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

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.
    2005 Exit Poll
  • 1622725623958.png

    (Big Ben Chimes)



    Andrew Marr - As Big Ben strikes ten, for the first time in forty years, I can give you our BBC exit poll. The SDP is the largest party but 16 seats away from an overall majority on 233 seats. The National Party on 189 seats. The Socialist Alternative on 22. RISE on 15. The SNP on 12, and all other parties on 26 seats. A very dramatic result, what do you think of this result Jeremy?

    Jeremy Paxman - Well it looks like the public have decisively repudiated the National Party. Some in the party had hoped that Tim Collins would be popular enough to allow them to hold on but this doesn't seem to have happened. Considering both the SA and RISE lean towards the left I can't see a scenario where General Collins enters Downing Street. A victory for Mr Johnson, the SDP is a broad tent party all pulling in different directions and this former postman has managed to hold them all together, he now looks likely to be the first civilian Prime Minister in a long time.

    AM - Yes whilst our polls predicted the SDP to be the largest party, their lead here is larger than many had predicted.

    JP - If this exit poll is true the knives will be out for General Collins. He was tapped as a compromise between the reformist and hardliner wings of National, the idea was his time in Belfast would shield him from some of the shenanigans over the last few years but that clearly hasn't happened. It remains to be seen whether Collins will make it to be even Leader of the Opposition.

    AM - Yes looking at these results it looks like Mr Johnson has three options really, he can try and form some kind of coalition with the SA or the Separatists. He could try and bring National into the tent in some sort of grand coalition, or he could some to some kind of less formal arrangements and strike out a minority government.

    JP - Mr Johnson has said on the campaign trail that he wanted a clean break from the Junta years, so a grand coalition seems unlikely, that said he will still want to keep the military onside if he wants to get anywhere.

    AM - Speaking of coalitions we have with us in the studio Ms Lynne Jones, Deputy Leader of the Socialist Alternative and candidate in the West Midlands. Ms Jones how does as Cabinet job sound to you?...
    Last edited:
    Chapter 1: The Changing of the Guard
  • 1622735319937.png

    “This result has shown us facts that we’ve always known to be true. That the British people don’t want more of the same, the British people don’t want us to go backwards. This victory is the work of a coalition of forces across Britain, from those who joined me on the picket line in 2003, to the students who stormed their university building. We will now seek to build a Britain for everyone, that work starts now. We will modernise our economy and bring Britain back to the heart of global trade. We will put an end to political violence, to those who lay down their arms and seek peace through the ballot box. We welcome you. For those who continue to impose their way of life through bombs and bullets, we will find you. Finally, I say to our friends watching abroad, Britain is back. Did you miss us?" - Alan Johnson’s Speech Outside SDP HQ (2005)

    The SDP outperformed even their exit poll, winning 48% of the vote and 237 seats. Now all eyes fell to Alan Johnson, the orphan postman who had built up Britain’s trade union movement from nothing to a non-violent icon. Over-excited journalists around the world compared Johnson to Mandela or Ghandi in a rather embarrassing display.Just as Clement Attlee had rebuilt Britain after World War Two, it fell to Alan Johnson to unite his country and win the peace.

    Now came the issue of forming a Government. Johnson was reluctant to cooperate with other parties in the Commons, especially the SA and RISE who had been founded by violent activists. Johnson worried the message bringing former terrorists into the Cabinet would send to the international community. More pressing was how the military responded, some officers had grumbled about “stepping in” if the “wrong sorts” were elected to Government, Johnson had a dangerous tightrope to walk.


    Jubilant SDP supporters celebrated across the country

    Working with National on the other hand also wasn’t particularly appealing. Whilst Johnson got on with Collins, both working class men from the more deprived areas of Britain, he distrusted the hardliners and the toffs pulling Collins’ strings. The last thing he wanted was to get the bastards out only to invite them back into Downing Street. Threats of further attacks by the various Red Brigades active in Britain’s major cities also made Johnson think twice about picking up the phone to Collins.

    After discussions with his advisers and the leadership of the SA. Johnson and McDonnell hammered out a minority agreement. The SA would support the SDP in confidence votes and other essential legislation in return from stronger spending on social security and reform of the military. For the first time in 40 years a non-National Government was agreed, and with both men shaking hands and signing off, Johnson went to see the Queen. After a cup of tea and a chat, Johnson got her majesty’s blessing, and began to form a Cabinet.


    The new Prime Minister had to juggle the various wings of his party, and avoid angering the military

    “The leader of Britain’s ruling National Party has conceded defeat to Alan Johnson after the SDP secured majority support in parliament. “It looks from the way in which the negotiations are going that Mr Johnson is going to win it for the SDP,” Collins said in a speech. Johnson’s party secured a historic victory having won 237 parliamentary seats. The SDP needed 12 more seats to form a functioning majority. The National Party and the Socialist Alternative picked up 189 and 23 seats respectively. Smaller parties or independents won 48 seats. With the support of the Socialist Alternative Mr Johnson now has a majority of 11. Johnson addressed reporters shortly after returning from Buckingham Palace. “It’s a tremendous honour and a privilege. And I’m conscious of that honour and that privilege,” Johnson said.”
    - Opposition SDP wins UK elections, Al Jazeera (2005)

    Johnson Cabinet 2005-
    • Prime Minister - Alan Johnson (SDP - Social Democrat)
    • Deputy Prime Minister - Alan Milburn (SDP - Social Democrat )
    • Chancellor of the Exchequer - Simon Hughes (SDP - Social Democrat)
    • Foreign Secretary - Tony Blair (SDP - Centrist)
    • Justice Secretary - David Miliband (SDP - Social Democrat)
    • Defence Secretary - General Mike Jackson (Military)
    • Home Secretary - Peter Tatchell (SDP - Soft Left)
    • Development Secretary - Jack Straw (SDP - Social Democrat)
    • Education Secretary - Glenda Jackson (SDP - Soft Left)
    • Industry, Tourism and Trade Secretary - Chris Huhne (SDP - Centrist)
    • Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Secretary - John Prescott (SDP - Soft Left)
    • Public Administrations Secretary - Charlie Falconer (SDP - Social Democrat)
    • Culture Secretary - Rosie Boycott (SDP - Social Democrat)
    • Health Secretary - Peter Hain (SDP - Social Democrat)
    • Environment Secretary - Valerie Amos (SDP - Social Democrat)
    • Housing Secretary - Polly Toynbee (SDP - Social Democrat)


    Journalist Alan Milburn, famous for his investigations into corruption, was named Deputy Prime Minister

    Johnson’s Cabinet represented the diverse range of faces within the SDP. From union bosses like John Prescott to journalists like Alan Milburn and lawyers like Tony Blair. One of the most noticeable appointments was Peter Tatchell. Tatchell had been one of the leading campaigners for LGBT rights under the homophobic laws of the Junta. He had been arrested in the mid 80s and deported to Australia. Now with an official pardon and a Parliamentary seat, Tatchell now headed the same department that had imprisoned him. Alongside Tatchell, another notable name, Valerie Amos became the first black woman Cabinet Minister.

    Whilst this was politically a Cabinet of mostly moderates, culturally it was a shock, especially for a country used to seeing white men in crisp military uniforms around the Cabinet table. Johnson, eager to be accepted into the EU and the liberal world order, spoke of his pride in a Cabinet that looked like Britain. Among them all, sitting quietly with a stiff upper lip and straight back was Mike Jackson, the army’s man in Downing Street.

    “The former Prime Minister under Peter Hill-Norton says he is "at the service" of his successor Alan Johnson. What sort of man is Sir Mike? Reportedly nicknamed Darth Vader and The Prince of Darkness by his men, Jackson commanded an instant respect among his troops. Renowned for his ferocious pursuit of perfection on military exercises and dubbed "Macho Jacko", he was seen as a hard but fair commander. Sir Mike, now 62, began his army career learning Russian in the Intelligence Corps at the height of the Cold War. Born into a military family, he joined the Army at the age of 19 before graduating from Birmingham University in 1967. Jackson was based in Malaysia during the Mountbatten coup and thus missed lots of the action. Working his way up the Junta's ranks including spending time in Northern Ireland, he was made Minister of Defence between 1994 before being promoted to Prime Minister in 1997. Generally seen as a reformist Jackson was named Hill-Norton's successor and played a large part in the transition to democracy. Now Jackson is the last soldier round the Cabinet.” - Profile: Defence Secretary Sir Mike Jackson, BBC News (2005)


    The loyalty of the military to the new administration could not be guaranteed
    Last edited:
    Chapter 2: Champagne and Lead
  • 1622810047640.png

    All of the transitions' great and good were gathered at Buckingham for a party

    “I remember looking at Alan (Milburn) as the shots rang out. I initially thought it was fireworks until the horror dawned on us. I remember watching everyone around me hitting the ground, one of the Queen’s nieces spilled champagne on my nice new suit. As security surrounded me my mind raced, was 1968 happening all over again? Would men in guns come storming in? Myself, Alan, and our families were marched away to a safe room deep within the Palace. We sat there for hours as security cleared the grounds, at the time we didn’t know that I wasn’t the target. It was quite the comeback for Civil Assistance. Did they have people on the inside? To this day I still don’t know, I find it hard to believe a young man could gun down an MP outside the Palace without MI6 at least hearing rumors. I confess I looked at General Jackson differently after that day.”
    - Extract from Alan Johnson’s Memoirs “The Long and Winding Road” (2017)

    A week after the election the Palace held a garden party for the newly elected MPs, men who would’ve shot the Queen years ago bowed, shook hands, and posed for photos. Champagne flowed as the old establishment welcomed the new. Speeches were made as the global press waited outside the Palace gates. The Government’s first few days in the office went well, the Ministers were settling in, and Johnson was due to fly out to Brussels the next day for talks on EU accession. The weather was uncharacteristically good for a British March, and in the beautiful opulence of the Palace Gardens, one could almost relax. But these good omens wouldn’t last long

    Bob Wareing was late, he never wanted to spend his time grinning and shaking hands with imperialist generals, but the Socialist Alternative’s whip had insisted they all turned up, it helped to build legitimacy after all. Wareing had been a Councillor in Liverpool before the coup, a militant, he had been on someone or the other’s list after Mountbatten took power, so they came for him. Wareing had sought exile in the most unlikely of places, Tito’s Yugoslavia, growing a fondness for the country. As one of the few survivors of the 60s Labour left, he found himself a Socialist MP for his old hometown of Liverpool.

