Three books I am working on:
A Labyrinth of Lies
Since 2010, I’ve investigated a type of spying and covert activity which I’ve called anti-democratic espionage. It’s carried out by undercover political police who lie their ways into the lives of environmental campaigns and trade unions to wreck them; private intelligence operatives; and some of the officers and agents of state services like Mi5 and Mi6 – whenever they try to undermine the human rights and hard-won democratic rights of ordinary citizens to have a say in the world and try to change it for the better.
For me, it all began in late 2010, when I was spied upon. I’d been an organiser of a Dundee campaign against poverty and we’d generated some local and national media attention by challenging Tory Minister Ian Duncan Smith to debate welfare cuts. Of course, he bottled it, only ever scuttling in and out of Dundee on a flying visit or two. Yet, for a short time, with help from lots of campaigns and trade unions, especially Bob Crow – the railworkers leader, and after a few times of myself popping up on TV and radio to needle the ex leader of the Conservative Party, it seemed that there might be a debate. But Ian Duncan Smith hid. In January 2011, our campaign held a meeting in a room in Parliament to call him a coward for refusing to face us. His cuts harmed millions of the poorest families. But still, he hid.
A man who said he knew Ian Duncan Smith got in touch. He wanted to make a documentary about our debate-challenge. This filmmaker turned out to be a spy, part of a network which has set up mysterious front companies for 40 years, appearing here and there in campaigns and then vanishing. I spent thousands of hours researching this network and travelling around Britain – chasing ghosts and liars. I spoke to trade unionists, environmentalists, blacklisted workers, Scottish Independence campaigners, writers, Members of Parliament, lawyers, and spies and ex-spies. It was a long quest, now in it’s final stage.
The book I am putting together is the story of anti-democratic espionage as I have encountered it over the best part of a decade searching for answers.
I’m a member of the National Union of Journalists, and I’ve had a great deal of help from other campaigners and journalists in the writing of this book. I will update this Blog as this work progresses. Please see HERE for links to some of my other journalism and campaigning.
The Spirit Of Imagination
For several years, I’ve been an avid reader of novels, short stories and poetry. When I was at University, 25 years ago, I won a Philosophy prize for an essay about Aesthetics, which had some of my views on literature. Besides writing a few poems for anthologies, and Blogposts where I praise this or that book or writer, I’ve said very little publicly about my passion for literature. Yet, very gradually, within a life devoted to fighting campaigns and helping people in dire need, I set aside more and more time to explore the background music to my life: imaginative literature. I developed a few original ideas about the role of imagination in literature, and I began to organise my research around these ideas – exploring the lives and works of eight writers and varied ideas about creativity from studies of: psychology, philosophy, language, and a wider look at the history of literature.
In The Spirit of Imagination, I explore the role of imagination within some of the literary works of the following selection of writers: click on a name for Links to basic information on each writer.
- Charles Williams
- Virginia Woolf
- Sylvia Plath
- Richard Matheson
- Audrey Niffenegger
- Walter de la Mare
- Haruki Murakami
This is a long-term project. When I have a timescale for publication, I will announce the details in this Blog.
The Enigma of Knowing
How do we know anything? This question has fascinated many people over many centuries: philosophers, artists, writers, and scientists. It’s long had a firm hold on my thoughts. I first began to systematically study it by reading Epistemology (the theory of knowledge) at the University of Dundee.
In this book, I will examine what we mean by knowledge in different contexts. It will be a series of linked essays.
I’m interested in the views of readers of this Blog on any issues which I aim to explore in this book. If you want to make any comments, suggest books or articles to read, or ask questions, please use the CONTACT page; or you can email me directly at: email@example.com