Thursday, 7 February 2013

My most recent book is called Get Real: How to See Through the Hype, Spin and Lies of Modern Life



It's about how political and financial elites legitimise themselves by co-opting authenticity, people-power, localism, and progressive ideals. This manouvre is neatly summed up by the phrase 'lipstick on a pig'.

I've made a short film about the book that you can watch here.

‘We have sleepwalked into a world where nothing is as it seems; where reality, in fact, is the very opposite of appearance’.

Multinational oil corporations trumpet their green credentials. Shadowy billionaires orchestrate ‘grassroots’ political movements. Public-spending cuts that target the poor are billed as ‘giving power to the people’. Casually dressed employees play table football in airy open-plan offices, but work longer hours than ever before.

These are just a few examples of the growing gap between appearance and reality in modern life. With the melting away of the conflicts between East and West and Right and Left, the old ideologies were supposedly consigned to history. But this book argues that they never really went away – they just went undercover, creating a looking-glass world in which reality is spun and crude vested interests appear in seductive new disguises. A world of illusion, persuasion and coercion which aims to conceal the truth and beguile us all. It’s time to radically alter the way we perceive the world, to raise a sceptical yet optimistic eyebrow.

Get Real is a passionate and entertaining guide to spotting and decoding the delusions we live under – from ‘revolutionary’ plus-size models to ‘world-saving’ organic vegetables; from heavily scripted and edited ‘reality’ TV to ‘life-changing’ iPhone apps. Busting the jargon and unravelling the spin, Get Real reveals the secrets about modern life that we were never supposed to know. It’s an insider’s guide to understanding the present which puts the truth and the power to choose firmly in our hands. Only by telling it like it is can we improve – and maybe even save – our world for real.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

About me...

I am a writer, a senior lecturer at Bath Spa University, an associate research fellow at Birkbeck, University of London, and a former BBC radio producer.

My book Get Real: How to See Through the Hype, Spin and Lies of Modern Life is published by Fourth Estate. 

I write for the Guardian, the London Review of Books, and the New Statesman, among other places, and I speak at conferences, festivals and in the media about my ideas and research. 

I blog for the Huffington Post. 

You can contact me via my Birkbeck webpage here.

A selection of my articles is below...

Monday, 16 January 2012

BBC Radio 4's Analysis

On 13 July 2015 I presented an edition of Analysis on 'Populism'.

You can listen to the programme here.

Post-politics and the future of the left

Six challenges for the left today

OpenDemocracy

9 July 2015

This article was originally published in IPPR's journal, Juncture.

BBC Radio 4's Four Thought

On 1 July 2015 I presented an edition of Four Thought on 'The Progressive Case for Authority'.

You can listen to the programme here.

Tell her the truth

A review of Lamaze: An International History by Paula Michaels; about the dark history of the natural childbirth movement

London Review of Books

4 June 2015

You can read the review here.

Bureaucracy: why won’t scholars break their paper chains?

If the form-filling that plagues academia is pointless, why do academics comply with it? 

Times Higher Education Supplement

21 May 2015

You can read the feature here.

"Left" is a tainted word in our broken establishment: do we need a new way to define ourselves?

Post-politics: what has killed our democracy, and can we bring it back to life?

The New Statesman

25 March 2015

You can read the article here.

Nation-states aren't households: debating their economies as if they are is stupid

Our economic debate is conducted in terms of household budgets - a handbag economy. But the economy isn't a handbag, and this "debate" closes down real alternatives to the neoliberal consensus.

The New Statesman

9 March 2015

You can read the article here.

The cult of natural childbirth has gone too far


A report condemning midwife ‘musketeers’ of Morecambe Bay brought back memories of my own emergency caesarean. Being bullied into a natural birth is not what I call feminism

The Guardian
Thursday, 5 March 2015

You can read the article here.

Touchscreen technology is good for kids? Don’t believe the hype

Big Tech is using literacy and poverty reduction as fig leaves for the aggressive marketing of tablets to children.

The Guardian
Wednesday 3 December 2014

You can read the article here.

It’s class, not whether a baby is breastfed, that determines life chances

Paying working-class women to breastfeed stigmatises them, and makes middle-class women feel even more guilty if they feed their babies formula.

The Guardian
Monday 24 November 2014


You can read the article here.

Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963-2010 at Tate Modern, London

Cultural and political critique rarely makes me laugh out loud. But then cultural and political critique rarely involves performing monkeys, interactions with turkey basters, levitating scissors or telepathic communications with William Blake. 

Times Higher Education Supplement
Thursday 9 October 2014

You can read the column here.



Why politicians should stop dismissing the importance of ideology

We need ideas and idealism as well as processes and action; our problem is not too much politics, but not enough.

The New Statesman
Tuesday 19 August 2014

You can read the article here:


On Ideology

The left must articulate an ideology or we will be condemned to live with someone else’s.

OpenDemocracy
Tuesday 19 August 2014

You can read the article here.