    Wareing was making his way past St James’ Park towards one of the Palace’s many side entrances. Upon seeing the four armed police officers he reached for his ticket. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a man in his early twenties. “Death to Traitors!” The man shouted. Wareing was confused. The man pulled a gun, Wareing was no longer confused. Then three shots rang out. One to Wareing’s chest, one to his head. The third was fired by the Armed Officer, killing Wareing's assailant instantly, but it was too late.


    London was placed into lockdown shortly after the attack

    “Civil Assistance has morphed into a national, violent, counter-transition movement opposed to the extension of democracy in the UK. Membership of groups such as CA is difficult to gauge because such organizations ‘are often transitory and fluid’. There appears to be some evidence of broad support for the movement. There are far more male supporters than female: 81 percent are male, and almost three-quarters of all members are under the age of 30. The support base shares a sense of frustrated nationalism in the face of what they perceive to be a general liberal democratic threat. It is their concern about liberalization, and especially immigration, which motivates these supporters. According to Searchlight, one of CA’s leaders is Mark Collett, a former National member with a series of convictions.”
    - Fascism and the return of Civil Assistance, Lecture by Dominic Alessio, Richmond University (2009)

    The assassination of Bob Wareing was the most significant act of right-wing terrorism since the 80s. Investigations showed the assassin was twenty-three years old Stephen Yaxley from Luton. He was affiliated with Civil Assistance, the far-right Paramilitary Organisation established by Mountbatten allies in the terror of the 70s. Civil Assistance had declined in prevalence over the 80s and 90s, being banned by Hill-Norton. Now the organization had come back to the political scene with a brazen attack, killing an MP meters away from Buckingham Palace.


    Civil Assistance supporters would clash with mourners in Liverpool

    The death of Wareing led to demonstrations in his hometown of Liverpool, where socialist demonstrators clashed with far-right activists and the police had to step in. In London rumors began to swirl, how could a lone man assassinate an MP meters away from the Queen without the security services finding out and stopping him. Had hardline elements within the Home Office ignored, or at worst assisted Yaxley? John McDonnell, Leader of the SA, demanded a crackdown on Civil Assistance or the Alternative would withdraw its support from the Government.

    Raids across Britain netted some worrying results, in Wolverhampton police discovered a stock of military-grade weapons, including rifles from Yugoslavia and Northern Ireland. Somehow Civil Assistance had gotten their hands on military-grade weaponry, meaning the Wareing attack was unlikely to be their last. If Johnson couldn’t keep a lid on political violence, a second 70s terror could occur, and with an MP dead no one was safe. It was all going so well, now the real test began.

    “Parliament may never be the same after the shocking attack by a gunman which left a Socialist Alternative MP dead. The attack has raised fears as politicians from all parties consider their security arrangements. SDP MP Joan Ruddock says members of parliament have received threats on a regular basis since last week's election. "It's a very alarming case but it's not surprising," the Inner East London MP told BBC News. "This was bound to happen I'm afraid. Lots of MPs endured threats and intimidation over the election no doubt this is what will be coming to light over the coming weeks and months. Like all forms of violence, attacks on politicians are under-reported. If any research were to be done it would find they are facing much more violence than anyone suspects, but none of them said anything about it." - Attack prompts MPs to rethink security, BBC News (2005)


    Many suspected Wareing's wouldn't be the last transition politician assassinated
    Last edited:
    Wikibox: Murder of Bob Wareing
  • 1622822906286.png

    On 21 March 2005, Bob Wareing, the British Socialist Alternative Member of Parliament for Merseyside died after being shot. His assailant, Stephen Yaxley, was shot and killed by an armed officer at the scene. An inquest concluded that Yaxley wanted to prevent Britain's transition to democracy.

    The incident was the first killing of an MP since Michael Ancram was assassinated by the Scottish National Liberation Army in 2001.


    Wareing, a pre-Junta Liverpool City Councillor was elected to represent Merseyside at the 2005 general election, having spent several years in exile.

    On 21 March 2005 Wareing was on his way to a party for new MPs at Buckingham Palace when Yaxley shot him twice with a modified Browning Hi-Power handgun.

    Armed Police Officer Lewis Smith 26, shot Yaxley. He was awarded the George Medal for his bravery.


    The perpetrator of the attack was Stephen Yaxley a 23-year-old engineer from Luton. Yaxley had mental health problems, though he was declared sane at the moment of the crime. He believed individuals of pro-democracy viewpoints were the cause of Britain's problems. Investigators writers suggested that he targeted Wareing, as he was a "passionate defender" of Socialism.

    Yaxley had links to British far-right groups including Civil Assistance. In his home were found Junta regalia, far-right books, and information on the construction of bombs. He had searched the internet for information about the far-right New Nationalist Party (NNP). He also owned Mountbatten iconography as well as books and films related to the 68 Coup. A police official described Yaxley as a "loner."
    Last edited:
    Chapter 3: Two Funerals and a Flight
  • 1623059978137.png

    Despite worries of violence, Wareing's funeral was mostly peaceful

    “About 3,000 mourners have attended the funeral of murdered MP Bob Wareing in Liverpool. The 76-year-old died after he was shot outside Buckingham Palace. His family wanted the service, which was held at Liverpool Cathedral to be a joyous celebration of his life. The service opened with tributes from Prime Minister Alan Johnson and was led by Socialist Leader, John McDonnell, a confirmed pastor. Johnson called for an end to political violence. "To ensure that no other family has to go through this pain, today's tears must be transformed into action tomorrow. Words of sympathy today must lead to a vision in which politicians of any party can live and work without harassment, abuse or attacks."”
    - Thousands pay tribute to Wareing, BBC News (2005)

    Wareing’s coffin was marched through Liverpool before being buried at St James’ Cemetery. Several senior politicians joined the precession including Johnson and McDonnell. In his speech at the funeral, Johnson pledged an end to political violence and a crackdown on illegal arms import, condemning Civil Assistance. The early stages of the Home Office’s investigation had found most of Civil Assistance’s weapons had been imported via loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. Initial Home Office actons had been a success, allowing the police to seize Civil Assistance safehouses and weapon caches but many CA leaders remained at large, including Mark Collett.

    Wareing’s wasn’t the only funeral, Jim Callaghan too was dead. Callaghan had fled abroad during the coup and for 30 years served as the face of the British Freedom Campaign. The 93-year-old had been suffering from cardiac and kidney problems for the last four years but insisted on traveling back to Britain to see his home freed. He was there for election day but the journey took its toll and Callaghan died of Kidney failure. Johnson paid tribute to the man who “never let the light of Britain flitter out, no matter how dark things looked”. As one of the last surviving members of the Wilson Government, Callaghan’s death represented a link to past Britain could never get back.

    “James Callaghan, a World War II veteran who led the British Government in Exile has died at age 93. Callaghan passed away at his home in East Sussex, the U.K. Press Association reported. Callaghan died 11 days after the first democratic elections. He is survived by two children, Margaret Jay, and Michael Callaghan. Prime Minister Alan Johnson called Callaghan was "one of the giants of the democratic movement" who lived a "long and active life". "He was one of the generations who fought in the war and came back determined to build a better, fairer, and different Britain," Johnson said in a statement. Callaghan, nicknamed "Big Jim" or "Sunny Jim," held the posts of Prime Minister in Exile, Home Secretary, and Chancellor of the Exchequer.” - CNN Report (2005)


    Callaghan was Prime Minister in Exile and Chair of the British Freedom Campaign from 1968 to 1998

    Next on the agenda for Johnson and Foreign Secretary Tony Blair was a flight to Brussels to open talks around EU accession, with a population of nearly 60 million, Britain would be the EU’s most significant enlargement in history. Before Britain could join there were several issues that needed to be resolved, Britain’s relatively closed economy and weak finances, concerns of mass immigration, especially from war-torn Northern Ireland, and Britain's acceptance of the Euro. Above all the situation in Northern Ireland concerned the EU, the region had become a hub for weapons smuggling and political violence, although major IRA leaders like Gerry Adams had signed onto the Cardiff Accords, there was a considerable dissident faction still committing acts of violence. If Britain was to join the EU, it had to show it had Northern Ireland under control.

    Whilst Britain still had a long way to go before joining the EU, they did take tentative steps to align themselves with Europe. Johnson and EU Commission President Margot Wallström signed a trade and cooperation agreement in Britain’s first step back to the international community. Johnson’s speech to the European Parliament pledging stable institutions with respect for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law across Europe received a standing ovation from MEPs. Despite eagerness on both sides, and promises of “fast-track” membership, it would still take several years for Britain to join the EU, but it was a start.


    President Wallstrom was supportive of British accesion

    Whilst in Brussels Johnson met with other major European leaders including German Chancellor Otto Schily, French President Édouard Balladur, and most importantly Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen. Johnson got on well with all three men, all being relative liberals. Cowen and Johnson were able to agree on further cooperation combating terrorism, smuggling, and other issues in Northern Ireland, with both men hoping to work together to bring about lasting peace. Johnson flew back to London with a new trade agreement and some cool new friends, some welcomed good news amongst the pressure at home.

    Whilst in Brussells Johnson had been welcomed with open arms, at home the situation might be a bit more tricky. Whilst the SDP was strongly pro-European it did have a small eurosceptic enclave, most notably John Prescott and the trade union old guard. Furthermore, Johnson would need more than just SDP votes to bring Britain into the EU. The Socialist Alternative and RISE were mostly Eurosceptic and with the death of Wareing McDonnell was in no mood to compromise. There was also the issue of National, whilst some reformists like Ken Clarke supported EU accession, there was a considerable hardline influence who would run a mile at the idea. There was also the ever-present problem of the military, how would Her Majesty's Finest react to handing over sovereignty to the EU? Especially if this required giving up the pound? How would this decision be made, would he copy some countries and hold a referendum? That had never been done in British history before, or would a straight Parliamentary vote be enough? Decisions, decisions, all of them wrong.

