"A Very British Transition" - A Post-Junta Britain TL

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Prologue: A Briefing for the President

United States Department of State Briefing 14th March 2005


Mr President,

As you may be aware tonight Great Britain goes to the polls for the first time since 1966. Working alongside the United States mission to the United Kingdom we have taken the liberty of writing up this briefing around the political situation in the United Kingdom.

Background

The history of the British Junta is long and storied so I will try to give you the short version.

In 1966 Harold Wilson of the socialist Labour Party was re-elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Running on a radical platform of nationalisations at home, and a more independent foreign policy abroad. Wilson’s ambitions and evidence of his Government being linked to the Soviet Union led to a coup in 1968, supported by much of the British establishment including the military and the palace. The coup also received help from the Johnson Administration.

Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Mountbatten became the first leader of the new Britain, titling himself “First Lord”. Mountbatten would rule for twelve years until his death in 1980. These years would be the harshest in terms of repression, leading to the growth of several armed separatist groups in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As well as rise in left wing paramilitaries.

Admiral Peter Hill-Norton, Mountbatten’s right-hand man, would ascend to the title of First Lord shortly after Mountbatten’s death. Whilst initially rising to power as a conservative, Hill-Norton would shift to a more reformist agenda across the 90s and early 2000s. This included a relaxation of some trade union laws, the release of minor political prisoners and a modernisation of the economy, including neo-liberal reforms and the welcoming of foreign capital.

Hill-Norton died in late 2003, this led to a mass period of civil unrest including a general strike. General Mike Jackson, a reformist and Prime Minister under Hill-Norton would take the title of First Lord. Under pressure from protests and strikes from below, calls to democratise from the EU and with the consent of The Palace Jackson agreed to a transition towards democracy, including legalising opposition parties, ending Government control over trade unions, amnesty for opponents of the regime, freedom of the press, and elections to be held in 2005. All ratified under the Cardiff Accords.

The Political Situation

Polling indicates the Social Democratic Party will be the largest party.
  • The SDP was founded by a mix of liberal intellectuals, moderate trade unionists, and what remains of the exile community. They are led by Alan Johnson, General Secretary of the Union of Communication Workers (UCW), Johnson is a moderate in the trade union community, having rejected political violence. He played a large part in leading the general strikes of 2003-4. The SDP is a Social Democratic and Socially Liberal party

The SDP’s main rivals are likely to be the National Party.
  • Formed by Mountbatten in the aftermath of the coup, National makes up the former Conservative and Liberal Parties as well as Ulster Unionists and a large part of the military establishment. They are led by Brigadier General Tim Collins. Collins is the longest serving Governor of Northern Ireland and has served with distinction helping to stabilise the region. His time in Belfast allowed him to avoid the chaotic power struggles in the wake of Hill-Norton’s death. Whilst he is allied to Jackson and the reformist wing of the party, he has few friends in the British establishment. National is a Big-Tent, Conservative and Nationalist Party.

The only other national party likely to win seats is the Socialist Alternative.
  • The SA is a loose confederation of far-left organisations, including radical unions and former paramilitaries. They are led by John McDonnell the “Mad Preacher of Merseyside”. A catholic priest, McDonnell was a commander in the Red Brigades, a group of left-wing Paramilitaries opposing the Junta. McDonnell was arrested in the mid 80s and over the twenty years he spent in prison he apparently converted to the ways of peace, and was one of the leading voices calling for an end to political violence. He was released as part of the Cardiff Accords. The SA ranges from Socialists to Communists and everything in between.

The only other parties expected to win a noticeable seats are the various separatist parties.
  • In Scotland, they are divided between the centrist SNP, led by civil-rights activist John Swinney, and the radical left RISE party, made up of former Scottish National Liberation Army (SNLA) fighters including Tommy Sheridan.
  • In Wales the separatist movement is more united - violent and non-violent activists are united under the revived Plaid Cymru party.
  • In Northern Ireland Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA and the moderate SDLP are expected to win seats, as are Jim Allister’s Northern Irish Conservatives, a party of radical unionists.

Likely Outcomes

Our analysts expect the most likely outcome will be an SDP minority government, supported by either the SA, separatist parties or both. The second most likely outcome is a formal coalition between the SDP and SA. A third option is a grand coalition between the SDP and National. Our analysts believe it is unlikely National will be the largest party but it is possible.

Future Issues

Political Violence
  • Whilst most paramilitaries have signed onto the Cardiff accords, there are a not insignificant number of splinter groups still in operation. We also expected a rise in right-wing terrorism by those angered at the reforms.

