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

Chapter 94: A Question of Perspective


Despite a pro-referendum majority, Unity had the biggest gains of the night

“Despite a victory for pro-referendum parties the loyalist Unity Party performed well, winning 17 seats in the Scottish parliament. That would make it the second-strongest force. “Today we avoided the rupture of our country,” Alan Sugar, the nationwide leader of Unity, said after the Scottish vote. “Now let us regenerate the UK.” Of the other loyalist parties, Hague's National Party won a disappointing 9 seats — and the SDP got 12 seats. The far-left group United People Alliance, which included the People's Party, took 13 seats. During the campaign, it avoided taking a clear stance on the independence issue, but on Sunday night its Leader Mhairi Black, appeared to be more open to cooperation with the secessionist movement.” - Unity party scores high in Scottish Elections, Hans von der Burchard, Politico.eu (2017)

The Scottish results were a question of perspective. Was RISE’s goal to win a pro-referendum Parliament, in that case they achieved it with 57 of the 95 MSPs in favour of an independence referendum, at least on paper. However a majority for unilateralism was more elusive, with 42 MSPs coming from unilateralist parties, RISE, the SNP and the WPS. The other six MSPs would need to come from those not necessarily against a referendum but had doubts about unilateralism, Scottish nationalism, or both. All camps had reasons to be cheerful, with RISE maintaining the largest party space, and a pro-referendum majority, whilst Unity had seen the biggest increase in votes and prevented a unilateralist majority.

Turnout was the most noticeable thing about the election results, with turnout up nearly 10% from the last election, if first time voters had been a party they would have claimed the largest swing of the night. The biggest beneficiaries of this surge in turnout was Unity, who profited from apathetic status-quo unionist votes who just wanted to prevent a referendum, and the UPA who’s populist messaging on economics and federalist message on the constitution enabled them to reach across communities and turnout frustrated first time voters, especially the young - who wanted any resolution to the constitutional issue. Both these parties benefited from being outside the traditional triopoly of RISE, SNP and SDP that had dominated Scottish politics.

Two real options emerged from the elections, a separatist minority government, propped up by the UPA - or a cross community government made up of moderate parties from both sides of the constitutional question. A purely unionist government was mathematically impossible, with National, Unity and the SDP only holding 38 seats between them. The Scottish Government would fall to those in the middle of the independence question - although this came with its own complication - as the constitutional moderates stretched from the radical socialist UPA all the wall to the centre-right Alba Party. Whatever government formed was likely to be messy.


Harvie had to grow his church to include both hard and soft nationalist parties

“Pro-referendum parties in Scotland have won an absolute majority in regional elections. "We have a clear, absolute majority in the Scottish parliament to go ahead with a referendum," Scottish President Patrick Harvie said. Hague's spokesperson Dia Chakravarty argued that the unilateralists had "failed" by not securing a majority. "This election should serve to end the independence debate once and for all," she told the BBC. The government has dismissed any secession plans as "nonsense". The pro-independence parties said ahead of the vote that they considered it a de-facto referendum on independence from the UK. They argue that the British government has refused to allow a legally recognised referendum to take place. Opinion polls suggest a majority of Scots favour a referendum on independence but are divided over whether they want to secede.”
- Pro-referendum parties win Scottish elections, BBC News Bulletin (2017)

As the incumbent and the man with the largest caucus, Harvie had the first chance to form a government, he indicated his preference was to maintain his current government, a RISE/SNP Cabinet with the support of the Workers Party, with the goal to persuade the UPA to at least abstain. Despite the SNP’s losses over the Scottish Parliament term, agreeing a deal with Keith Brown was easier than John Swinney, the party had moved to the left since Swinney’s departure - with Brown being solidly on the liberal wing and the conservatives moving off to form Alba. With the SNP’s senior leadership being so close to a referendum, no one wanted to harm its momentum, a coalition deal was signed in little over a week.

The Worker’s Party and UPA were a little more difficult. Term limited leader Richie Venton had been replaced by Róisín McLaren who believed the Worker’s Party hadn’t been aggressive enough in pursuing a referendum timeline. McLaren wanted the Scottish Government to instead commit to a referendum within a year, instead of the 2020 date Harvie had promised. Eventually a compromise was reached, committing the government to a referendum by the first quarter of 2019 and an independence declaration by the end of year in the result of a Yes vote. With the unilateralist bloc in the Scottish Parliament united, they now had to win over Mhairi Black.


Black's embrace of RISE worried some in the UPA's head office

The People’s Alliance presented a problem for the separatist movement, whilst they were a pro-referendum party, they were officially neutral on the issue, with a variety of opinions on the party’s front, with Westminster leader Bell Ribeiro-Addy favouring Scotland remaining in the union, whilst the party’s Scottish spokesperson advocating for a Yes vote should a vote arise. In negotiations, the People’s Party was much more concerned with economic issues than constitutional ones, demanding stronger restrictions on private landlords, especially in regards to evictions - all things Harvie was happy to commit to. With the People’s Party onboard, Harvie officially had a majority.