    “Britain's PM Johnson is confident EU leaders will announce his country can open accession negotiations. His confidence seems justly placed as the EU-14 are set to announce that talks with London will start early next year. The local media have been quoting “sources” saying that the negotiations are going to begin before the end of the year or early in 2006. The speculation has added to restlessness among the people to know where their country stands. One gets the feeling this is an ‘all or nothing game for a nation where everyone is convinced that they already are part of Western, ‘civilized’ Europe. But, by focusing on an accession date, they fail to pay attention to the transformation the country has to go through to qualify for EU membership. “The media are concentrating on the date,” said analyst Jon Worth, but “they have not been reporting on reforms in Poland or the Czech Republic.”” - Britain eagerly awaits EU accession talks, Helena Varendorff, Politico EU (2005)


    Britain's accession would need to be approved by the European Parliament and all 14 Member States
    Wikibox: James Callaghan
  • 1623073322246.png

    Leonard James Callaghan, (27 March 1912 – 23 March 2005) was a British politician who served as Prime in Exile Minister of the United Kingdom and Chair of the British Freedom Campaign from 1968 to 1998. Callaghan served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1964 to 1967 and Home Secretary from 1967 to 1968. He was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1945 to 1968.

    Born into a working class family, Callaghan left school early and worked as a tax inspector, before becoming a trade union official. He served as a lieutenant in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. He was elected to Parliament at the 1945 election, and was regarded as being on the left wing of the Labour Party. He was appointed to the Attlee government as a parliamentary secretary in 1947. He then began to move towards the right-wing of the Labour Party, while maintaining his reputation as a "Keeper of the Cloth Cap". After Labour's defeat at the 1951 election, Callaghan became regarded as the leader of the right-wing of the Labour Party. He stood for the positions of deputy leader in 1960 and for leader in 1963, but was defeated by George Brown for the former and Harold Wilson for the latter.

    After Labour's victory at the 1964 election, Wilson appointed Callaghan as Chancellor of the Exchequer. This appointment coincided with a turbulent period for the British economy. Callaghan had to tackle both a chronic balance of payments deficit and various attacks on the pound sterling. On 18 November 1967, having denied that it would do so, the government devalued the pound sterling. In the wake of the decision, Wilson moved Callaghan to the role of Home Secretary. During this time, Callaghan was responsible for overseeing the operations of the British Army to support the police in Northern Ireland. During the 1968 Coup Callaghan was conducting a visit to the Northern Irish border and was able to escape to the Republic of Ireland. He successfully applied for political asylum with the Irish Government. Callaghan was the most senior Cabinet Minister to escape the coup. Alongside fellow exile Denis Healey he established the British Government in Exile.

    He would remain Prime Minister in Exile from 1968 to 1998. Callaghan appointed Healey as Foreign Secretary and his deputy. As Chair of the British Freedom Campaign Callaghan was responsible for generating international support against the Junta. Callaghan resigned in 1998 to be replaced by Denis Healey. He supported the Cardiff Accords which confirmed the UK's transition to democracy. He was made Honorary President of the SDP party and its headquarters in London was named Callaghan House in his honour. He died on 23 March 2005 and remains to date the UK's de-jure longest-lived and longest-serving prime minister.
    Last edited:
    Chapter 4: Strategic Retreat
  • 1623158912751.png

    John Bercow was one of the most high-profile Reformist figures in the National Party

    “MP John Bercow is right that National can’t afford to wait for the economy to fail. But that may still represent one of their best chances of regaining power. National is, as we write, embarking on a divisive disagreement on the required depth, breadth and meaning of its ‘transition’. Such reform is hard to sustain as many traditionalist Nationalists do not believe such changes are necessary. For all the talk of a large influx of reformists among the 2005 intake, they still constitute a minority in the party. For every Michael Gove, there is a Mike Nattrass. Any attempts at radical change could result in renewed factional infighting within the party. This is unlikely to help it regain power.”
    - New Office, Same Problems: The National Party, Lecture by Philip Cowley, University of Nottingham (2005)

    Whilst the SDP’s honeymoon momentum was seemingly unstoppable, over in the Norman Shaw building of Parliament, Opposition Leader Tim Collins was getting comfortable in the Leader of the Opposition's Office, the first permanent residence since 1968. The elections had been fairly disastrous for National, whilst they had expected to lose they hoped fear of change and Collins’ personal popularity would keep them above 200 seats, now they were solidly in the wilderness. The National Party hadn’t experienced failure for over 30 years, for many of its MPs the election was traumatic.


    As well as being political damaged, National was in dire financial straits, struggling to afford it's headquarters in central London

    National had always been a confederation, Tories, Liberals, Ulster Unionists, army officers, businessmen and media moguls made up its founding. It’s modern caucus was split between several factions, from the hardliners on the right who wanted to go back to the good old days of troops on the streets, to the reformists, eager to put the Junta behind them and get Britain into the EU. Collins found himself between the two wings, a former Governor of Northern Ireland, Collins was used to people not getting on, but not to treachery. Thanks to the newly freed press, leaks became a thing again, parliamentary questions, press releases, PMQs, Collins was in a brave new world, and not all his troops were behind him.

    His most pressing concern was the more radical liberals in his party, many of them would naturally feel at home in the SDP, staying in National out of loyalty or opportunism, now National’s polling had taken a nosedive they might defect or even start their own party. Men like David Laws and John Bercow who’s political instincts were for Europe and deeply distrusted the hardliner factions of the party. Whispers in the Parliamentary tearoom said Laws was already having conversations with the SDP around defection, even possibly being offered a Cabinet job, if MPs began to jump Collins would quickly find himself alone with the hardliners.

    “Tim Collins today put Europe centre-stage in an interview with The Sun , pledging a referendum on joining the EU if he became prime minister. Although Collins stops short of suggesting Britain not join the EU, he says a referendum would "give us the view of the British people". His tactic was immediately attacked as a "whip up their core vote" strategy by EU Minister Geoff Hoon. Mr Hoon, told the BBC: " I hope this doesn't mean that National are going to the, 'Let's whip up our core vote with right-wing issues' approach to elections. In his interview with the Eurosceptic Sun newspaper General Collins said if he became PM he would not secede powers on a variety of issues to Europe. A poll, he said, would allow voters to judge if joining the EU would deliver for Britain.” - Collins pledges EU referendum, Matthew Tempest, The Guardian (2005)


    Collins pledged a referendum on joining the EU to placate his hardline wing

    To his right there were the hardliner factions, made up of various nationalists, officers and spooks. Amongst the colonels and admirals their unlikely leader was Robert Kilroy-Silk. Kilroy was the former head anchor of the BBC, he had served as the Junta’s erratic propaganda mouth since 1983 and had built up quite a following, especially amongst older people. The Labour MP turned Junta hardliner was captivating, charismatic and most of all ambitious. The threats from stuffy old generals Collins could handle, but Kilroy was a force unto himself, a certain song about clowns to the right sang true for Collins.

    Collins and his aides, in typical military fashion, dubbed their plan “Operation Strategic Retreat”, this would include a unity reshuffle and reforms to the National Party’s head office, including an unequivocal condemnation of political violence. Collins hoped Strategic Retreat would stop the party bleeding support in the polls, reform it as an effective opposition tool, and shore up Collins’ own position at the head of the National Party. The Shadow Cabinet would be the most difficult task, Collins had to balance the competing factions of his party to create a competent face to the public. To great fanfare Collins unveiled the first Shadow Cabinet for forty years.


    Opposition was a bitter pill for National to swallow

    Tim Collins Shadow Cabinet 2005-
    • Leader of the Opposition - Tim Collins (National)
    • Deputy Leader of the Opposition - Theresa May (National)
    • Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer - Nick Clegg (National)
    • Shadow Foreign Secretary - David Davis (National)
    • Shadow Justice Secretary - Kenneth Clarke (National)
    • Shadow Defence Secretary - Vacant (Non-Political)
    • Shadow Home Secretary - Ian Blair (National)
    • Development Secretary - Robert Kilroy Silk (National)
    • Shadow Education Secretary - Liam Fox (National)
    • Shadow Industry, Tourism and Trade Secretary - David Willets (National)
    • Shadow Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Secretary - David Laws (National)
    • Shadow Public Administrations Secretary - Nicholas Soames (National)
    • Shadow Culture Secretary - Oliver Letwin (National)
    • Shadow Health Secretary - Mark Oaten (National)
    • Shadow Environment Secretary - Bob Stewart (National)
    • Shadow Housing Secretary - David Richards (National)
    Collin’s reshuffle included a major promotion for Theresa May, a key Collins ally and the only woman to serve in the Hill-Norton Government as it sank. May was promoted from Environment Secretary to Deputy Leader. Nick Clegg, former ambassador to the European Union and a key member of the reformist faction was promoted to Shadow Chancellor. Ian Blair, the former Commissioner of the Met Police was made Shadow Home Secretary in a nod to some of National’s more hardliner MPs. The reshuffle was noticeable for the lack of military officers in senior positions, Soames, Stewart and Richards remained the only senior military figures, with Davis being a squaddie and almost all other Shadow Ministers being civilians. Collins hoped the reshuffle and the sacking of the officers would show National’s Junta days were behind them.

    “Hard line former Minister Norman Tebbit has wondered whether Tim Collins is ‘National's chairman Mao, intent on purging the memory of Mountbattenism’ . By the summer of 2005, Tebbit was becoming unhappy at the direction in which Collins was leading the Party. He warned that the ‘present National strategy is eroding its ultra-loyalist bedrock vote’. Also attacking the reformist's’ ‘myth’ that supporting further democratisation provides electoral success is Maurice Saatchi. He has argued that National should once again embrace ideology rather than become slaves to pragmatism. Indeed, without actually naming Tim Collins, Saatchi has called on true nationalists ‘to man the barricades’. Quite apart from their disapproval of his ideology, many of Collin's critics are aggrieved at his refusal to stand up for the military amidst inquiries into their conduct during the Junta years.” - A New Direction or Another False Dawn? Tim Collins and the Crisis of the National Party, Peter Dorey (2007)


    Theresa May, a civilian and a woman, became the second most senior National politician
    Wikibox: The National Party
  • 1623167861874.png

    The National Party; commonly known as National is a conservative and nationalist political party in the United Kingdom.

    The National Party was founded in 1969 as a merger of the various parties of the National Government, led by former First Lord Louis Mountbatten. The new party combined the Conservative Party with the Liberal Party and several smaller unionist parties.

    National was the only legal party in the United Kingdom during the Mountbatten Junta, dominating British politics for 40 years. During the 1990s under the leadership of Admiral Peter Hill-Norton the party went through a period of liberalisation.

