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

Chapter 13: On Your Left
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    Johnson's plans to liberalise Britain's economy brought him into clashes with organised labour

    “I want an open society with rules; one that delights in its tolerance and pursues justice not only within our borders but outside them. Protectionism in the economy; isolation in world affairs; nativism in society; means weakness in the face of challenge. We can be strong. We can overcome the challenge of global change; better, we can relish its possibilities. Over the coming months, we will be conducting this debate and refining policy on the basis of it. Take part in it. Organised labour has a crucial role to play. It is exactly where modern trade unionism should be. And if we can shape the debate in the right way, and get solutions that are fair and practical, we will do well by the count. We will show that politics, true politics can deliver the progress we all want to see.”
    - Prime Minister Alan Johnson’s speech to the TUC (2006)

    The SDP was the unions and the unions were the SDP, at least that’s what National said. Sometimes this benefited Alan Johnson, like when he spoke at the TUC conference. Today, not so much. As part of reforms to target Britain’s bloated public sector and to pull Britain closer to the EU, Johnson had taken the knife to the one place the Junta dared not touch, public sector pensions. The reforms included raising the retirement age for public sector workers and scrapping the “80 rule”, which allowed local government workers to retire early if their age and years of service combined exceeded 80. With state contributions to public sector pensions reaching nearly £10 billion, Johnson saw a place to make cutbacks.

    This put Johnson on a collision course with the Association of Government Workers, one of the largest and most powerful trade unions in post-transition Britain, representing middle and lower government workers including local civil servants. The AGW, alongside several smaller public sector unions voted to strike and over a million public sector workers walked out of their jobs. Teachers, librarians and sports centre workers all took to their local town halls to march and share their grievances. The AGW’s pension action was the largest example of industrial action since the General Strike that helped topple the Junta in 2003.

    "Jonathon Riley, the architect of trade union autocracy, was dropped as minister. This marked a liberalizing turn that recognized the need to trade to meet the basic needs of the population. The postal strike and the general strike that followed, contributed to this restructuring. Though many more arduous protests would be mounted before democracy came to Britain, the strike marked a turning point. It signaled a shift from the brutal military-fascism of the 1970s and 80s, to a more rational-bureaucratic Junta in the 2000s. As well as the growth of a ‘social opposition’ base. The grandiose Junta and all its repressive effects to which Hill-Norton clung was dissolved after 2003. The mystique of the 68 coup, the main formative influence of the regime, was diluted." - The British General Strike of 2003, Peter Catterall (2009)


    The AGW had helped to topple one government not long ago

    Alan Johnson was used to organising strikes, not being on their receiving end, considering all his government had done the unions had been extraordinarily patient. Not only did the AGW lead workers in walking out, but they also announced they would suspend donations to the SDP until an agreement was made. The AGW formed the SDP’s second largest donor and with an expensive EU referendum a few months away the SDP couldn’t afford the hit to their coffers. One would expect in these situations the radical left Socialist Alternative to benefit from the SDP’s woes, but despite the fact they voted against pension reforms, they did provide the SDP with confidence and supply. For many trade unionists, the SA’s hands were dipped in the blood, even more reason for John McDonnell’s internal opponents to sharpen their knives..

    Now there was the question of what to do with all the librarians running amok. In the good old days you’d send the boys in blue to beat them up, or failing that the boys in green, but in the new democratic Britain sending soldiers to beat up Mildred the librarian was generally frowned upon. The Government had to embark on the long forgotten dark arts of union negotiation. Somewhere deep in the Department of Industry civil servants were opening negotiation handbooks that had been shut for 40 years. The situation was no less strange to the trade unions, who until recently had operated underground, and then under strict supervision, making demands to the government was unheard of.


    Negotiations in plush offices had replaced clashes on the picket line

    The strike would continue for several months, going well into May, local swimming pools would remain shut for the Easter school holidays as angry constituents wrote to their MPs. The striking AGW workers showed iron discipline, many of them had been beaten or shot at before, a snide comment from their managers was nothing. Their General Secretary Keith Sonnet ran circles around the Industry Secretary Chris Huhne. A former writer on economics, Huhne was used to the warm cushion of theory rather than the cut and thrust of trade union relations. Under mounting pressure an agreement was finally reached in a humiliation for the Government. The Johnson administration was forced to accept a much smaller cut in pension contributions, with the retirement age, most importantly the 85 rule, left untouched.

    The strike also demonstrated the great strength of Britain’s public sector, and the unions that organised within them. Years of repression had made Britain’s trade union movement militant and fearless. Whilst Johnson had been forced to back down this time, the trade union movement wasn’t just something he could ignore, not with the whole world watching. For now this was a fight that could wait until after Britain was safely in the European Union. The pension reforms had failed, all they had achieved was breaking any trust left between the Johnson administration and the union leadership.

    “Alan Milburn has called for a sweeping overhaul of party funding which will curb the influence of the unions over the SDP, MPs were told last night. Under Mr Milburn's plan union members would be required to agree to annual donations to the party through their unions. The total donation made by each union would also be subject to a cap. Milburn is consulting on whether to propose a cap of £50,000 a year although one source said last night that the limit could go as high as £250,000. Publication of his report into democratic party financing, scheduled for this month, has been delayed until the new year. The current lack of rules enable union leaders to wield considerable financial clout - and political pressure. But MPs believe Milburn will propose "individualisation", where each union member opts in or out of contributing.” - Milburn supports plan to weaken unions' grip on party, MPs told, Will Woodward, The Guardian (2006)


    Figures on the trade union left like Prescott would not allow any weakening of the SDP's alliance with the unions
    Chapter 14: Quality Polis
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    Junta policing in Scotland had been particularly violent, Johnson hoped to change that

    “The recent change in government is unlikely to make a significant difference to the state’s response to Scotland. Central to Britain’s mode of power has been its readiness to resort to ‘exceptional’ measures. A hallmark of the junta was the imposition of state of emergency powers to legitimate extreme police powers and the arbitrary use of force. This is the same logic we find in the imposition of the Scottish Civil Guard: an exceptional juridical solution – that lasted 40 years. A culture of extraordinary measures and emergency powers may become permanent, even post-Junta. The sovereign power – Britain - has before invoked the capacity to reduce its opponents to subjects with no rights. Once its opponents are excluded from the protection of the law, they can be beaten, denigrated and harassed.”
    - The Struggle for Scotland, David Whyte (2020)

    In the Junta’s time, the more problematic parts of the Union saw “special attention” from the Home Office under Civil Guard units, specialised police units who temporarily took charge over local policing under periods of heavy terrorist activity. The most notorious of these units was the Scottish Civil Guard (SCG), the SCG had been known for numerous human rights offences, including torture and kidnapping, whilst the SCG had calmed down as the Junta’s power waned, it still remained a firmly sectarian unionist organisation and was incredibly unpopular north of the border. If the Johnson administration hoped to calm separatist sentiments and prevent a return to violence, then the SCG had to go.

    Scotland’s policing would instead be devolved between the four provincial administrations, put under the command of Scotland's four provincial Presidents, all of whom were separatists. The Central Government mandated that all new recruits to the Scottish would be under a 50/50 quota of separatists and unionists (despite polls showing 65% of Scots identified as separatists). Steps were also taken to retire more hard-line senior police officers and purge those associated with groups such as Civil Assistance. Above all Home Secretary Peter Tatchell pledged a new era of policing in Scotland where a culture of “respect and equality” could flourish.

    “Scottish youngsters are developing cultured capacities out of which will construct their adult lives. Whether the cultural consumerism of human rights ideas will be a feature of future generations of Scottish policing has yet to be seen. The idea of a culture of human rights in the police can only come to fruition as these ideas embed themselves in the wider cultural environment. We see now this is something that human rights activists in Scotland are turning their attention to. There is no doubt that the human rights changes that have already taken place in Scottish policing have been far reaching. However, it is too early to say how a real ‘culture’ of human rights can be embedded or how long it may take.” - Transforming Policing in Scotland, Lecture by Michele Lamb, University of Essex (2016)


    Reorganising and de-Mountbattenism policing would take a long time

    This culture of respect meant forcibly retiring older senior officials to make way for more democratic “new blood”. Controversy was stirred when investigative journalists found some of the retired senior police officers were paid up members of Civil Assistance. Whilst Scotland’s die-hard unionist community was fairly small compared to somewhere like Wales, those unionists who remained had become increasingly militant as Civil Assistance grew it’s operations in Scotland. In working class areas of Glasgow and Edinburgh, Civil Assistance and RISE Party youths would be involved in violent clashes, occasionally with weapons being drawn. Some in the upper echelons worried that cutting loose extremists from the army and the police would only provide fresh bodies for various paramilitary organisations.

    The various new Chief Constables had quite a job on their hands, not only did they need to coordinate across four squabbling provincial governments, they had to rebuild Scottish trust in policing and crack down on political violence across the nation. Things weren’t helped when David Strang, Chief Constable of Eastern Scotland, was shot dead by an unknown gunman. Strang had been shot on the steps of East Scotland’s Legislative Assembly, the Old Royal High School, traveling to a hearing of local legislators. Strang wouldn’t be the last officer killed in the line of duty, within the first month of the new regional police forces, nearly a dozen officers had been killed, either from paramilitaries or good old fashioned drug gangs.


    The deaths of police officers created a sense the Government was losing control

    Traditional crime had also become a problem in Scotland, the SNLA and it’s various splinter groups had led to an influx of weapons arriving on Scotland's shores. Whilst armed crime had increased in Britain over the Junta years it was particularly bad in Scotland due to the density of weapons and solid organisation of organised crime groups such as the Thompson Family who continued operating long after the death of their “godfather”. Whilst these issues were by no means exclusive to Scotland (other heavily oppressed areas such as Merseyside and East London had seen an explosion in organised crime under the Junta), it reached headline news due to these policing reforms.

    For National the disbandment of the SCG and the violence in Scotland went hand in hand. Shadow Home Secretary Ian Blair denounced the SDP Government for putting “policy before policing”, warning the liberal instincts of Home Secretary Peter Tatchell were putting the British people in danger. Leader of the far-right NPP Godfrey Bloom went even further, in an expletive loaded interview he claimed Tatchell’s focus on LGBT rights had directly led to the death of the Scottish officers. Whilst Bloom was a fringe figure, National’s attacks of being soft on crime were finally starting to stick to the SDP. With Johnson and Tatchell already clashing regularly, Tatchell’s political capital was running out. Tatchell had already completed his political life’s goal by liberalising the Junta’s strict social legislation, for many in Britain's various underrepresented communities he was a hero. Friends whispered Tatchell was already sick of frontline politics and wanted to return to the world of writing and journalism, the door was beckoning, and Johnson was in no mood to try and stop him.

    “A gay democrat under the Junta, Tatchell has depended on bull-headed obduracy and a refusal to accept life's reversals to get to where he has. It would be crass to say that Mr Tatchell's sexuality may also be what saves him. But the difficulties he has overcome have created a nagging suspicion, shared even by those who detest his liberalism, that he is a great man. The admiration at Westminster for his achievements has meant that the pack usually found in pursuit of wounded ministers has been muted. That will help him in the difficult days to come. So too will his importance to a government short of the passion and the authenticity that he brings to politics. But it is hard to escape the feeling that a tragedy is being played out. For once, to describe a political drama as Shakespearean is to give it no less than its due.” - The agony of Peter Tatchell, The Economist (2006)


    Tatchell continued to give PM Johnson headaches
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    Wikibox: The Death of Mountbatten
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    The Death of Mountbatten is a 2017 political satire black comedy film written and directed by Armando Iannucci. The film depicts the internal power struggle among the British Junta following the death of Louis Mountbatten. The British-French-Belgian co-production stars an ensemble cast. Including: Charles Dance, Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Paddy Considine, Rupert Friend and Jason Isaacs.

