Commonwealth of Great Britain: An Island Story


Quote from The New York Times (Monday 7 June 2021)

As the British people celebrate 40 years since the founding of their Commonwealth in 1981 it is a chance for the whole world to reflect on the journey that this once mighty imperial power has been on. Great Britain has transformed from a global colonial superpower to authoritarian kingdom and now to a vibrant, multicultural great power at the heart of the blossoming project for European unity.
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Chapter 1.1 - Introduction


Never before had the Labour Party won an overall majority in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom in it's 35 years of existence. It was the leadership of the charismatic, handsome Sir Oswald Mosley that led the party to triumph in the 1935 election over Stanley Baldwin's Conservative-led National Government. It was a surprise for many, not least for Baldwin and for his predecessor Ramsay MacDonald in whose Cabinet Mosley had briefly served at the turn of the decade, that the National Government's 554 seats from 1931 were reduced to 286 - with their vote share tumbling from over 67% to just over 44%. Taking advantage of high unemployment and a deep sense of despondency in communities across the country hit hard by the Great Depression, Mosley used his master oratory skills and radical policy proposals to lift the Labour Party from just 52 seats in 1931 to 312 in 1935 - surpassing the 308 needed for a parliamentary majority. Labour also achieved it's best ever share of the vote, winning the support of 48.5% of voters. Armed with a strong mandate from the people and a Parliamentary Labour Party now shaped in his image and united behind their winning leader, Sir Oswald Mosley set about working to transform the United Kingdom after his appointment as Prime Minister by King George V on 18 November 1935.

Over the 4 years of his leadership of the Labour Party in opposition, Mosley had extended his control over most levers of the party machine and acquired a loyal following among the rank and file of the party that was ballooning in numbers. Even outside of the membership, thousands of the Britons exasperated with the "Old Gang" of politicians rallied to his speeches calling for national reconstruction and peaceful revolution, not destruction. At the core of his proposals was a "Planning and Enabling Act" - initially proposed by socialists Stafford Cripps and Clement Attlee in order to pass socialist legislation unamendable by Parliament, but appropriated by Mosley with the intention of giving a Labour government under his leadership the powers needed to enact national reconstruction by power of order without interference for a period of 5 years, though the Act could be renewed. The Bill was introduced shortly after the King opened Parliament in early December and was swiftly passed through the House of Commons by 11 December 1935 at which point it was introduced to the House of Lords. Dominated by the Conservatives, the upper chamber refused to consider the Bill any further until they returned from their Christmas recess, which was pencilled in for February 1936. The final sitting of the House of Commons before Christmas on 20 December 1935 was to be the last time the House as it was known, with vibrant multi-party democratic debates, would sit until almost five decades later.

The death of King George V in January 1936 and the accession of King Edward VIII placed at the head of the British nation a man that Mosley knew was sympathetic to him politically and whom he could rely on to help enact his agenda. To this end, ahead of the reassembling of the House of Lords on 4 February 1936 Mosley received the same reassurance from Edward that his father had given to David Lloyd George almost 25 years earlier - a promise to sufficient numbers of new Peers if the Conservative-dominated Lords refused to pass the Planning and Enabling Bill. To provide greater weight, a list of appointees was created. In the end, the threat to overwhelm the Lords with a raft of new members was not needed. Inspired by the March on Rome in 1922, the Labour Party rallied some 50,000 people to Westminster to demand the Bill be passed. The presence of the 'Stewards' - the Labour Party's paramilitary wing - in the gallery of the Lords added to the tense and intimidating atmosphere. Fearing violence, perhaps even their own demise if they did not pass the Bill, enough Peers voted for the legislation at Second Reading and the majority sustained to fast track the Bill through for it to receive Royal Assent from the King on 5 February 1936. For all intents and purposes, the century-old modern democracy in the United Kingdom had been killed off.


Sir Oswald Mosley stands outside 10 Downing Street, 1936
Appointing the small war-like Cabinet that he had professed an admiration for was one of the first tasks Mosley undertook after being awarded with absolute power. The Cabinet was shrunk to just 10 members, including Mosley himself: the Deputy Prime Minister (who also took on the role of Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs); the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; the Secretary of State for the Home Department; the Chancellor of the Exchequer; the President of the Board of Trade; the Minister for Investment and Industry; the Minister for Defence; the Minister for Science and Education; and, a Minister without Portfolio. Though the personalities in each of the positions would change, this structure was one that Mosley would stick rigidly to over his time in power and praised it repeatedly for its efficiency and effectiveness.

The Neutrality Act 1936 was the first piece of legislation enacted by Mosley without Parliament and designed to mirror similar legislation that had recently been passed in the United States. Though committed to neutrality and world peace, Mosley authorised a strengthening of British and imperial defence and refused to countenance a unilateral reduction in military capabilities instead pushing for universal disarmament to prevent a repeat of the horrors of the World War. In keeping with these policies, Mosley took no action when Adolf Hitler's Germany remilitarised the Rhineland in March 1936.