Patrick Harvie Cabinet 2017-
  • President - Patrick Harvie (RISE)
  • Vice-President - Keith Brown (SNP)
  • Minister of Governance and Institutional Relations - Tommy Shepherd (RISE)
  • Minister of Agriculture and the Environment - Dennis Canvan (RISE)
  • Minister of Home Affairs - Humza Yousaf (SNP)
  • Minister of Justice - Colin Fox (RISE)
  • Minister of Economy and Knowledge - Maggie Chapman (RISE)
  • Minister of Culture - Shona Robinson (SNP)
  • Minister of Enterprise and Employment - Alex Neil (RISE)
  • Minister of Education - John Finnie (RISE)
  • Minister of Health - Angus Robertson (SNP)
  • Minister of Territory and Sustainability - Lorna Slater (RISE)
“Harvie rose to his party's leadership after an internal crisis led to former leader Tommy Sheridan being expelled. Before Harvie came onto the scene the party seemed moribund, with three leaders in one year. Unlike previous RISE leaders, Harvie has no association with the SNLA and is deemed more acceptable for his fresh blood. The leader of Scotland was swift to show he meant business in his victory speech stating that this was no time for “cowards”. “We need to start the process to set up an independent state in Scotland,” he told parliament, stating his commitment to pushing the region forward. William Hague, was quick to issue a rebuke. “The government won't allow a single act that could harm the Union,” he warned in a live televised appearance in London on Sunday. But with Hague's own future far from clear, Harvie promises to stir up nothing but trouble for Westminster.” - The Scottish independence movement’s unlikely saviour, Guy Hedgecoe, Irish Times (2017)


The Scottish question would define Hague's legacy
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A great update as always. Not as bad a result as it could of been! I can't imagine Ruth Davidson will last long if she's under pressure, she crumbled in OTL and that was with a very soft media and a easier political landscape.

I wish the Scottish gov would do more about private landlords/land reform in OTL....

Looks like all the UK gov can do is stick it's fingers in its ears at this point.
They argue that the Spanish government has refused to allow a legally recognised referendum to take place. Opinion polls suggest a majority of Scots favour a referendum on independence but are divided over whether they want to secede.” - Pro-referendum parties win Scottish elections, BBC News Bulletin (2017)
I think this is a typo.
Chapter 95: Dirty Money

Corruption once again topped the political agenda

“The prime minister has already promised to ensure that company ownership is transparent. Making good on those promises would be a start. Beyond that, Britain needs a formidable and independent equal to the FBI, which can in part sustain itself from seized funds. As well as ex-police officers, its ranks should include people with backgrounds in law, journalism and academia. With perfect timing, Hague is holding a global anti-corruption summit in May, at which government policy may finally catch up with the rest of the democratic world. That one of the world’s great industrial powers and its capital have been reduced to a launderette for tainted cash is a tragedy. But until the prime minister demonstrates the will to enforce the law, London will remain a playground for kleptocrats.”
- A British FBI could fight our addiction to dirty money, Neil Barnett, The Guardian (2017)

In the days of the Junta London had been a haven for dirty money, a right-wing dictatorship with little financial regulation and a blind eye to human rights abuses - it was the perfect place for the global bad and worse to store their ill-gotten gains. With the return to democracy London’s appeal as a global slush fund had lessened somewhat, one of Alan Johnson’s great achievements had been to crack down on dark finance in the capital. Whilst Canary Wharf was nowhere near as clean as Paris or Frankfurt, it wasn’t the shadow banking capital it had once been. In place of London had risen offshore havens in the Caribbean and South America, most notably Panama.

The Panama papers toppled Presidents and Prime Ministers around the world, but few nations were as shaken as the United Kingdom. Various leading politicians and businessmen from across the ideological spectrum were indited in 11,000 pages of documents known as the “Panama Papers”, those included in the papers spanned from Mountbatten’s grandson Norton Knatchbull, National Party Director David Cameron and major party donor Michael Ashcroft. However the most notable person caught up in the Panama Papers was Amber Rudd, the nation’s Defence Secretary.


Ashcroft, the party's largest donor - had been stashing funds abroad

The Papers revealed three companies where Rudd served as director made their home in the offshore tax haven. Further to this, several companies Rudd had worked in a senior position for before entering politics had also engaged in international tax dodging. The revelations around Rudd were even more damaging to the party as Rudd served as not only Defence Secretary but as the party’s Vice-Chair for Corruption. The left-wing press savaged the party mercilessly - the story of a dirty money corruption tzar was irresistible to Fleet Street editors. The pressure on Rudd was immense as the Ministry for Justice confirmed they would open investigations into her personal business practices.

Initially the government rallied around Rudd, with Justice Secretary Michael Clapp telling the BBC there was “no suggestion of any irregular or illegal behaviour on Rudd’s part” and Hague telling the Commons he had “absolute and full confidence” in Rudd. However, as the weeks passed and the story refused to die resigned before she could be pushed, telling journalists she would be leaving the government for “personal reasons”. Bell Ribeiro-Addy welcomed Rudd’s resignation as a “victory for democracy and public opinion” as old arguments around corruption and distant elites sprung back to life. Rudd’s resignation was the first real punch opposition parties were able to land.