    The Death of Mountbatten was screened at the Toronto Film Festival and received critical acclaim. It was released in the United Kingdom by Entertainment One Films on 20 October 2017, in France on 4 April 2018 and in Belgium on 18 April 2018. The film was criticised by some politicians in Britain for allegedly mocking the countries' past and making fun of its leaders. It received various awards including two British Academy Film Award nominations.


    Charles Dance as Mountbatten
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    Chapter 15: Three Line Whip
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    Charlie Falconer, a native Scot, was promoted to Home Secretary in the hopes he could control political violence in the region

    “Peter Tatchell has been sacked as Home Secretary in Alan Johnson's first Cabinet reshuffle. The Prime Minister is trying to regain momentum after violence in Scotland gave him a hit in the polls. Mr Tatchell will be replaced by Public Administrations Secretary Charlie Falconer. Rosie Boycott is the new Education Secretary, with John Prescott sacked as Agriculture Secretary. Glenda Jackson will stay in Cabinet but be demoted to Prescott's old job. Peter Hain replaces Falconer and gets Public Administrations. The SDP is currently polling at 45%, down 2 points. Whilst National have crept up in the polls to 40%, up 2 points. The SDP's polling slip, as well as June's Referendum prompted Mr Johnson to push ahead with a reshuffle just over a year into his term.”
    - Time Runs Out for Tatchell, The Economist (2006)

    With the EU referendum months away, Prime Minister Johnson didn’t want any nasty surprises, all the pieces had to be in place and any potential roadblocks had to be removed. This meant first and foremost, a Cabinet reshuffle, to ensure any potential headaches could be removed. A reshuffle had been on the cards for several months, considering Johnson’s increasingly fractious relationship with his party’s left wing. The recent terror attacks had stalled the SDP’s momentum, and National were beginning to slowly close the polling gap, Johnson had to reclaim initiative.

    A nasty surprise came when General Mike Jackson, former First Lord and Secretary of State for Defence, would be taking this opportunity to retire. Jackson had served as Hill-Norton’s right hand man during the liberalisation of the early 2000s and was partly seen as responsible for Britain’s transition to democracy. Whilst he and Johnson had clashed, Jackson had remained loyal to democracy and the administration, refusing to speak against the government in public. Some thought Jackson would be returning to National, perhaps even to overthrow Tim Collins, but Jackson told the press he wanted a quiet retirement to write his memoirs of the Junta years.

    Jackson’s departure was bad news for the administration, whilst all other Cabinet members were appointed by the Prime Minister, under the Cardiff Accords the Secretary of Defence was appointed by the Joint Chiefs and a clique of senior military officers. Many within the military believed Jackson had been too soft on the SDP, refusing to speak out and protect the military’s power. This led to the nomination of retired Field Marshal Charles Guthrie as Defence Secretary and the military’s representative in government. Guthrie was a hardliner, and worse a prominent Eurosceptic. As Johnson unveiled the rest of his Cabinet, the military had sent a clear message.

    “Former defence chief Charles Guthrie has come against joining the EU, saying he is worried by the prospect of "a European army". He told the Telegraph he believed remaining outside the EU "is better for defence". There are two months to go until the UK decides on its future with the European Union, in a referendum on the 8th of June. In his interview Guthrie said "We should prioritise joining NATO. A European army could damage defence. It is expensive. It's unnecessary duplication to have it. It would appeal to some Euro vanity thing," he said. "There's a feeling that those backing the European army are doing it for political reasons rather than military ones. They want to be able to boast, 'Look! We've got a European army'. That is dangerous." - Ex-army chief Lord Guthrie supports to No vote, BBC News (2006)


    Guthire was expected to have a more fractious relationship with the civilian Government

    Alan Johnson Cabinet 2006-
    • Prime Minister - Alan Johnson (SDP)
    • Deputy Prime Minister - Alan Milburn (SDP)
    • Chancellor of the Exchequer - Simon Hughes (SDP)
    • Foreign Secretary - Tony Blair (SDP)
    • Justice Secretary - David Miliband (SDP)
    • Defence Secretary - Field Marshal Charles Guthrie (Military)
    • Home Secretary - Charlie Falconer (SDP)
    • Development Secretary - Jack Straw (SDP)
    • Education Secretary - Rosie Boycott (SDP)
    • Industry, Tourism and Trade Secretary - Chris Huhne (SDP)
    • Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Secretary - Glenda Jackson (SDP)
    • Public Administrations Secretary - Peter Hain (SDP)
    • Culture Secretary - John Reid (SDP)
    • Health Secretary - Susan Kramer (SDP)
    • Environment Secretary - Valerie Amos (SDP)
    • Housing Secretary - Polly Toynbee (SDP)


    Europhille Rosie Boycott was promoted to education

    Despite all the hype the reshuffle was fairly muted, perhaps because Guthrie’s appointment had taken the wind out of Johnson’s sails. The left had their wings clipped, with Peter Tatchell and John Prescott both taking their leave from the Cabinet whilst Glenda Jackson was demoted to Agriculture Secretary. Charlie Falconer was promoted to Home Secretary for his strong work in Scotland and Rosie Boycott was promoted to Education Secretary. Both politicians had won plaudits in the press and were effective ministers and more importantly they were passionate europhilles, happy to go out to bat on TV and make the case for EU membership.

    Johnson’s reshuffle was perceived by pundits as a shift to the right after clashes with the trade unions. Whilst Tatchell had been on his way out for months the sacking of Prescott came as a shock. Whilst he was the most eurosceptic member of the Cabinet, he had been staunchly loyal to Johnson and many had seen him as untouchable due to his close relationship with the unions. But with so much of the administration resting on EU accession, no dissident could be risked, Europe was the issue for the SDP, it’s MPs could either accept that or get out the way.

    Over the river on the blue team, National leader Tim Collins had a choice to make, whilst he was personally pro-European there was a large eurosceptic contingent amongst his hardliners. Collins could either force his will on the National caucus, with all the risks that entailed, or he could allow Shadow Ministers to campaign as they pleased and spend yet another political event sitting on the sidelines. Collins retreated to his metaphorical Norman Shaw bunker, surrounded by his closest aides. After pouring over opinion polls and discussions with his former mentor Mike Jackson, Collins finally made his announcement, National would be campaigning to join the EU, the coiled whip was unfurled.

    “Britain will be “permanently richer” if voters choose to join the EU, Tim Collins has said as he declared his support for a yes vote. A recent Treasury study claimed the economy would grow by 6% by 2030, benefiting every household the equivalent of £4,000 a year. Decisively throwing his weight behind the yes team, Collins said staying out of the EU would be a “self-inflicted wound”. Collins' support is likely to enrage the hardline faction of his party, with as many as 70 National MPs expected to break ranks and back a no vote. Some Collins aides such as Chief Whip William Hague had encouraged him to stay neutral for the sake of party unity. In a Times article the National Leader wrote: “The conclusion is clear for Britain’s economy and for families. Staying out of the EU would be the most extraordinary self-inflicted wound.” - Collins declares for Yes vote, Michael White, The Guardian (2006)


    Now both major parties were backing Britain's entry into the EU
    Wikibox: Socialist Alternative
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    The Socialist Alternative is a political coalition of several left-wing organisations.

    SA was founded as a coalition of parties, trade unions and former paramilitary groups, with the Communist Party forming the largest member. Alongside the Communists SA brings together other regional parties, political organizations, and independents. It currently takes the form of a permanent federation of parties.

    The Socialist Alternative currently gives Confidence and Supply to the Johnson Government. As of 2006 it's leader is former Paramilitary John McDonnell.

    The political left, especially the underground communist party, played a large role in resistance to the British Junta. With the transition, Communist leaders worried the party would struggle to remain relevant. With this premise, the Communists began developing closer relations with other left-wing groups. The founding organizations were: Communist Party of Britain, Socialist Workers Party, Left List, Socialist Labour Party, Association of Communist Workers, Socialist Party, Militant, and the Socialist Appeal.

    The Socialist Alternative is divided between its pragmatist and radical factions. The pragmatists, including figures like John McDonnell and Michael Meacher, support cooperation with the SDP. The radicals, including figures like Salma Yaqoob and Bob Crow generally oppose cooperating with the SDP. They identify the SDP it as a "right-wing party", no different from the National Party.

    The Socialist Alternative currently has around 100,000 members.
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    Chapter 16: Let the Games Begin
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    National hardliner Robert Kilroy-Silk resigned from the Shadow Cabinet to become the face of the No Campaign

    “The accession referendum campaign has begun - 10 weeks before Britain decides whether to join the union. Political heavyweights from Yes and No will use rallies across the UK to try and persuade voters of their opposing cases. Robert Kilory-Silk will kick off a "patriotic blitz" as the first day of the official EU referendum campaign gets underway. Kilroy-Silk will make a series of speeches as the No campaign utilities a politician they see as their biggest asset in convincing Britons of staying out. The Pound will be placed at the centre of their campaign, with Mr Kilroy-Silk claiming that the Euro would be a disaster for Britain's finances. No claims the cost of converting the pound into the euro could be diverted to the military to protect Britain's independence.”
    - ITV News Broadcast Excerpt (2006)

    As the referendum date grew near the final preparations had to be made for purdah, and the official election period. This meant both sides of the referendum had to designate an official campaign with a board and chair. The SDP, National and SNP were brought together, alongside a smattering of smaller pro-European parties came together to negotiate an official Yes campaign. Collins and Johnson got on well, making negotiations significantly easier, the Yes campaign agreed that Deputy Prime Minister Alan Milburn would serve as the campaign’s chair, with Shadow Chancellor Nick Clegg serving as Vice Chair. The Yes campaign’s 19 strong board would be represented by nine SDP politicians, eight from national, one from the SNP and one representing smaller parties such as Plaid Cymru and the SDLP.

    Negotiations among the No campaign were much more fractious, the anti-EU crowd was a motley crew of National hardliners, Socialist Alternative old guard, and various mavericks from the Yes parties. Arguments erupted over who should lead the campaign, the SA, the only parliamentary party with an anti-EU leadership argued they should lead the campaign, whilst the 45 MP strong caucus of “Nationalists for Britain” argued since they had more MPs. Eventually negotiations would break down with both organisations nominating separate campaigns, the left-wing campaign offered up John McDonnell as the Chair of “No! For the People!” Whilst the right wing campaign nominated Development Secretary Robert Kilroy Silk as the Chair of “Britain for No”.

    The Electoral Commission would designate “Britain for No” as the official campaign, pointing to it’s greater support in Parliament as well as it’s much more extensive funds. The British left were effectively shut out of the European debate. John McDonnell decried the Commission’s exclusion, promising an “insurgent” no campaign led from the grassroots. Of course considering his history, McDonnell’s choice of words netted him much criticism, especially considering the state of political violence in Britain, with most of the leading trade unions throwing their political weight, and significant financial capital, behind the Yes campaign, the eurosceptic left was certainly marginalised.


