Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by EdT, Jun 1, 2008.
This TL is set to be smashing, I'm sure. I was just thinking about FaBR the other day!
Can't wait to see the TL EdT. It is always a pleasure seeing some of the more obscure people and events getting some serious TL action.
That it is...
Joseph Chamberlain will have a major role, yes- and so will the Liberal Unionists. In his own way, his role is as important a role as Churchill. The prologue, which I'll post tonight, will elaborate slightly.
Excellent. *polishes monocle*
Chancellor of the Ex. I'm betting. And what a Chancellor he'd make. If you get him early enough, and keep him true to radicalism, then he could be Lloyd George on acid...
Okay, so I exagerate in the heat of the moment. But still, I can't wait to see him in action.
More monacular action in a minute, now you come to mention it...
Ha, 'Lloyd George on acid' is a pretty spot on! Mind you, he'd be fun as Foreign Secretary as well... But no comment, for the time being
“It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.”
Austen Chamberlain and Winston Churchill, 1932
Cabinet War Rooms, Whitehall
March 2nd 1936
There was a dull thud and a trickle of dust from the ceiling as a bomb landed nearby. A few members of the Cabinet involuntarily glanced upwards, before returning their gaze to the man stood at the head of the table. Winston Churchill took another swig from the glass of whisky in front of him, and puffed on his cigar. “Never, in the face of human conflict, was so much risked by the irresponsibility of so few!” He pounded his fist on the table and gestured to his right. “Mr Allen has received the demands of the ‘Worker’s Action Committee’” He spoke the title with scorn. “Assuming I can stand to hear them again, would he care to repeat them to the rest of the Cabinet?”
The Minister for Labour pulled a paper from the sheaf in front of him and cleared his throat. “There are several demands, but three primary ones. Firstly, the Committee demands that the amendment to the Septennial Act to be rescinded, allowing the dissolution of Parliament and elections to take place. Secondly, the lifting of all restrictions on the leaders and members of the Socialist Party, including the release of political prisoners, and thirdly,” Allen paused for effect; “The immediate opening of negotiations with the German Government, preparatory to a general cease-fire and an eventual permanent peace treaty...” There was an appalled silence. Allen continued; “The letter goes on to state that if the Government does not undertake to meet these demands by midday tomorrow, a General Strike shall be called, beginning at midnight. This will include the stoppage of all civilian forms of transport including docks and railways, printing trades, the iron and steel, metal, and heavy chemical trades, and electricity and gas supply for power. Work deemed immediately essential to the war effort shall be continued, as will civil defence and work required for public safety.”
There was another explosion from above as the cabinet digested the news. Austen Chamberlain broke the silence. “Can we open negotiations? I am sure the bulk of the workers do not share the extreme views of their leaders. We could offer a generous compromise; wage increases, relax the rationing restrictions a little. The common man thinks with his mouth and wallet, after all.” The Baron Willoughby de Broke shook his head at the Chancellor. “Food rations cannot be increased- we need to stockpile in case the Americans extend their exclusion zone, and increasing consumption would slow the industrial transfer to Ireland. And who do we negotiate with? Cripps and Lansbury are in gaol already, and both are too cautious to try something like this in any case. I fear that in imprisoning their leaders we have merely cut the first heads off the Hydra.” He paused. “The only Socialist leader we could talk to is the Red Baronet, and what use would that be?”
Tom Lawrence, the security minister, looked up from his papers. “It would of course be quite possible to... remove Mosley from the picture. I have men in Paris watching him. They could arrange an accident easily enough, I’m sure. Shall I see to it?” The Viscount Halifax winced. “Relations with France are frosty enough as they are. Assassinating Mosley on French soil would be the surest possible way to strengthen the hand of those who want France to enter the war against us. It simply cannot be risked.”
“All I can hear is dithering!” Churchill shouted, emptying his glass. “Even in peacetime, a General Strike is a challenge to the State, to the Constitution and to the nation. In war, it is quite simply treason! The conflict is progressing well. The Italians are pushing back into the Veneto, we are holding along the Himalayas, the Arab rebels will soon be dealt with and there has been significant progress in convincing the Russians to re-enter the war. There is no room for compromise- at home, abroad, or anywhere! What is Socialism? It is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, the gospel of envy; its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery!”
