Federation of the Commonwealth Realms

This has probably been brought up several times, but what if the British Empire had become a federation? I think it maybe possible that the white majority nations could survive in federation til this day, or could the fact that indians and blacks could more easily get into government make it survive more robustly? The idea was popular in the late 19th century and early 20th.
 
What sabotages it is

Initially (a) Centrifugal tendencies within the Dominions, which generally imagined themselves evolving into countries rather than counties, and had very diverse interests from each other, and from the UK, anyway.

Later, as well, (b) the Empire includes a lot of territories basically held down by force or the threat of force. Ireland, the Boers in South Africa, and of course India and most of the colonies. It is one thing to give independence to territories you've conquered, it is quite another to give them some degree of control over your own country.

And finally, as states became independent (c) The British desire for compromise and to wallpaper over such cracks and give the appearance of unity (instead of kicking out malcontents and countries which didn't fit in), when there was really very little of, was what gradually transformed the commonwealth from a political-military alliance into an old boy's cultural club.
 
It would depend entirely upon how the federation was going to work out - what exactly is a workable federation when all the members are dispersed across the globe I wonder? It would be effectively be an entirely new model of government and how this government would work in with the Westminster or other parliaments I don't know - hell, they have enough issues with devolution in OTL and this would be far more complex!

I would think the only workable model would be some sort of organisation where the central federal government was supervised by the member governments - so perhaps an Upper House appointed by each government, rather than direct elections. Or maybe a Council of Ministers like the EU currently has?
 
Later, as well, (b) the Empire includes a lot of territories basically held down by force or the threat of force. Ireland, the Boers in South Africa, and of course India and most of the colonies. It is one thing to give independence to territories you've conquered, it is quite another to give them some degree of control over your own country
Generally not, no. Not any more than any country is held down by force.
 
What sabotages it is

Initially (a) Centrifugal tendencies within the Dominions, which generally imagined themselves evolving into countries rather than counties, and had very diverse interests from each other, and from the UK, anyway.

Later, as well, (b) the Empire includes a lot of territories basically held down by force or the threat of force. Ireland, the Boers in South Africa, and of course India and most of the colonies. It is one thing to give independence to territories you've conquered, it is quite another to give them some degree of control over your own country.

And finally, as states became independent (c) The British desire for compromise and to wallpaper over such cracks and give the appearance of unity (instead of kicking out malcontents and countries which didn't fit in), when there was really very little of, was what gradually transformed the commonwealth from a political-military alliance into an old boy's cultural club.
Well there are some schools of thought that think the Dominions were quite keen to remain in some sort of strong association right up until WW2 - the whole of idea of Greater Britain etc. This had benefits for them as well as for Britain, economically, for security and culturally too - say allowing Canada to have a counter force to the US, or NZ against Australia, or Australia/NZ against Japan

There is a very good new book out on this topic - called Replinishing the World - by the historian James Belich
 
Well there are some schools of thought that think the Dominions were quite keen to remain in some sort of strong association right up until WW2 - the whole of idea of Greater Britain etc. This had benefits for them as well as for Britain, economically, for security and culturally too - say allowing Canada to have a counter force to the US, or NZ against Australia, or Australia/NZ against Japan

There is a very good new book out on this topic - called Replinishing the World - by the historian James Belich
An association is only good when it benefits you, as soon as costs come into it, the association doesn't seem such a good idea after all. Outside of war time, the Dominions weren't willing, for understandable reasons, to make commitments to say fight for British European interests, just for example.

You only need to look an the inter-war period to see there were all sorts of cases where the Dominions had different interests from the UK or each other. When it boils down to it, what interest does Australia or Canada really have in the position of border between Greece and Turkey for example (yes this was a real case where the UK was ready for war, but the Dominions weren't, in the aftermath of WW1)? There were plenty of other cases like that, and even such incidents prior to WW1.
 
An association is only good when it benefits you, as soon as costs come into it, the association doesn't seem such a good idea after all. Outside of war time, the Dominions weren't willing, for understandable reasons, to make commitments to say fight for British European interests, just for example.

You only need to look an the inter-war period to see there were all sorts of cases where the Dominions had different interests from the UK or each other. When it boils down to it, what interest does Australia or Canada really have in the position of border between Greece and Turkey for example (yes this was a real case where the UK was ready for war, but the Dominions weren't, in the aftermath of WW1)? There were plenty of other cases like that, and even such incidents prior to WW1.

Yet on the other hand the Imperial Preference system massively increased the share of trade between the Dominions/Britain vs the rest of the world's share in the 1930s - so diverging foreign affairs may well have occured but economic interests could be argued to have got closer.

Edit - I do think a workable long term Imperial Federation is pretty ASB though. I think you'd need lots of changes in the 19th century to make it work, which I can't see happening even with all the will in the world.
 
An association is only good when it benefits you, as soon as costs come into it, the association doesn't seem such a good idea after all. Outside of war time, the Dominions weren't willing, for understandable reasons, to make commitments to say fight for British European interests, just for example.

You only need to look an the inter-war period to see there were all sorts of cases where the Dominions had different interests from the UK or each other. When it boils down to it, what interest does Australia or Canada really have in the position of border between Greece and Turkey for example (yes this was a real case where the UK was ready for war, but the Dominions weren't, in the aftermath of WW1)? There were plenty of other cases like that, and even such incidents prior to WW1.
Britain doesn't naturally have a interest in that either, one only comes about because Britain was a great power and thus the whole world was of interest.
Canada meanwhile was just a nation, nothing special, it was only interested in its local area.
Merge the two though then Canada is also a great power and has worldwide interests.
 
Britain is interested in the Greek-Turkish border, because the UK has a direct interest in the balance of power in Europe, and of course Suez. But maybe that's not the best example.

Consider Czechoslovakia or Franco-German relations. The UK has direct influence in those matters, but Australia, NZ, SA, or Canada, are only interested because of their links to the UK. This is made-up, it was a bone of contention and weakness in interwar years, since the Dominion governments weren't ready to make advance commitments to fight over such matters.

Consider the Canadian-US border disputes on the West Coast around Alaska, etc.. The UK doesn't care precisely where the border is, provided trade and other relations with the US aren't compromised. Canada on the hand, wants specific areas of land. Again, there was a real OTL disagreement (pre WW1) between Canada and the UK over this issue.
 
Could you have a POD in the 19th century where the Empire becomes more isolationist ( but far less so than the USA ) so it concentrates far more on the Empire itself bettering it, things like the Crimean war happen but without the British. Because the Empire itself becomes more central Britain serves as a capital in London only and a source of manpower and place of heritage leading to more emmigration to New Zealand, Australia and Canada who become more central and influential. By the 1880's a federation is by far more favourable than in OTL and by the 1890's the UK, Australia + New Zealand and Canada are a Federation of 21 states ( states 4/7/10 ) and territories ( 0/1/3 )

Later you could have the likes of South Africa easily admited or Papua.

At this time the people in these nations from what I know were still extremely loyal to the King and Britain ( pre WW1 and even pre WW2 but before both is the best ), you could have a twist in the federation being that its still a constitutional monarchy and we would see some hybrid government like someone above posted "lower house and upper house"... it could work.
 
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