    The RMT would be one of the largest unions to advocate a No vote

    “Mainstream British parties experienced varying degrees of agonizing over whether to support accession. The centre-left party of government (SDP) was far more united than its Socialist Alternative sister party. The house divided was the National Party whose leadership has been at odds over the pursuit of European integration. Leader Tim Collins exerted a great deal of political capital advocating a party line supporting accession. Even so, this failed to quell intra-party strife, leading to Shadow Development Secretary Robert Kilroy Silk's now infamous decision to campaign for a ‘Patriotic No’. Thus the largest opposition party was split. On voting day it thus came as no surprise that National voters were torn between the two camps. Extremist parties of both left (SA) and right (NPP) had far fewer qualms in opposing accession.”
    - the 2005 British Referendum, Lecture by Andrew Glencross, Cambridge University (2013)

    Kilroy-Silk had emerged as the Eurosceptic’s leader, other key National Eurosceptics such as Shadow Foreign Secretary David Davis and Shadow Education Secretary Liam Fox had kept their mouths shut in order to keep their Shadow Cabinet jobs, not officially coming out in favour of the No campaign. Kilroy-Silk would be a formidable challenger to Milburn, former Head Anchor at the BBC and effective mouthpiece of the Junta; he was charismatic and well-known. Kilroy-Silk had long been considered Tim Collins’ biggest rival on the right of National, a strong performance in this referendum could pave the way for a leadership challenge. With the board set the referendum campaign could officially begin.


    Collins had banked his leadership on this referendum

    Despite Kilroy-Silk’s star power, the no campaign still had a mountain to climb. Due to the vast economic benefits and Britain’s desire to rejoin the international community, the BBC had the referendums polling average as 62%/38% in favour of joining. Among younger Britons desperate to find work in wealthier parts of Europe the margin was ever more overwhelming. The only caveat to the British people’s enthusiasm for accession was the issue of the Euro, with Johnson unable to gain concessions on the pound Britain would be joining the Eurozone with the EU. Many Brits, especially the older ones, were strongly attached to the pound. The No campaign knew the only way to shift the balance was to bring the Pound to the top of the political agenda.

    There was also the worry of political violence, many EU member states, especially those closely connected to Britain like France and Ireland worried that free movement would allow British terror groups (and all their weaponry) free reign to enter mainland Europe. Britain had to show the international community the referendum could be conducted in a peaceful manner. This would be especially difficult as both the largest Red Brigade cells and Civil Assistance both opposed EU membership. Civil Assistance backed demonstrations marched through London the day purdah was officially announced, predictably ending in riots, meanwhile Arthur Scargill, leader of the largest dissident faction of the Red Brigades, announced there would be “blood on the barricades” should Britain join the “capitalist boys club” of the EU.

    Arguably the referendum would prove more of a challenge to Britain’s fledgling democracy than even the 2005 election, voter intimidation, political violence and divided parties were all major risks of the referendum. Some more radical members of the yes campaign even advised Johnson to call off the national poll, instead ascending via a simple Parliamentary vote. But it was too late now, the date had been signed and Johnson was in no mood to emulate the tyrants of the past, Britain’s great political debate would be happening, all they had to do was try and keep things gentlemanly.

    “The chairman of the Police Federation has warned campaigners against using "intemperate language". This comes after a senior Yes campaign source suggested that polling day could descend into "carnage". Alan Gordon said: "The independence debate must be robust but good-natured. It would prove a disservice to those who have participated in it thus far to suggest that Britain is about to disintegrate into carnage." Earlier, Alan Milburn, the leader of the Yes campaign, said he would talk to police about his "concerns about the temperature of the debate". Gordon added: "Politicians of whichever point of view need to be mindful of the potential impact of intemperate language. Lest they be seen to seek to create a self-fulfilling prophecy." - Referendum sides told to keep campaigns civil and peaceful, Matthew Tempest, The Guardian (2006)


    Many feared the referendum could lead to an uptick in violence
    Wikibox: Vote No
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    Vote No is a campaigning organisation that supported a "No" vote in the 2006 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum. On 12 March 2006 it was designated by the Electoral Commission as the official campaign against joining the European Union.

    Vote No was founded in November 2005 by Nick Ferrari and Douglas Carswell as a cross-party campaign. It involved Members of Parliament from the National Party, Social Democratic Party and a sole SNP MP, Gordon Wilson. National MP Robert Kilroy-Silk served as Chairman and Leader of the Campaign with Secretary Jonathon Riley. Many prominent National politicians supported the campaign; including David Bannerman, Chris Grayling and Cheryl Gillan. The campaign was also supported by the hardline One-Nation Caucus of National MPs

    Vote No co-operated with SDP No, Nationalists for No, and Business for Britain.
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    Chapter 17: Boring Old Democracy
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    "What if Tony Blair had been assassinated during the 2006 Referendum" - Post on ITTL Alt History Forum

    “Foreign Secretary Tony Blair today survived an assassination attempt by a "disturbed neo-Mountbattenite." The man pulled a grenade from a guitar case and threw it at the Foreign Secretary. He struck as Blair, standing at a lectern tens of metres away, was giving a speech in favour of acceding to the EU. Cries of alarm from members of the crowd alerted police, who wrestled him to the ground. One of Blair's bodyguards was killed whilst another was injured. Edinburgh police said in a statement that the man was 25 years old and a member of "neo-Mountbattenite and hooligan" groups. Police did not release his name. But an officer close to the investigation said the assailant was linked to the far-right group, Civil Assistance. Police later transferred the man to a psychiatric facility, BBC news reported.”
    - Blair escapes assassination attempt, Associated Press (2006)

    The Campaign didn’t get off to a brilliant start. Foreign Secretary Tony Blair narrowly survived an assassination attempt at a rally in Edinburgh as a young Civil Assistance member through a grenade at his lectern, Blair only sustained minor injuries but one of his personal protective officers were killed in the blast and dozens were injured in the ensuing stampede. With the eyes of the world on them the security services had been proactive in stamping out dissident paramilitaries, meaning the Edinburgh attack was an exception rather than the rule some had feared. Due to heightened police pressure many of the larger and more experienced paramilitaries had gone underground, leaving the smaller and more inexperienced cells. Most paramilitary actions would have little to no casualties, rather than the mass bombing events of the last few years.

    The Yes campaign’s main enemy wasn’t the No campaign or even the various paramilitaries, it was voter apathy. Without a mass democratic culture many electors were simply not bothered about voting and with Yes taking such a commanding lead many saw turnout as the true sign of legitimacy rather than the vote itself. Johnson especially worried a Yes victory on a turnout of less than 60% would leave the door open for contestation and cause doubt in the mind of EU leaders, Yes’ victory had to be overwhelming, both in terms of vote share and in terms of turnout.

    Intimidation tactics by Civil Assistance aside, one big threat to the Yes campaign was its own success, with a Yes victory seemingly guaranteed many Yes voters were thinking about not turning out. At a speech in Plymouth alongside Devon Provincial President Nick Harvey, Yes chair Alan Milburn encouraged voters to take part in the “Once in a lifetime” opportunity to decide Britain’s future, pointing to the huge economic benefits EU accession would bring to the South West. It was a similar argument made by Yes campaigners up and down the country, whilst the numbers added up, some worried an academic argument wasn’t what they needed to boost turnout.


    Milburn was a competent, if not particularly exciting, face of the campaign

    “Nearly all those working in UK higher education will vote Yes in the European Union referendum, a Times survey suggests. The poll, which gained 2,000 responses, found that 92.5 percent of respondents intend to vote Yes and 5.5 per cent No, with 1.9 percent undecided. There were 300,000 staff employed in UK higher education in 2005 and their likely overwhelming backing for the EU will boost the Yes cause. Over half said that they would be more likely to leave the UK for another EU country in the event of a Yes vote. Many respondents said that freedom of movement within the EU would bring them career benefits. John Curtice, identified several factors that could explain Yes' strength among university staff. He said that universities "epitomised liberal resistance to the Junta", and that “it’s in universities interests to join the EU”.
    - Nine out of 10 university staff back Yes, The Times (2006)

    Things weren’t much more interesting on the No side, whilst Kilroy-Silk was famous for his bombastic rants, the No campaign was a lot more subdued, making arguments around sovereignty and protecting Britain’s traditional values from the liberal instincts of the EU’s leadership. Even the pound, No’s great ace in the hole failed to gain traction, there was a particularly humorous gaffe where No supporting MP Chris Grayling failed to name a single benefit to keeping the pound when pressed by the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman. With Britain’s economy in the toilet and it’s international reputation in tatters, the pound wasn’t as culturally powerful as it was 40 years ago, many polls showed younger voters slipping into apathy around the pound, apathy quickly became the word of the campaign.


    Even the ever-controversial Kilroy was behaving himself

    Desperate to add a bit of life to the campaign the BBC arranged a one to one debate between both campaign chairs, Milburn and Kilroy-Silk in the first ever US-style political debate. Whilst this was greatly hyped up by the commentariat the debate too ended up being a damp squib, the event was plagued by technical issues, backdrops fell down, Kilroy-Silk’s mic occasionally cut out, and at one point all the lights went out. When things were working the two politicians traded blows but nothing managed to hit, Kilroy-Silk spoke about sovereignty whilst Milburn spoke about the economy without much interaction, one journalist commented the debate was “two blokes in a room giving a lecture at the same time”.

    The disaster of the debate became a point of mockery globally, indicative of how far Britain had fallen, without any real “October Surprise” the polls stayed locked in their 60/40 battle, whilst this was good news for Milburn as he was winning it reflect badly for turnout. Even the paramilitaries seemed to be bored of the whole thing, with Civil Assistance protesters in Whitehall barely able to muster up 45 minutes of rioting before sodding off home. The referendum that had been warned as a political tempest ended up being just boring old democracy, whilst it didn’t make good TV it was probably a good sign for the maturity of British political culture.

    With less than a dozen deaths across the campaign (a minor miracle compared to the 2005 election campaign where over a hundred had been killed) the ballots were counted and the paramilitary warehouses were raided, a couple plots to invade a count here, a few bomb attacks there, one ballsy Red Brigade cell even hatched a plan to kidnap Milburn at the national count, all were caught by the security services. Even the military seemed to be behaving itself, no last minute “exercises” to capture Broadcasting House just to show they could. Tonight was Britain’s big moment, the day it decided on accession. Just as Prime Minister Johnson had said, no nasty surprises. Then the clock hit 10.

    “Voting is taking place in a historic referendum on whether the UK should join the European Union. A record 40 million people are entitled to take part, according to provisional figures from the Electoral Commission. Polling stations will close at 22:00 BST with counting throughout the night. It is the first nationwide referendum in UK history and comes after a two-month battle for votes between the Yes and No campaigns. The BBC is limited in what it can report while polls are open but you can follow the results as they come in across the BBC after polls close tonight. The referendum ballot paper asks: "Do you approve of the United Kingdom's accession to the European Union?" Whichever side gets more than half of all votes cast is considered to have won. The weather forecast for polling day is mixed.” - BBC News Bulletin (2006)


    Typical! You wait 40 years to go to the polls then two turn up at once...
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    Exit Poll: 2006 Referendum
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    (Big Ben Chimes)



    Andrew Marr - It’s ten o’clock sharp and we can reveal the results of our exit poll. It’s saying 64% of the vote in favour of “Yes” and 36% in favour of “No. Again that's a victory for Yes with nearly two thirds of the vote, an overwhelming super-majority. Unless we’re very very wrong it looks like we’re on our way to Brussels, start getting those Euros out from under the mattress. Mr Milburn must be very happy, don't you think Jeremy?

