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Decades of Darkness #188a: Sceptered Isle

Credit for this post on the history of Britain during the DoD timeline goes to Ed Thomas.

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“So long as you have capitalism, you will have war. If our so-called masters want to fight, let the kings, emperors, presidents, tsars, financiers and manufacturers, let them fight it out amongst themselves. The workers have no cause to quarrel; the workers of all countries are brothers. They have one enemy only, that enemy is the parasite, scoundrelly capitalist gang who use them to further their own base and dishonourable ends.”

- Anonymous speaker in Finsbury Park, London, 1931

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30 April 1905

House of Commons

London, Great Britain

“We live in an age when to be young and to be indifferent can be no longer synonymous. We must prepare for the coming hour. If we do not fight, the future will be represented by the shackles of millions; the men of our Empire shall be the trustees of Liberty.”

The cheers and excited shouting of Members echoed from the ornate fan-vaulted ceiling of the House of Commons [1] as the Prime Minister finished his speech. Harold Sanderson shouted with them, waving his order paper as the Speaker vainly called for order. Soon Members began to stream out of the Chamber; edging along his bench, Sanderson caught the eye of his friend and colleague Hugh Coryton, the Member for Launceston. Coryton raised his top hat sarcastically and grinned.

“Harold! Devil of a speech eh? Young Dizzy’s still not a patch on his old man, but I’d say he’s learning. Much as it tempts me to stay for the adjournment debate, I have a proposal for you. Hang on a minute-” he paused to fish a folded piece of paper from his inside pocket, “here we are. Now, what do you think to this?”

Sanderson took the paper, and unfolded it. Bold capital letters leaped out at him.

“MEN! COME AND JOIN THE WESTMINSTERS! Are YOU going to stay at home while others fight for your homes, families and liberties? ENLIST TODAY!”

A slow smile crept across Sanderson’s face. “Do you think the good electors of Tavistock will mind?” he asked.

Coryton slapped him on the back and gave a bark of laughter. “I expect they will probably insist! Come on, let’s get some lunch in the tea-room and I’ll tell you more. They’re going to set up a recruiting station in New Palace Yard for Members and Staff of the House. Apparently Fatty Jenkinson’s trying to put together a ‘Mace [2] Battalion’. Sounds like an adventure, doesn’t it? We’ll certainly give Johnny Jackal what for, that’s for sure!”

The two men walked into the Members Lobby; behind them, a group of Labour MPs began to sing a rendition of ‘The Green Flag’. At first, a few Tories and Liberals began to boo; then, with much laughter, they realised that the Socialists had modified the lyrics for the occasion and enthusiastically joined in.

For the Green Flag is our banner,

Taking forth the Workers’ pride;

It is stained with blood of Martyrs,

Who for our righteous cause have died;

Comrades! Onwards with our banner;

Hold it high through shot and shell;

We shall strike the boss and slaver;

Send the Jackals straight to Hell! [3]”

Sanderson inclined his head towards the singers. “Even the Greens are on board- it’ll be nice to see them chucking bombs at the Jackals for a change rather than at the Springers [4].”

Coryton nodded. “We do seem to be having an outbreak of national unity.” He laughed again, spreading his arms to encompass the ornate stone cloister. “Harold, I tell you- we need to go to war more often!”

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13 February 1907

House of Commons

London, United Kingdom

Harold Sanderson wheezed a little as he limped towards the Members’ entrance of the House of Commons. The Palace’s central bell tower tolled a doleful midday as he walked. This was never meant to happen, he thought as he gazed at the Gothic stonework of St Stephen’s Hall, thinking of the bands and singing that sped his departure from London. The policeman at the door tipped his helmet. “Good to see you back, sir; I was very sorry to hear about your brother. And the others.”

Sanderson’s mouth set itself into a tight grimace. The others. Young Thomas, who went down with HMS Colossus at Long Island. Fatty Jenkinson, missing during the desperate fighting at the end of the Rapier offensive. And so many more, from the private who had accidentally been shot during their training at Lossiemouth to the young men who he had seen mown down in their hundreds on the plains of Manitoba, from the doctor whose head had been blown off as he pulled the bullets out of Sanderson’s leg to the poor Grenadians and Trinidadians whose homeland had been snatched away by the Jackals and were now arriving in London by the boatload.

Inside the Palace, small knots of MPs were gathered, whispering furtively to each other. One group broke up as he approached; Hugh Coryton moved over and clasped Sanderson by the hand. “We are older and wiser, Harold. Older and wiser. I was so sorry to hear about Thomas.”

Sanderson gazed at his friend coldly. “Everyone is sorry to hear about Thomas, Hugh. It does not help. We sacrificed thousands of ‘trustees of Liberty’; we failed. And what of the architect of that failure?”

Coryton smiled grimly. “That’s being taken care of. Dizzy is still trying to cling on, but he knows his days are numbered. The trick now is making sure that the King calls for the right replacement.”

Sanderson raised an eyebrow. “McGowan?”

