A few years ago when I was writing ‘Threads’, I came up against an obstacle that will be more than familiar to anyone who writes the kind of books I write. My two main characters found themselves in possession of the kind of secret that can all too easily get you killed. Their only hope of getting out of the dire situation they were in was to find a way to get the secret out into the public domain.
The big question was how on earth they were going to do it?
I remember spending several hours trying to find a way to move the story forward. Going to the press certainly wasn’t any kind of an option. This was the kind of secret from the murky depths of the Establishment that the Press would never touch with a barge pole. And it must be remembered that ‘Threads’ was written in the days before Twitter created such a magnificent platform for the whistleblowers of the world.
And then all of a sudden the answer came to me .
There are times when Parliamentary Privilege can be the last flickering hope. Any MP or MSP has the right to get to his or her feet and say more or less what they like without having to fear being carted away by men in dark suits and locked away.
In theory this is a truly wonderful thing. In practice it seldom works out that way. Any MP or MSP who chooses this particular nuclear option can pretty well kiss their career goodbye. The Establishment detests whistleblowers with a passion. The Establishment has years and years of practice of squashing whistleblowers like irksome cockroaches.
In my lifetime I cannot remember seeing a politician get heroically to their feet to claim Parliamentary Privilege to expose some dastardly deed. The only reason I know it exists is that it has happened a time or two in books I have read.
Once the idea of Parliamentary Privilege had climbed into my head, I got to wondering what kind of politician would have the passion and the bottle to get to their feet to start a major tear up.
And then it hit me that there was no need to go to the bother of making up a fictional character to send my tale along to its climax. The very man was already a member of the Scottish Parliament.
The very man was none other than Tommy Sheridan MSP and he was very much a member of the Scottish Parliament at the time. I knew Tommy well enough to have his mobile number. So I called him up and asked if he was OK with the idea of appearing as his factual self in my fictional story.
So I finished the book and sent Tommy the manuscript which he duly signed off.
The book came out and a few people read it and once again I categorically failed to make like any kind of John Grisham.
And then I got a really bad feeling. For a few months after the book was published, the forces of the Establishment colluded to take Tommy down. For the next couple of years I watched with a distinctly uneasy feeling as the Government, Police and the Murdoch press danced their nasty dance and succeeded in getting Tommy out of Parliament and into prison.
Had some minion from some dark corner of the Establishment read my book and decided that Tommy Sheridan MSP represented a threat to the Realm?
Of course I had no idea and I still have no idea, but it was an uneasy feeling. All of which has made it an utter pleasure to see Tommy come storming back as the most compelling voice of the ‘Yes’ campaign. Two weeks ago I had the great honour of sharing a platform with him in Moniave where he brought a packed room to its feet.
If we get a ‘Yes’ next week, Tommy will have been one of the greatest foot soldiers of a grassroots campaign that has shaken the British Establishment to its very foundations.
Tommy, whether you like it or not, if we get our new country you will be one of the fathers of the nation. You’ll be able to take up your place with the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Kwame Nkrumah and Lech Welesa.
Bloody hell, they might even put up a statue one day. That would be the untimate kick in the teeth for Andy Coulson and his ilk.
Well. All of the above makes it seem like a pretty good time to put ‘Threads’ in the free section of the Kindle Store. If you would like to have a read just follow the link below. I hope you enjoy it.