Shortly afterwards, in a landmark speech, Mosley laid out the principles by which he would rule the nation: "All within the state; none outside the state; none against the state"; a vow that all citizens will operate within the limits set by government in order to protect the welfare of the nation and a commitment to 'liberty' in private life. To this end, a raft of new Acts were introduced during the spring and summer that stripped away 'threats' to the national welfare. This included the outlawing of protests and strikes, the abolition of the House of Lords and its replacement with a House of Specialists, the detainment and prosecution of communists and the abolition of the Northern Ireland Parliament. There were also Acts to transform the United Kingdom into a self-contained entity, with foreign goods (those not produced within the Empire) to be totally excluded from the home market after a period of 3 years with quotas introduced in the interim while domestic production and agricultural was expanded significantly.

In late 1936 upon the announcement that the American socialite Wallis Simpson, the lover of the King, was to divorce her husband with the expectation of marrying Edward the Church of England became alarmed. Though Mosley had sought to appeal to religious groups like Catholics, he supported the King in his wish to marry Wallis and make him her King. Mosley deployed the publicity machine of the Labour Party and the government to those ends. Potential press backlash against a marriage and damage to the venerated institution of the Crown was the catalyst for the press and censorship acts introduced by Mosley in November 1936 - billed as another measure to ensure the welfare of the nation was secured against those who would seek to harm Britain and it's population.

Though no direct action was taken to silence the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church, significant pressure - primarily through the presence of the Stewards - was placed upon them to remain loyal to the King and the state. Eamon de Valera, the President of the Executive Council in the Irish Free State, made clear in private communications with Mosley that the Irish did not recognise divorce. As an opponent of the 'dismemberment' of Ireland in 1922 and the behaviour of previous British governments towards Irish civilians, Mosley used his new unconstrained power over Northern Ireland (following the abolition of its Parliament earlier in the year) to offer reunification of the island in exchange for a commitment that the Irish Free State would remain a Dominion and apart of what Mosley planned would be a self-contained Empire. With any opposition to a future marriage shut down, Wallis' divorce to Ernest Simpson was finalised on 3 May 1937. Edward was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 12 May 1937 in a celebration billed as the "Grand Opening of Sir Oswald Mosley's New Britain" by the international press. Edward and Wallis were married in the Abbey on 3 June 1937 and Wallis given the title of Queen of the United Kingdom. The Irish Free State was reunified on 6 December 1937 - 25 years after the Free State was created.


Coronation Portrait of King Edward VIII


Crowds gather outside Buckingham Palace after the Wedding of King Edward VIII and Queen Wallis
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Spotlight On: 1935 United Kingdom General Election
Spotlight On: 1935 United Kingdom General Election

CGB (1935Elec).png
The 1935 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 14 November 1935 and resulted in the first outright majority in parliament for the Labour Party led by Oswald Mosley and the defeat of the National Government now led by Stanley Baldwin of the Conservative Party. This would be the last multi-party election held in the United Kingdom until 1981 after parliament passed the Planning and Enabling Act 1936 giving Mosley and the government total power.

Labour, contesting their second election under Mosley's leadership despite the party's very poor showing at the 1931 general election, increased their number of seats six-fold and increased their share of the vote by over half. The National Government lost almost half of its seats and a third of its vote share. The Conservatives lost 204 seats to fall to 286, while the Liberal Nationals lost half their seats falling to 17. National Labour lost all but 2 of their MPs, including leader Ramsay MacDonald. The four unaligned national MPs lost their seats.

The Liberals continued their slow political decline, and their leader Sir Herbert Samuel lost his own seat. The Independent Labour Party stood separately from Labour for the first since 1895, having stood candidates unendorsed by Labour in 1931 and having disaffiliated fully from Labour in 1932. The Scottish National Party contested their first general election, and the Communist Party gained West Fife to earn their first seat in ten years.

Major election issues were stubborn unemployment, the role of the League of Nations and Mosley's proposals for "national reconstruction" including significant political reform. The election saw the first widespread campaign of intimidation by Labour's paramilitary wing the Stewards, though under Mosley's direct orders they did not initiate violence against other parties or the public.
You have my interest. Interesting starting point with Mosley as a Labour PM, not unlike @EdT 's masterpiece A Greater Britain. However, this seems to be going in a much more darker direction. I'm looking forward to where you'll go with it.
The Neutrality Act 1936 was the first piece of legislation enacted by Mosley without Parliament and designed to mirror similar legislation that had recently been passed in the United States. Though committed to neutrality and world peace, Mosley authorised a strengthening of British and imperial defence and refused to countenance a unilateral reduction in military capabilities instead pushing for universal disarmament to prevent a repeat of the horrors of the World War. In keeping with these policies, Mosley took no action when Adolf Hitler's Germany remilitarised the Rhineland in March 1936 and, indeed,​
I think there's something missing here.
I don't know how the UK government works but it seems a bit absurd that a British could come to power running in a socialist party and pass one law and become dictator