    Jeremy Paxman - The voters have swung out strongly in favour of the EU but we have to ask ourselves how many voters are there? If you remember over this campaign many in the Yes camp said their “nightmare scenario” was a Yes victory on a small turnout, privately Alan Johnson has told aides it would be a “disaster” if turnout lower than 60% of the electorate. Of course our exit poll doesn’t account for turnout so we’ll just have to wait and see, but this could be a Pyrrhic victory for the Yes side.

    AM - Yes of course few expected No to actually win this referendum, it’ll be the turnout and the victory margin that most pundits will be looking at.

    JP - Whilst he was definitely fighting an uphill battle this may have clipped the wings of old Kilroy. Many in No thought he was their secret weapon but he hasn’t shifted the polls at all. There were rumors that if No over-performed expectations then Mr Kilroy-Silk and the hardliners could use this as an opportunity to challenge General Collins for the National Party Leadership, that dream looks fairly likely to be dead.

    AM - Both major party leaders will be punching the air at this exit poll, they both put their full weight behind this referendum so a strong victory will really shore up their position. Mr Johnson will need all the political capital he can get, it’ll be a lot of work dotting the Is and crossing the Ts if we are to enter Europe by January 1st as he promised.

    JP - Indeed many issues at play, will we see a stampede at the bank as people swap their pounds for euros? Will we see a mass brain drain to Ireland or the Netherlands as some have warned?

    AM - Speaking of money we have the money man himself in the studio with us. The Chancellor Simon Hughes is here, he backed Yes. Mr Hughes, simple question, if everyone goes to the bank tomorrow morning to switch out their cash, do we have enough Euros to go round?
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    Chapter 18: Ode to Joy
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    “Enlargement is one of the most important opportunities for the European Union. Its historic task is to further the integration of the continent by peaceful means, extending a zone of stability and prosperity. In 1994 the European Council declared that ‘the post-democratic nations of Europe that so desire will become members’. In December 1998, at Seville the European Council launched the process that made enlargement possible. This process embraces six countries: Cyprus, Malta, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the United Kingdom. Accession negotiations are underway with a further five. The goal is to complete these five by the end of 2009 so they are ready to take part as members in the European Parliament’s elections of 2009.” - Enlargement of the European Union, European Commission Report by Günter Verheugen (2005)

    With 63.7% of the electorate in favour on a 67.1% turnout, the EU Referendum gamble paid off, jubilant Yes supporters wave EU flags at rallies across the country, it was official, Britain was rejoining the world. Now the real work began, Britain had been working hard to align itself with the EU but there was still a long way to go and now she was working against the clock, the UK had six months to get its affairs in order before joining the club. Most pressing issue was the Euro, despite the euro not coming into effect for another six months, banks and exchange offices were flooded with people desperately trying to switch their currency. HSBC and Lloyds Banks both announced they were stopping all Euro exchanging to prevent a scarcity after violence erupted at a HSBC branch in Birmingham.


    Banks were overwhelmed by swarms of panicked people

    Euro concerns would be covered by a blitz of policy announcements. Chancellor Simon Hughes announced the pound would see a transition period of two years after accession where it would be accepted as legal tender by banks and the treasury. It was estimated that there were around £20 billion pound sterling in physical circulation around the world, the Treasury had a mountain to climb to claw it all back. To lead this major challenge Prime Minister Alan Johnson announced Margaret Beckett would be appointed as High Representative to the EU (later to become the first British EU Commissioner) .

    “British Prime Minister Alan Johnson has confirmed Margaret Beckett as Britain's new European Commissioner designate. Mr Johnson telephoned EU President Margot Wallström earlier on Friday and received a "positive response". London is expected to press Brussels to give Beckett the job of Justice, Freedom and Security. Beckett was a key figure in a referendum in Mr Johnson's referendum on EU accession. This is a remarkable comeback for a politician who was imprisoned twice between 1992 and the Junta's fall in 2005. Long a supporter of British membership of the euro, Ms Beckett's appointment will please Europe but may bring a domestic backlash. The prime minister said the Minister for Europe had the right skills and contacts and was "the best person for the job".” - Beckett named Britain's EU commissioner-designate, Irish Times (2006)


    'Fuck, I'm stunned,' said Beckett after receiving the call

    There were also the concerns of Schengen with Britain joining the agreement in 2007 for land and sea crossings and 2008 for airports. This would make Britain’s impending brain drain even more dramatic, several leading academics and young graduates had already started making arrangements for better paying jobs in Ireland and the Netherlands, especially among Scottish and Welsh youngsters hoping to flee a region underdeveloped and wracked by political violence. On the Northern Irish Border Republican Police feared a mass exodus similar to the partition of India, as free passage between the North and South opened for the first time.

    There was also the issue of the paramilitaries, whilst heightened police presence during the campaign had forced them underground sporadic attacks were returning, a few days after the result Civil Assistance launched a bomb attack in Ashford, trying to delay the construction of the Eurostar rail connection between France and the UK, in London unknown assailants conducted a drive-by shooting at the EU’s consultant in Westminster. Violent acts aside, a much more common occurrence was Civil Assistance marches through predominantly Leave voting provinces such as Lincolnshire. On the new video-sharing platform Youtube furious No voters broadcast videos of them burning EU notes to much mockery from the Yes side, despite the overwhelming victory Britain was still divided.


    Riots broke out in some parts of the country, where Civil Assistance activists burnt EU flags and euros

    Over on the No side, Robert Kilroy-Silk’s career was in tatters as the National whip confirmed he wouldn’t be getting his old Shadow Cabinet job back. With the hardliners cowed Tim Collins’ Leadership over National was secured for the time being. On the left-wing of the No campaign the Socialist Alternative was in uproar, many blamed their leader John McDonnell for failing to establish the left argument for No. Resentment towards McDonnell had been building in the Alternative for several months as the SDP continued to move to the right, many perceived McDonnell as preventing them from taking a strong enough line against the SDP. The RMT union, one of the Alternative’s main financial backers pledged to pull funding and start a new left-wing party. The Alternative was a loose confederation of different interests and with it starting to fracture McDonnell announced he would not lead the Alternative into the next general election. The Mad Preacher of Mereseyside had fought, and he had lost. Now the very survival of the British radical left was in question.

    This wasn’t to mention the problems the EU faced, the latest rounds of accessions would be the biggest yet, Britain and Poland alone had a combined population of nearly a hundred million netting them 130 combined seats in the European Parliament, the accession of two large new democracies would be the biggest upset the Union had seen in its history, time would tell if the new MEPs would behave. The 14th of October was set as the date for the election of Britain's new MEPs, yet again Britain would be going to the polls, and as other countries had shown MEP elections were often the most dangerous elections of all.

    Britain has voted to join the EU by a sweeping majority, delivering a greater than expected yes vote in a referendum. With the British membership of the euro in doubt, there were fears that the pessimism engulfing Britain would dampen pro-EU sentiment. But the referendum on joining the EU was supported by up to 64%, according to official projections based on around 67% of the vote. The solid yes vote was higher than what had been predicted in the opinion polls. The endorsement means that Britain will become an EU member country in January, symbolising its break with the Junta. Senior politicians in London described the referendum as historic. Never in the hundreds of years of the country's history has a referendum been held.” - Britain Votes to Join The European Union, New York Times (2006)


    The Union Jack was hoisted outside the Commission Building in Brussels
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    Wikibox: Margaret Beckett
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    Margaret Beckett is a British politician who has been European Commissioner-designate since 2006. As well as a Minister of State for Europe since 2005 . She was elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Derbyshire in 2005. Before entering politics Beckett was an academic and trade union organiser. She joined the underground Communist Party in 1973 before leaving in 1984. Between 1992 and 1994 and 1997 to 2005 she was imprisoned by the British Junta for subversive acts.

    She was released under the Cardiff Accords and elected as an MP for Derbyshire in 2005. She was then appointed Minister for Europe by Alan Johnson, working under Tony Blair on Britain's accession to Europe. Beckett played a key role in the Yes Campaign for the 2006 British Accession Referendum.

    Upon Britain's accession she was appointed High Representative to the EU and Commissioner-designate. She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2007 New Year Honours for public and political service.
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    Chapter 19: Lines in the Sand
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    With Tatchell gone, Justice Secretary David Miliband became the new target of anti-terror activists

    “The Justice Secretary wept yesterday as he read a note by murdered student Jack Davies. Law chief David Miliband who met relatives of terror victims, listened as families demanded harsher sentences for terrorists. MP Nick Hurd, who organised the hour-long meeting, said: "It was very emotional for all concerned. We heard graphic accounts. It was harrowing." The families told the law chief they wanted the minimum sentence for terror offence to increase and for terrorists to serve 30 years. The meeting was sponsored by the ant-terrorism pressure group the TVDA. TVDA chair Ruth Davidson said: "If a person is found guilty of terror offences in Canada, they have to serve a minimum of 25 years."
    - Tears of Law Chief, Martin Fricker, The Mirror (2006)

    A lot had changed in the 10 weeks of the election campaign, but what hadn’t changed was the violence, whilst most of the larger groups had gone to ground for the referendum, minor attacks, including the occasional shooting still made the news on a nightly basis. The right-wing Terrorism Victims Defence Association (TVDA) had become one of Britain’s most powerful pressure groups, growing from every act of political violence. Some credited their effective and disciplined campaigns for Tatchell’s removal, and now with their eyes on the European elections later in the year, they continued to set their eyes on the SDP.

    The TVDA was led by Ruth Davidson, a former soldier and journalist whose father had been killed by the SNLA. Under her charismatic leadership the TVDA’s influence grew, especially among Scotland’s loyalist community. The TVDA’s latest campaign was aimed at Justice Secretary David Miliband, calling for him to double the minimum sentence for terror offences from 14 years to 30 years, and to remove the immunity afforded to former SNLA and Red Brigade fighters under the Cardiff Accords. Of course this would completely violate the British peace agreement, leaving a very hot potato in Miliband’s lap. Political violence also remained at the forefront of people’s minds as Britain reached the first anniversary of “Red July”, a month of political violence culminating in the bombing of Heathrow Airport by dissident members of the SNLA.