“The British Defence Secretary resigned Friday after documents in the Panama Papers linked her to offshore investments. The minister, Amber Rudd, is among the most high-profile figures to suffer since the release of the leaked papers. The resignation of Ms. Rudd, who has not been charged with wrongdoing, comes at a time of turmoil in British politics. Steve Baker, a senior National MP, told the BBC that Ms. Rudd’s resignation was linked to “a professional activity before her entrance in politics.” “Amber has been a politician for nearly 10 years and has led her political activity in exemplary fashion,” Mr. Baker added. William Hague's party has been entangled in several candals. This week, the National President of Kent, Michael Fallon, was detained by the police as part of an investigation into sexual assault charges.”
- UK Defence Secretary Steps Down Over Panama Papers Revelation, Raphael Minder, New York Times (2017)


Rudd was the most high profile of several politicians to be brought down by the papers

For Hague corruption reaching the headlines again came at the worst possible time, the Rupert Harrison inquiry was reaching its zenith and he was due to have his day in court any day now. Despite SDP defectors to Unity bolstering his ranks, his majority was still relatively slim, further corruption cases could prompt Unity to withdraw its support for the Government and even a Confidence Vote. Ribeiro-Addy had been loudly threatening a confidence vote every chance she got, describing the National Party a “parasite” on the United Kingdom. This was partly a tool to keep momentum behind her constantly infighting party - as debates around Scottish Independence threatened a split.

Corruption also hurt Hague in Brussels, Britain still had to keep to it;s 140 billion euro bailout deal with the European Troika, one of the key clauses of the agreement had been stronger action against corruption. Many in the Commission and European Councils saw Britain acting as a backdoor into the eurozone, with organised crime groups in Liverpool and London using Britain’s maritime links, lax attitudes towards corruption, and large arms black market - as a staging post to enter the continent. The Dutch and French especially - with growing far-right movements at home - were calling on the Commission to crack down on the UK, stopping the flow of economic migrants into their borders.

Worries of a British Mafia as powerful as those in Italy weren’t just the fever dream of paranoid European rightists, organised crime in the UK was reaching an all time high, as police and judiciary officials had their numbers slashed by cuts. It was an open secret that several of Britain’s football teams and stadiums were owned by Russian figures with shady ties to organised crime. SNLA dissident cells were also much better armed than they had been in previous years as dirty money, stolen guns and dangerous people trickled into the United Kingdom. If the politicians could illegally enrich themselves at the expense of the public, what was to stop the people doing the same?

“It was in the 80s, during the UK’s economic “miracle” and development boom, that London docklands was transformed into the criminal hotspot of northern Europe. The plan to develop the region succeeded, but success came with its own baggage. “This was the Mountbattenite agreement,” said former MP Ken Livingstone. “You, the criminals, come here and bring your money.” And so, as the authorities turned a blind eye, London became a premier destination for the global criminal elite. “To smuggle in large quantities, you have to have someone in your pocket,” Livingstone added. “The organisations have people in the Civil Guard, the police, customs agents and dock workers. There’s a lot more corruption than you’d think.” - How London’s docklands became a magnet for gangsters, Sebastian Rotella, The Atlantic (2017)


Britain was a haven for both colours of financial crime
The more things change, the more they stay the same...

A great update as always. Not as bad a result as it could of been! I can't imagine Ruth Davidson will last long if she's under pressure, she crumbled in OTL and that was with a very soft media and a easier political landscape.

I wish the Scottish gov would do more about private landlords/land reform in OTL....

Looks like all the UK gov can do is stick it's fingers in its ears at this point.

Equally though I think the Scottish nationalists (both RISE and the SNP) are in a pretty precarious position themselves. At some point, they have to call Westminster's bluff or lose credibility among a large chunk of their support base* but its not entirely clear if the UPA will support them in a unilateral declaration of independence or a unilateral referendum. On top of that, with the UK still in the EU and far more integrated and pro-European than in OTL, the Scottish nationalists might find themselves isolated internationally in a confrontation with Westminster.

The basic issue is that while the UK government has few means to outright defeat the Scottish nationalists, they have all the cards they need to stymie them winning as well.

*This problem already seems to be hitting the SNP who are sinking to third party status.
Chapter 96: Papercuts

Britain had been squeezed by ten years of austerity - from both Westminster and Brussels

“Harsh austerity measures implemented by the British government have had a devastating impact,'' says a new Amnesty Report. This has resulted in long waiting lists for healthcare and forcing patients to ration their medication. The British government began to cut spending on healthcare in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis. Austerity measures included shifting the costs of prescriptions onto individuals and limiting the healthcare available to migrants. High prescription charges have particularly hit those with chronic conditions. Amnesty International spoke to 343 people across the UK including users of the NHS, health workers, and public health experts. Although the sums involved may not seem high, for people with low incomes they can be devastating.”
- UK cruel austerity measures leave patients suffering, Amnesty International Press Release (2018)

With a Scottish Referendum delayed for a few months British politics was returning back to normal, if by normal you meant crushing austerity. With constitutional crises, people burning alive and Donald Trump in the Whitehouse, bread and butter political issues had fallen to the wayside somewhat. Whilst everyone was looking at the literal fires of Grenfell and sectarian riots in Scotland, they missed the metaphorical fires in the public realm. In Hague’s Cabinet, many of the paternalist and statist National politicians had been replaced by a new generation of young yuppies and neoliberal thinkers, and with Alan “cut them all” Sugar holding the Government up, National had been taking a knife to the public realm with increased vigour.


