2015
14.05

WHSmith Blog post 6 May 2015

Andy McNab: The Ideas Behind State of Emergency

The main idea for State of Emergency, the third Tom Buckingham thriller, came from being asked to be part of a policy group for the government looking at the rise of the right wing in the military. There have been concerns for a long time that the UK should be ready for the potential of this. Other European countries, especially Germany, have experienced the right wing gaining real momentum within the military and becoming a strong force.

The danger comes when you have an extreme right wing that are militarised, and also returning extremists from places like Syria who are similarly weapons trained. Suddenly you are looking at two extreme and potentially deadly groups, ready to clash on the streets of British towns and cities. The descent into chaos and the disintegration of society that I depict in State of Emergency  is a natural follow on once we have paramilitary groups on British soil fighting each other.

The rise of the right wing is just as scary and just as much of a risk to homeland security as the returning extremists. We hear a lot in the media about the issue of these returning Jihadi fighters and tend to see them as the main threat, but this isn’t the case, both groups are dangerous in different ways, and the clash between them is potentially lethal.

If we were to see another tragic murder like that of Lee Rigby last year, we could potentially see reprisals from the militarised right wing to radicalised extremists now trained from their experiences in Syria and elsewhere and able to retaliate. No one wants to see all out war on our streets.

It was looking at these issues afresh, as part of this policy group, which made me wonder ‘what if this militarised and active right wing really did exist now, and what if there was a guy using their passion and fundamentalism for his own gain in politics?’

That is where the idea of developing the character of Vernon Rolt came from. The original idea for Rolt who I introduced in Fortress, the second Tom Buckingham novel, wasn’t as extreme. He is a right wing extremist in a suit, similar to several political figures across Europe – smart, articulate, well groomed and well educated. Rolt became a character that represented the right wing of the future, a far more sophisticated and politically influential group than the cliché of bomber jackets and skinheads. If you look at politicians such as Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen in France, you can see that the eloquent and charismatic far right politicians have been making their mark. Rolt has evolved and developed, he has got a taste for power and likes it.

At the end of Fortress, I wanted to take this idea of a passionate and militarised right wing forward. I wanted State of Emergency to look at what happened if Rolt actually DID get the power at a time when anarchy was growing and the UK was a tinderbox waiting to go one way or the other.

I found it fascinating to get under the skin of these characters with such extreme views, and to look at what might happen to society here in the UK if the politicians aren’t prepared and let opposing forces bring anarchy and violence to our streets.

Source: WHSmith website

2015
11.04

ChildLine Rocks is a voluntary committee which was established in 2008 to raise money through live music and other shenanigans for ChildLine.

2015 will see the fifth ChildLine Rocks/Sons of Royalty annual Harley Davidson fundraising motorcycle (or car) ride in aid of charity ChildLine, a service provided by the NSPCC.

Andy wrote a great blog about his trips with – and for – this organisation..

The Great British Invasion – by Andy McNab

“I’ve been into bikes for about 25 years. I first started getting into them when I was in the army, purely because I had the chance to go and get my motorbike licence when I was serving.

They said, ‘Right, you’ve got a week off – go and learn how to ride.’ The bikes we learnt on were these dreadful old 250cc CanAm Bombardiers, but from there I just got into two wheels because it was easier to get around. I’ve had everything from £300 shitters that fall apart after ten minutes to a BMW R1200RT, which is what I’ve got now.

I started going on the Great British Invasion about four years ago, and I’ve done it three times now. I met the organiser of it through a mutual friend, and he just said, ‘Look, we’re basically going to scream around the States on Harleys and raise money for a charity called Childline Rocks.’ I liked the fact that it was all organised for you and you didn’t have to worry about anything: you get there and you’ve already chosen your bike, which is waiting for you. You even get a route card every day. When I turned up to my first Invasion all you had to do was get on the bike, ride from British Columbia in Canada and cross the border through all the National Parks into Montana and Idaho – simple. There were some fantastic rides. I’ve just carried on doing it from there, really.

It’s just really free and easy – my wife even comes on it with me. We get a Harley Electra Glide, because it’s basically got a sofa on the back. So she sits on that and I annoy her by constantly flicking the radio channels every two minutes. On the last one through Mississippi and Louisiana we were passing all these hugely religious towns with big crosses everywhere, so I just used to flick the radio onto the Christianity channel. That annoyed her even more, because she’s Jewish.