His friend nodded. “He’d be best, although Vickers would do at a pinch. Sir Edward’s unlikely though- too close to Dizzy. The danger is if the ‘wets’ get Drummond in, of course. The man’s practically a Liberal!”

Far above them, the prayer bells began to chime. Sanderson began to shuffle towards the chamber, grimacing at the pain from his leg. “Well, it sounds like there’s about to be a statement in the Chamber- I suppose we’ll find out, won’t we?”

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Taken from: “British Politics; from Gladstone to Blackwood”

(c) 1949 by James Fardale

Picador Press

Richmond, Kingdom of Australia

The McGowan administration was an unhappy juncture. It was generally expected that Isaac Disraeli’s resignation would provide the pretext for a General Election, to ‘clear the decks’ as Edward Vickers put it, but the new Prime Minister quickly abandoned any such plans. Philip McGowan had no intention of being one of the shortest-lived Premiers in British history, and in any case had a shrewder idea of the tottering state of the Conservative Party than many of his contemporaries. His hope was that ‘something would come up’ to restore his party’s fortunes and discredit the Liberals, but as his Government limped on it soon became clear that it would have been wiser to seek opposition and rebuild Conservative credibility from there.

The humiliation of the peace merely widened the cracks that were already appearing in the Tory Party. Ever since the Hamilton [5] era, the Party had been divided between a traditionalist, laissez-faire fringe and a paternalist, “New Tory” core. Hamilton’s protégé Disraeli had skilfully bridged this gap with warm words and a clever eye for appointing Ministers; McGowan, an unashamed ‘bully’ [6], had none of this ability. His clumsy attempt to court working-class support with his health insurance proposals merely angered the non-interventionists, and fractured the already shaky Conservative control of the House of Lords, while his decision to coerce the striking workers inflamed an already delicate situation.

A lesser Leader of the Opposition might still have been unable to take full advantage of these mistakes, but unfortunately for the Prime Minister, Arthur Spencer-Churchill was in a different league entirely. A former anti-Hamiltonian Tory himself, Spencer-Churchill had excellent contacts with the Conservative Party, and ruthlessly used them to encourage dissent; his greatest victory came in September 1907 when he succeeded in whipping up Conservative distaste for the coercive Trades Unions Bill to such an extent that the Earl of Derby broke from the Party and sat with his supporters as ‘National Conservatives’, giving the Opposition a majority in the Lords.

McGowan’s skills were simply not up to the task of stemming the flow of ‘Old Tories’ from his Party, and his dogged refusal to resign from the post he had coveted for twenty years amplified the damage still further. On 9 October his Government became a minority administration through the creation of a National Conservative grouping in the Commons; the next day, he lost a vote of no-confidence.

Unlike McGowan, Spencer-Churchill was shrewd enough to press his advantage. Immediately dissolving Parliament and proclaiming a ‘national restoration alliance’ between his own party and his Tory allies, he was able to exploit Conservative divisions to the hilt in a bitter campaign. With the Conservative vote utterly split and demoralised, and the financing of National Conservative candidates in safe Tory seats, there was no contest. When the dust settled, the Liberal-National Conservative ‘ticket’ had won an unprecedented majority, and the Conservatives had been beaten so badly that they had even been overtaken by Labour [7]. The period of Liberal dominance in British politics had begun...

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Taken from: “Rule Britannia! A History of the United Kingdom, 1707-1932”

(c) 1951 by Peter Williams

Imperial Press

Eden, Kingdom of Australia

Even as Britain’s political parties began to fracture and reform themselves, a far more profound change was occurring on the streets of the nation. The United Kingdom had always welcomed immigrants, although never on the same scale as daughter nations such as Canada, New England, Australia or even the United States. Thousands of Huguenots came to England in the 17th century; Germans and Dutchmen flocked across the German Sea [8] over the next few hundred years, while almost as many Irish came eastwards as emigrated to the rest of the world. By 1900 London was a thriving melting-pot boasting Mexicans, Frenchmen, a growing Indian community and even several tens of thousands of Jews [9]...

All this changed in the Washington winter of 1906. Rather than abandon the people of the Caribbean to their fate, the British delegation negotiated a provision which would allow many of their inhabitants to escape. Section II of the Treaty allowed the inhabitants of the former British territories to flee the American occupation. This right of repatriation would expire three years after the date of ratification of this treaty. On suggesting the clause, Edward Vickers assumed that the vast majority of refugees would relocate to Liberia, New England or Jamaica. In fact, with a single stroke of the pen he changed the face of British society forever.

Between early 1907 and December 1909, around 1.4 million people in the Caribbean took the opportunity offered to them and fled the prospect of bondage. The refugees were not merely emigrants from the lands given over to the Americans; 200,000 Trinidadians freed during the war fled the prospect of renewed captivity, while around the same number of Jamaicans left their homeland and for somewhere further from American power. Around a third of the migrants fled to Liberia, as had been originally envisioned, while considerable numbers found themselves in New England, Abyssinia, South Africa and Australia. Many former British subjects confounded the expectations of their former rulers however. On 1 May 1907, the former troop ship Monte Rosa docked at Tilbury in Essex. Its human cargo included 562 Grenadians who had decided to exercise their treaty rights. Over the next three years, more than 650,000 others would join them...

