Biteback to publish major new work by veteran journalist William Keegan

  • May 22, 2017 17:00
  • James Stephens

Michael Smith of Biteback Publishing has acquired world rights to a major new study of Britain’s economy by The Observer’s senior economics commentator William Keegan.

Nine Crises: Fifty Years of Covering the British Economy, from Devaluation to Brexit combines the author’s memories of Chancellors of the Exchequer, Governors of the Bank of England, influential economists and Fleet Street legends with vignettes on nine major economic crises, to tell the story of how the British economy seems to lurch from one disaster to another but somehow survives, at least until now.

In a book peppered with anecdotes and memories from the author’s widespread political connections, Keegan draws on his own unparalleled experience to explore, among others – the 1967 devaluation, the three-day week, Black Wednesday and the 2008 global financial crisis – and explains why the prospect of Brexit is potentially the biggest crisis he has witnessed in fifty years.

Michael Smith said: ‘Everyone at Biteback is thrilled to be publishing William’s new book. William is such a huge name in economic and political journalism and this promises to be an important and timely book, as the spectre of Brexit poses an existential threat to the British economy in the years to come.’

Nine Crises will be published in April 2018.

For more information please contact or call 020 7091 1260


Corporate philanthropy and the arts: How can the arts prosper through strategic collaborations?

  • May 10, 2017 13:00
  • John Nickson

Panel discussion and debate organised by London Music Masters (LMM) City Hall, London, 9th May, 2017

This evening’s topic is bang on target because this is a time of significant and profound change.  The forthcoming election is likely to confirm this with implications for all of us.

If the Conservatives are re-elected, we should expect the state to provide less.

If the state is to provide less, then all of us will have to provide more.

We will also need to find new ways of sustaining society and our prosperity. We must think again about the relationships between all parts of society and how we collaborate.

There is nothing new in this: philanthropy has been evolving and re-inventing itself since the beginning of time.

In the nineteenth century, it was difficult to distinguish between corporate and personal philanthropy. The most far sighted Victorian industrialists and philanthropists understood that their prosperity depended on a healthy society. They were social pioneers, investing millions in communities and introducing experiments such as social housing.

In the twentieth century, philanthropy took a back seat as the public sector expanded.  However, as government expenditure came under pressure in the 1970’s, corporate philanthropy revived and re-emerged as corporate sponsorship of the arts.

Arts sponsorship was initially a means for companies to enhance profile with key clients through exclusive entertaining but has gradually evolved to the corporate social responsibility we know today.

Things are moving on fast to reflect change and the changing expectations of the workforce.  There is evidence that millennials wish to see the companies they work for reflect their own values by showing a greater commitment to society.  There is also evidence that customers have similar expectations.

When I interviewed Damien Leeson, Director of Group Responsible Business for Lloyds Banking Group, for my book Our Common Good, he told me that Lloyds is radically re-thinking its strategy for corporate philanthropy.

Whilst the new policy will be LLOYDS FIRST, what is fascinating is that the bank is considering how it could fulfil both corporate and social objectives together. Lloyds knows that the bank does well when society prospers. They intend to strengthen the voluntary sector because it is vulnerable. Charities have to take on more as the state provides less and charitable giving has not grown in real terms for decades.

This is a coincidence of mutual interests with different parts of society forming an alliance.

This kind of radical thinking is happening elsewhere in the private and voluntary sectors.

As ever, if you are looking for a creative response to social challenges, look to philanthropists, charity leaders and the voluntary sector. History demonstrates that the best charities and their donors have always been social pioneers.  The same is true today.

For example, youth services provided by local authorities have been decimated. In my book, I describe a new charitable enterprise in the north which is providing youth services in 7 towns for 30,000 young people. Onside Youth Zones is a philanthropic initiative that has brought together local authorities, local companies, philanthropists, volunteers and young people together as equal partners.

I stress the word equal. All the partners are signed up to achieve a set of objectives that they hold in common.

This project has demonstrably reduced crime and unemployment, transformed prospects for the young, has revived communities, and is redefining the roles of the public, private and voluntary sectors and how they work together. This is a template for the future.

A key component in the Youth Zone offer to their young members is cultural.  This is because young people say that is what they want but we also now know the role that the arts can play in helping people to fulfil their potential and to regenerate communities.

This is the thinking that inspired Victoria Robey, a former banker and now a philanthropist, to co-found LMM.

LMM is a small charity currently working in primary schools in some of the most challenging parts of inner London and, like Onside Youth Zones, is providing a template for the future.

LMM aims to change lives and transform prospects for very young people through professional classical music tuition.  It is doing so by pioneering new best practice in arts education.  This means not only changing what the very young experience together in the classroom and outside it but, crucially, how teachers are trained to bring out the very best in young people.

This matters.  Britain has a flourishing knowledge economy.  The creative industries are the fastest growing part of our economy. Its future leaders are now starting school.  In our brave new post-Brexit world, we will need to invest in the cultural and intellectual as well as the social capital we need to sustain both our society and our economy.