    “Britain today marked the first anniversary of the Red July terror attacks with a national two-minute silence. It was one of a series of events taking place today to commemorate the victims of a series of terror attacks across July 2005. Across the country, people stopped to observe the silence at midday, remembering the 73 people who died and the 1000 injured. Hundreds of Londoners gathered to take part in the tribute at the sites of the attacks. At Heathrow, where 37 people died, one of the busiest parts of the capital became still. Buses pulled over to the side of the road, and other traffic stopped. All over the capital and beyond, office workers took to the pavements, while tennis fans at Wimbledon fell silent. The prime minister observed the silence at Albert Embankment, while the Queen gathered at St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh.” - UK hold two-minute silence for Red July victims, Associated Press (2006)


    One of the Europe's busiest airport ground to a halt for a minute's silence

    Miliband of course ruled out both requests, arguing there needed to be discrepancies in punishment for different levels of terror offence. Of course this only helped to fuel the perception among some voters that the SDP was too close to the former terrorists of the Socialist Alternative and that they were too soft on terror. This attitude was echoed by some in Alan Johnson’s caucus, SDP MPs like Mike Gapes who had made a name for themselves as anti terror crusaders, the issue of terror only served to split the SDP further. With the TVDA and National working round the clock to pull political violence up the political agenda, the SDP’s prospects for October elections started to be in doubt.

    The Johnson administration also phased reprimand from the EU for the vast number of Brits trying to emigrate to Europe before free movement came into effect. The Republic of Ireland was particularly overwhelmed by thousands of crossings at the Northern Irish border and across the Irish sea. Over 14,000 Brits had attempted to emigrate within a month of the referendum result and many feared once free movement was made official as many as 180,000 Brits could emigrate within a year. Almost half of those leaving were under the age of 29, mostly students and new graduates seeking a better life. Scotland and Northern Ireland, the most unstable parts of the United Kingdom were expected to especially suffer as it’s youth made for greener pastures, one study by the University of St Andrews showed as many as a third of Scottish 18-24 year olds were considering emigration.


    Badly needed medical staff formed a large part of the expected "brain drain"

    Countries like the Netherlands and Sweden, with high English-speaking populations and a relatively close proximity to the UK also faced an influx of Brits attempting to illegally immigrate early. The Netherlands especially had a large British exile community during the Junta so many were moving to be with their relatives. As many as 200,000 people of British descent lived in the Netherlands, with one neighborhood of Amsterdam commonly known as “Free London”. Geert Wilders, a Dutch Conservative opposed to EU enlargement had founded a new anti-immigration “Party for Freedom '' especially capitalised on the risk of British and Polish immigration with some polls showing his new party winning as many as 15 seats.

    Internal divisions on terror and the Government’s poor handling of the emigration crisis continued to hurt the SDP, EU elections were famously unkind to governing parties and with everything going wrong they seemed likely to be bruising. National didn’t represent the only problem the SDP faced, EU elections would provide opportunities for insurgent parties like the Green Ecology Party or neo-mountbattenite New Nationalist Party to make their way into elected office. As EU election day got ever closer, officials in Brussels held their breath, if this all went sideways they could end up with another 70 fruitcakes in the European Parliament, not the best way for Britain to make her debut.

    “Questions of further expansion, terrorism and emigration are emerging as the main issues of the EU election in Britain. On the issue of expansion the centre-right National Party has objected to any further EU expansion after the latest round, especially in regards to Turkey. Anti-expansion sentiments were echoed recently by Tim Collins who said, "National does not want to see any EU expansion for many years". But the position of National does not seem to be shared by Shadow Chancellor Nick Clegg, who has recently said that expansion is "desirable". He described British politicians opposed to expansion as suffering from "pull the ladder up syndrome". The SDP have pounced on divisions in the National ranks and have accused Collins of trying to divert attention away from real issues.” - Britain's European Parliament election, Lisbeth Kirk, EU Observer (2006)


    Britain's first MEPs would set the tone for the next few years of membership
    Chapter 20: Mr Smith Goes to Brussels
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    Tessa Jowell was named as the SDP's lead candidates in EU elections

    “While the issues related to economics dominated the political discourse, the big European were absent. An illustrative example can be drawn from an analysis of the electoral broadcasts used by the political parties. To start with, the SDP used a message emphasizing purity. Its electoral broadcast featured a child holding roses against a background of “Ode to Joy” with the slogan “Think about who you are voting for! Choose the future!” No specific mention of the program or candidates was included in the broadcast. In a similar vein, National's advert used the slogan “Together in good and bad times”. It featured the first candidate on its list, Francis Maude, as the candidate preoccupied with the bad situation of the people.”
    - The 2007 EU election campaign in Britain, Lecture by Wojciech Gagatek, University of Warsaw (2010)

    From Warsaw to Edinburgh, new EU member states were preparing for snap European elections to decide their delegation to the European Parliament, the combined new population entitled them to nearly 200 seats or almost a quarter of the European Parliament, Britain with her 74 seats would take up the lion’s share of new MEPs so whatever British voters decided would have an outsized impact on EU politics. Britain itself would form one constituency, the 74 seats meant there was an effective threshold of 2.4% of the vote to gain an MEP. Britain’s smallest parties, from the far-right NPP to the environmentalist Ecologist Party and Federalist European Party were eying up seats.

    The NPP was a particular threat, polling an average of 2%, they were on the cusp of elected representation, antifascist groups were quickly organising desperately to stop the fascists going to Brussels, no pasarán! To combat the NNP emerged Searchlight, Searchlight had originally been founded as an organisation to hold former Junta officials to account and highlight Junta officials still serving senior roles in the civil service, police and military, with the rise of Civil Assistance and the NPP Searchlight quickly became a broad anti Mountbattenite organisation, become the largest non-violent anti-fascist organisation in the United Kingdom.

    Searchlight organised in areas of particular NNP strength such as East London and West Yorkshire, organising canvassing sessions and leaflet drops with the support of moderate politicians. Searchlight activists would heckle NNP Leader Colonel Godfrey Bloom wherever he spoke and the organisation hired an impersonator to follow Bloom around (although this had to be stopped when the actor was beaten by Civil Assistance “bodyguards”). For a nation used to violence, the non-violent and often comedic tactics of Searchlight were received well and the NPP struggled to pick up momentum.


    Bloom was mocked mercilessly by activists and the press

    “The campaign against a lecturer who claims that black people are inferior is spreading to campuses around the country. Frank Ellis sparked anger after stating he was an "unrepentant Mountbattenite" and was standing to be an MEP for the NNP. In a row that has reignited the debate about academic freedom, Mr Ellis said he supported right-wing ideas such as The Bell Curve. The Bell Curve claims that white people are more intelligent than black people. He also told the Leeds Student newspaper that women did not have the same intellectual capacity as men. Yesterday more than 200 students gathered in Leeds to call for him to be sacked as the struggle picked up momentum at other universities. Hind Hassan, Chair of Leeds Searchlight, said: "This is a fight that is going to go on and on until we get rid of this man.""
    - Students protest against NPP lecturer's race views, Matthew Taylor, The Guardian (2006)

    Back in the mainstream of British politics, National based their campaign around opposition to further EU powers and expansion. National especially warned about the accession of the Baltic states as well as the “threat” of Turkish accession, warning the integration of these poorer nations would lead a flood of migrants to the United Kingdom. This was roundly mocked in other EU capitals considering Britain was fighting to keep its current residents in, but amongst National voters the argument was convincing, many older Brits only supported the EU for its economic benefits and were loath to accept its social aspect or any element of ever closer union. Hypocritical as it might be, National’s tactics were helping it secure votes.


    Collins had regained control of his party, a strong EU result would further cement his leadership

    For the SDP the picture was more mixed, evidence from other EU countries had shown the ruling party tended to get a kicking in off-year EU elections, despite the SDP’s general popularity and the momentum from the Referendum, many in the SDP were nervous. Because of this, the SDP ran a fairly boring campaign, they warned against the threat of political extremism and made a technocratic argument that SDP MEP would be able to get the most out of Brussels. With the insurgent minor parties taking up the news’ time the SDP became a backdrop in the EU elections, whilst the SDP’s polling wasn’t dire it certainly wasn’t brilliant.

    For the smaller parties the large constituency and 2% threshold presented a problem, parties like Plaid Cymru struggled to break 1% of the vote on a good day. The SNP, Plaid and other smaller separatist parties like Merbyn Kernow formed the “European Free Alliance” a joint electoral list named after the EU grouping they hoped to join, the EFA campaigned on a platform of a disunited Kingdom within a strong European Union. Whilst RISE was invited to the list they opted to go alone, campaigning for a Socialist Scottish Voice at Brussels. RISE was also invited to join a joint list between Sinn Fein and the Socialist Alternative but they also declined this invitation. Whilst the NPP’s momentum had stalled the Ecology Party had managed to make some electoral progress, at the 2005 election the party had managed to secure a single MP in Surrey as well as a handful of regional legislators in regions like Surrey and East Anglia, now the party was consistently polling around 3%, outpassing RISE and breathing down the neck of the Alternative.

    After a very short campaign, with an electorate sick of voting, turnout was expected to be low, no one had managed to make the MEP elections exciting. This of course worried SDP politicians the most, whose voters were more fickle and ambivalent on European questions, like so many other governing parties the SDP expected an unenthusiastic turnout leading on an unenthusiastic kick, but there was nothing to be done now. There was also the issue of voter intimidation, with the eyes of the world no longer on them Civil Assistance began to crawl back out of the woodwork, Civil Assistance activists were reported to harass voters outside polling stations and stalk Searchlight activists. As the polls closed most crossed their fingers and hoped the shadow of fascism wouldn’t fall on Britain again.

    “The Leader of the NNP has been ejected from the Humberside Assembly after directing a Nazi slogan at the Provincial President. Col Godfrey Bloom MLA said "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer" - one people, one empire, one leader - as Elliot Morley was making a speech. He was ordered out of the chamber and will face disciplinary measures. Mr Bloom told the BBC he stood by his words, describing the Provincial President as "a national socialist". Mr Bloom made the heckle as Mr Morley, a member of the Social Democratic Party, was speaking during a debate on the bankruptcy of Hull City Council. The National leader in the Assembly Greg Knight challenged Mr Bloom to apologise. He said: "We are in a democracy, this is a democratic era and I would ask you to make an official apology.” - NPP Leader Godfrey Bloom ejected over Nazi jibe, BBC News Extract (2006)


    Civil Assistance members were seen campaigning for NPP and National candidates
    Chapter 21: The Delegation
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    “Despite the growing power of the European Parliament, there are no ‘European’ elections. EU citizens elect their governments, who sit in the Council and nominate Commissioners. EU citizens also elect the European Parliament. But, neither national elections nor European Parliament elections are ‘European’ elections. They are not about the personalities and parties at the European level or the direction of the EU policy agenda. National elections are fought on domestic issues, and parties collude to keep the issue of Europe off the domestic agenda. European Parliament elections are also not about Europe, as parties and the media treat them as mid-term national contests. The famous description of EU elections – as ‘second-order contests’ – is as true of the European elections in 2006 as it was of the first elections in 1974.” - Why There is a Democratic Deficit in the EU, Andreas Follesdal, University of Oslo (2006)

    No one was particularly happy with the EU election results. The good news was the far-right NPP was locked out of Brussels, only mustering 1.3% of the vote, barely ahead of the federalist European Party. The hard graft by Searchlight, coupled with some tactical voting for National by NPP supporters, had locked Godfrey Bloom and his ilk out of elected office. The SDP had taken a standard incumbent beating, they received a disappointing election result, dropping 6 points since the General Election in 2005.


    If these results repeated at a General it would represent a 10 point swing from the SDP to National

    Many within the SDP attributed this to its lackluster campaign and seeming unethiasasum for Europe, despite helping lead Britain into the EU, the SDP had avoided European issues as much as possible during the campaign. This led to some breaking ranks in the SDP’s iron discipline, with Tony Blair saying the party had underperformed by letting National “bang on about Europe unchallenged”.This also represented the first time since democracy returned to Britain that the SDP had been on the losing side of a poll, two-party politics, divisive as it was, had returned and National was now a real challenge.