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16 July 1908

Dalton Horst Factory

De Beauvoir Town [10]

London, United Kingdom

James Clarke stared at the piece of paper in his hand, trying to make sense of the note that had neatly been typed underneath the letterhead. “What do you mean, ‘my services are no longer required?’ I’m the bloody foreman! Of course they’re required!”

The man sitting at the desk pointedly fished his pocket-watch from his waistcoat and glanced at it. “I’m so sorry, Mr Clarke. Financial pressures. The transition from wartime production to the demands of peacetime have required some... economies. Armoured Horsts are no longer in demand as they once were, and our civilian models are not being sold in the quantities that we would like. Some men have had to be laid off. That is that I am afraid. You will still be paid for this month’s work, of course. I have tried to minimise the disruption to the workforce, but you have to understand, we are not a charity!”

Clarke glowered at him. “Minimise disruption? By sacking the shop stewards you mean? I see what you’re doing. The men will strike for me- they’ve nearly done so before!”

His former employer raised an eyebrow. “As I said, we are minimising disruption. We are bringing in new blood; workers who are more enthusiastic than you are. And now, I believe our time is up. Good luck to you, Mr Clarke. I mean that sincerely.”

Clarke ignored his proffered hand and moved to leave. As he did so, he caught sight of a dark face waiting outside the door. Curious- although they were becoming more common in London since the end of the war, he had seldom seen a black man before – he gestured to the man. “Who the hell is that?”

The factory manager gave a thin smile. “His name is Derek; he is from Saint Lucia. He used to be an engineer, you know- he could probably run this factory single-handedly, and yet he is willing to work for three-quarters of your wage. I told you we were making economies, Mr Clarke. Goodbye.”

Clarke walked out onto the street; to his surprise and embarrassment, his eyes were pricked with tears, something that had not happened since the death of his mother many years before. He crumpled the redundancy notice in his hand and threw it in a nearby bin; as he did so, he noticed a smartly-dressed black man looking at him with some concern.

“What are you looking at?” Clarke snarled, and stalked towards the pub. This country is going to the dogs, he thought.

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Taken from: “British Politics; from Gladstone to Blackwood

(c) 1949 by James Fardale

Picador Press

Richmond, Kingdom of Australia

Arthur Spencer-Churchill requested the dissolution of Parliament in May 1912 with the confident expectation of political success. His administration had not accomplished prodigies - Britain had quietly grown instead of booming as the USA had - but, given the widespread anger and political upheaval five years previously, the Prime Minister felt that this was accomplishment enough. The Liberals would campaign under the uninspiring banner of ‘safety first’. Labour responded with a furious stream of invective against the Government. John Marshall castigated the Liberals as pawns of international finance and mindless oppressors of the working class; he condemned the Liberal plans for New Towns and slum clearance as wholly inadequate, instead demanding that native-born Britons were given priority over the occupation of any new construction.

To the surprise of no-one, the Liberal-National Conservative coalition won handsomely. Labour and the Nationalist Parties made some gains, while the remaining Tory MPs were squeezed remorselessly. 1912 confirmed the utter dominance of the Liberal Party in British politics, in financial, organisational and almost every other field. This dominance would breed increasing resentment in both Left and Right as the decade wore on...

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Taken from: “Rule Britannia! A History of the United Kingdom, 1707-1932”

(c) 1951 by Peter Williams

Imperial Press

Eden, Kingdom of Australia

The ‘great migration’ of Caribbean refugees brought serious social change to the United Kingdom, but this was equally matched by political upheaval. At first, the major parties all welcomed the migrants; the feeling of Imperial solidarity engendered by the North American War still persisted in most quarters, and the words of Edward Vickers welcoming ‘our brothers from across the seas’ were approvingly quoted as a means of showing British superiority to American Matthism.

It is fair to say that this honeymoon period lasted exactly as long as it took for the ‘new Britons’ to establish themselves in their new home. By 1912, almost every major city in the United Kingdom had a Caribbean quarter, and the sudden influx of a population nearing the size of Birmingham’s [11] soon caused rent spikes, depressed wages and increased unemployment amongst native-born Britons. The willingness of Black workers to work for lower wages than their White counterparts and their relative resistance to unionisation only emphasised the impact of these shifts, and made them even more unpalatable to working-class Britons. The first race riots took place in Hackney in the Spring of 1911; others occurred in Birmingham later that year, and by 1912 they were a regular occurrence.