Finances
  • Investors have been reluctant to work in Britain due to its political instability, and the economic reforms under Norton-Hill didn’t go particularly far. Much of the UK economy remains in the 60s/70s model of central control and nationalisation.

Europe
  • British society is starkly divided over the issue of Europe. The EU has said they would be willing to accept Britain if it met democratic standards, but many hardliners within National are strongly opposed.

Military Disloyalty
  • Britain now has a coup culture, many senior officers in the army were supporters of the Junta and will be open to political intervention. Under concessions in the Cardiff Accords the Military still have a great deal of privileges, including the Chief of Defence Staff automatically getting a seat at the Cabinet as Defence Minister. If the country goes in a direction they don’t want, the military could well step in.

As always the State Department will be watching events with great interest. If you have any further questions you know where to find me. Good evening Mr President.

John Danforth, Secretary of State
 
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Introductions are in Order
Hello friends, lovers and colleagues. I am Powerab, I write alt history stories around modern British politics. Some of you may be familiar with my last work "The Commonwealth of Britain". I now present to you my second TL, "A Very British Transition". This TL takes place in an alternate world where the Mountbatten Coup really happened. 37 years on the Junta has fallen and now Britain goes to the polls.

As always comments, questions and suggestions are very welcome.

For those who are used to my previous work unfortunately I can't foresee this being updated as regularly. As we're coming out of lock-down I can't write the daily updates I did for the Commonwealth. Nonetheless I hope you will all join me as British democracy rises from the ashes.
 
Formed by Mountbatten in the aftermath of the coup, National makes up the former Conservative and Liberal Parties as well as Ulster Unionists and a large part of the military establishment.
The Liberals just went along with the coup? They were no fans of Harold Wilson but I highly doubt they’d support that kind of action against him.
 
The Liberals just went along with the coup? They were no fans of Harold Wilson but I highly doubt they’d support that kind of action against him.
I think most actual liberals tagged along with the SDP whilst officially the party merged into the nationals
 
The Liberals just went along with the coup? They were no fans of Harold Wilson but I highly doubt they’d support that kind of action against him.
Not all of them, several Liberal MPs, most notably David Steel opposed the Junta and went into exile. The formation of the National Party wasn't entirely consensual. Essentially the Labour Party was outlawed and the remaining unbanned parties were given the option to be merged into National or be banned at best or at worst be arrested. Most Liberal MPs kept their heads down or worked against the Junta from the inside, many surviving former Liberals have endorsed the SDP.

So whilst National is legally the successor to the Liberal Party, in spirit most Liberals probably see the SDP as their real successor.
 
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Prologue: A Briefing for the President

United States Department of State Briefing 14th March 2005


Mr President,

As you may be aware tonight Great Britain goes to the polls for the first time since 1966. Working alongside the United States mission to the United Kingdom we have taken the liberty of writing up this briefing around the political situation in the United Kingdom.

Background

The history of the British Junta is long and storied so I will try to give you the short version.

In 1966 Harold Wilson of the socialist Labour Party was re-elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Running on a radical platform of nationalisations at home, and a more independent foreign policy abroad. Wilson’s ambitions and evidence of his Government being linked to the Soviet Union led to a coup in 1968, supported by much of the British establishment including the military and the palace. The coup also received help from the Johnson Administration.

Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Mountbatten became the first leader of the new Britain, titling himself “First Lord”. Mountbatten would rule for twelve years until his death in 1980. These years would be the harshest in terms of repression, leading to the growth of several armed separatist groups in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As well as rise in left wing paramilitaries.

Admiral Peter Hill-Norton, Mountbatten’s right-hand man, would ascend to the title of First Lord shortly after Mountbatten’s death. Whilst initially rising to power as a conservative, Hill-Norton would shift to a more reformist agenda across the 90s and early 2000s. This included a relaxation of some trade union laws, the release of minor political prisoners and a modernisation of the economy, including neo-liberal reforms and the welcoming of foreign capital.

Hill-Norton died in late 2003, this led to a mass period of civil unrest including a general strike. General Mike Jackson, a reformist and Prime Minister under Hill-Norton would take the title of First Lord. Under pressure from protests and strikes from below, calls to democratise from the EU and with the consent of the palace Jackson agreed to a transition towards democracy, including legalising opposition parties, ending Government control over trade unions, amnesty for opponents of the regime, freedom of the press, and elections to be held in 2005. All ratified under the Cardiff Accords.