Chamberlain shook his head. “Winston, it’s not just the Socialists. That’s the problem. Baldwin, Smith and McKenna are supporting the strike too- and whatever you think of them, you can’t paint the Liberal Conservatives as being revolutionaries. Can’t you see? You said yourself that our military strategy needs time to reverse the problems we encountered over the winter. If we don’t buy time on the Home Front then we may not get the chance to see it bear fruit.”
Churchill made a dismissive gesture. “Come now, who honestly cares about the Whigs? They’re just a bunch of old women. No. No compromise. No surrender. The workers ought not to have allowed themselves to be led by the nose in this shocking manner. They do not respect weakness! We must let them Strike; then, we shall strike ourselves.” There was a general murmur of approval around the table. Chamberlain narrowed his eyes at the Prime Minister. “You seem to have forgotten your own father’s words, Winston.” The Chancellor stabbed his finger at Churchill. “Carlisle, 1899- you speak of being there often enough. ‘If the national Party to which you and I belong is deaf to hear and slow to meet the demands of labour, the result may be that the labour interest may use its power to sweep both away!’ ”
The dull rumble from far above perfectly matched the Prime Minister’s reddening face. “How dare you bring my father into this!” roared Churchill; the whiskey tumbler soared across the room and smashed against the large map of the world on the far wall. “Do you take him for a coward? He was never one to flinch from a fight. Look at the miners’ strike in ’02. He would have followed exactly the same course as me!”
Chamberlain raised his eyebrow and removed his famous monocle. “And what of my father’s legacy in this, Winston?” he asked icily. “He was just as concerned with the condition of the workers as your father was. But it is futile to argue on this. We risk destroying everything they ever accomplished, Winston- everything! Not just by the aerial bombs of the Luftstreitkräfte, but by the raised fists of the workers- and the truncheons of the constabulary.”
The Prime Minister glared at the Chancellor. “You are using their memory as an excuse for inaction, Austen.”
“And you are using their memory as an excuse to act.”
“No. You do not understand. I don’t know if you ever did. There must be no surrender. You wish to compromise with the Reds; in that case you are the one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last. Go if you wish. I shall continue regardless.”
Chamberlain sighed. “You are a fool, Winston. A stubborn fool. If you try to confront the workers, you will lose, you must know that. Why fight to the death against your own people? I will have no part of this. You shall have my resignation letter in the morning.” The Chancellor picked up his papers and rose to leave. Several others around the table moved to join him. “Goodbye Winston. Destroy the country at a whim, if you choose.”
The remaining members of the Cabinet watched them leave. Churchill stared at the door for a while, and then sighed heavily. “So be it. We cannot be blown off course. This nation will not capitulate, whether to German, Chinaman or to Red. The strikers are acting treasonously, and will be dealt with accordingly. The army will break the pickets, and the rest can see how they like breaking rocks on Orkney.” Halifax made to speak, but the Prime Minister held his hand up to stop him. “That is the end of it. No more discussion- as Mr Lincoln said, ‘Seven nays and one aye; the ayes have it’.” There was another rumble from above. Churchill gazed at the door again, and then pulled a pen from his pocket, adding his signature to a piece of paper. “My friends, you can measure a man's character by the choices he makes under pressure. I have made my choice. History shall judge.”
Wow...that single prologue was more awesome and dramatic than the entire "A Greater Britain"!
I love the suspense and all the dramatic changes!! this will surely come handy with my own TL on British politics...
Wow, things sound really dark in Britian... (China, allied with Germany, invading India! ) Really good start, Ed.
Ooo very good. Lots of promise in that prologue.
I agree. Was wondering who we were holding the Himalayas's again but it sounds like Russia is a defeated ally we wish to bring back into the conflict. Wonder what the status of Japan is in this world. Also the impact of the American exclusion zone, which also sound unpleasant for Britain.
However sounds very bad with Winnie on a suicide mission and likely to bring the country down with him. Not good as well when you have a 'security minister' openly proposing assassination and the objection is basically "we won't get away with it".
This sounds a very grim world for Britain and likely to get worse.
Welll you've certainly grabbed my attention that's for certain. It looks as if it might not be the happiest of endings but it should certainly be a fascinating story.
