My first book, the Life and Death of Olof Palme, a biography of Olof Palme, the Swedish prime minister, sometimes dubbed “Scandinavia’s Kennedy”, is not only the biography of a man, but a biography of Sweden – if you like. It is a deeply penetrating look at a much admired country, written with profound inside knowledge and based on enormous quantities of research. The biography takes in the transition of Sweden from being a conservative, aristocratic, assertively militaristic country of the early 20th century to becoming the social democrat utopia, so admired abroad, by the end of the century. How did Sweden become the “humanitarian superpower”? And who did kill the man whose idealistic foreign policy angered governments, both east, west and south? Despite 30 years of investigations, the police still have no candidate. My book, based on never before published interviews, attempts to give an answer, but the main focus is on the life and times of a politician whose charisma and intelligence have had no equal in Scandinavia.
The second book, Sweden in a Time of Immigration, looks at effects of the current large wave of Middle Eastern and African immigration into Sweden. The book, written before Sweden tightened up its immigration legislation in November 2015, is very critical of the way the media in Sweden demonises immigration critics. The book looks at the way out-of-control immigration affects tax solidarity, free speech, the sustainability of the welfare state.
Sweden is getting a lot more than what it bargained for. Spread of Muslim networks under the cover of being human rights organisations. Hostility from disenfranchised working class communities who have borne the brunt of the refugee arrivals, many of whom are boys claiming to be under 18, but who in some cases have grey hair. Rumours have it that Isis is spreading activists through the refugee movements.
Swedish openness was about providing atonement for the West’s sins in the Middle East as well as rebalancing a population pyramid, heavily tilted towards the over 65’s. But economic immigration only works if the arrivals get into employment quickly; but for various reasons, including the Swedish high skills economy and the informally networked nature of Swedish life, means that the often undereducated arrivals live on social benefits and so are a burden, displacing benefits that native pensioners would have had. Immigration has steadily polarised Swedish society and this is an insider’s account of every aspect of the issue from the history of the Sweden Democrat anti-immigrant party to the Stockholm-versus-rural polarity that means the elites find hard to keep tabs on what’s going on in the public mind. The terrorist attack in Stockholm in April 2017 showed that Sweden is not immune to the political and religious pressures that have affected the rest of Europe.
Ghost Hunt: The Holy Grail of Swedish investigative journalists for a generation was to try and determine the identity of the submarines that breached the Swedish territorial line and caused trouble inside Sweden’s inner archipelagos, regularly and frequently, in the last decade of the Cold War. Everyone thought they were Soviet at the time but evidence
was weak. A number of scholars then argued that the submarines belonged to NATO states with the aim of creating a climate of psychological hostility to the Soviet union, which was trying to reach out to Scandinavia at a time when it had almost no other friends of the free world. This psy-ops campaign had the effect of ruining the reputation of the Palme. And made a lot of Swedes worried, exposed as they were so far east in Europe and independent of NATO. This author dropped into the story when he interviewed a British Navy Minister who told him that this was Britain’s most secret ever naval operations, dwarfing the events made public about the Falklands War, for instance the plan for a nuclear strike on Argentina. This is the sort of material that is locked up for many years, and indeed the author’s search through the British national archives was met at every turn by papers closed for reasons of national security, but at least we can begin sketch out a picture of what happened in the cold brackish grey Baltic waters in 1980.
What did you do in the War, Sweden? Probably nearly every book that could have been written about the Second World War has been written. But here is a rare fresh perspective: that of a coddled welfare state living peacefully with Nazism, deep inside Hitler’s European Empire. In neutral Sweden there were daily flights to Berlin and the ferry to occupied Copenhagen ran uninterrupted through the war years. The Swedish king visited Berlin, as did acting troupes and sports teams which competed in European Championships in which only Sweden and the German satellites participated. It was not very dignified war existence, but Sweden survived, thanks to a number of shoddy compromises and deals with both sides that helped put Sweden ahead of the competition after the world war. Thanks to a very sharp eye for self-promotion and what looks good with the international public, Sweden’s World War II record is little-known compared to its reputation today as an outspoken ‘humanitarian superpower’. This pamphlet gives the reader interested in Sweden scholarship and background to an interesting period in Sweden’s history, when Stockholm was a playground for Allied and Axis spies and democracy teetered on the edge, surviving thanks to appeasement and far-reaching compromise with dictatorship.