The Great British Invasion is basically like the coolest, craziest road trip ever. You’ve got a great collection of people who go on it for a start: there’s the Sons of Royalty, the ride’s house band who play loads of gigs along the way, plus people from the music business, the finance industry and lots of ex-military people. The first event in 2008 had a couple of very senior people from the armed forces, including a chap called Brigadier Richard Dennis, who used to be in charge of the entire British Army. He remains the only person to ever get lost on a Great British Invasion, which he actually managed three times. He said he wasn’t lost, just ‘geographically embarrassed.’ We gave him a hard time about it, but he took it very well.

It’s a great mix of people. You end up making some really good friends – you can get to a town and there’ll be loads of people on Harleys waiting to meet you and join you for a bit of the ride. It’s quite funny that there are all these former soldiers that go on it as well. The year before last there were a few blokes from the SAS and a couple of Marines, who’d heard about the Great British Invasion from somewhere. We all turned up and they came over and went, ‘Alright Andy, what the bloody hell are you doing here?’ But having so many former soldiers has its disadvantages. We were near Salt Lake City in Utah and there was a gun range there, where you could just go and try out all these firearms. That’s all anyone wanted to do – shoot Glocks and AK47s. The problem is that us military people had no fun, because we basically had to tutor them all day. It was like we were running a bloody course!

I’d say a typical day involves about 200 miles of riding – 250 at the most. When you’re going through these huge National Parks in places like Utah you have a pretty long day in the saddle, but it’s not like you’re on a motorway: you’re on these amazing roads going through the sort of stunning scenery that we’ve all been brought up on watching Westerns. It’s a great part of the world to explore on a bike, because you’ve got the freedom to stop and do what you want. People on the Great British Invasion are always seeing something and peeling off to investigate. On the last one we were going through Mississippi and people were taking detours to go and see BB King’s old house and all this stuff; I was with a mate of mine, and his girlfriend decided she wanted to try this shellfish in some minging old hut somewhere that she’d read about. So we went and had this meal and guess what? It was absolutely rank. She loved it, though. But we finished, got back on the road and caught up with everyone. Nobody cares – it’s all very chilled out.

Riding a Harley around the Deep South of America makes a bit more sense than doing it round Yorkshire. I’ve never had a Harley over here. If you see a load of blokes turn up on Harleys in the UK wearing all the gear, they take their helmets off and it’s usually a bunch of retired accountants and dentists – they’re the only ones who can afford all the official Harley stuff. It’s not really a bike for me, but if you’re in the States it’s universal. Everybody’s got one, and everyone does the Great British Invasion on a Harley. You have to.

You’d have thought we’d get strange looks all rocking up into towns on Harleys, but we don’t at all. I think they’re just so used to it over there. If 20 blokes on Harleys rolled into Basildon, people would be looking around thinking, ‘Hang on, what’s going on here?’ But in the States it’s just the norm, so people aren’t intimidated. They’ll come over and have a chat about the bikes. In Montana they knew were coming and about 60 people on Harleys turned up and joined us. I love that about America.

One of the best things about the Great British Invasion is that you’ll probably see Morgan Freeman at some point, who is one of the coolest people on the planet. I first met him in Los Angeles years ago on a social thing, because one of my business partners is in films and knows him really well. We were in a hotel there and got introduced to him, and he ended up spending the evening with us. He and my wife really got on because of yoga – Morgan’s a bit of a hippy. So we began this friendship, but when the idea started for last year’s Great British Invasion to go through Mississippi, the plan was to end up at a club called Ground Zero in Clarksdale, which Morgan co-owns. Anyway, the people organising the ride wanted to see if the Sons of Royalty could play a gig there, so my wife said, ‘Hang on, I know Morgan – I’ll ask him.’ She emailed him to see if they could play on a Wednesday or something, but he came back saying, ‘Let’s do it on a Saturday – we’ll make a massive thing of it!’

He’s a lovely bloke. With people at the top of their profession like him, all the bullshit disappears. It’s the people in the middle who throw wobblies and demand six hairdressers and all that shit. He’s got it sorted: he goes to LA to film and then comes back to Mississippi.