    During the 2005 election National was ousted from power by the SDP. National is now the second largest party in the House of Commons. It's leader; General Tim Collins currently serves as Leader of the Opposition.

    National is a member of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP). National is also a member of the Centrist Democrat International and the International Democrat Union.

    (Author's Note: Apologies, I couldn't work out how to get the local government bar to work)
    Last edited:
    Chapter 5: Coming Home
  • 1623232358724.png

    Despite personal reservations, Johnson had promised full Iraq withdrawal during the election campaign

    “Britain's new prime minister, Alan Johnson, announced today that he was ordering British troops to leave Iraq "as soon as possible." Mr. Johnson said he had ordered Defence Minister Mike Jackson to "do what is necessary for the troops in Iraq to return home". Mr. Johnson said he had made his decision because it was unlikely that the UN would be playing a leading role in Iraq any time soon. The prime minister spoke at Downing Street shortly after meeting with the General Staff. His new foreign minister, Tony Blair, is leaving for Madrid this week for meetings on Wednesday with Spanish PM Jose Zapatero. Iraq is expected to figure in his discussions. Mr. Johnson's move, though a serious setback, comes as no surprise to the United States.”
    - Spanish Leader Pulling Troops From Iraq, Marlise Simons, New York Times (2005)

    As spring wore on, high on the Johnson Government’s agenda was the issue of Iraq. The Junta had been strongly involved with the Bush’s administration's invasion of Iraq, around 40,000 British troops were currently posted in the country. The war in Iraq was hugely unpopular, several hundred thousand had marched against the war even at the risk of arrest, its huge unpopularity was one of the many reasons the Junta had fallen. Johnson had promised immediate withdrawal from Iraq during the election campaign, and his Confidence and Supply partners in the Socialist Alternative had made it a red line of their Parliamentary negotiations.

    Despite this, withdrawal had its downsides. It would infuriate the Bush administration, one of Britain’s few friends on the international stage. If Britain pulled out of Iraq it was unlikely the States would do them any favours. More pressingly at home it would anger many of the more conservative generals within the military, who saw action in Iraq as necessary to combat terrorism. Johnson was already on unsteady ground with the military establishment, and for it’s more politically inclined members withdrawal would show Johnson as a weak Prime Minister, unwilling to back the military.

    The domestic pressure was too much to ignore, and Johnson announced the full withdrawal of all 40,000 troops from Iraqi soil. Getting acclaim within anti-war countries and with the EU. Johnson said the British Government was not shirking it’s responsibilities to the international community, pledging to send more troops to UN approved conflict zones such as Afghanistan and Haiti. The loss of so many troops was a huge blow for the mission in Iraq, with President Bush declaring Britain’s withdrawal as “a victory for terrorists everywhere”. Bush was hardly popular amongst the British people, having supported Hill-Norton and given the Junta international legitimacy during its darkest days, so Bush’s ire could have been seen as a political win, but in the international arena relations between the two nations considerably cooled.


    Bush was incredibly unpopular amongst British voters

    “The UK’s relationship is different from, indeed in important respects, closer than, that of other European countries. The UK has also especially intertwined with the US: what Kennedy called the ‘reef’ dimension of the Atlantic alliance. But, constant worry about London’s closeness to Washington being eroded damages the clarity of pursuit of Britain’s interests. British diplomacy has tended to value the special relationship too much in the opportunities it has been seen to offer. Privileged access to the ear of the hegemonic power did little for UK interests at the time of the Iraq invasion. A more hard-headed commitment to re-balancing the relationship would serve Britain well in the post-Junta era.”
    - Briefing by John Dumbrell, US Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister (2005)

    Johnson had hoped to move away from the Atlanatisit Foreign Policy associated with the Junta and towards a more pan-European foreign policy. As Bush and the Iraq War were very unpopular in Europe, Johnson hoped his withdrawal would help accession negotiations. Alongside the withdrawal from Iraq, Johnson held talks with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero over the issue of Gibraltar. Alongside Ireland, Spain’s veto remained the biggest threat to British membership of the EU.


    Foreign Secretary Tony Blair had opened discussions with the Zapatero Government

    Alongside Foreign Secretary Tony Blair, Johnson flew out to Gibraltar for talks with Zapatero and the Spanish Government. After weeks of talks, representatives from both countries signed a series of agreements aimed at improving Spanish/British relations and improving conditions for Gibraltar citizens. The accords included easier border crossing, better transport links and strong communication infrastructure between Gibraltar and mainland Spain. Foreign Secretary Blair hailed the talks as the most significant progress around Gibraltar for 30 years. In return for these concessions on Gibraltar, Zapatero pledged Spain would not stand in the way of Britain’s EU accession. Western Europe’s two oldest former dictatorships now stood side by side in a more democratic, multilateral and European future.

    Whilst Blair and Johnson soaked up the sun in Gibraltar, Public Administrations Secretary Charlie Falconer was in Scotland to meet the four provincial Presidents of Scotland; Adam Ingram, Colin Fox, Jim Mather and Stewart Stevenson for discussion around Scotland's place in the union and civil rights. Whilst all four Presidents demanded a single unified Scottish Parliament this was denied, but concessions were made around joint operations against remaining Scottish National Liberation Army cells, and it was agreed the national Parliament would pass a Scottish language act, enshrining Scottish Gaelic as an official language of the United Kingdom, giving it equal respect to English and mandating the Scottish Gaelic be taught in Scottish schools

    SNP national leader John Swinney hailed the result as a “historic day for Scotland’s native tongue”. Gaelic had long been a declining language, facing particular backlash from the Junta Government, who had been eager to stamp out the Scottish identity in the goal of creating a single unified British identity. As such Gaelic had become the language of a few islands and SNLA fighters. A census in 2001 had found there were less than 50,000 Gaelic speakers in Scotland, making up less than 1% of the population, now the Scottish Presidents hoped to revive their language. Falconer hailed the recognition as proof the SDP Government was taking Scottish views seriously, and reiterated his calls for the remaining SNLA fighters to lay down their arms and engage in the political process.

    “The leadership of Arm Saorsa Nàiseanta na h-Alba has ordered an end to the armed campaign. All SNLA units have been ordered to dump arms. All Volunteers have been instructed to assist the development of political programmes. Volunteers must not engage in any other activities whatsoever. The SNLA leadership has also authorised our representative to engage with the IICD to complete the process to put its arms beyond use. We have invited independent witnesses to testify to this. The Council took these decisions following an unprecedented internal discussion and consultation process. We appreciate the honest and forthright way in which the consultation process was carried out. We are proud of the way in which this historic discussion was conducted.” - SNLA Ceasefire Order (2004)


    Whilst the SNLA leadership had relinquished their arms, several rogue cells remained at large in the Scottish Highlands
    Last edited:
    Wikibox: Alan Johnson
  • 1623252284897.png

    Alan Arthur Johnson (born 17 May 1950) is a British politician who has served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since 2004. A member of the Social Democratic Party, Johnson is the Member of Parliament for the East Riding of Yorkshire since 2004.

    Johnson served as General Secretary of the Union of Communication Workers after it's legalisation in 1998. Known as a pro-democracy advocate he pioneered non-violence resistance to the British Junta. He played a leading role in organising the Postal Strike of 2003, which would grow into the General Strike of 2003. After the fall of the British Junta he was elected leader of the Social Democratic Party, defeating left-winger Peter Tatchell and fellow moderate Alan Milburn.

    Johnson was elected Prime Minister at the 2004 election. In his campaign he pledged withdrawal from Iraq and entry into the Europe Union. As well as social and economic liberalisation. He entered power via a confidence and supply agreement with the Socialist Alternative. He is the first civilian Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since 1968.
    Last edited:
    Chapter 6: The Shadow of Mountbatten
  • 1623318622562.png

    Statues of Mountbatten were still all over the UK, many wanted them pulled down

    “Dictatorships like to advertise their power by constructing monuments that dominate public space. So one of the first things that happens during a revolution or a regime change is the destruction of hated symbols. The removal of emblems and statues signifies the transformation and heralds a new dispensation. No one who watched the live TV coverage from Baghdad as it fell to US troops will forget the sight of Saddam Hussein's statue being brought down. Throughout the Soviet Bloc during 1989-90 the hated representations of Lenin and Stalin were purged from urban vistas. Nobody who has suffered repression wants to be reminded of a bad past, to see the face of dead tyrants every day on the way to work. But what happens when the transition from dictatorship to democracy is more modulated and negotiated?”
    - Pieces from the Past: Mountbattenist Monuments in Modern-Day Britain, Lecture by Jo Sharp, University of St Andrews (2005)

    Mountbatten Square sat just outside Civic Hall, the Home of Leeds City Council. At the centre of Mountbatten Square was a statue of the man himself, standing at nearly eight feet tall. At 3am on the 7th of May 2005 a boom erupted across the square, and the statue was rubble. A rogue Leeds cell of the Red Brigades took responsibility for the bombing, although no one was hurt, the bombing did make national news, opening up a conversation around the role of statues in the post Junta world. Statues of Mountbatten and other Junta-era figures could be found up and down the country, many had been defaced and now some were even being blown up.

    West Yorkshire’s Provincial Government, under a SDP/SA coalition led by former union organiser Gerry Sutcliffe announced they would be taking down all monuments related to Mountbatten and the Junta in their province. The West Yorkshire Government argued the monuments were a flash-point for violence and that preserving them would leave a prime target for political violence. There was a backlash to this from some members of National and especially from supporters of Civil Assistance and the New Nationalist Party, a far-right neo-fascist party. The NNP had been fairly successful in West Yorkshire, picking up 8% of the vote and 4 seats in the local legislature. NNP protests in Leeds City Centre would sporadically turn violent, leading to a riot, further pushing the issue of Junta iconography into the public consciousness.