I'm not sure I could express the awesomeness in that with simple words. Instead, I will inform you that I am salivating at this moment.
Glad everyone enjoyed that- shall be back to the PoD and the main tale next, although you'll get to see what happens to Britain (and indeed Churchill) at the end...
It's certainly not great for Britain, or the Empire for that matter; the war hasn't gone brilliantly, although it's more likely to be a peace of (British) exhaustion then a Sealion-style knockout.
Churchill always did have a stubborn streak- and ITTL his relationship with his father plays up a few more of his character flaws and even creates some new ones. He has something of an inferority complex ITTL for example. And yes, the Government is a little contemptous of democracy, which doesn't help matters particularly. I think the British poltiical scene of the 1930's can be safely described as 'stale'- how it got to this point is explore a little in the TL, although a fair bit of it comes in the period between the end of the main narrative and the period seen in the previous part.
Russia is indeed a defeated Ally. FWIW Japan is a (partly) undefeated Ally, while the Americans are neutral but leaning against the British. All of which means that the British aren't in the best of positions...
Next part will be up on Friday by the way, then hopefully every friday after that!
Very vivid and an interesting way of telling the story...
Though if we know that things are going to end up bad for Britain, won't that colour our perceptions when you go back to write about Randolph's career?
On reflection, I don't think the Chinese pushing down through the Himalayas sounds terribly likely. I would expect them to drive into India in the relative lowlands on either sides, in the two regions which the PRC and the Indian republic fought later in OTL: modern Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Going through the Himalayas would be a logistical nightmare and then you've got Nepal and its Gurkhas to deal with. Of course, I suppose those two regions could technically be said to lie in the broader Himalaya area, especially from the vaguer view of Englishmen, but...
Ah, but he wouldn't be acceptable as Foreign Sec, not in this period. Not aristocratic, and too 'unpredictable'.
The situation looks pretty rum at the moment. A Willoughby de Broke in Cabinet?! Opposition leaders imprisoned? Dear god, what kind of tin-pot party is this that has been created?
Is this a Wilhelmine Germany we're talking about here? Somehow I suspect it is...
Smashing stuff, do continue.
I just noticed that Neville is not mentioned as being present. If there's one good thing to come out of this, then that must surely be it. With any luck he's still managing a fruit plantation in the Carribean.
I'm actually going to go back to 'book excerpts' for the rest, but it's meant to set the scene slightly... In terms of colouring perceptions, Randolph's career actually ends many years before the mid 1930's and on a high- the epilogue will make this aspect clearer, but the parts set in the 1930s are meant to show how ossification sets in and the children squander the legacy of their fathers, if that makes sense.
In OTL terms, it's a bit like following Attlee's career, finishing in 1951 and then flashing forward to Callaghan or Foot in the 1980's- all things must pass and all that.
Indeed. Note that Winston said the _Himalayas_ are holding fine- mentioning the rout in Burma and Indochina wouldn't fit well with the point he was making...
Well there is that. Still would be entertaining though! As for Willoubghy de Broke, what's wrong with that? Good aristocratic stock, that. Surprised nobody's mentioned the presence of William Allen and *TE Lawrence for that matter. By the 1930s His Majesty's Government is not the most pluralistic of administrations, that's for sure. Opposition leaders are imprisoned, but I'd note that regardless of their level of popular support they aren't the Official Opposition. They get mentioned in there as well.
As for Germany, all shall become clear in time! It's not quite a direct analogue to anything we saw OTL though.
I see. Not unlike that Lincoln quote Jared is fond of using...
Which'n would that be, Thande?
Speaking of Lincoln quotes, I like that one Churchill pops up with here - very apt and very Churchillian.
'Entertaining' is one way of putting it. 'Probably leading to a gigantic autoritarian reactionary pan-European monocle community' is another.
Well, considering how his daddy (I'm assuming it's his son here) made his name....
OMG you bad sod. I think I know what you're going to do now. Alliance with Wilhelmine Germany, and it'll be a return to 1815-1848, won't it? Which will lead to much the same end result.
Ze Germans, I suspect, are Commies at this point.
Anyway, let's wait and see.
Separate names with a comma.