When you speak to him, the Shawshank Redemption instantly comes into your head. Well, that and the recent mobile phone ad he did! I told him about that and he’s going, ‘What?’ I was saying what a brilliant advert it was, but he didn’t have a clue about it. He was laughing going, ‘Is that what it’s come down to now? Flogging cell phones?’ He’s an icon, and a very funny guy as well.

When we’re riding about we’ve all got these Sons of Royalty patches, which the Brigadier had initially advised us against wearing because he thought we might get into trouble in that part of America. But you have to bear in mind where you are in the world. The black/white thing still exists in the Deep South – not as much as it used to, maybe, but it’s still very much there. On the last ride we’d stopped off at one of these picnic places in the middle of nowhere to get something to eat and this van turned up with all these White Supremacist stickers on it. One of the ex-Marines who was there was a black guy, and he was reading these slogans and just couldn’t believe. So he goes over to these people and says, ‘What (i) is (i) all this?’ He was trying to get them to explain all the racist jokes they had on the van, but they started waffling on about freedom of speech and all that. You just have to laugh at them, really. The thing is, I remember being in North Carolina having a BBQ at a picnic area and all of a sudden a Ku Klux Klan meeting started happening. I was like, ‘What the fuck is this all about?’ So to get back to the point, no one cares if you’ve got a few patches on the back of your jacket. You can do what you like.

The Great British Invasion is a bit like a really good-natured stag do. For me, I’d never been to places like Montana and Idaho before – I thought Idaho was flat and they just grew spuds there. Absolutely not: it’s mountainous, has amazing scenery and is great for riding. All of a sudden, you’re going to all these cool new places, having a right laugh, listening to great music, having a few drinks, talking to some nice people – it’s brilliant. You end up in these one-horse towns waffling on to some fantastically random people. It can get quite boozy, mind – some of the lads really go for it.

Obviously I have to keep up the whole anonymity thing while I’m on the ride, and it is in the back of my mind, but I just have to be sensible with it. It’s nothing to doing with Iraq or any of that – it’s to do with Northern Ireland and the stuff I used to do there. But a lot of the time you’ve got a helmet on so everyone looks quite similar. Mind you, in some States you can ride without a lid, and someone was taking the piss saying, ‘Look out Andy, the bloke with the shades and the scarf on his head is gonna stick out like a sore thumb – those insurgents will definitely find you!’

If you’re thinking of doing the Great British Invasion, just do it. Seriously. It’s a great way to have a brilliant time and raise money for a worthy cause as well. There’s none of this having to run five marathons in five days malarkey – you get on a bike, ride round the States and raise loads of cash for children who need our help. Easy. Who wouldn’t want to do that?”

Read more information about The Great British Invasion 2015 here on the Childline Rocks website

2014 Childline charity Harley Davidson bike ride - Photo from website gallery

2014 Childline charity Harley Davidson bike ride – Photo from website gallery

 

2014
06.06

Former SAS soldier Andy McNab, who spent six weeks as an Iraqi captive in the Gulf War, warns that Sgt Bowe Berghdal – whether hero or villain – now faces a nightmare

The Telegraph – 5 June 2014
By Andy McNab

Heroes don’t exist like they do in the films. Real-life events are totally different to what we expect. All the grainy footage of the Taliban handover of Sergeant Bowe Berghdal to US forces in Afghanistan shows is a deeply traumatised young man, struggling to hold on to reality.

He would have just been telling himself, is this really happening? Am I really being released? That is why, once airborne, he scribbled “SF” on a paper plate, asking the soldiers around him, over the drone of the helicopter engine, if they really were special forces. After so long as an enemy captive, it is impossible to grasp you are free.

I spent six weeks as an enemy captive after I was captured by the Iraqis in the Gulf War in 1991. This young man is 28, and has spent the past five years of his life in enemy hands. There will have been some horrendous times.

The first three weeks of my own incarceration were spent under physical interrogation, being whipped and burnt, and having my back teeth pulled out. I was kept in a purpose-built interrogation centre in Baghdad used by the secret police, but at the time I had no idea where I was.

After that, I was moved to Abu Ghraib jail. There, the torture wasn’t official, but Baghdad was getting bombed every night from dusk until dawn, and the guards would come and get their retribution.