Chancellor Nicholas Soames was a hate figure for protesters

For the everyday person the most salient consequence to their everyday life was in the NHS, over the winter of 2017/2018 the Health Service saw a growing crisis, the Ministry for Health announced all non-essential surgeries would be cancelled for January 2018 as old ladies were left on trolleys and ambulances as hospitals found themselves backed up. Nationwide statistics saw nearly a third of A&E patients failed to be treated within four hours checking in, as Sadiq Khan was eager to point out, when Alan Johnson left office, this figure was a little over 10%. Whilst successive governments had been able to hide the impacts of austerity - at least from middle class voters - the facade was quickly crumbling.

At the heart of this crisis were NHS staff, underpaid and overworked thousands were leaving the service together, having had their pay freezed for almost a decade. The UK was also seeing a mass exodus of medical graduates, as young doctors could earn twice as much working in the Netherlands, Germany or Belgium, government reports estimated over 100,00 British trained medical professionals working abroad. This doctor’s shortage was especially bad in rural areas, with several village GPs having to close up altogether as the local doctor retired or quit from the stress. This in turn led to a widening gap in health outcomes between urban and rural NHS trusts. From nurses to care workers, the UK’s key workers were finding greener fields on the continent in a vicious cycle.

“Policy experts say rural depopulation began in the UK in the 1960s and 1970s, when masses of people moved to the cities or emigrated looking for work. The villages they left behind have been dubbed “ghost villages”, and in some of them an entire hamlet of several houses can be bought for 100,000 euros. Many schemes are trying to breathe new life into these villages, including the New Paths initiative. The project helps Syrian immigrants find new jobs as shepherds or handymen. Village Life project offers free information and guidance to anyone considering a move to the countryside. And a scheme launched earlier this year by the Association for Towns, helps migrants resettle in rural areas.” - UK’s dying villages woo immigrants to survive, Sophie Davies, Reuters (2018)


Britain's villages were literally dying off - pensioner by pensioner

To counter this retirement ages for Doctors were being raised and some medical professionals were even being pulled out of retirement to plug the gaps. Reports of doctors as old as 80 triaging patients made their way into international papers. It wasn’t just doctors fueling the emigration crisis, as millions of Brits had left the country since its accession to the EU, including uneducated and “unskilled” workers going to work as cleaners or housekeepers on the continent. One ONS study predicting the UK’s population could fall by as much as 20% by 2050. As cuts grew, local work opportunities diminished, leading to further immigration, leading to lower tax intake, leading to more cuts.

As the NHS approached it’s 70th birthday protests spilled into the streets, unsurprisingly led by Bell Ribeiro-Addy, doctors, nurses and ordinary activists surrounded the House of Commons demanding a reversal to the real-terms NHS cuts. Among the demands were at least 10 minute consultations with GPs, and GPs to be capped at 30 consultations a day to prevent burnout. The NHS protests grew to other public services, including the Junta’s old enemy - the fire service - who demanded more safety resources and better salaries. In Brighton protesters broke into and occupied the headquarters of the Sussex NHS trust. Up and down the country's medical students walked out of classes and placements in a student strike that threatened to spill up to the salaried staff.

The situation became more untenable as the cold weather continued into March, social media videos of Aunty Dorris sleeping on the hospital floor and ambulances queuing around hospital car parks piled the pressure onto Hague. In the end, rumours of the medical student strikes spreading to the junior doctors forced the government to the table. Health Secretary Justine Greening - herself from the reformist wing of National - announced a 6% minimum pay rise for NHS staff, costing around 15 billion euros. Whilst this didn’t make up for years of frozen pay, it at least prevented a medical strike, and wholesale collapse of the NHS. This package was joined by a mass campaign to persuade graduates not to emigrate and to work in the Health Services.

“The UK has announced increased NHS salaries in the hope it will be a turning point in the outflow of medical professionals. The government had implemented wage increases, he said, “to put a brake on this unfortunate and unpleasant movement” said Gavin Barwell, a Senator from the National Party. UPA Shadow Health Secretary Jacky Davis said even if the country could be sure that people would no longer leave for money, the system was burdened with needless bureaucracy. This means even if doctors want to return they may have to wait for months to do the paperwork. “We need a proactive programme to get these people back,” she said. In Slough, Daisy - a 65 year old midwife - conceded that conditions in the hospital had improved since the dire situation in the 2000s inherited from the Junta's. She also welcomed the salary increase. But, she said, money is not everything.” - UK hospitals in crisis as emigration takes its toll, France24 News Bulletin (translated) (2018)


As the temperature warmed the NHS had survived another winter by the skin of it's teeth
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Chapter 97: The Socialism of Fools
Content Warning: This chapter covers antisemitism on the left, BDS and Israel, please keep all comments in universe and avoid talking about OTL modern politics. Also no antisemitism denial/minimisation on my thread please.