    “More than 80 people were injured in violent clashes in Leeds yesterday as demonstrators fought with riot police. Officers were pelted with bricks,rocks, bottles, smoke bombs and placards for 90 minutes as they separated NNP and left-wing protesters. A small group of counter-protesters tried to break through their lines to reach NNP demonstrators. The police responded with repeated baton charges, and charges by officers at the demonstrators. Hand-to-hand fighting spilled into side roads, leaving residents terrified. Worse violence was avoided when police relieved one of the protesters of a bag containing seven petrol bombs. Last night the West Yorkshire Ambulance Service said 84 people had been taken to hospital with two officers in 'very serious' conditions.” - The night Leeds was rocked by rioting, BBC News (2005)


    The riots would spill across the city of Leeds

    Under pressure from their allies in the Socialist Alternative, Prime Minister Johnson would announce in Westminster the removal of all statues hailing Junta era and other anti-democratic figures under the new “Junta Remembrance Act ''. Outraged hardliners in National and disgruntled former Generals would take to the airwaves to condemn the statue’s removal. NNP Leader Godfrey Bloom said the Leeds statue was a tribute to Mountbatten’s “military achievements” not his role in the dictatorship. In Parliament Tim Collins gave a more muted response, whilst he acknowledged Mountbatten’s role in ending Britain’s democracy, he argued the removal of statues created “problems and division”; “Why do we need to create where there is none?”

    The removal of the statues was seen as Johnson garnering more confidence to face down the elements of the military and opposition. The press dubbed these reforms “demountbattenisation”, a tongue-twister of a word, evoking the destalinisation efforts taken in the Soviet Union. Alongside the removal of statues Johnson pledged a reform of the education system to teach the true story of the Junta years, as well as this the Government established a “Memorial Commission”, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Alan Milburn. The commission would be devoted to those imprisoned during the darkest days of the Junta and compensating those who had especially suffered at the hands of the military. These moves were criticised by some in the opposition who argued the Commission would present an unbalanced view of history, ignoring the violence caused by pro-democratic, left-wing and separatist organisations.


    Deputy PM Alan Milburn was appointed to head up the commission, passing over more radical candidates

    The backlash to these reforms wasn’t entirely peaceful, during a visit to Manchester Socialist Alternative MP Bob Crow was shot at by a gunman toting a sawn-off shotgun. The would-be assassin was only able to get two shots off (both missing) before being tackled by police. The gunman was identified as a 37 year old associated with Civil Assistance. Crow was the second Socialist Alternative MP to face an assassination attempt in a few short weeks. Manchester especially became a hotbed of Paramilitary activity, alongside regular bust-ups between Civil Assistance and left-wing counter protesters, one alleged Red Brigade Member threw a pipe bomb into the constituency office of a National MP (although it failed to detonate), this ramping up of political violence came to be known as the “Manchester Spring”.

    This instability would come at the worst possible time, as world leaders arrived in Nottingham for discussions around Britain joining the G8. Anti-establishment and anti-capitalist protests lined the street, particularly targeting US President Bush. Security concerns were heightened as authorities feared a rogue Red Brigade cell could try and strike at the meeting. Row after row of heavily armoured police officers was not the image Britain wanted to send to the world, but Home Secretary Tatchell decided it was best for security. As Johnson made his pitch for Britain to rejoin the “civilised” world leaders of the G8, many only had to look out the window or pick up a paper to see a hundred reasons why Britain wasn’t ready.

    “Several traditions of protest will be celebrated in Nottingham when representatives of the G8 meet with Alan Johnson to discuss British membership. As is usual on such occasions, many groups of demonstrators will be present (now with the added novelty of being legal), some seeking to push out the boundaries of permitted protest. On the revolutionary left are the activists who have made these meetings a priority ever since their explosion onto the scene at Seattle in 1999. They will assemble under the banner "Another World is Possible" - the slogan of the luminaries of the Socialist Alternative. Judging by past experience, there could be more than a clash of ideas. These are the new generation of protesters, who attract the most police attention. They do not court violence, but they belong to a tradition of direct action, of taking a protest beyond the limits of the law.” - G8 protest: how far should you go, Richard Gott, New Statesman (2005)


    Protest had been outlawed for 40 years, now decades of anger was unleashed
    Last edited:
    Chapter 7: The Purse Strings
  • 1623405320260.png

    Australia, Britain's "favourite son" had taken it's fathers place on the G8

    "It is our view that the United Kingdom has not yet reached standards of economic progress, human development and political stability required for membership of the G8. This isn't to say Britain could never join the G8, but there is a long way to go. We still have significant concerns around the prevalence of political violence. We look forward to working with the United Kingdom as a close and proactive member of the G21. We in the G8 continue to give the British people our full support during this difficult transition to democracy. In our talks we agreed with Prime Minister Johnson and Chancellor Hughes comprehensive packages of trade and investment to help jump-start Britain and bring her back into the international economic order.”
    - Statement by G8 Chair John Howard (2005)

    In a humiliating turn of events, Britain's application to join the G8 was rejected, further rubbing salt in the wounds, the rejection was delivered by Australian PM John Howard, who had taken Britain’s place on the G8. The rejection showed how far Britain had fallen in 40 years, with an international community still keeping the pariah nation at an arm’s length a simple change in management wouldn’t be enough to bring Britain back to the top table, it would take years of reform and hard work to drag Britain back to its pre-Junta level of economic power and international prestige.

    The Nottingham summit didn’t bring entirely bad news, several of the G8 powers welcomed new policies for external investment into the United Kingdom. With Chancellor Simon Hughes working to open up the British economy to external investors, private companies, especially those from the States, were eager to exploit this new opening in the market. Johnson managed to sign favourable agreements with US President Bush and German Chancellor Otto Schily. Whilst the blow to Britain’s ego was heavy, the SDP Government hoped that the promise of new jobs and economic growth could offset the political damage they took.


    After a honeymoon in the polls, the SDP's momentum was beginning to slow

    “Alan Johnson is nothing if not an optimist. His thesis that Britain must join with the international community to face great threats of the day has been tested to destruction. Relations between the UK and the US were ripped apart by London's decision to withdraw from Iraq. European governments remain suspicious of US intentions towards the UK. And in spite of improvements in the relationship, the list of issues dividing the US and UK has not diminished. Yet Mr Johnson has not given up the goal of dragging Britain back to the top table. "What I am trying to get to is to develop an agenda of consensus," he says. "There is the possibility of that consensus." The key, he suggests, is as the Junta regime comes to an end - there is a change in emphasis in Whitehall that "has been under- estimated by people."
    - Johnson hails UK goal of expanding freedom, Andrew Gowers, Financial Times (2005)

    With new G8 investment, the SDP Government could now begin on the first democratic budget in British history. The budget represented a political minefield for Johnson, the European Union expected Britain to open it’s economy often closed under the Junta’s control. The British state was old, inefficient and prohibitively expensive. Johnson, Hughes and Milburn wanted to bring in a raft of privatisations but knew this would be opposed by the trade union wing of the SDP as well as their confidence and supply partners in the Socialist Alternative. Thus the privatisations began locally, mostly focused on transport. National transport subsidies to provincial governments were severely cut, with the central administration “encouraging” provincial governments to sell on their transport network, this led to the privatisation of most local bus services. The Johnson Government also began to sell smaller regional airports like Tees Valley Airport, Leeds Airport and Newcastle Airport as well as National Air Traffic Control Services.


    Loss-making regional airports had been kept in state hands by the Junta for strategic reasons

    After taking power the Junta had built dozens of military installations up and down the country, many were operating at a loss with little tangible benefit to the British people besides extra jobs in the military and more money for the Junta. Much to the anger of the military, several of these loss making installations were sold-off or privatised. The most notable military privatisation was the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, the military’s main research agency. The DERA became Quintex, a private research and military contracting company. Several trust ports and old naval bases were also privatised.

    Overall the reforms made in the Hughes 2005 budget represented a cut of over 5% in British public spending. Due to fear of a backlash from the Socialist Alternative, larger loss-making national agencies such as British Coal and British Energy were left alone, with the brunt of cuts hitting either the overfed military or in cuts to provincial funding. This “stealth privatisation” gave the SDP plausible deniability and garnered them a majority in the House of Commons. Whilst unions were annoyed at Johnson’s reforms, he had enough good will and political capital to keep them from dissenting openly. Whilst some SDP politicians had feared industrial unrest, Britain’s exhausted organised Labour simply didn’t have the resources to resist.

    “Habits, practices, and values of workers shape their decisions to join trade unions. The growth of organised labour has coincided with the growth of civic participation among the post-Junta working class. Trade unions not only help workers gain higher wages, but also help workers gain a ‘collective voice’ over important issues. Recall that the desire to take part in decision making processes—to have one’s voice heard—is a paradigmatic post-materialist value. Given that unions help workers to influence policy, unions attract workers with post-materialist values. Hence, different aspects of trade unionism appeal to different value orientations. Materialists favouring the monetary benefits and post-materialists favouring the collective voice benefits.” - Why Workers Join Labour Unions, Christopher Kollmeyer (2010)


    Many in the trade union community were relieved not to be facing the jackboot, and were willing to give the SDP the benefit of the doubt for now
    Last edited:
    Wikibox: Social Democratic Party
  • 1623424297807.png

    The Social Democratic Party; SDP is a social-democratic political party in the United Kingdom. The SDP is currently the incumbent party of the United Kingdom. The party is seen as the successor to the banned Labour Party. It's current leader is East Yorkshire MP Alan Johnson

    The SDP was founded after the legalisation of opposition parties in 2004. The SDP played a key role during the transition to democracy, leading the first post-Junta elected government from 2005. Whilst it is descended from the socialist Labour Party it does not consider itself socialist, although there is a socialist minority faction.

    The SDP has three major internal tendencies, the dominant tendency is the traditionalist tendency of social democratic/trade unionist figures such as leader Alan Johnson and Development Secretary Jack Straw. This tendency supports strong ties with the trade union movement and moderate economic reforms. To the right of the traditionalist tendency is the liberal tendency, made up of middle-class intellectuals such as Deputy General Secretary Alan Milburn and Chancellor Simon Hughes. This tendency supports moving away from the trade unions and embracing more neo-liberal economics. The smallest tendency is the soft left democratic socialist tendency of figures such as Home Secretary Peter Tatchell and Education Secretary Glenda Jackson. This tendency supports strong trade union links, a mixed economy and cooperation with other left wing parties like the Socialist Alternative.

    The SDP has had strong ties with the trade union movement, especially Amicus. Affiliated trade union membership is a requirement for SDP membership. The SDP has been considered by experts to embrace a positive outlook towards EU membership.

