The Dying Light

“Christ . . . have you got any idea what's in that act? There are enough powers to dismantle democracy overnight," mutters a worried Downing Street flunky in Henry Porter's polemical political thriller. In his Observer column, Porter has long warned that our politicians are busy "wiring up for the police state". In The Dying Light, he has created a fearsome vision of how existing legislation - particularly the Civil Contingencies Act 2004
– could be used by a paranoiac government intent on total control.

Britain imagined several years hence is a hi-tech surveillance society seething with suspicion. David Eyam, the former head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, has died mysteriously, leaving a trail of clues for his erstwhile lover Kate Lockhart to unravel. The government, run by a cabal of spooks and shadowy corporate players, is determined to stop her revealing what Eyam knew of a secret state programme gathering data about every facet of each citizen's life, witlessly - and often wrongly - judging whether they are a threat. Though it is occasionally didactic and not always subtle, this is nonetheless a timely cautionary tale.


This article first appeared in the 07 September 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Meet the new progressives