<…….>

GO HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE IN THE TELEGRAPH

2012
08.12

There have been several articles in The Sun that we had not posted yet…so here’s an update…

Andy McNab in The Sun – The nations view on the threat to press (29 November 2012)

“Censorship starts as a way to protect “national security”. Then, a few years down the line, anything that could make a minister a little uncomfortable is censored.”

Andy McNab in The Sun – About burning a poppy on Rememberance Sunday (13 November 2012)

Were cops right to nick him? “Yes” says Andy McNab “Of course he should be arrested — what he did was the ultimate disrespect.”

Andy McNab in The Sun – Defence against a burglar (10 October 2012)

..remember — if you choose to have a go, you may not win. And then what? Any weapon, from a knife to a table lamp, could be grabbed off you and used against you.
The best defence against a burglar is to stop him getting in in the first place.

http:Andy McNab in The Sun – Defending Call of Duty (7 September 2012)

“Research has proven video games are actually more sociable than people think.”

Andy McNab in The Sun – Sharing Northern Island secrets (31 July 2012)

“We would identify a weakness and work on it, getting together enough information until we could get the target in front of somebody from Special Branch or the Security Service to make the pitch”

2012
04.07

The Sun
24 June 2012

As Armed Forces day nears, SAS legend says civvy street must hire ex-soldiers

By ANDY MCNAB, Sun Security Adviser

JUST back from Afghanistan visiting our troops, I look at the ex-services employment figures and feel desperately frustrated.

It seems particularly difficult for Forces leavers to find work at present and it is not simply down to the recession.

While most of our country stands by “Our Boys and Girls”, there is still a lot of confusion about the day-to-day roles of our servicemen and women within the Army, Navy and RAF.

And a lack of understanding as to what skills they might bring to the table once they have left the services.

Some smart businesses get it. But the majority still view service leavers merely as employees who are good at taking orders, even to the point of being robotic.

They don’t see beyond the camouflage-covered face of the infantry soldier or the old black and white war films they used to watch when they were younger.

They don’t see how the experience of leading men and women or working as part of a strong team translates to a “real world” job. The two most frequently asked interview questions are: “What makes you think running around a desert qualifies you for this job?” or the popular “So, did you kill anyone?”

The problem is bosses in civvy street massively under-estimate the work and leadership skills which make ex-servicemen and women a great recruit.

Service leavers are not victims. They do not want charity. They just want fair access to work.

Go here to read the full article in The Sun

2012
04.07

The Sun – 27 June 2012
A gesture too far?
Queen to shake hands with ex-IRA boss

THE QUEEN is today expected to shake hands with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness during her Diamond Jubilee tour of Northern Ireland.

The meeting with the Stormont Deputy First Minister is a milestone in Anglo-Irish relations. While many see it as strengthening peace, others – on both sides – find it unpalatable.
Here are two opposing views.

YES

By Andy McNab, ex-SAS in Northern Ireland

When the Queen shakes the hand of terrorist-turned-politician Martin McGuinness, it will still be dripping with the blood of more than 3,300 men, women and children killed by Irish terrorists.

That is over 300 murders more than al-Qaeda inflicted during the 9/11 attacks.

There must be reconciliation. Otherwise, the wounds of what politicians like to call “The Troubles” (it felt more like a bloody and grim war to me) will never heal.

That is already happening, at a speed no one dreamt of.

So before we go all cuddly over the fact that McGuinness is moving the peace process forward, think again.

This meeting has nothing to do with reconciliation but all to do with using the Queen to strengthen McGuinness and his party, Sinn Fein, across the whole of Ireland. McGuinness is soon to step down as a Westminster MP and plans to concentrate on Irish politics.

This meeting between him and the Queen will endorse him as a credible future leader of a united Ireland.

There wasn’t a single year in my 18 years of service in the infantry and SAS that I wasn’t involved in that dirty war fought in the shadows.

I had friends killed and injured and I’m not the only one who hasn’t forgotten. The families of those shot dead or blown to pieces on the streets of Belfast and Derry or in the bandit country of South Armagh haven’t.

More security forces were killed in combat year on year in Northern Ireland than Afghanistan, and the wounded still live with life-changing injuries.

This handshake is far too much, too soon, for many who experienced the so-called Troubles.

Go here for the full article and the NO by Michael Gallagher