    The SDP is a member of the Party of European Socialists, Progressive Alliance and the Socialist International.
    Last edited:
    Chapter 8: Departure Lounge
  • 1623684454870.png

    The new democratic Home Office would be tested by a spate of attacks

    “The Home Office was completely unprepared for what happened. Half of the most senior officials had been removed in the transition for various offences and the other half were pissed off at us for firing their mates. There was such a gap in the top level of national security that we had junior staff barely out of university being rapidly promoted just to fill the gaps. Was there a deliberate conspiracy from within the Home Office? I don’t think so, but a lot of the old guard didn’t seem too fussed about emerging threats, they’d work slowly and clock off at 5:30 without a care in the world”
    - Unnamed SDP Home Office SPaD (2005)

    The press tried to invent several names for July 2005, “Red July '', “The Month of Blood '' The Summer of Death”; none of them particularly stuck. What did stick in people’s minds was that July 2005 was one of the worst months for political violence in decades. By the end of July, nearly a hundred people would lie dead and hundreds more would be wounded in the most difficult year for the transition yet. Whilst sporadic attacks like the assassination of Bob Wareing had become somewhat common, several attacks within a few weeks of each other, all from different, often opposing organisations, gave the Government reeling with no room to breathe.

    The first and largest attack of the month was a coordinated bombing campaign across London by a dissident faction of the Scottish National Liberation Army, the most noticeable of these attacks was the bombing of Heathrow’s Terminal Four. Two bombs were detonated during rush hour at the peak of the summer holidays, one in the car park and one in the terminal itself. The attack killed 55 people including several children. Over 800 kilograms of explosives had been used at the scene, enough to cause considerable damage to the terminal building, Heathrow Airport was closed and all flights in and out of the UK were grounded for fear of further attacks.

    As well as the deaths the SNLA had great political ramifications. The three SNP provincial Presidents, as well as their leader John Swinney condemned the attack and called for a maintaining of the Scottish peace process. RISE, the political wing of the SNLA, denied responsibility for the attack, attributing it to dissident factions. Despite this RISE spokesperson Tommy Sheridan refused to condemn the attack and denied the Scottish peace process had been damaged. Sheridan’s refusal to condemn the attack and Swinney's unflinching condemnation led RISE to slip in the polls as the SNP asserted itself as the main party of Scottish Nationalism.


    Whilst some Scottish nationalists did support the Heathrow Attack, the average Scott was strongly opposed

    “Nationalists now have a political stake in post-Junta Scotland. The union still has significant weaknesses. Nonetheless it has endured for a century and the flaws of the Union appear less than the weaknesses of dissident republicanism. Aspirations among nationalists for independence remain and this option has never been put before to the electorate. But, there is less equivocation and more condemnation of violence as the means of attainment of independence than before. There is also cognisance of the seeming impossibility of imposing Independence upon reluctant unionists without consent. An episodic dissident armed campaign limps on, a violent sideshow alongside nationalist participation in the political stage.”
    - The Unwelcome Brothers: Dissident Scottish Nationalists During the British Transition, Professor Richard Finlay, University of Strathclyde (2007)

    Dissident factions of the Red Brigades also launched several attacks at this time. The most successful being a series of letter bombs sent to right-wing news publications and journalists. The most successful attack was at the headquarters of pro-Junta newspaper the daily mail, where several journalists were killed and editor Paul Dacre was severely injured. Arthur Scargil, one of the most senior Red Brigade leaders to refuse to sign up to the Cardiff Accords took credit for the attack, in a televised statement he declared it a “good day for enemies of the fascist press and the working class of Great Britain''.


    Scargill was the face of Red Brigade Dissidents

    In the weeks after the attacks the Terrorism Victims Defence Association (TVDA) launched a protest outside Callaghan House, demanding Johnson’s resignation. The TVDA was founded as an association of victims of terror attacks in the mid 80s, it had often been used as a propaganda tool of the Junta against organisations like the Red Brigades, SNLA and IRA. Several had accused it of political bias as it refused to condemn right-leaning organisations such as Civil Assistance, and several of its leading members had ties to National, or the far-right NPP. Despite this the TVDA would grow to be one of the most influential pressure groups of transition Britain, it’s support swelling after each example of political violence.

    For the opposition in Parliament, blame for the attacks fell squarely at the feet of the Johnson administration. Collins accused Johnson of showing his “softness” on terrorism by getting into bed with the Socialist Alternative and blamed Home Secretary Peter Tatchell’s “light touch approach” for the SNLA’s attack. For the Socialist Alternative blame was placed on the security services at best failing to act properly, or at worst allowing the attack to happen, with SA Home Affairs spokesperson Diane Abbott demanding an investigation into Home Office corruption, with both figurative and literal grenades being thrown on either side, the SDP was caught in the middle. Johnson’s unflappable honeymoon persona began to crack.

    “The root cause of terrorism is not a decision on policy, but contentious, it is a doctrine of fanaticism. We must fight not just the methods of this terrorism but their motivation, their twisted reasoning. At the same time of course, by contrast, we should fulfil our duty to act against injustice. We support the resolution for conflict prevention in Ireland and Scotland. We should show our own strength and belief in the values of democracy and tolerance. Above all we should prove that the future does not, and never will, belong to fanatics. It will be with those who believe that we should live in peace with each other, whatever our race, nation, colour or religion. They do indeed have their strategy, but we have ours, and we should use it to defeat them.” - Alan Johnson speaking outside Terminal 4 (2005)


    Terrorism and political violence would dominate Johnson's first years in office
    Last edited:
    Chapter 9: Violence, Baguettes, Violence
  • 1623753944532.png

    The Heathrow Attacks would lead to protests and riots by Civil Assistance

    “Plans by right-wing extremists to exact "revenge" on Scots and socialists after last week's bomb attacks are being monitored by police. Channel 4 has learned that extremists are keen to cause widespread fear with high-profile events in the capital. Football hooligans communicating over the internet have spoken of the need to put aside partisan support for teams and unite. Hooligans from West Ham, Millwall, Crystal Palace and Arsenal are among those seeking to establish common cause. As part of wider plans to generate a backlash, right wing groups such as Civil Assistance and the NPP are said to be planning marches. Extremists hope to hold a march along Victoria Embankment in London tomorrow. It is also known that many trade unions and other organisations have received bomb threats since the attacks.”
    - Channel 4 News Report (2005)

    The backlash to the events in London came almost immediately from the political right, in Leeds City Centre, several youths armed with knives attacked Mick Rix at a street stall in Leeds. Rix was a rehabilitated former Red Brigades fighter and now an organiser with the NUGW (National Union of General Workers), Rix had been leading a protest against reforms to rail franchises. Whilst he wasn’t killed the attack left him in critical condition. Eyewitnesses claimed the attackers had declared the attack as revenge before disappearing into various back-alleyways. The attack further cemented West Yorkshire as one of the flash-points for Civil Assistance political violence.

    Meanwhile the hunt for the Heathrow attackers was on, three of the attackers had been arrested in London whilst a fourth had been captured by Belgian authorities fleeing to Brussels. Whilst the four SNLA “commandos” directly responsible for the attack had been arrested, Home Secretary Peter Tatchell said the hunt was not over yet, as British police tried to identify and disperse any further rogue SNLA cells operating in the capital. The city still remained on edge, with heavily armed officers in gas masks on patrol and even soldiers at key strategic locations.

    Meanwhile in Paris, Development Secretary Jack Straw was meeting with the Balladur administration to discuss the opening of a new train line between Britain and mainland Europe named the Eurostar. Talks of high speed rail across the Channel Tunnel had been ongoing for decades but with Britain's isolation from the world such a project had never been feasible until now. The train section of the Channel Tunnel had stood empty for years. With the Johnson administration wanting to strengthen relationships with Europe and desperately needing a win for the audience at home, an agreement was signed. The British, French, Dutch, Belgian Government all agreed to work alongside private business to make the project a reality.

    “The tunnel itself had been mooted for 200 years before British and French workers broke ground and began digging towards each other. French engineer Albert Flavier first proposed It took seven years for 14,000 workers to build the 31.4 mile tunnel, 23.5 miles of which run undersea, making it the longest of its kind in the world. That kind of engineering and manpower did not come cheap, with costs in 1997 estimated at £5 billion, a massive 90% more than planned. Many believe the Tunnel helped bring down the British Junta, allowing the British people to see the other side in liberal France” - How the Channel Tunnel changed Britain forever, CNN (2019)


    The Channel Tunnel had been built in the late 90s, but disagreements between the Junta and the French meant the rail segment was never finished

    Whilst the Eurostar agreement was good for Britain’s EU accession, the continuing chaos at home was not. The Johnson administration hoped the quick capture of the Heathrow attackers would prove to the world he was still in control. After the humiliating rejection from the G7, some EU members began to express doubts around Britain’s usefulness to the EU. Straw’s visit was half business but also half diplomatic as he set to reassure a rattled French establishment. French President Balladur was warm, but warned there could be a domino effect from the violence in London, if the international community lost confidence in the Johnson administration, economic problems could follow.

    Back in the Cabinet high level discussions were at hand. Under Junta era counter-terrorism rules those suspected of terrorism could be held for up to six months without trial. A key manifesto pledge of the SDP had been to reduce this to just one month. Home Secretary Peter Tatchell had been the architect of the policy. However, Johnson and others within the Cabinet wanted this manifesto pledge scrapped, arguing the Government couldn’t afford to look weak at this crucial moment in time. Tatchell, and other allies on the left of the party like Glenda Jackson argued keeping detention without trial would make them as bad as the Junta, and warned it would infuriate the Socialist Alternative, possibly into pulling their support for the Government.


    The SA/SDP alliance was on very thin ice

    After hours of discussion Tatchell threatened to walk out the Cabinet. This would be a disaster for the SDP, just a few months into Government and losing their Home Secretary after a spate of terror attacks. Tatchell was a popular figure on the left of the party, and the SDP whips feared his resignation could lead MPs to jump to the Socialist Alternative. Eventually a compromise was reached, the Junta era detention laws would remain in place for a year as the Government got a hold on political terrorism, as things calmed down the law could be reformed. The Tatchellites were infuriated but remained in the tent, another day in the grubby world of politics.