The UPA seemed to have hit it's celling in the polls

“Support for the UPA has stalled significantly since it swept into the official opposition office two years ago. After a brief bounce the party has been stubbornly stuck at around 25% in the polls for the last few weeks. “I call upon you to mobilise. The parents and children of the working class" said UPA leader Bell Ribeiro-Addy at a protest last Saturday in London on pensions. Ribeiro-Addy has begun the year trying to rally disenchanted progressive voters, aware that the party is losing momentum. One YouGov poll showed that only 66% of its voters are committed to voting again for the same party – some 4.1 million people. But where are the rest of the two million people who voted for the UPA in the 2016 general elections? According to the poll, 14% (800,000) are demobilised and 20% (1.2 million) say they are willing to vote for another party.”
- Is the UPA stuck?, BBC News Bulletin (2018)

With everything happening with the NHS, Scotland and Trump - you’d think this would be a golden political opportunity for the People’s Alliance - unfortunately as the party’s momentum stalled it had to deal with the challenges of opposition and even governing. After a spate of protests on the Gaza border turned violent, Israel was brought to the forefront of the geopolitical discussion. Around the world politicians and governments were embarrassing the controversial BDS (boycott, divestment and sanction) movement. The most notable of these governments was the UPA controlled Merseyside Provincial Authority who passed a motion in support of BDS. Merseyside President Kim Johnson declared the province to be an “Apartheid Free Zone”.

Merseyside's decision was quickly followed by other UPA run provinces including Greater Manchester and the four UPA controlled London Provinces. This caused a headache for the People’s Alliances leadership, to its younger base BDS was a much needed social movement, to its critics BDS was inherently antisemitic. It didn’t help that just a few weeks early the Alliance had expelled leading Socialist Alternative MP Ken Livingstone for telling journalists “Hitler was a Zionist”. How far the party should endorse BDS - and how hard a line it should take against Israel - was a point of real debate at all levels of the party, from the Shadow Cabinet all the way down towards local groups.


BDS was a wedge issue within the UPA's warring factions

Bell Ribeiro-Addy was firmly in the strongly pro-Palestinian camp to the extent of getting herself in trouble, she drew ire from across the political spectrum when on an episode of Question Time she described Israel as an “illegal state”, much to the discomfort of leading moderate members of the party like Caroline Lucas. In Westminster UPA MPs proposed a bill to block arms sales to Israel until the Netanyahu Government allowed right of return for displaced Palestinian citizens. Whilst the UPA press office had hoped headlines to be dominated by this arms restriction bill, instead Ribeiro-Addy’s illegal state comments set shock-waves across the nation - especially among the Jewish community.

“Last week, the leader of the UPA, Bell Ribeiro-Addy called Israel a “criminal country” during an interview on the BBC. The UPA has called for a blanket boycott of Israel and accused its government many times of pursuing apartheid-like policies. But, calling Israel’s existence illegal is a new development. The Centre for Israeli-British Research (CIBR) a pro-Israel group, said it has initiated legal proceedings against Merseyside over its vote to join BDS. In recent years, CIBR actions have led to the scrapping of 34 motions to boycott Israel by municipalities. Tribunals across the country have voided a total of 23 boycott motions passed by local governments. Another ten municipalities scrapped their boycott motions under threat of legal action by CIBR. One municipality’s boycott motion was suspended by a court injunction.” - Ribeiro-Addy calls Israel a criminal country, Jewish News (2018)

Like a thousand cuts, dozens of small examples of antisemitism from within the UPA would be dragged into the light, one Channel 4 Report found several leading UPA staffers were in a Facebook group with antisemitic content. Most damningly, the Jewish Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council wrote an open letter to Ribeiro-Addy calling Ribeiro’s comments “blatantly antisemitic”, calling on her to apologise publicly. The Board of Deputies letter also accused senior UPA figures of regularly sharing a platform with those hostile to the Jewish community. These letters from leading members of the Jewish Community would lead to a protest outside UPA headquarters in Bow, East London.


Just 6% of the UK's Jewish community said they would vote for the UPA

In response to the Board of Deputies Protests Ribeiro-Addy issued a public apology for her illegal state comments, writing in the London Evening Standard Ribeiro-Addy accepted her comments had been antisemitic, but denied being inherently antisemitic herself. She pledged to “redouble” her efforts to bring antisemitism within the UPA to an end and end the Jewish community’s “anxiety” around a future People’s Alliance Government. Ribeiro-Addy’s comments went down in a mixed fashion with the general public and UPA voters, with one YouGov poll showing nearly 40% of UPA members did not believe the People’s Alliance had a problem with antisemitism.