The animosity faced towards the ‘new Britons’ gave the Labour Party an invaluable recruiting sergeant. While initially Labour had welcomed the new arrivals as legitimate refugees from American aggression, the sensational victory of the independent ‘British Party’ candidate Henry Ferguson in the 1910 Lambeth by-election first revealed the popular working-class support for an anti-immigrant policy, and as early as the following year, Labour politicians in London and Manchester were speaking out in favour of limited repatriation. In the General Election campaign of 1912 the construction of housing and New Towns became a controversial issue as John Marshall [12] made his famously inflammatory - and inaccurate - speech condemning Arthur Spencer-Churchill’s plans as being ‘Homes for Hottentots’.

The migrants were not without friends however. Black workers were prized by many large manufacturing concerns for their work ethic and non-confrontational approach to industrial relations, and as companies increasingly relocated outside the cities to the New Towns, industrial settlements such as Corby, Runcorn and Wolverton [13] quickly became mostly black in their racial make-up. Although the Liberals took a more arms-length approach governed by the requirements of Government, the new arrivals found political support from the remains of the Conservative Party. At first this connection was largely based on sentiment, as Tories saw the immigrants as good Imperial citizens and in turn the black population felt a considerable degree of gratitude to the Party for the decision to allow them into Britain in the first place. As the 1910s wore on however, economic and political factors deepened the relationship and the 1916 General Election saw a series of Tory MPs returned for constituencies with large black populations...”

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Taken from: “Who Was Who: Prominent figures and important events in British History, 1837-1932”

(c) 1953, Eds Robert Wilkinson and James Berg

Eden University Press

Eden, Kingdom of Australia

HUGH CLIVE CARSWELL (8 January 1864 - 1 April 1941)

Hugh Carswell was born in Seattle in January 1864, the son of Clive Carswell and Linda Howden. Little is known about his early life and training; he probably served an engineering apprenticeship before embarking on a career that took him across Canada in the employ of railways, electric companies and other institutions. In 1904 he was working for the Assiniboia Electric Company, and briefly worked as the Railway Engineer for the Wisconsin Post Office before the outbreak of war.

In the summer of 1906 Carswell was appointed Assistant Manager of the Royal Arlac Manufactory. It was here he noticed that the weekly total costs of goods produced was invariably greater than the sums paid out to workers for wages, salaries and dividends. Troubled by the seeming disconnect between the way money flowed and the objectives of industry (";delivery of goods and services";, in his view), Carswell set out to apply engineering methods to the economic system.

Collecting data from over a hundred large British, Canadian and New England businesses, Carswell found that in every case, except that of companies heading for bankruptcy, the sums paid out in salaries, wages and dividends were always less than the total costs of goods and services produced each week, and the workers were not paid enough to buy back what they had made. The reason, he concluded, was that the economic system was organized to maximize profits for those with economic power by creating unnecessary scarcity.

Carswell became convinced that the workers could be freed from this system by bringing purchasing power in line with production. In 1908, he published a book entitled ‘Economic Democracy’. Although his ideas were ignored in Canada, they were widely read in Britain, and became the foundation of the Distributivist [14] movement...

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Taken from: “British Politics; from Gladstone to Blackwood”

(c) 1949 by James Fardale

Picador Press

Richmond, Kingdom of Australia

The 1912 General Election saw the nadir of Tory fortunes. Denuded of their best talent either by defection to the Liberals or electoral failure, reduced to a rump of barely a dozen seats and with little coherent policy or worldview, the Party seemed destined to become the home merely of a few maverick MPs elected by constituents motivated by sentiment and diverse, often contradictory local issues. It is safe to assume that the Party would have disappeared entirely in the following save for a series of factors. The first was the unexpected support the Party gained from the black immigrant community. The second was the popular enthusiasm and English nationalism generated by the Anglo-Saxon revival movement. The third factor was an aristocratic young MP named Cedric St John...”

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[1] The Palace of Westminster is very different ITTL, having been burnt down in the late 1820s rather than in 1834. The change in circumstances means that it is rebuilt in a high-Gothic style by the architect Thomas Hopper rather than by Charles Barry, making it even more ornate then OTL.

[2] Thanks to various butterflies, ITTL the symbol of Parliament isn’t the Portcullis adopted by Pugin and Barry, but rather a stylised Mace, based on one of the symbols of Parliamentary supremacy.

[3] This song bears little resemblance to OTL’s “Red Flag”, but both were written in the late 1880s by Irishmen living in London. TTL’s song takes its tune from the Liverpudlian folk ballad “Johnny Todd”, which some readers may recognise as the theme tune from the 1960’s British Police show “Z-Cars.”

[4] TTL’s British slang for the police, after Thomas Spring Rice, the Home Secretary at the time of the Metropolitan Police Act of 1830.

[5] James Hamilton was Prime Minister from 1886-1894, and took the Conservatives in a far more interventionist direction than OTL. This caused a general-re-alignment of the parties relatively similar to OTL’s Home Rule and Tariff Reform Crises, although with a very different outcome; British politics is divided between a protectionist Tory Party and a laissez-faire Liberal Party.

[6] ITTL the word ‘bully’ is used rather as the same period would use ‘jingo’; it also specifically denotes a Nationalist, interventionist Tory.