    National had a fairly good night, it’s soft eurosceptic message had jumpstarted the party, bumping it up 4 points from the 2005 election and allowing them to overtake the SDP. Although not everyone in the party was happy, the reformists especially were annoyed that National was already trying to damage the EU’s reputation for short-term political gain. Reformists such as Nick Clegg had hoped with the hardliners on the ropes after the referendum, Collins would land a finishing blow. Instead by letting the hardliners back in the tent and running an anti-integration campaign, he had thrown them a lifeline. Whilst Collins supporters would argue forgiveness was necessary for party unity, the reformists still felt betrayed. The EU election victory had granted Collins much-needed political capital, but he was still surrounded by wolves on all sides.

    “An ally of Tim Collins has warned the National leader that his own MPs have started to have misgivings about the way he is running the party. They believe he is making policy "on the hoof". The message came from Mr Collin's private parliamentary secretary, Oliver Heald. In internal emails to the National leader, he warns that there are doubts about who is in charge of the leadership operation. Mr Heald tells Mr Collins that the leader has taken on so much power that "my concern is that you might be in danger of being completely frazzled". The emails confirm simmering tensions inside the party despite Mr Collin's smooth presentation. The friction points include Europe, nuclear power, and EU parliamentary candidates.” - Collins aide warns of backbench misgivings, Patrick Wintour, The Guardian


    The Colonel's critics were getting louder

    The biggest surprise came from the Ecology Party, who leapfrogged over the NPP and nearly overtook RISE. The Ecologists were now Britain's 6th party. Modeled on other European Green Parties the Ecologists ran on a platform of environmentalism above all else, alongside various socially liberal reforms such as the legalisation of cannabis. They had just managed to scrape a single seat in Surrey at the 2005 General Elections, but now they had established themselves as a strong political alternative. Time would tell if they could repeat this success on a national level.

    The other parties performed about as expected. The Alternative took a small hit for its support for the SDP but not the cataclysmic result some had feared. In Scotland, RISE and the SNP continued to battle for dominance and the SNP seemed to be winning. Whilst RISE was made up of SNLA members who had laid down their arms, every SNLA dissident attack hit, however unfairly, was blamed on them. Since the SNLA dissidents remained Britain’s most prolific terrorists the hits kept coming. Various other parties like the Cornish Nationalist Mebyon Kernow, Federalist European Party and the Legalise Marijuana Now Party (LMNP) all got respectable results, but failed to break the de facto 2.5% threshold.


    As RISE faltered some activists were filtering back to SNLA camps

    Despite the NPP not making it to Brussels there wasn’t an absence of eurosceptic voices, around a quarter of National’s 33 MEPs had supported No in the referendum, some of the most vocal hardliners such as David Nassatrass said he would turn his back as “Ode to Joy” played at the new Parliament’s opening in January. These MEPs coupled with new MEPs from Poland’s Law and Justice Party, and various other eurosceptic MEPs from Europe’s new members would make sure their voices were heard in the chamber, much to the embarrassment of their pro-European counterparts.

    With the EU elections out the way the last box was ticked, in just a few months Britain would officially be part of the European family, messy and dysfunctional as it was. Despite the chaos in Westminster and paramilitaries on the streets, Britain had been accepted into "civilised" Europe as a functioning mature democracy, it was a huge win for the transition. Now the Government could turn its eyes back to internal matters. The United Kingdom’s problems hadn’t gone away during accession, they were just swept under the rug, a rug which was getting rather crowded.

    “Why do political parties decide to focus on some issues and downplay others? This question is at the heart of our understanding of party competition. There are practical limits to the amount of issues parties can mobilise. Most importantly are the cognitive limitations of voters. Voters use broad-based ideological labels, such as left and right, as heuristics to help them decide which party to vote for at election time. Reducing the number of issue dimensions is also beneficial to the parties themselves. Party competition in advanced democracies is generally perceived to consist of two dimensions. A general distinction between an economic and non-economic dimension.”
    - How government parties deal with deteriorating economic conditions, Catherine De Vries (2019)


    The two party system was secure for now
    Chapter 22: Goldfinger
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    Civil Assistance had seen a wave of recruits in the referendum's aftermath

    “Fascism has adapted in two ways. One has been to vacate the electoral arena and abandon mass movement in favour of establishing a myriad of tiny cadre organizations. This is the “groupuscular right,” composed of militant activists who promote revolutionary nationalism. The size of these groupuscules, as well as the amorphous network connecting them, make them resistant to state suppression. The second way fascism has adapted has been to keep its party form but shed its revolutionary goals in the search for votes. Parties that have adopted this tactic are on the radical, not the extreme, right. Most radical right parties are reactionary in that they desire a “return” to a mythical version of the past where states were homogeneous. Britain's NNP and Greece's Golden Dawn with their paramilitaries have rekindled concerns with electoral fascism.”
    - Far-Right Parties in Europe, Lecture by Matt Golder, Pennsylvania State University (2015)

    Say for the sake of argument you’re a Civil Assistance Paramilitary Leader. You have two problems. The first is Britain’s joining the EU and you really don’t want that to happen. Second, running a paramilitary is expensive, it's not all fun and games, with the authorities cracking down it’s becoming much harder to procure funds from shady businessmen or Yuri, your friendly neighbourhood FSB agent. What's a neo-fascist terrorist to do? If only there was a way to kill two birds with one stone. Well, one Civil Assistance cell found a way to do just that. In the sleepy town of Debden, Epping Forest sat a fairly unordinary warehouse run by the company De La Rue, within this warehouse staff were working overtime to ensure Britain had enough Euros printed for transition day on the 1st of January.

    On the 22nd of November, an 8-ton lorry pulled up outside the warehouse 18 men armed with military-grade weaponry and dressed in army fatigues stormed the warehouse. In less than an hour, they filled the lorry with 79 million euros in banknotes and took off. They had tied up members of staff and placed them in money cages so it was several hours before the morning shift team arrived who freed the hostages and raised the alarm. The biggest heist in British history had been pulled off flawlessly, and now some of the most dangerous groups in Britain had 80 million to their name.

    “On November 22, 2006, a gang of at least eighteen armed paramilitaries, stole 79 million euros from the De La Rue Euro printer in Epping Forest. It was the largest such theft in British history. The plot was well planned. On the evening before, two men, dressed as police officers, pulled the depot manager, Lewis Grant, over as he was driving in nearby Colchester. They convinced him to get out of his car and forced him into their vehicle. At about the same time, two more men visited Grant’s home and picked up Grant’s wife and seven-year-old son. All three Grants were taken to a farm in West Essex, where the gang threatened their lives if Lewis refused to cooperate with the robbery. The Grants were then forced to go with the gang to the De La Rue print, where Lewis helped them evade the building’s security system.” - Excerpt from The Great Money Heist, History Channel Documentary (2019)


    As democracy stabilised, many paramilitaries turned to organised crime

    Subsequent police investigations managed to recover some of the money stolen, two of the ringleaders, Anne Waters and Mark Collet were arrested after a police chase near Southend carrying 11 million euros in cash. In the two months following the raid ten of the eighteen attackers had been arrested and a total of 32 million euros were recovered. 47 million euros were never recovered and left to circulate around Britain’s underbelly of organised crime and paramilitaries. Just as Britain was beginning to steady the ship the robbery made evening news around the world, and EU member states, wary of arms or dark money getting into their borders began to double down on entrance checks for Brits. But once free movement arrived there would be nothing they could do.

    Whilst Civil Assistance were conducting flashy heists, dissident Scottish Separatists would form the most persistent headache for counter-terror officials. In South Western Scotland one National Legislator, Phil Gallie MLA was stabbed to death on a walk outside the South Western Parliament in Glasgow by three dissidents. MI5 Director Alan West, in the first public interview by a serving Director, told the BBC the agency was overstretched, preventing dozens of attacks by the SNLA and called for the Johnson administration to take a harder line against Scottish Separatists.


    One it's worst days some parts of Glasgow were effectively under dissident seperatist control

    Opposition Leader Tim Collins called it a national disgrace that elected legislators continued to be harassed and even killed. Whilst MPs had to look over their shoulders it was even worse for local legislators at the bottom of the rung without even police protection. In West Yorkshire, one Jewish SDP local legislator reported being under siege as Civil Assistance thugs would stalk him and wait outside his house. This political harassment would hit Britain’s small number of minority legislators hard, Socialist Alternative MP Diane Abbott reported paying for private security out of her own pocket rather than rely on the single close protection officer MPs were provided with since Bob Wareing’s assassination. Britain's political culture still had a long way to go.

    Whilst Britain’s politics were damaged, its film culture began to make a comeback. Several leading directors and producers who had lived in exile in LA began to make their way home to revive London’s film scene. The biggest release of the year was the new James Bond film Casino Royale. Bond had been a staple of British film since the 60s but after the coup, it bombed abroad. This was down not only to reduced production value, but also to international audiences uncomfortable watching the agent of a dictatorship travelling around the world with a “licence to kill”. The new Bond, directed by Martin Campbell, hoped to move away from that image. Liam Neeson was dropped as Bond in favour of Colin Salmon. Salmon had been blacklisted from acting during the Junta years for his pro-democracy, anti-racist and left-wing views, now he was returning to British screens as the first black James Bond.

    “Ending more than a year of speculation, actor Colin Salmon was finally unveiled as the new James Bond today on a Royal Marine speedboat on the Thames. Colin promises to bring a grittier edge to the iconic role. The actor was blacklisted by Junta censors for his support for anti-racism groups like the London Black Panthers. Salmon arrived in true 007 styles to make the official announcement that he would be the next movie superspy. Salmon boarded a rigid raider craft, which sped under Tower Bridge before mooring at HMS President, where he was introduced to the press. A beaming Salmon was asked how he was feeling about his new role as he walked up the gangplank to HMS President. Salmon replied: "I'm speechless at the moment." At the press conference, Salmon promised to take the role in a new direction.” - Colin Salmon confirmed as new screen Bond, Associated Press (2005)


    Salmon's casting reflected a shift in British culture and image abroad
    Wikibox Part 2: Death of Mountbatten Synopsis
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    Right to left: Peter Hill-Norton, Michael Hanley, Louis Mountbatten and Cecil King

    This has been living rent-free in my head so I decided to write a synopsis:


    One night, First Lord of the United Kingdom Louis Mountbatten has dinner with Cabinet members Cecil King, Airey Neave, Peter Hill-Norton, and Michael Hanley. As they are about to leave Chequers after the gathering, Hanley casually reveals that Mountbatten is planning to have Neave arrested.

    Once alone, Mountbatten suffers heart failure and dies. he is only discovered by his housekeeper in the morning. A message is immediately sent to the Cabinet, who rush to get there. Hanley, the head of MI5 arrives first. He begins to steal papers from a safe, which he hands to his men outside of the building. Cecil King, who is Chief Secretary to the First Lord and thus Mountbatten's successor, arrives next. He immediately begins to panic, but Hanley calms and encourages him, secretly intending to use him as a puppet.