    With several key pieces of liberalising legislation coming down the pipeline, including the legalisation of civil partnerships, lowering the age of consent for same-sex relationships to 16 and the bringing in of rights for transgender individuals, Tatchell felt he couldn’t afford to walk out of the Government right now. However clashes between Tatchell and Johnson were becoming increasingly prevalent as the months wore on. As well as this the constant abuse and death threats were beginning to take their toll on Tatchell and other leading LGBT politicians, the bad old days of the Junta didn’t feel that far away, Wareing had been shot, how long before the next politician was killed?

    “Tatchell denies he has sold out. "I come from the left. There is an endemic culture of betrayal on the left: waiting for the next leader or spokesperson to sell you out." Most politicians are nobodies. They come and they go. They rule for a brief hour and they fall and disappear. Tatchell is another kind of creature. He has been famous for 35 years, ever since John his resistance operations. He likes it. He has never had another existence; he grew up writing leaflets, taking command, organising campaigns. He is good at it. He wants to keep doing it. Does he have a future in Johnson's government? No one knows, apart from the true Johnsonistas in the Downing Street bunker. But there is something about Tatchell - all that energy and activity - that makes him more dangerous to the SDP on the outside than in the fold.” - Tatchell’s World, Kevin Toolis, The Guardian (2005)


    Tatchell was a civil riots icon, Johnson couldn't afford to lose him
    Chapter 10: We’ll Keep the Rainbow Flag Flying Here
  • 1623945471436.png

    The Government cracked down on street yobs so riots became rarer, but when they did happen they were more deadly, led by paramilitaries

    “Far-right mobs rioted on Sunday for a second consecutive night in London, injuring at least 30 police officers. Crowds of men wearing masks terrorized citizens and attacked security forces. Cars were set on fire at major intersections, closing a highway into London. The more than 3,000 police officers at the scene were bombarded with homemade explosives while they held rioters back. Sir John Stevens, London's chief constable, said the clashes posed "one of the most dangerous riot situations in the history of policing in the UK,". One policeman was shot in the eye and partly blinded by a gunman associated with the paramilitary group Civil Assistance. "It is unique for officers to come under live fire in what was a public order situation," Sir John said.”
    - Far-Right Riot for 2nd Night in London, Injuring 30 Police Officers, Brian Lavery, New York Times (2005)

    As summer gave way to cooler weather and cooler heads, the violence of the summer began to subside into a brief respite. Attacks became more sporadic rather than a factor of everyday life as the police became better at riot control and lower-level attacks. The Johnson administration now began to push on with its legislative agenda, most notably with a raft of socially liberal legislation. Under the Junta, Britain’s social policy had been frozen in the 1960s and it lagged far behind other western countries in terms of rights for LGBT people and ethnic minorities, the SDP Government now set about to rectify this.

    The liberal reforms had two aspects, firstly was the obvious social benefit to expanding civil liberties, but the reforms also had a political aspect. National was heavily split, with reformists in favour of modernising social legislation, and the hardliners strongly opposed. Johnson hoped he could use the reforms to drive a wedge between National’s warring factions, putting further pressure on Collin’s leadership. Obviously if you asked Johnson publicly the rights of Britain’s minority groups came first, but the political benefit definitely didn’t hurt.

    A new British bill of rights guaranteed civil liberties not seen since the pre-Junta days. It included rights such as the right to legal counsel, a fair trial, religion, to join a union and to protest. As well as new sections preventing discrimination on LGBT, ethnic and other grounds. LGBT rights were especially expanded, with the age of consent for same-sex relationships lowered in line with different sex relationships. Same-sex couples were also granted the right to a civil partnership and adoption. Finally the British Government gave a formal apology for the Aids crisis of the 1980s, where thousands of gay men died after the Junta government failed to provide proper support.


    The Junta had swept the aids epidemic under the bus, killing thousands of gay men

    “18 years ago, a new killer invaded Britain, setting off panic buttons and causing rumors among an ill-informed population. The killer was Aids. Some people were afraid to sit near gays in case they caught it from breathing the same air. Some believed it could be contracted by visiting a public toilet. Others thought it was a punishment sent by God to end the scourge of homosexuality. Tabloid newspapers branded it a 'gay plague'. Medical experts feared they could be facing the worst public health disaster of the century. The lack of effort the Government put into averting an epidemic, have been revealed in remarkable Cabinet Papers. Under Health Secretary Martin Smyth, a former Presbyterian minister the British Government failed to properly respond to the virus.
    ” - How Aids flustered the Junta, Andy McSmith (2005)

    These reforms, dubbed the 05 Charter, were the most consequential civil rights reforms since the Magna Carta. For the first time in British history the rights of citizens were enshrined in an American-style bill of rights. With one stroke of a pen Parliament could bring Britain forward forty years. Some in the SDP were concerned with the radicalism of the reforms. They called for the reforms to be split up and delivered slowly, one by one. However, the momentum within the SDP was against them, with the vast majority of SDP members supporting the Charter.


    Some argued Britain's lack of a written constitution had allowed the Junta to happen

    In National the reforms were incredibly divisive and provided a headache for Tim Collins. Hardliners like Anne Widdecombe and Gerrard Batten were calling for the party to oppose the whole thing, meanwhile reformists like Tim Boswell, Lembit Opik and Sajjad Karim spoke publicly in favour of the reforms. Collins found himself stuck in the middle deciding how to whip. If he came down strongly on either side he could ferment more internal dissent or even a split. If he didn’t choose a side he’d look weaker and weaker. National had spent the last year on the political back foot, reacting rather than leading.

    Eventually Collins announced a free vote on the issue pointing to the “broad range of opinion” on the National bench, Collins personally abstained. This move was roundly condemned as a cop-out and showed the issues at the heart of National. Most National MPs (122) would follow Collins in abstaining, including most frontbenchers. 44 hard-line MPs would vote against the bill and 23 of the reformists voted in favour. Without any real opposition in Parliament the Bill of Rights passed easily, much to the rage of the hardliners and social conservatives.

    In Britain’s once underground gay pubs and bars the rainbow bunting was hung up with pride. Registration offices saw a deluge of civil partnership applications. Britain’s various protest groups and NGOs, who had spent the last year technically operating illegally were not recognised, able to open offices and hire staff. Britain’s culture had taken a great leap forward. Home Secretary Peter Tatchell welcomed a new, modern and tolerant Britain. But with the darkness of the Junta still looming over Britain there were still fears as to how the far-right would respond. Figures on the hard-right of British politics, such as Reverend Robert West warned of deadly consequences as Britain moved to “degeneracy”. The new Britain was here, but not everyone was happy.

    “A party with a long term record holding executive power is most likely to be dominated by it. A period of repression may persuade transition actors to take an interest in institutional mechanisms, such as a Charter of Rights. This is the insurance model in relation to the politics of constitutional design during regime transition. Evidence from Britain indicates that a change in attitude may be engendered by concrete experience of life in the wilderness. A rational, prospective calculation of the likelihood of holding executive power in the future. The sheer strength of feeling that had built up during 40 years of Junta rule ensured the passage of the path-breaking Rights Charter.” - Explaining the Elite Politics of Britain’s Bill of Rights Debate, Lecture by David Erdos, University of Cambridge (2009)


    Women's rights were updated, including easing access to abortion
    Last edited:
    Chapter 11: From Brussels with Love
  • 1624016562005.png

    Former dissident Catherine Aston now led the British delegation to Brussels

    “Catherine Aston's speech to the European parliament has been hailed as a masterclass in the art of seduction by the French press. High praise indeed. The European parliament was putty in her hands; the foreign press reported her speech on their front pages in glowing terms. Her rallying cry for an enlarged Europe with open markets and free trade was on the main national news bulletins in 11 member states. No wonder she has told aides that she intends to make further speeches to the parliament as Britain's lead accession negotiator. But can she turn a debating success into real political action, and lead Britain into the EU and lead broader debate across Europe? Critics of Ms Aston's speech complained of feeling as if they had eaten a Chinese meal. It delivered instant gratification, but was less substantial than it appeared.”
    - Europe: a whole new world of opportunity, George Parker, Financial Times (2005)

    Catherine Aston spent a lot of time on late night flights between London Heathrow and Brussels Zaventem. As Britain’s lead negotiator she headed up accession talks with the European Union. The negotiations had been hard, in Britain's weakened state she had no room to negotiate against a much stronger and united European Union. Attempts for concessions on issues like the pound were unfruitful. Brussels was clear, if Britain wanted to join Europe she would be a full member, no exemptions, no special treatment. When negotiations had opened back in the late 60s before the coup Britain was a leading industrialised nation, she would’ve been the jewel in Europe’s crown. Now Britain was just another post-dictatorship state queuing at the EU’s door.

    37 individual joint task forces had been set up to help align Britain with the EU on everything from agriculture to art subsidies. Known as the National Integration Strategy, these alignments had been controversial at points back in the UK, especially with the trade unions angry at some of the privatisions the Johnson Government was undergoing in order to align itself with EU competition years and make Britain's economy a more appealing offer to the nascent union, the SDP had built up a lot of good will with the trade unions but Johnson was talking a dangerous tightrope. As Trade Union Congress General Secretary John Edmonds said the unions had “no permanent friends and no permanent enemies” if they were pushed too far the unions could turn on the Government.

    “The TUC’s policy position of strong support for EU accession membership becomes explicable if viewed as being part of a series of nested games played between it and the SDP. The TUC’s aim in the transition period was to build bridges with an SDP government disinclined to consult with it on industrial reform. Its strategy was to signal, through its strong support for the EU, that the TUC now accepted Euromonetarism. This underlines the difficulties assuming unions will line up according to material incentives. The views of interest groups can shift even when the underlying material facts remain unchanged. Instead, domestic political considerations, including alliances with parties may also be important.” - UK Trade Unions, the SDP and EU Accession, Steve Coulter, LSE (2016)


    Britain was jumping between huge constitutional changes at a break-neck pace

    The Johnson administration had to give into the EU’s terms Britain would be joining as a full EU member, and would be taking the Euro. This was not good politically at home, the Euro was incredibly unpopular. But there was some good news, at a summit in Prague it was agreed, Britain would be fast tracked into the EU, the joining date was official. New Year’s Day 2007. Britain would be joining a wave of other countries including Poland, Slovakia, Latvia and the Czech Republic. The accession would have to be ratified by the EU Council and Parliament, as well as the people of Britain, but the date was official and in the political diary. Countries like Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania were outraged, they had spent years negotiating EU entry just for Britain to jump the queue. This would be the fastest EU accession in the Union’s history, beating Finland’s record of three years.