[7] This result bears some resemblances both to the Liberal wipe-out in 1918 and also the Labour catastrophe in 1931. Both cases saw the party vote split, leading to a disproportionately harsh result for the losing party. Similar mechanics are at work ITTL.

[8] “German Sea” was a popular term for the North Sea until WW1 OTL, when for obvious reasons it fell into disuse. ITTL it becomes the accepted term after the Great War.

[9] There are far fewer Jews in London ITTL, mainly because the more liberal Russian regime from the 1880s has not prompted as much emigration, and many of those who have fled Russia have gone instead to Germany or the United States, two nations with a reputation for being very friendly to Jews.

[10] ITTL the geography of East London is rather different compared with OTL, mainly because in the 1820s the property developer William Rhodes went ahead with his plan to build ‘De Beauvoir Town’ north of the Regent’s Canal.

[11] Just as in OTL, in ITTL Birmingham had a population of around 700,000 by 1910.

[12] John Marshall is one of the leaders of the Labour Party in the period; he has more in common with James Maxton than Keir Hardie, as befits the generally more radical tone of the British Labour movement ITTL.

[13] Corby and Runcorn were both New Towns IOTL, although ITTL the sudden arrival of half a million immigrants has brought forward their development. The same can be said for Wolverton, which OTL was one of the many small villages swallowed up by the creation of Milton Keynes.

[14] Hugh Carswell is a very close analogue of Clifford Douglas, the originator of Social Credit. Distributivism is largely similar to Social Credit, although there are some minor differences. IOTL Douglas' theories became popular in Canada but were largely ignored in his native Britain; ITTL the reverse is true.

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Decades of Darkness #188b: Blessed Plot

Credit for this post on the history of Britain during the DoD timeline goes to Ed Thomas.

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“Liberal, n. A statesman enamoured of existing evils, as opposed to a Socialist, who wants to replace them with others.”

- Clement Churchill, “The Heretic’s Dictionary”

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Taken from: “Who Was Who: Prominent figures and important events in British History, 1837-1932”

(c) 1953, Eds Robert Wilkinson and James Berg

Eden University Press

Eden, Kingdom of Australia

CEDRIC RICHARD BEAUCHAMP ST-JOHN, 6th VISCOUNT BOLINGBROKE (5 March 1881 - 9 June 1942)

English patriot, politician and nobleman, commonly known as ‘Cedric Bolingbroke’. The son of the 5th Viscount Bolingbroke and Lady Isabella Spencer, he was educated at Eton College in Berkshire and Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he matriculated on 23 June 1899. He soon became involved in Conservative politics, and was elected to the safe seat of Chippenham in Wiltshire in 1907. He became increasingly prominent in the Party, which by then had been almost wiped out by the disastrous election in which he had come into Parliament.

In 1912, the disastrous election returns for the Conservatives gave Bolingbroke his opportunity. Ruthlessly engineering an internal coup against the ageing Charles Stafford, Bolingbroke assumed the leadership of the Conservative Party that summer, and quickly began to remake the party in his own image through charismatic speeches, his considerable personal fortune and an absolute intolerance of dissent...

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Taken from: “A History of Nationalism”

(c) 1952 by David Jones

Prifysgol Caerdydd [Cardiff University]

Cardiff, Republic of Cymru

F.W. Norton & Co: Cardiff Edinburgh Dublin Truro

English nationalism bloomed late compared to its Scottish and Cymraeg cousins. As events such as the Eisteddfod became increasingly popular in Cymru, there was no English counterpart; nationalism east of Offa’s Dike retained an almost entirely Unionist character. The first real impetus to any English nationalism came during the ‘Imperial Federation’ controversy of 1894, when James Hamilton’s attempt to create a truly Federal Britain foundered in the face of an intractably Unionist Liberal opposition [1]. The affair was the making of both the Scottish Party and the Cymry Nationalist Party, which both won their first Parliamentary seats in the General Election the following year; in England however, no similar political force emerged. For the first time however the idea of an English Kingdom within the Empire had been mooted, and as the new century dawned several scattered associations had grown up calling for England to have its own political representation...

The nascent English nationalist movement lacked two vital attributes however; an obvious source of national identity, and a political opening to exploit. Both were provided in the years following the North American War. In 19th century Britain, there had been some Romantic interest in the Anglo-Saxon period, particularly within the ‘Craftsman’ movement [2], but this generally restricted itself to isolated examples of art and literature, such as Walter Scott’s classic novel ‘Ivanhoe’, and Carlo Marochetti’s majestic statue of Alfred the Great which dominated the New Palace Yard outside the Houses of Parliament [3]. All this changed in 1908 when the Oxford Academic Arthur Rasbold published his hugely popular ‘Scylding Cycle’ [4]. Rasbold’s masterwork captured the mood of a nation traumatised by war and yearning for escapism and a comforting return to the ideals of a glorious past; within two years of its publication the eccentric press magnate Geoffrey Northcote, Lord Langtree, sponsored the foundation of the Gaderung, an organisation envisioned as an English equivalent to the National Gorsedd of Cymru. The Gaderung sponsored an annual Althing based on the model of the Eisteddfod, the revival of traditional crafts and - an important political issue in the years after the North American War- a general promotion of agricultural self-sufficiency through allotments and communal gardens.