    Next to arrive is Hill-Norton, the head of the Ministry of Defence and informally the direct deputy to King. He is joined afterwards by Minister of Trade Margaret Thatcher, Minister for Labour Enoch Powell, and Chancellor Edward Du Cann. The Cabinet move Mountbatten to his bedroom, after which Hanley immediately has the Civil Guard take over city security duties from the Army. He also replaces Mountbatten's blacklist with his own, which spares Neave. Hill-Norton and Hanley then begin to struggle for symbolic victories, such as control over Mountbatten's daughter, Pamela, and meetings with the Queen.

    MI5 and the Civil Guard loot Chequers. Hill-Norton goes to Neave's home to attempt to obtain his support, but Neave opposes this on the ground that it would be factionalism, which Mountbatten was against. Hanley, however, secures Neave's loyalty by releasing his wife Diana from prison.

    The Cabinet convene and name King First Lord. He is largely controlled by Hanley, however, who uses King to better his own position in the first Cabinet meeting. As a result, Hill-Norton is sidelined and put in charge of planning Mountbatten's funeral, which allows Hanley to suggest the introduction of the liberal reforms that Hill-Norton had wanted to implement. Mountbatten is then left to lie in state in the Palace of Westminster, whilst many political prisoners are released and the restrictions imposed on the trade unions are loosened, earning Hanley more popular support. However, he is challenged by the arrival of Field Marshal Edwin Bramall, who is infuriated that the Army has been confined to barracks. He is further incensed when he and Hill-Norton learn that Hanley has stopped all trains into London in order to prevent the Civil Guard from being overwhelmed by mourners.

    Hill-Norton approaches Bramall to obtain the support of the Army in staging a coup against Hanley. Brammal is open to the idea but only agrees to support it if Hill-Norton can get the entire Cabinet to support it. In an attempt to undermine Hanley's popularity, Hill-Norton then orders the trains to be allowed into London, resulting in the Civil Guard being overwhelmed and riots breaking out. The Cabinet suggests blaming lower-level officers in the Civil Guard, but Hanley opposes this because he believes his association with the Civil Guard will tarnish his reputation. He then angrily threatens the Cabinet with files of evidence he has collected against them. As the Cabinet stands in a guard of honour around Mountbatten's body, the state controlled-trade union Organisation of British Workers arrives at the funeral, enraging Neave. He meets with Hill-Norton and Powell the following day and states that he will back a coup against Hanley if the rest of the Cabinet support it.

    On the day of Mountbatten's funeral, Hill-Norton lies to Neave and Bramall that the Cabinet unanimously support action against Hanley. Bramall informs his men, who relieve the Civil Guard of their posts outside of government offices. Bramall and his men then arm themselves with smuggled weapons and arrest Hanley. Hill-Norton coerces King into signing Hanley's arrest warrant, allowing them to try Hanley. Hill-Norton and his allies find Hanley guilty of treason and sentence him to life imprisonment.

    As Hanley is taken away, Hill Norton gives Pamela a ticket to Paris. Several decades later, Hill-Norton, now First Lord, and having removed or demoted his co-conspirators, attends a concert, while a General Strike and protests led by Alan Johnson rage outside.
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    Chapter 23: Hard Time
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    Some of Civil Assistance's most radical members were Scottish loyalists

    “The defining characteristic of National Action is their opposition to the peace process and the politicisation of RISE. In their eyes, the National Party leadership had sold out on their ideals. While members of National were not deemed to be logical targets, attacks in recent years show that for Civil Assistance this may be changing. When asked whether National politicians were considered targets, the Civil Assistance representative rationalised that they were not, because of the potential loss of support as a result. No guerilla can exist without a support base. Potential targets may be legitimate, but their lethal targeting may not be logical if it is likely to provoke a significant drop in support. The targeting of representatives of communities the organisation is reliant on would be counter-productive.”
    - Civil Assistance’s Tactical Adaptation and Restraint, John Morrison, Royal Holloway University (2020)

    At 11 o’clock on the 29th December 2006, nine pipe bombs were detonated surrounding the Eastern Scottish Parliament. As these bombs detonated Gary Raikes, an ultra-loyalist Scot aligned with Civil Assistance entered the building armed with a Beretta 92FS and a large bomb. Three civilian security guards were shot and killed by Raikes, Raikes then detonated a bomb in the Parliament’s lobby before being shot and killed by armed police. Seven people, including Raikes and the security guards, were killed in the attack and over a hundred people were wounded in the various blasts.

    On Raikes’ body, police found a list of names including Provincial President Colin Fox and Vice-President Margo MacDonald. As the most radical and outspoken of Scotland’s four Provincial Presidents Raikes had hoped to assassinate Fox and much of his Cabinet as a warning to other Scottish Separatists. The attack would be cemented in Scottish history as the Hogmanay bombings. In a statement after the attack, Fox declared he would not be cowed by attacks of terror and called for Scotland to unite in the face of loyalist violence.

    There would be some reprisals by dissident factions of the SNLA and over a dozen were injured by attacks in loyalist neighborhoods in West Edinburgh. In separatist cities like Glasgow, protests broke out which then evolved into riots local police struggled to contain. The attacks stopped RISE’s downward trend in opinion polls and reinvigorated paramilitary groups on both sides of the Scottish debate. The attacks also fueled mistrust between Scottish legislators and the central government with one RISE MLA accusing MI5 of orchestrating the attack to intimidate separatist politicians. The fragile piece north of the border began to crack.


    Some in RISE wanted to give up on the political experiment

    “The peace process' continued resiliency remains of interest to scholars of conflict resolution. The fact remains that the Scottish peace process has managed to bring a longed-for sense of peace and normality to the region. A fact that has spawned a large number of analyses seeking to understand this resiliency or to predict its eventual failure. At the risk of oversimplifying a complex situation, there seem to be two directions that those who write about Scotland tend to come from. Either the top-down political processes or the bottom-up community reconciliation without examining connections between the two. For the most part, the myriad of works about the Cardiff Accords tends to focus on the political aspects of the process and the parties involved.”
    - The Scottish Peace Process, Landon Hancock (2008)

    These attacks would further strain the already stretched-thin Home Office. Many senior figures in intelligence and police had retired after the fall of the Junta, and they had a new Secretary of State, Charlie Falconer. It wasn’t just terror where the Home Office was struggling, Britain’s prisons were severely overpopulated, a hangover from the Junta years. Britain’s prison population had reached 100,000, with over 3,000 people being held on “indeterminate sentences” with no fixed end. Three years on and the Home Office was still processing existing prisoners, trying to work out who was a political prisoner and who was a genuine threat to safety. At the same time, paramilitary and organised crime members were making their way into Her Majesty's cells, organising within prison walls into organised and vicious sectarian gangs.


    "You can't put us all in prison" was a popular chant

    Well organised prisoners and overcrowding were a recipe for one thing - prison breaks. Over 20 class A prisoners had escaped from British prisons in the last few months, this included drug kingpins and paramilitary leaders. In some provinces, criminals were having their convictions pushed back due to lack of space in prisons, being held in house arrest or in local police holding cells. As the situation got increasingly desperate, Justice Secretary David Miliband announced he would be opening court cells up to the prison service to ease overcrowding and hold low-level prisoners. This wasn’t the only “creative” solution to the prison crisis as hospital ships were converted into temporary floating prison blocks.

    Despite all this, the prison system simply couldn’t cope. Reluctantly Falconer announced that 40% of all D-class prisoners would be released early and all prisoners detained on a reprimand and awaiting trial would be released. Falconer promised a rapid increase in the use of electronic tagging but the image of thousands of prisoners marching out of prison hit the government hard. Even within the SDP benches MPs were expressing dismay at a government seemingly losing control. In Parliament Collins had a field day “the Government had technically contained the prison crisis, but only by letting half of them out! This is what happens when you put utopian dreams ahead of order.”

    Many of these newly freed prisoners would return to low-level petty theft, but crime in Britain had become more brutal, the various paramilitaries had turned to drug trafficking or other low-level crimes to survive. Amateur drug gangs were replaced by a brutal disciplined military structure in Britain’s underworld. In the inner cities, gang territory was segregated on political lines. Before when disputes between gangs would be resolved by fist of knives, now the paramilitaries went in with assault rifles. East London was particularly bad, both having strong Red Brigade and Civil Assistance presences, for the working class folk of East London, shootings became another fact of life.

    “Enforcement on gun carrying and gun use fail to take account of the fact that it is one expression of interpersonal violence. A reduction in the use of knives will only occur if the incidence of violence is addressed by a long-term strategy. The gun is merely an implement used in crime. Without dealing with the underlying causes of violent crime, initiatives to reduce gun usage will have only a limited impact. Guns make an expression of violence more damaging or lethal, even if not intended to cause death, but shootings are not caused by the presence of a gun. More essential is the context within which the resort to extreme acts of violence unfolds. Moves towards a more coordinated approach that recognises the importance of prevention are to be welcomed.” - Gun Crime - A review of evidence and policy, Chris Eades, Centre for Crimes and Justice Studies (2007)


    Paramilitaries had flooded Britain's underground with cheap firearms
    Wikibox: 2005 Eastern Scotland Regional Election
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    The 2005 Eastern Scotland regional election was held on 14 March 2006, to elect the 1st Parliament of Eastern Scotland. All 53 seats in the Parliament were up for election.

    This election was called roughly one year after the referendum of 2004 and the ratification of the Cardiff Accords. The Accords further expanded the authority of the Provincial Governments and brought in provincial elections for the first time. The Accords had been ratified in a referendum on 18 June 2004, with roughly 74% Eastern Scottish voters in favour of the new Statute. The referendum was noted for its low turnout in Eastern Scotland, as only 48.9% of all registered voters had cast a vote.

    Eastern Scotland was expected to be a battle between two major separatist parties. The radical RISE party led by former SNLA Edinburgh Commander Colin Fox and the centrist Scottish National Party. Loyalist parties were not expected to do well, with National and the SDP fighting to be the largest loyalist party. The campaign was dominated by grievances from the Junta years and sectarian violence.

    In the 2005 election RISE emerged as the most popular party both in votes and seats but fell far short of an absolute majority. After coalition negotiations, RISE and the SNP agreed to a broad church separatist coalition under the leadership of Fox. The election also saw a disappointing result for the SDP, coming fourth, despite winning by a landslide on the national level.
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    Chapter 24: Accession
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    Six new flags were raised outside the commission building

    “On 1 January 2007 the EU welcomed six new Member States and over 100 million people to the European Union. This completes the EU's historic four rounds of enlargement reuniting Europe after decades of division. To mark this important day President of the Commission, Margo Wallstrom said: “The 1 January 2007 is a historic day to celebrate. I congratulate the people and leaders of our new members for the courage, determination, and work in preparing for membership. I thank the people and the leaders of the EU for their vision in supporting this project. I also welcome the six new Commissioners, I look forward to working with them.” Enlargement Commissioner Günter Verheugen added: "My warm welcome to the people of our new member states." - Six new members join the EU family, EU Commission Press Release (2007)

    On new year's day 2007, The United Kingdom joined the EU. Several thousand British citizens emigrated on the first day alone, many of them younger folk moving for study or graduate jobs, and many of the other medical professionals lured by the promise of a better life on the continent. Whilst there weren’t cataclysmic scenes at the banks like some feared, there were a flood of last-minute panic withdrawals as people switched their pound notes for Euros. The EU was raised in London, and the Union Flag was hoisted outside the EU building in Brussels. Britain was now officially in Europe, and Britain was now legally the EU’s problem.