A key dividing line within the party was the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism which critics argued prevented legitimate criticism of Israel. Whilst some local and provincial branches of the party had signed up the IHRA definition of anti-antisemitism, the party on a nation level had so far refused to adopt the measure, voting it down at two successive national conferences - much to the annoyance of pro-IHRA figures within the party like Rachel Shabi. Discussions around the IHRA strained relations between the more moderate and radical wings of the party - with rumours of a Jonesite split quieted, but not fully faded away.

Above all increasing concerns around antisemitism in the UPA ground all momentum the party had to a halt, over the summer of 2017 the party had gone from victory to victory, with the divisions in the Hague Government and the Grenfell disaster taking the UPA’s support to record levels. Now the UPA struggled to build a definitive lead over National in every poll, it’s parliamentary caucus and even it’s grassroots members were hopelessly divided, and unable to resolve the antisemitism question internally, the party was quickly losing any sort of moral authority it might hold. In just a few months a UPA Government had gone from an inevitability to an uphill battle, the people’s army had a long way to go to be a real fighting force.

“The leaders of the UPA emphasise their distance from the professionalised practices of the elite. University professors dominate the commanding heights of the UPA but the party’s image is of a down-to-earth citizens’ movement. It's base complains that the leaders dominate the party and supporters have little involvement. This is unsurprising given how quickly the UPA was propelled into the centre of political life. The UPA is not immune from the conflict between office-seeking and vote-seeking that afflicts established parties. It is unclear whether the UPA is representative of those working class voters for whom it claims to speak. Its members are often young, urban and educated.” - The stalling of Britain's radical left, Chris Bickerton, New Statesman (2018)


The UPA struggled to grow it's support outside young diverse urban centres
What happened to the SAS (and other UK Special Forces units) following the establishment of the junta?
Given the kind of counterterrorist operations the SAS was involved in Northern Ireland and mainland Britain IOTL I would imagine that the unit would find itself involved in some of the more repressive actions of the junta leading to it having a rather different and probably more sinister reputation at home and abroad.

Did the SAS survived the transition to democracy?

Have any other junta era military units been disbanded?
What happened to the SAS (and other UK Special Forces units) following the establishment of the junta?
Given the kind of counterterrorist operations the SAS was involved in Northern Ireland and mainland Britain IOTL I would imagine that the unit would find itself involved in some of the more repressive actions of the junta leading to it having a rather different and probably more sinister reputation at home and abroad.

Did the SAS survived the transition to democracy?

Have any other junta era military units been disbanded?
Sorry I thought I had replied to this but obviously I didn't

The SAS has a similar reputation to the OTL paras in Northern Ireland, they were often used as a rapid response force to uprisings and were involved in several atrocities over the course of the Junta.

The SAS survived the Junta as one of the stipulations of the Cardiff Accords was the military would be left alone, but since the coup of 2009 there have been reforms and purges in the SAS, but the name itself survives.
Chapter 98: The Crown Prince

The UK's close relationship with Saudi Arabia came under increased scrutiny

“The UK and Saudi Arabia have signed a framework agreement to sell warships under a deal estimated to be worth around 2.5 billion euros. Saudi Arabia and the UK finalised a contract with British state-owned shipbuilder Ferguson Marine. It said another agreement was signed between Saudi Arabia and Ferguson, but did not provide further details. A Defence Ministry source said that under the deal, Ferguson would sell seven small warships. The Peace Pledge Union, Greenpeace and Oxfam have called on the UK to stop selling military equipment to the Saudis. They accuse the kingdom of abusing rights - charges it denies. The two sides have been negotiating the warship deal since 2015, and the final contract would take longer to complete, the source said.”
- UK signs 2.5 billion euro deal to sell warships to Saudi Arabia, William James, Reuters (2018)

2018 was a fun year for international relations in the UK this kicked off with a visit by Crown-Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the United Kingdom, where he dined with the Royal Family and met with Prime Minister Hague and Foreign Secretary David Davis. The Saudis and Britain had always had a special relationship, during the Junta days the Saudis provided the Junta with much needed energy, cut off from the European gas networks, in return the Brits provided Saudi with high quality military gear at a low price - and both sides agreed to turn a blind eye to their internal human rights abuses. Even going into democracy the two countries had strong links with Britain providing 5 billion euros of weapons a year to the Kingdom.

The Crown Prince’s visit had been a relatively uneventful affair, he had come to London, faced a couple of protests, made a few trade deals and then went home - nothing to write home about. And then a man named Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Consulate never to return. After more than two weeks of denials, Saudi Arabia eventually admitted that he had been killed within the consulate in a "rogue operation". Khashoggi had originally been an adviser to the Saudi royal family before falling out of favour and living in exile in the states where he became an outspoken critic of the Saudi regime, and Crown Prince Salman himself, who had been cracking down on dissidents as he cleared his path to power.