Other organisations followed suit. In 1912 Captain Gerald Allardyce, a veteran of the fighting in the Rocky Mountains, took twenty boys from his local school to the Forest of Dean in order to teach them self-reliance, woodcraft and navigation [5]; the experience inspired him to establish a youth movement, which soon became identified with the Saxon-revival and in 1916 was renamed the Fyrd [6]. Fortified by Northcote’s money, the Fyrd soon transcended its public school origins and became popular in the inner cities, particularly with black children whose parents saw it as a means of integration into society.

The impact of the Anglo-Saxon revival was even to be found in fashion. Attempts by enthusiastic revivalists to popularise traditional Saxon dress generally met with failure, as the woollen gowns and short hose adopted by some at the Althing looked ridiculous and earned them the epithet of ‘blackshort’ from the left-wing press. However the custom of wearing a Seax, a small knife symbolising the individual’s freedom, did catch on, and by the early 1920s even opponents of the revivalist movement found themselves displaying one at their belt...

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Taken from: “British Politics; from Gladstone to Blackwood”

(c) 1949 by James Fardale

Picador Press

Richmond, Kingdom of Australia

Bolingbroke was a new kind of Tory. Young, charismatic and ruthless, he dominated his party from the day he brutally deposed Charles Stafford in September 1912. In doing so, he revolutionised the Conservative movement from an ageing rump with few political ideas beyond a sentimental attachment to the pre-1905 world into a coherent and distinctive, if at first minor, voice on the British political stage. Alone amongst his contemporaries, he realised that a rich seam of voters were unimpressed by both Labour’s revolutionary Socialism and the Liberal Party’s bland, non-ideological managerialism; to the horror of the traditional remnants of the party, he hurled it towards English Nationalism, racial colour-blindness, and from 1916, Distributivisim...

The Conservative conversion to English Nationalism was an obvious political strategy and one that had been anticipated by some MPs, most notably Hugh Coryton. Imperial Federation was still a highly popular topic amongst the Shire constituencies that formed the Conservatives’ last bastion, and was rapidly returning to its prior prominence in terms of general political discourse. The stance also had financial and publicity benefits, as it allowed the party to be bankrolled by the infamous Lord Langtree. While reluctant to be associated with the Tories at first, the mockery Langtree’s revivalist movement experienced at the hands of Labour politicians drove him towards Bolingbroke, and the Daily Sketch’s [7] triumphant 1917 headline ‘Hurrah for the Blackshorts!’ demonstrated the extent to which Anglo-Saxon revivalist groups and the Conservative Party were increasingly intertwined.

Bolingbroke’s decision to adopt Distributivist policies was similarly shrewd. The call for a ‘National Dividend‘ to redistribute wealth to the lower classes enabled the Tories to appeal to the working-class Conservative votes that had largely abandoned them in 1907, while the idea of price adjustment mechanisms and an expansion of the Credit Union system was designed to appeal to small business-owners and shopkeepers. Emphasising the need for ‘economic freedom and autonomy’ while advocating interventionist, non socialist economic policies, Bolingbroke hoped to forge a path between the two major parties. While he was never wholly electorally successful, his strategy nonetheless served to reposition the Conservatives as a new and distinctive force in British politics...

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22 June 1919

Avebury

Wiltshire, United Kingdom

The sound of music and lusty singing drifted across the ancient stone circle as the Morris Dancers took to the central enclosure. Giggling children ran between tents and women in long woollen gowns moved from place to place with beer and sandwiches. Small groups of men sat around robed instructors demonstrating handicraft techniques. Feeling obscurely self-conscious in his tweeds, Harold Sanderson moved towards a large marquee marked by an Oak-Tree motif. As he did so, the Morris men started to sing.

Hey nonny no! Men are fools that wish to die!

Is 't not fine to dance and sing When the bells of death do ring?

Is 't not fine to swim in wine, And turn upon the toe,

And sing hey nonny no! When the winds blow and the seas flow?

Hey nonny no! [8]”

Sanderson shivered involuntarily; the song uncomfortably reminded him of a ditty he had heard the troops sing in Manitoba [9].

The interior of the tent was cool and dark after the heat of the day. A group of men turned to see who had come in; one of them looked utterly ridiculous in a woollen tunic and cloak combined with hose and garters that left his lower legs bare. The man re-adjusted his red Phrygian cap and stretched out his hand [10].

“Welcome to our gathering! Or should I say, our gaderung. The eighth annual Althing. Not bad, eh? You would be Harold Sanderson, I take it? Bolingbroke has told me all about you. I am delighted to make your acquaintance. Geoffrey Northcote, at your service.”

Sanderson took his hand and inclined his head. “It is an honour to meet you, Lord Langtree. I do like your outfit. It is Saxon, I assume?”

