameron by stopping him arming the rebels in Syria, which could have let jihadists obtaining chemical weapons.
The voting – using the single transferable vote- among the most sophisticated electorate in the country – allowed loyalist Tories two stabs at the post.
The first choice was probably ” safe pair of hands” Keith Simpson, Mp for Broadland, but when it became clear that Lewis had garnered enough support from Labour to overtake Simpson.they had another figure up their sleeve, Rory Stewart.
Stewart, who had military experience in Afghanistan and Iraq, has been a tutor to Princes William and Harry and is regarded as a rising star. He attended recently along with George Osborne the influential Bilderberg Group. And significantly a very busy Chancellor took time out yesterday to vote. David Cameron himself did not have time.
Lewis who has encyclopaedic knowledge of defence matters might not be so good as Rory as a TV presenter but he would have been trouble.It will be very interesting to see how Rory handles the chairmanship of the committee and whether he makes waves or even wants to make waves.
One fascinating fact: We have a new chair of defence who has tabled only one question on defence to the government in the last year. He’ll have to ask a lot more now to make an impact.