Dozens of National MPs were flown out to Riyadh in a Saudi charm offensive

Britain had already come under criticism for approving nearly 600 guided missiles sold to the Saudi State, most likely used in Yemen. Behind the scenes Britain had been one of the biggest backers of the Saudi war in Yemen, where observers accused the Government of war crimes and other atrocities. Britain had provided not only weapons to the Saudis but logistical support and training for its air force. With the Guardian describing Yemen as Britain’s “Secret War”. The UPA had pledged to cancel arms exports to Saudi if they were elected but National insisted it would look over arms exports to the Kingdom on a “case by case basis”.

“States supplying arms to Saudi Arabia risk being complicit in war crimes Amnesty International said today. The British government is preparing to make a major decision on whether to suspend the transfer of arms and military equipment to Saudi. “We are urging the British government to take a stand on Wednesday and suspend arms transfers to Saudi Arabia. The British seemingly care more about protecting its financial interests than Yemeni civilians.” said Steve Cockburn, Deputy Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International. Between 2015 and 2017, the UK exported arms to Saudi Arabia worth 1.3 billion euros and authorised licences worth 1.7 billion. Precision guided munitions of the type which the UK plans to send to Saudi Arabia have been used to devastating effect across Yemen.” - UK Government must stop authorising arms exports to Saudi Arabia or risk complicity in war crimes, Amnesty International Press Release (2018)

Most European countries joined in a loud condemnation of Khashoggi’s murder, but notably not the UK. In an official statement the British Government expressed “dismay” at Khashoggi’s death but seemed to accept the Saudi line that Khashoggi had been killed by non-state actors. Contrasting with this a joint press release by the French and German Government called the Saudi story “not backed by facts”. Germany and France also pledged to freeze arms sales to Saudi Arabia, another move the Hague Government refused to follow. It wasn’t just weapons where Britain and Saudi shared investments, in Teeside workers built Saudi Trade ships, and a British-Saudi consortium built a high-speed train to Mecca. Despite pressure from the European Community and nonprofits to cut ties to Saudi, the roots between the two nations from their time as international pariahs simply went too deep.


The Mountbattenite and Saudi regimes both had histories as embarrassing friends to the US

Instead of joining in on condemnation Hague weakly called on Saudi “to clarify” the situation around Khashoggi’s death. This was despite the fact evidence presented by the CIA and other international intelligence agencies alleging Khashoggi had been killed directly on the orders of Crown Prince bin Salman. Hague continued to insist it was in the “national interest” to gain funds from the Saudi state. With unemployment so high, Britain’s shipping and weapons industry provided much needed industrial jobs, especially in deprived parts of northern England and Scotland. Hague feared a large disruption in Saudi trade could cause these industries to collapse.

Cracks in the Middle East would further deepen as US President Trump declared his withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal, much to the shock of his European allies. Foreign Secretary David Davis had desperately tried to keep the deal together, travelling between Washington and Tehran to no avail as the deal collapsed. Whilst the UK and Europe pledged to try and keep the deal going bilaterally, they now faced the wrath of American sanctions, particularly biting for the UK with so much of its industry and international trade dependent on American infrastructure. Trump was more dangerous to the UK than most European nations, with its international wilderness years meaning it didn’t have the links with other countries to stand up without US support.

“Britain’s relationship with the US is under "pressure" and the damage will be made worse if Trump secures a second term, senators have warned. The president’s actions over the Paris climate deal, Iran nuclear accord and steel tariffs were “contrary” to the UK’s interests, a committee has said. The Senate International Relations Committee’s remarks follow an inquiry that collected evidence in both the US and UK. In a wide-ranging report the committee said Britain may have to place "less reliance" on Washington than it had in the past. With the next US election in 2020, the committee said another Trump victory could further weaken the transatlantic alliance. The report noted, "trying to influence the US has proved challenging with the current administration".” - Trump's decisions putting strain on UK-US relations, senators say, Sean Morrison, London Evening Standard (2018)


Hague and Trump personally despised each other
Chapter 99: Southend Calling

The far-right reached provincial government for the first time since the Junta

“Britain's far-right Centrists have entered a regional government for the first time after reaching an agreement with National. The eastern region of Essex, located close to London, is one of the UK's largest provinces but sparsely populated. According to the parties, Centrist legislators will take two ministerial positions. Critics say those positions will become a platform to amplify the Centrists' “hate speech” and allow it to influence policy. The decision could see further coalition deals between the conservatives and far-right in other provinces. Leader of the Opposition Bell Ribeiro-Addy accused the National Party of forming a pact of shame” with the far-right. She added a political alliance featuring the Centrists was "bad news for democracy".
- Far-right Centrists enters UK regional government for the first time, Associated Press (2018)

In the Eastern Province of Essex a storm was brewing, after the National Government controlling the province collapsed, snap elections were called, the most shocking result of these elections were the far-right Centrists, who polled at around 2% Nationally, won 9% of the vote, catapulting them as Essex’s fourth largest party. The Centrists’ momentum only grew when Provincial President Eleanor Liang invited them into Government in order to form a majority. With a National/Centrist Government now ruling over Essex, the far-right had entered Government in the UK for the first time since the fall of the Junta, a watershed moment.