    Things got off to a rocky start when the EU announced they were raising inflation rates by 0.5%, the sudden flood of Euros needed to sustain new members, as well as the deteriorating global economy meant inflationary actions had to be taken. This didn’t set a brilliant opening tone for a country that had crawled into the EU for the very promise of economic salvation. For those who hoped accession would solve Britain’s financial woes, they were found very much wrong, many miles of hard work still lay ahead for the treasury if Britain was to ever recover.

    Nor did EU membership fix Britain’s internal woes. The Peace Pledge Union was an organisation of secular pacifists set up in the 1930s, whilst they faced brutal repression under the Junta they had survived until present day, now they campaigned for justice and reconciliation in the transition and an end to Britain’s military industrial complex. For the last several weeks the PPU had set up camp around MoD Donnington, near Telford. Donnington remained one of Britain’s largest arsenals, storing much of the military’s equipment. A lot of this equipment mysteriously found its way onto the international black market during the dying days of the Junta years, with the base’s management famously corrupt.


    Suprise military "exercises" were still common place

    “Many attribute the British Military to the "manifest destiny" model of political militaries. This model conceptualises that military officials consider themselves superior to civilians as the only savior of the nation. Under this model, the military justifies intervention on the basis that civilian regimes suffer from mal-administration. They believe it is only the military that can protect and defend the national interest. Another interpretation is the corporatist model. According to this model, the military is a corporate entity. This means that military individuals have collective tendencies and a singleness of purpose. The armed forces consider themselves different from civilians. Such a perception on the part of the military represents the conduct of civil-military relations as a zero-sum game.”
    - Corruption and the Military in Politics, Lecture by Muhammad Majeed, University of Glasgow

    The PPU camp called for the base to be closed and the weapons within destroyed. The Donnington situation would come to a boiling point when a young activist attempted to climb the chain-link fence surrounding the base and hang a banner. The facility’s guards opened fire at the activist, killing him and injuring seven others. The young man’s name was Kareem Dennis, a young rapper from London, he was just 20 years old. Now usually a soldier firing into an unarmed crowd and killing a 20-year-old would be swept under the rug, no longer was this the case. Now came the question of what to do with the soldier who shot Dennis.


    Dennis, known better by his rap handle "Lowkey" was a major figure in the anti-military movement

    Luckily for “Soldier A” as the court case called him, he had friends in high places. Several leading military officers, both serving and former lept to the defence of Soldier A, arguing he had acted in self-defence and the PPU activists were attempting to storm the armory. One of his loudest supporters was former Minister of Labour General Jonathon Riley who declared Soldier A’s prosecution was an “attack on all servicemen''. Privately Defence Secretary Charles Guthrie warned Justice Secretary David Miliband not to prosecute Soldier A, warning the military was a powder keg waiting to go off. Nonetheless, Soldier A had to be held accountable for his actions.

    After a several-month-long court-martial with strong civilian oversight from the MOJ, Soldier A was convicted, his name was revealed as Jonny Banks. However, Banks’ conviction pleased no one. Banks was convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to only four years in prison, the minimum manslaughter sentence under British law. Banks’ conviction had been the most expensive and high profile court-martial in British history, behind the scenes it was a tug of war between the Ministry of Defence, unwilling to throw one of their own to the wolves, and the Ministry of Justice, eager to see Banks in prison.

    The high-level intervention from Guthrie and other senior military officials was reported on by the progressive press, whilst the Junta was no longer in charge, the military could still tip the scales whenever they wanted and the MoD was still far too powerful. Protesters on both sides, backed up by paramilitaries from the Red Brigades and Civil Assistance, immediately burst into violence again outside Bulford Camp where the court-martial was held. The base had to be locked down and armed riot police had to be dispatched to separate the crowds and calm them down. Not only did the Banks’ court-martial agitate the military, it also greatly harmed the reputation of the British justice system. It was not the first time military crimes had been left off leniently.

    “Colonel Peter Oliver, had been standing trial for two years for negligently performing a duty. But a judge yesterday ruled that there was no case to answer, as charges against Col Oliver and five of his men were abandoned. It came on the 600th day of the trial, which army sources say will cost the taxpayer over 30 million. Col Oliver's men had been accused of mistreating civilians detained during the occupation of Glasgow in the 2003 General Strike. It was alleged that some of the colonel's men abused detainees. This included keeping them hooded and deprived of sleep, - interrogation "conditioning", banned under international law. One of the prisoners, John Glen, 26, a hotel receptionist, died. The prosecution had alleged that Col Oliver did not ensure the detainees were treated according to international law.” - Judge orders charges dropped against six soldiers accused of abuses, The Scotsman (2007)


    Many officers avoided justice for crimes commited during the fall of the Junta
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    Chapter 25: The Spy Who Hated Me
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    Britian's Secret Service was about to be shoved into the spotlight

    “Did Sir Richard Dearlove know when he was appointed head of the Security Service in 1998 he would be the last Junta Intelligence Chief? A political survivor, Dearlove is one of the few senior Junta officials still in place. His appointment was a reflection of the agency's post-Cold War priorities - fighting dissidents rather than the Soviets. Chosen by the First Lord, Peter Hill-Norton, Sir Richard took the classic route into the espionage business. He began his MI6 career in 1966 and two years later received his first overseas posting to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. He returned to the UK in 1992 as director of operations. In 1999 Sir Richard was appointed chief and became known in Whitehall as "C". A year later he survived an SNLA rocket attack on The Security Service's headquarters on the south bank of the River Thames.”
    - Profile: Sir Richard Dearlove, BBC News (2007)

    Security Services Director Richard Dearlove was not a fan of the new order. Under the Junta MI5, MI6 and the Civil Guard had been merged into one overarching Security Service, with a single Director General at its head. The Security Services had gone on to be one of the most internally powerful secret services in the world. So much so that even after the fall of the Junta, Director Dearlove was allowed to stay on, and any attempts to break up the Security Services were foiled. Even in the transition, the Security Services kept their political power and there was a huge amount of distrust between the Services and the new SDP Government. Former Home Secretary Peter Tatchell had routinely complained of having his hands tied by intransigent officials at the Home Office and the Services.


    Former Home Secretary Tatchell had warned of the Service's growing power

    Many of these fears would be proven correct when a series of leaks from inside the Services revealed agents had wiretapped the phones of elected politicians without their consent. Among those who were hacked included Prime Minister Alan Johnson, Socialist Alternative Leader John McDonnell, and both SDP Home Secretaries: Peter Tatchell and Charlie Falconer. Even some reformists in National such as Shadow Chancellor Nick Clegg had their phones hacked in a brazen violation of personal privacy. Those in civil society had been spied on too, from trade union barons to journalists and even celebrities. The Security Services had been caught red-handed, playing the old tricks of the Junta and using their political power to spy on those considered enemies.

    An outcry amongst the political class and the public demanded action. At its most extreme end, the Socialist Alternative wanted the Security Services dissolved and Dearlove placed under arrest. Marches against the Security Service’s power took place in London as pressure built on Britain’s intelligence community. The Johnson administration acted quickly, Solicitor General Sadiq Khan (deputy to Attorney General Patricia Scotland) was appointed to head up a new inquiry, the Khan Inquiry, to investigate the extent of the wire-tapping scandal and a broader investigation into the powers of the Security Service and the legal basis for these powers.

    “A British public defender has accused the Security Services of "smearing" him after the Security Services accused him of spying. CNN has learned that accusations aimed at Sadiq Khan QC led to him being blacklisted from practicing the law for four years. He was suspended amid allegations of threatening national security. The Security Services bugged his phones and investigated his bank accounts. The Security Services claimed Khan was an agent of influence for the Pakistani government. Sources say the Services based its warning on the Khan's association with people from the Pakistani embassy and nationals. Khan, who remains blacklisted, now runs an organisation of anti-Junta lawyers in South London. His parents emigrated from Pakistan. He did not know that a career-destroying allegation had come from the Security Services.” - The Story of a British Lawyer Hounded by the Junta, CNN (2002)


    Khan was already an enemy of the Security Services, he would pull no punches

    Khan was a popular choice amongst the SDP, a former public defender during the Junta days Khan had made a name for himself as a thorn in the side of the Junta’s conservative legal system, frequently representing Scottish dissidents, downtrodden Muslims, and other people on the edges of Junta society. Khan had eventually been blacklisted by the Junta and had been smeared as an Iranian spy. After the return of democracy, at just 37 years old Khan had risen quickly to become one of Britain’s most senior legal professionals. For those in the Security Services Khan possessed an existential threat and was unlikely to be lenient with the Intelligence Community. In Thames House, backrooms elements of the Services began work to discredit Khan and crush his investigation.

    Over the next few weeks on the inquiry, several of Khan’s personal emails were mysteriously leaked, and in right-leaning papers, stories surfaced of Khan defending Islamic extremists such as Louis Farrakhan and Maajid Nawaz. Several private conversations between Khan and Attorney General Patricia Scotland were also leaked, with Khan alleging the Security Services had bugged his Whitehall Office. Despite this Khan’s investigation plowed on, interviewing operatives and collating evidence, one of the most shocking discoveries of Khan’s investigation was that a Senior Downing Street aide William Lewis was an active Security Services asset and had been relaying confidential meetings back to Thames House.

    After several months the Khan inquiry concluded, unsurprisingly the inquiry found the Security Services had massively overstepped their remit and interfered in the political process in direct violation of the Cardiff Accords. Khan’s recommendations included breaking up the Security Services back into domestic and international intelligence agencies similar to the old MI5/MI6 divide. The inquiry also recommended transferring counter-terrorism powers and control over counter-terror policing directly to the Home Office, finally and most controversially, the inquiry called for the immediate resignation of Director General Richard Dearlove.

    This is where things became complicated. The Military was up in arms around investigations to their intelligence brothers. Defence Secretary Charles Guthrie was a close personal friend of Dearlove and warned of “dramatic consequences” should Dearlove's “outstanding counter-terrorism knowledge and experience” be removed from the equation. With a divided Parliament and economic issues on the horizon, Johnson couldn’t afford a direct confrontation with the Security Services. Several in National and on the right of the SDP had been heavily critical of the administration for “going after” the intelligence community; if Johnson overplayed his hand and failed to dislodge Dearlove, he would make a powerful enemy for very little gain.

    “Anyone who wanted to hear about the Security Services' politician spying program could have spent Thursday putting up shelves. Disclosures were not on the agenda. Instead, the heads of the service spent a couple of hours, courtesy of Westminster's Intelligence Committee, explaining that we shouldn't want to know such things. It was an advert for the spooks' high opinion of themselves and their work. Three middle-aged white men emerged from what one called the "ring of secrecy" to argue for the preservation of the ring against scrutiny. The Security Services' Richard Dearlove was less grilled than warmed-over by Des Browne's committee. Proper evidence, the TV audience was told, would only be revealed in private sessions with Solicitor General Sadiq Khan.” - Three wise men of our intelligence agencies spin a yarn, Ian Bell, The Scotsman (2007)


    Dearlove was too powerful to shoot and miss