LMM is a prime example of a small charity pioneering social, educational and cultural change, successfully addressing challenges posed by diversity and disadvantage, helping to develop the talent and creativity the country needs.

LMM is now seeking corporate partners to help it expand its influence.

Although LMM is a small charity, it is not seeking sponsorship as a supplicant.  LMM needs social investors to enable it to enhance its social value and I believe that is in the interests of progressive companies to seek partnerships with progressive charities such as LMM.

To answer the question posed this evening: yes, the arts can prosper by forging new alliances with the private sector as I have described but I believe this is about much more. 

I suggest we should be asking: what role can the private sector play with the arts in enabling the country to prosper?

Whatever the question, charities such as LMM are part of the answer.  I believe their prospective corporate partners should see themselves as investors in Britain’s future.


St. Patrick's Day 2017

  • March 17, 2017 11:00
  • Sam Jones

On St. Patrick's Day we ask, is a united Ireland inevitable?

Author Kevin Meagher recently shared his equation for a united Ireland on Twitter: History + Economics + British indifference + Demography + Scottish independence + Brexit + Common sense = A United Ireland

How do you feel about the ‘Irish Question’ that has dogged British politics in one form or another for over two centuries?

In A United Ireland, Kevin Meagher argues that a reasoned, pragmatic discussion about Britain’s relationship with its nearest neighbour is now long overdue, and questions that have remained unasked (and perhaps unthought) must now be answered...



Available in hardback and eBook. You can start reading the eBook right now at a special price of £6.99.


Iain Dale introduces the Biteback Spring/Summer 2017 catalogue

  • March 09, 2017 11:00
  • Sam Jones

There is a saying, usually attributed to some ancient Chinese sage: ‘Pity the man who lives in interesting times.’ Well, given the ascendancy of President Trump, Britain’s historic referendum vote to leave the European Union and, of course, Leicester City’s triumph in the Premier League, it is difficult to imagine times getting any more interesting.

Many, particularly within the publishing industry, seem to think of both Brexit and Trump as a threat rather than an opportunity. At Biteback, we think both developments present tremendous opportunities to publish a huge range of new books, and to do so for years to come. More than ever we need books to help us make sense of what is happening in the world. Publishers need to get real and stop pretending to be Violet Elizabeth Bott! Otherwise, frankly, they are letting their readers down.

Trump in particular is a gift to non-fiction publishers. Controversy is always good for publishing, and you don’t get much more controversial than Trump. Brexit, whichever way you voted, presents similar possibilities. For the first time in decades we have a nation engaged with a single issue but not sure what will emerge from it. It’s the biggest political event of my lifetime and there’s a real thirst for knowledge about what might happen and how it will change our country.

At Biteback, our readers know we are committed to publishing a broad range of books from across the political spectrum. From the first biography of Theresa May, to the latest instalment of Alastair Campbell’s diaries, via Camila Batmanghelidjh’s personal account of what really happened at the controversial charity Kids Company; from a truly surprising new portrait of Jane Austen, to the memoirs of the first openly transgender officer in the British Armed Forces, via Guy Standing’s exposé of the lie at the heart of global capitalism and James Wharton’s trawl through London’s underground gay nightlife; from David Laws’s coalition diaries to Alan Friedman’s powerful examination of the rise of Trump and the death of the American Dream, this catalogue represents an eclectic and compelling mix to help us decipher the present and imagine what the future may bring.


Managing Director, Biteback Publishing

You can view our Spring/Summer 2017 catalogue online here.


Biteback to publish Guilty Men by “Cato the Younger”

  • March 08, 2017 09:00
  • James Stephens

Published to mark the first anniversary of Brexit, two prominent political and social commentators lambast the political figures who have betrayed the European cause.

Guilty Men, published in 1940, was the great polemical bestseller of the mid-twentieth century.

It was written under the pseudonym ‘Cato’, and so secret were the identities of the eminent authors that they were even able to review the book themselves without being discovered. The best known of the three writers was Michael Foot, the future Labour leader.

The 1940 edition pointed the finger of blame at fifteen ‘guilty’ men who had failed to prepare Britain for the inevitable war with Germany.

The authors of this new, entirely original book also hide behind a pseudonym: ‘Cato the Younger’, the great-grandson of Cato, who equally warned of the consequences of foolish decisions by the leaders of Rome.  This new Guilty Men points the finger at twenty men and women whose self-interest and lack of imagination have sabotaged the vision of a harmonious Europe of nations, which it argues was the main lesson to come out of the two catastrophic World Wars of the last century.

The book is to be published on the first anniversary of the referendum in Britain, on 23 June 2017, the result of which has, more than any other single event, precipitated the break-up of the European ideal.

Guilty Men concludes that only by working together in a spirit of co-operation and mutual understanding can we avoid the perils of the retreat into the nationalistic and racial barbarism that scarred Europe in the past and led to the desperate state of affairs that ‘Cato’ condemned in 1940.

For more information, please email or call 020 7091 1260