Like other countries on the continent Britain’s political mainstream had tried to keep a solid cordon between the parties of democracy and the far right. When the Centrists first appeared on the screen back in 2014 they were roundly blocked and attacked by the other parties, and that seemed to work. They had always been limited to a few dozen local Councillors and Cleverly’s personal vote in Essex. Now the Centrists had been legitimised as an organisation National could do business with. With the National Westminster caucus split on the Essex deal, Hague at least refused to condemn Laing, praising her for doing whatever it took to keep a “coalition of chaos” out of the Provincial Government.

The victory emboldened the Centrists, propelling them into National media coverage and a bump in the polls. 13,000 people showed up to a Centrists victory rally in Southend, with dozens of smaller rallies taking place in other cities across the country. Britain had often boasted it was the only major European country without a strong far-right presence, with Germany facing the AFD and the National Front surging in France, but now those claims were dead. With Scottish Separatism, illegal immigration and traditional values moving up voter’s list of concerns, now was a perfect time for the Centrists to come out into the light.


Many new crime gangs had emerged as splinters from Civil Assistance

Among the Centrists’ policies including revoking the Gendered Violence Act, lowering income tax and restricting access to social security for foreign nationals. But the Centrist’s main selling point was to deport - as Leader James Cleverly put it - “those illegal immigrants who come to Britain not to make it greater, but to receive handouts.”. An ironic statement considering Britain was a country of net-emigration, as young people left in their thousands to find better lives abroad, with migrants mostly from South Asia coming over to take their places in the service industry. Another main selling point was to crackdown on the increasingly powerful organised crime groups of Britain’s major cities.

“A new report from the Home Office has produced an in-depth analysis of murder rates in the UK. The 120-page study is the result of three years of investigation into 891 police reports of homicides. The report found that 32% of murders were committed by foreigners. This figure reached 44% in the case of murders related to criminal activity such as gang violence (56%) and organised crime (92%). But criminologist George Smith explains that this is because “a larger percentage of foreigners are young people, who commit the most murders. It’s nothing to do with foreigners being more violent. The president of Vox, James Cleverly suggested two months ago that migrants were to blame for most female homicide cases. “Immigrants who think that women are objects who can be assaulted, are the cause,” he said in an interview.” - Home Office releases in-depth analysis of murder rates, BBC News Bulletin (2018)

Also in attendance at the rallies was Steve Bannon, a former Trump staffer who was travelling across Europe establishing a “nationalist Internationale”, the links to the Trump campaign were obvious, with Centrist banners having slogans like “Make Britain Great Again” written on them. As part of Bannon’s Movement the Centrists gained access to foreign far-right leaders like Le Pen, but also more worryingly for the political establishment, they saw a surge in fundraising. With the party coffers growing the far-right could afford to run a full slate of candidates at the next general election - whenever that may be - and a fully operational, fully funded party would be a tempting offer for any National MP looking to defect.


The Centrists wanted to move beyond their one man band image

Then came the gang of three, Kent MP Nigel Farage, Devon MP Katie Hopkins and Essex MP Priti Patel - all from the National Party - announced they would defect to the Centrists. In their speech the three attacked Hague for breaking campaign promises on rolling back abortion liberalisation and taking a stronger line in EU negotiations. They told journalists they no longer believed National would be able to hold the union together, and that Britain needed an “iron hand” against “Separatists, globalists and the radical left”. Thanks to these defections the Centrists not only got rolling media coverage, but they also quadrupled their Westminster caucus.

With four UK-wide parties in National, the UPA, SDP and Unity all scrapping for an increasingly small voter pie, adding a fifth party into the mix, alongside all the regional parties would only destabilise UK politics further. Whilst the National/Unity coalition still enjoyed a healthy majority the loss of three MPs certainly wasn’t helpful for the strong and stable image Hague was trying to project. With no party polling above 30%, the next election was likely to lead to chaotic coalition negotiations, and the risk of the Centrists entering Government was now a real possibility that kept anti-fascist activists up at night, the four way battle for Britain’s soul now had a fifth player.

“Sunday’s results intensified a blame game between right and left. The former accuses the UPA of boosting media attention for the Centrists as a way to keep the right divided. The latter says it is the right that paved the way for Cleverly by taking a hard-line stance on issues such as national unity and immigration. “National are assimilating the far-right strategy and rhetoric,” Bell Ribeiro-Addy told POLITICO. On Monday, Ribeiro-Addy said on Twitter that the result in Essex strengthened the commitment of his party “to defend democracy in the face of fear.” “What does the left have to say about radicalism if they’re the most radical party in the history of British democracy?” National leader William Hague asked reporters on Monday, while referencing the UPA.” - Centrists Shock UK, Charlie Cooper, Politico.EU (2018)


Journalists were heckled at the Centrists' victory rally
Good update! With immigration so low I think there is a chance British far-right will take a Bolsonarist-Dutertist approach targeting crime on a Law and Order “It’s not bad if happens to bad people” (aka, police and far-right vigilantes can shoot people en masse) platform, although this would not mean dropping the racist, white suprematist and anti-immigration aspects of their political identity.