    Schengen would also be an issue, Britain would soon be accepting unrestricted free movement from all the EU member states. Whilst some National hardliners raised concerns about mass immigration from Eastern Europe, the more pressing issue would be emigration. Compared to its nearest neighbors like France, Belgium and the Netherlands Britain was relatively poor and underdeveloped. The British Government feared a brain drain similar to that seen by Italy and Spain in their early days of EU membership. Whilst the richer EU countries worried about keeping people out, Britain was worried about keeping people in.


    Civil servants feared a mass emigration to Ireland, France and Belgium

    Now came the hard choice of how to sell this to the British people. Johnson was personally in favour of a straight vote through Parliament, but there was no guarantee this would pass. The Socialist Alternative would be strongly opposed, and several figures on the SDP’s trade union left like John Prescott were also suspicious of the EU. Even with the support of some National dissidents and the SNP it would be an incredibly tight vote, and if the No vote won it would be a cataclysmic event for the Johnson administration. There was also the issue of democracy, after 40 years under the jackboot, did Johnson really want to send the message of far away stuffy politicians.

    After long cabinet discussions it was agreed, on the 8th of June 2006 the British public would be asked the question “Do you approve of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s accession to the European Union?” They would be given two options, “Yes” or “No”. As well as being a massive political event this would also be a huge constitutional event, representing the first direct referendum in British history. Power to the people and all that. Now came the work of finalising Britain's alignment with the EU, fixing regulations and liberalising the economy. The clock was officially ticking.

    “High above the London skyline the Museum of London, is being prepared for its most grandiose addition: a giant clock. It will start ticking at midnight. A millennial brainchild of the Provincial President, Andrew Adonis, it will be measuring out a momentous timetable for Britain - the race to join the EU. "Timing is important for us, but it is not as important as concrete achievements," says Mr Adonis, a dynamic 40-year-old. "But if we are not a member of the EU in 2007," he warns, "things could be very difficult." Britain's 60m people still linger in a political and economic no man's land as the EU's members discuss taking newcomers into their club. In theory, all is well. EU communiques declare that Britain will join in January 2007. But many believe that is too fast and not going to happen. On the Brussels rumor mill, 2008 and 2009 are often heard.” - The British accession clock is ticking. Will it be a time bomb?, Irish Times (2005)


    Britain needed to align itself with the EU as quickly as possible
    Last edited:
    Wikibox: The Thick of It
  • u2MvzXa0D1yFDVKyM1vbzZCQQkV7WBJgC2_xv8ux4L9RNZuUFgAJR4zBut-hJNTL5IfdKSxL0CiPF_bK4cYyKoJbFOW8nZdh7zthzS0UH9REQs0m3697KZkpHwdpGZV-gtflNZQr

    The Thick of It is a British comedy television series that satirises the inner workings of the British Transition. Written and directed by Armando Iannucci, it was first broadcast for two short series on BBC Four in 2005. It had a small cast focusing on a government minister, his advisers and their military attache. The cast was expanded for two hour-long specials to coincide with Britain's accession to the EU in 2007. This saw new characters forming the opposition party added to the cast. These characters continued when the show switched channels to BBC Two for its third series in 2009. A fourth series was broadcast in 2012, with the last episode transmitted on 27 October 2012.

    The series highlights the struggles between politicians, the military and civil servants. The political parties involved are never mentioned by name, and in series 1 and 2 most policies discussed are generic. When Peter Mannion and his team are introduced the context makes clear that the government party is the SDP and Mannion's party is National. This continues through series 3 and series 4. Former civil servant Martin Sixsmith was an adviser to the writing team, adding to the realism of some scenes. The series became well known for its profanity and for story-lines which have mirrored real-life policies.

    The action centers on the fictional Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship ("DoSAC). Thus it acts as a "super department" overseeing many others, with some similarities to the Cabinet Office. This concept enables different political themes to be dealt with in the programme.

    Hugh Abbot, played by Chris Langham, is a blundering minister under the watchful eye of Lt Col Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), the military's aggressive "enforcer". The programme also features James Smith, Chris Addison and Joanna Scanlan.

    A feature film spin-off, In the Loop, was released in the UK on 17 April 2010, parodying Britain's withdrawal of troops from Iraq and the US reaction. A pilot for a U.S. remake of the show was not successful, but Iannucci was invited to create Veep for HBO. Veep had a very similar tone and political issues, with the involvement of some The Thick of It writers and production members.
    Last edited:
    Chapter 12: Mi Casa es tu Casa
  • 1624284771153.png

    British state housing needed modernising

    “The Junta regime conceptualized housing as a national pride builder and evasion. Three main narratives have been tied to Mountbattenist housing; which are social community ties, evasion and local identity. Though, the amount and relevance of sports facilities in the city could be seen as a material legacy of the Junta regime. The housing policy of Mountbattenism developed a housing market inscribed in authoritarianism for the poor and market structures for the rich. Hill-Norton's later housing policies are the main base of the current housing market structure in Britain. These are characterized by a complex conglomerate of builders, promoters and financial institutions. The building companies developed under the Junta are the main elements of these conglomerates.”
    - Mountbatten’s urban legacy, Lecture by Liliana Figueras, Wageningen University (2014)

    If you controlled the homes you controlled the people, at least that was the thinking of the British Junta. Under the Mounbatten administration public housing was kept strictly controlled at a national level. Whilst there was a considerable amount of privately owned housing, especially among the upper and middle classes, home ownership in Britain was much lower than in places like the states, with a third of Brits living in state housing. State houses were often used as a way of enforcing loyalty by the Junta, and under more unscrupulous officers, a form of money laundering. Despite this, the tower state housing blocks in cities like Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and East London became hotbeds of resistance activity and paramilitary groups. Under Housing Secretary Polly Toynbee the Johnson administration went out to change this, hoping to transform Britain into a home-owning democracy.

    Toynbee penned a green paper named “Renewal of the Housing Market” (RHM) endorsing home ownership as a “strong and natural desire" which "should be met". Whilst the paper envisioned the majority of affordable housing still being provided by the state, housing associations and private organisations would play a much greater role in providing housing. The most notable and controversial part of Tonybee’s policy was allowing state tenants to purchase their houses at 70% of its market value, with the revenue generated from the sale invested into the construction of new houses. Whilst the bill was opposed by the left of the SDP and the Socialist Alternative, National would abstain and several of National’s reformist liberals would vote with SDP MPs in the aye lobby.


    Passing the reforms through Parliament was a great victory for Housing Secretary Toynbee

    “Even over the course of its short life, RHM has seen a shift in its objectives. A clear descendant of an SDP focus on renewal in housing policy, it now occupies a much less comfortable place. RHM struggles to reconcile the new dominant discourse of ‘supply’ with its local tactical programmes of clearance. The answer lies on more qualitative ground. RHM needs to deliver neighbourhoods with higher quality housing; of the right mix; and in the right places to ease a wider economic agenda. This means two things. It may be helpful to have a more speculative take on what has caused signs of positive market outcomes and what forms success. Does RHM provide a stable platform for local housing markets should choppier waters be encountered?”
    - Renewal of the Housing Market in an era of new housing supply, Department of Housing Report (2007)

    The policy would see an explosion in state tenants purchasing their own homes, with as many as 150,000 houses purchased across 2006. The SDP hoped that by giving ordinary people a stake in the country they could preserve democracy and poach middle-class voters from National. For the Socialist Alternative the result was a disaster, inner-city social housing was the core of the Alternative’s support, the Toynbee reforms pulled the rug out from under their voting base. In Socialist Alternative run authorities such as Merseyside the local government fought bitterly against these reforms but were overruled by the central Government. With a rift over privatisation, the EU and now housing, the gap between the SDP and Alternative continued to grow. Several within the Alternative’s radical flank began to turn on McDonnell, believing he was too soft on the SDP.


    McDonnell was a folk hero to some, especially in Merseyside, but a younger generation of socialist politicians were losing patience

    Opening up Britain’s housing stock also helped to improve relations with the EU, as Britain began to host various EU leaders coming to see the newly freed country. In early 2006 Otto Schilly. Schilly had grown up under the Nazis, and had played a key role as a lawyer representing various different paramilitary groups in Germany. He had also helped to oversee the integration of East Germany with the West. The Chancellor was no stranger to post dictatorship states and was a strong advocate of Britain's accession to the European Union. Whilst Schilly was generally welcomed in London, he was followed by anti-EU protesters angered at his role in Britain's accession. Most notably several members of the neo-facist NPP and Civil Assistance would harass Schilly, pointing to his Defence of the Red Army Faction in Germany. One CA sign that even made the international news compared Shilly to Adolf Hitler, in a thoroughly humiliating turn for the Johnson administration.

    Despite the controversy the state visit was generally a success for the SDP Government, Schilly had spoken warmly of Johnson and the British Government, and Britain gained prestige from hosting Europe’s leading economy. The Civil Assistance protests generally hurt the National Party more than anything. Der Spiegel reported how some of the rhetoric on Civil Assistance placards mirrored those used by hard-line eurosceptic MPs in the Commons. As a pro-European Schilly’s state visit provided all of the disunity headaches for Collins without any of the glossy photo ops or international interviews. As usual National remained several steps behind in the political game. National’s troubles were reflected in the polls as one poll by Ipsos Mori put the SDP nine points ahead of National with 46% of the vote to National’s 37% and the Socialist Alternative’s 4%. If an election was held tomorrow National would get less votes than it got in 2005. The SDP seemed on track for a second term, and there was little National could do to stop them.

    “Tim Collins' leadership is in trouble, one of his allies said yesterday, as shadow ministers talked down the party's position in the polls. National has fallen back and trailed the SDP in recent polls. But those closest to Mr Collins said those findings reinforced the leader's demand for change in the party. "The message that is coming out of the Manchester conference is again to say to the National party 'Don't assume everything is going to come right'. National MP Ed Vaizey told Sky's Sunday Live with Adam Boulton. Peter Ainsworth, the party's policy chief, said the leader's focus on social justice did not mean he was turning his back on core Conservative issues. In his speech to party faithful, Collins did not mention crime, Europe or the military.” - Collins in trouble as Tories lag behind in polls, Tania Branigan, The Guardian (2006)


    Rumors of a leadership challenge had been going since the 05 election