The publishing magnate beamed. “Why yes, it is! It is quite accurate; the attire of an Earl. Which reminds me, please dispense with the pleasantries! I am Geoffrey to my friends. And anyone who attends the Althing is one of those. Come, join me in the stand!”

Northcote led Sanderson out of the tent, and pushed through the crowd until they reached the roped-off area overlooking the main enclosure. The peer gestured at the throngs of people meandering around the ancient stones. “The Welsh have their Eisteddfod, so why should we not have our own festival? Every year, more and more Englishmen are rediscovering their roots. My theory is that as the Socialists grow ever bolder, more true-born Englishmen return to their true state as free men. Look, here come the Fyrd. So many boys with the love of their country in their hearts!”

A procession of children and young men, all dressed in woollen gowns and hoods, marched into the ring. Many held instruments and drums, while others waved totems topped by owls, skulls or dogs. After circling the ring twice, amidst much cheering, they stopped dead with military precision. “Mægen ac ge-leafa! [11]” they shouted, waving their totems.

Northcote nudged Sanderson. “It’s time for my speech!” he hissed, and then bounded up to a microphone, fishing a thick sheaf of papers from a somewhere about his person. “Ides ac Ceorlmann! [12]” he roared, before continuing his speech in Old English. Sanderson sighed. It was going to be a long afternoon.

--

Taken from: “British Politics; from Gladstone to Blackwood”

(c) 1949 by James Fardale

Picador Press

Richmond, Kingdom of Australia

As the New Year 1920 dawned, Arthur Spencer-Churchill had every reason to look on his thirteen years of power with immense satisfaction. Unchallenged within his party or from any other, the winner of an unprecedented three consecutive General Elections, the Prime Minister had taken office at a dark time for the United Kingdom and had steered his country through the Golden Years, not with any particular flamboyance or panache, but with quiet competence and certainty. His Party was dominant in a way that none in British politics ever had been before. With a three figure parliamentary majority even after the Labour and Tory gains of 1917 [13], the Liberals were seemingly the only political force in Britain with a chance of Government.

However, political supremacy had come at an ideological cost. While the Liberal Party was still ostensibly the laissez-faire, free-trade organisation that Gladstone had bequeathed two generations earlier, thirteen years of massive majorities, pragmatic leadership and the influence of the National Conservatives had left it almost entirely without guiding principles. An exchange in the celebrated playwright Sir Edward Fairfax’s work ‘Tip and Run’ summed up the Party’s public image; when asked by the fearsome Duchess of Sylvania about his political views, the hero replies, ‘I am afraid I really am not at all political. I am a Liberal...’ [14] The Liberals were seen as a party of reasonable, if boring, technocrats, and while this was no bad thing in comparison to the increasingly radical English Nationalism of the Tories and the Socialist rhetoric of Labour, it utterly depended on the perception of competence. From February 1920 and the beginning of the ‘Great Panic’, this perception became increasingly tainted...

--

Taken from: “Marching Under The Green Flag: The History of Socialism”

(c) 1952, David Kelvin

Eagle Publishing Company: Sydney. Used with permission.

The Crash of 1920 and the resulting ‘Great Panic’ reinvigorated a Labour Party that had begun to feel the strain of seemingly-permanent opposition. Britain’s boom had never been as spectacular as the USA’s or New England’s and so the consequent bust was equally less dramatic. However, as a trading nation the United Kingdom still felt the effects of the global downturn and the popularity of Labour soared. Ironically, the first major impact that the crash had was to moderate the party; the sudden death of John Marshall in October 1922 saw a leadership contest between the veteran reformist David Lloyd George and the young firebrand Arnold Cooper end in a decisive victory for the former.

Lloyd George was uncomfortably aware of the responsibility that was placed on his shoulders. He led a Labour Party that was closer than ever to power, but at a time when reports of the events in Newfoundland had, in equal measure, excited his party membership and struck fear into the general public. His solution was characteristically brave, and individualist; in his first speech as leader he announced that he would ‘lead from the centre rather than the fringe’, embracing moderate progress to appeal to the voting public while hoping that his famed charisma could take his party with him. In this, the ‘Welsh Wizard’ was only partly successful. Despite his efforts to tone down elements such as the anti-black rhetoric of the party, a viewpoint that he despised, Lloyd George was only capable of ‘sanitising’ the Parliamentary Party. In the streets and factories of Britain, radical sentiment ran as strongly as ever...

--

9 March 1922

Finsbury Park

London, United Kingdom

James Clarke led the other men from the factory in a cheer as the man on the soapbox reached his peroration. The man - a Canadian Socialist by all accounts - could not raise his voice enough to cut through the crowd, but it did not particularly matter; Clarke was not here for political speeches. His job was to act as ‘crowd control’, although none of the organisers particularly expected the group of several hundred Socialists to be much of a problem. The risk came from other sources...