The Political Situation

Polling indicates the Social Democratic Party will be the largest party.
  • The SDP was founded by a mix of liberal intellectuals, moderate trade unionists, and what remains of the exile community. They are led by Alan Johnson, General Secretary of the Union of Communication Workers (UCW), Johnson is a moderate in the trade union community, having rejected political violence. He played a large part in leading the general strikes of 2003-4. The SDP is a Social Democratic and Socially Liberal party

The SDP’s main rivals are likely to be the National Party.
  • Formed by Mountbatten in the aftermath of the coup, National makes up the former Conservative and Liberal Parties as well as Ulster Unionists and a large part of the military establishment. They are led by Brigadier General Tim Collins. Collins is the longest serving Governor of Northern Ireland and has served with distinction helping to stabilise the region. His time in Belfast allowed him to avoid the chaotic power struggles in the wake of Hill-Norton’s death. Whilst he is allied to Jackson and the reformist wing of the party, he has few friends in the British establishment. National is a big-tent, Conservative and Nationalist Party.

The only other national party likely to win seats is the Socialist Alternative.
  • The SA is a loose confederation of far-left organisations, including radical unions and former paramilitaries. They are led by John McDonnell the “Mad Preacher of Merseyside”. A catholic priest, McDonnell was a commander in the Red Brigades, a group of left-wing Paramilitaries opposing the Junta. McDonnell was arrested in the mid 80s and over the twenty years he spent in prison he apparently converted to the ways of peace, and was one of the leading voices calling for an end to political violence. He was released as part of the Cardiff Accords. The SA ranges from Socialists to Communists and everything in between.

The only other parties expected to win a noticeable seats are the various separatist parties.
  • In Scotland, they are divided between the centrist SNP, led by civil-rights activist John Swinney, and the radical left RISE party, made up of former Scottish National Liberation Army (SNLA) fighters including Tommy Sheridan.
  • In Wales the separatist movement is more united - volent and non-violent activists are united under the revived Plaid Cymru party.
  • In Northern Ireland Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA and the moderate SDLP are expected to win seats, as are Jim Allister’s Northern Irish Conservatives, a party of radical unionists.

Likely Outcomes

Our analysts expect the most likely outcome will be an SDP minority government, supported by either the SA, separatist parties or both. The second most likely outcome is a formal coalition between the SDP and SA. A third option is a grand coalition between the SDP and National. Our analysts believe it is unlikely National will be the largest party but it is possible.

Future Issues

Political Violence
  • Whilst most paramilitaries have signed onto the Cardiff accords, there are a not insignificant number of splinter groups still in operation. We also expected a rise in right-wing terrorism by those angered at the reforms.

Finances
  • Investors have been reluctant to work in Britain due to its political instability, and the economic reforms under Norton-Hill didn’t go particularly far. Much of the UK economy remains in the 60s/70s model of central control and nationalisation.

Europe
  • British society is starkly divided over the issue of Europe. The EU has said they would be willing to accept Britain if it met democratic standards, but many hardliners within National are strongly opposed.

Military Disloyalty
  • Britain now has a coup culture, many senior officers in the army were supporters of the Junta and will be open to political intervention. Under concessions in the Cardiff Accords the Military still have a great deal of privileges, including the Chief of Defence Staff automatically getting a seat at the Cabinet as Defence Minister. If the country goes in a direction they don’t want, the military could well step in.

As always the State Department will be watching events with great interest. If you have any further questions you know where to find me. Good evening Mr President.

John Danforth, Secretary of State
Assisted by the Johnson administration? Is this a well known fact among the public? Because if it is then it is going to be a massive influence on anyone who is anti-Junta's (which I imagine is most people) opinion of the USA
 
Assisted by the Johnson administration? Is this a well known fact among the public? Because if it is then it is going to be a massive influence on anyone who is anti-Junta's (which I imagine is most people) opinion of the USA
No it's not common knowledge that the US assisted in the coup and the US denies involvement. But the US has generally been supportive of the Junta until relatively recently so it doesn't take much for people to put two and two together
 
How's the palace handled the whole affair? Elizabeth would still be alive by the time the Junta dissolved, how is she perceived?
 
No it's not common knowledge that the US assisted in the coup and the US denies involvement. But the US has generally been supportive of the Junta until relatively recently so it doesn't take much for people to put two and two together
That sounds similar to US involvement in Pinochet coup. I can see a stronger anti-Americanism across Europe.
 
How's the palace handled the whole affair? Elizabeth would still be alive by the time the Junta dissolved, how is she perceived?
Mixed, the Palace played a large role in the 68 coup and Mountbatten was obviously a close relation. But Elizabeth personally also played a large role in pressuring Jackson to move towards democracy. So opinions are generally divided amongst the public. Most people are still royalists but the Windsors don't have the overwhelmingly positive approval ratings they do in OTL.
 
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