A new face stepped onto the soapbox, one that Clarke recognised. Tom O’Brien was a London MP of Irish descent; his speeches were expert exercises in rabble-rousing and he was legendary as a thorn in the side of both the Government and his own Front Bench. As O’Brien began his customary rant at the iniquities of the capitalist system, Clarke’s eyes began to scan the park gates and the road beyond, always alert for anything that looked like trouble. He noted the handful of Policemen looking on, and moved his attention to the crowd; here, his eyes were drawn to a tall youth, dressed more smartly than many of the people surrounding him and glowering at the MP while he spoke.

He looks like trouble, Clarke thought without really knowing why, and his hand moved to his pocket, where he kept a handy piece of lead pipe. As he began to elbow his way through the small crowd, O’Brien paused for breath and the boy started shouting:

“If you love the workers, why did your people smash up my Dad’s shop? You’re just a load of thugs! Thugs! Thugs!”

People started booing; Clarke had just reached the boy when O’Brien stopped his speech and pointed an accusing finger at him. “Thugs? Do you hear what he’s saying? How dare you insult good, hard-working Britons like this? What has your kind ever done but steal the fruits of the hard toil of the Working Man? Fuck off to Palestine, Jewboy! British Jobs for British Workers! British Jobs for British Workers!”

The crowd picked up the chant as Clarke grabbed the boy; perhaps sensing the ugly mood of the crowd, he gave surprisingly little struggle but allowed himself to be led towards the open ground of the park. Clarke threw him to the ground and turned to take up his previous position with his team; as he did so however some instinct made him look up. A large group of men were entering the park; mostly blacks with a few whites and doubtless some Jews too. One of them held aloft a stick topped with an owl; others held truncheons, clubs and snooker cues.

A tight smile crossed Clarke’s face. “Come on boys, the blackshorts are here to play! Let’s show them what the working man can do!”

The crowd cheered; from somewhere behind him, a bottle sailed into the air and smashed in front of the advancing Fyrd. A hail of other objects soon followed. Somebody began singing the “Industrial Song”, and as Clarke hefted his piece of pipe and ran forward, the crowd roared:

The criminals wave and the officers smile

They're killing all the workers who picked a fight

The fences are high and the battle is lost

Their money is safe whatever the cost

The capitalists spit and the wives are crying,

The workers tell the truth when the funk is lying,

Why won't someone tell me why the government doesn't hear all the warnings?” [15]

--

Taken from: “British Politics; from Gladstone to Blackwood”

(c) 1949 by James Fardale

Picador Press

Richmond, Kingdom of Australia

The Siam Crisis shattered the Liberal Government’s reputation for a steady hand in Foreign Affairs just as the abandonment of the Gold Standard had ruined its reputation for economic competence. With Arthur Spencer-Churchill’s retirement in November 1922, the central architect of that competence also left the stage.

Alexander Pakenham was not a man in the same mould as Spencer-Churchill, a fact he was painfully aware of. The following March, he decided that he had to seek his own mandate rather than reside in the shadow of his illustrious predecessor, and in a campaign marked out by his own timidity and astonishing complacency on the part of his party, he provided his own place in history by narrowly losing office to Britain’s first ever Labour Government...

--

[1] With a stronger, and more decentralised British Empire, the concept of Imperial Federation has been far more popular ITTL than in OTL, and the Hamilton Government almost succeeded in enacting it.

[2] The ‘Craftsman Movement’ is TTL’s equivalent of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

[3] Marochetti also contributed a statue to Parliament IOTL; his representation of Richard the Lionheart still stands outside the House of Lords.

[4] Scylding, and Arthur Rasbold, bear some resemblance to the Lord of the Rings and JRR Tolkien respectively. The cycle is more explicitly Anglo-Saxon compared to LOTR; imagine the protagonists as Rohirrim and the story being closer to Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

[5] The expedition was rather similar to Robert Baden Powell’s trip to Brownsea Island in 1907.

[6] IOTL, the Fyrd were the Saxon yeomanry, who were called to serve the King for six month periods.

[7] The Daily Sketch is not the same as OTL’s tabloid of the same name, although it is broadly similar in its populist tone.

[8] This is an actual Morris song and folk tune dating back to Elizabethan times.

[9] ITTL the folk song was taken by troops and turned into a trench anthem; this occurred IOTL during WW1 as well, when the words went; “The Bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling, for you but not for me/And the little devils have a sing-a-ling-a-ling, for you but not for me/Oh death where is they sting-a-ling-a-ling, oh grave thy victory?/The Bells of Hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling, for you but not for me.”

[10] This is more or less the costume of an Anglo-Saxon nobleman.

[11] Literally, “Strength and Faith!”

[12] “Ladies and Gentlemen!”

[13] It should be pointed out that ITTL the Septennial Act is still in force and so General Elections have to be held once every seven years rather than once every five, as in OTL.

[14] IOTL, in The Importance of Being Earnest Jack Worthing uses a similar line when talking about the Liberal Unionists.

[15] Apologies to fans of obscure post-rock indie music of the early 2000s...

--



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