"Images of 1984" - Stories from Oceania

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Will Ritson, Jun 30, 2008.

  1. Will Ritson Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    This is a project that I've been keen to kick-off for a long time based upon what little is (accurately) known about Orwell's 1984 TL. Apologies if many of you feel that this should be in the movies and books section, however as it is original work using the basis of "1984" as the background, I thought it was more appropriate here.

    The story is going to be based on the theory that the Britain of 1984 is an isolated rogue state, hit by a socialist revolution in the early 1950s, and a subsequent second revolution led by extreme elements of "the party" several years later, culminating in a civil war and the advent of a totalitarian regime.

    The timeline will dispel what I belive to be the myth of 1984 that Oceania is the nation state that Winston is led to believe - a world power made up of the America's and the remnants of the British Empire. Instead it will focus on the Britain as a North Korea style entity; isolated, poverty stricken and corrupt of the core.

    The timeline will tell the story of the rise of "Oceania" in the form of letters, newspaper clippings, diary entries and even popular culture of the 1984 TL, with my updates being spread throughout the TL, building up a picture of the roots of 1984 and detailing the life of the people involved.

    I will make many assumptions that I am sure some of you will feel are inconsistent with the novel, but never mind; as long as it sparks an interest and some debate on the world in which the story is set.

    A few months ago I made a one-off post on this subject that I would like to use as the opening piece. It was in the form of a letter sent to the "Sydney Morning Herald" in the 1984 TL by Harold Wilson, a member of the British government-in-exile in Canberra. I will post it again in a few moments.

    Any feedback and comments, as always, are welcome.
  2. Will Ritson Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    Letter to the Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 18th April 1984


    Your article (16/4/84) highlighted the efforts being made by the United Nations to combat the further development of nuclear weapons by the incumbant regime of the United Republic of England or Oceania, as it wishes to call itself, and focussed on the threat of yet more economic sanctions by the nations of the former British Commonwealth on the old "mother country". Efforts over the last twenty years to return Britain to its place at our family of nations have failed miserably, and I believe that military force is becoming the only option to unseat the regime in London.

    Following the end of the Second World War in 1946 with failure of the Normandy landings and the subsequent Soviet advance to the Rhine, the British people needed drastic change. The election of Mr Atlee in 1948, led to my own first cabinet post, and I believe that I am well placed to comment upon what occured in British Society at that time. The wide ranging nationalisations, and the bankruptcy of the country brought tremendous upheavals to all, something not helped by the relection of Mr Churchill in 1953. The Tory government failed to identify the need for change in 'fifties Britain, and their policies of widespread privatisation and continued rationing led to the General Strike and indirectly to the First Revolution. For your article to blame the current situation on these socialist pioneers is inaccurate and unfair to their memories.

    I was a part of the interim government of 1955-7, but fled the UK after the purges began. The Unions had too much power and this led to the rise of the regime and advent of the Second Revolution. It is crucial to remember that Britain is the only country to have used an atomic weapon against her own people, with the destruction of Colchester during the civil war in 1959.

    Britain today is a country under seige from itself. The people are starving, locked in an artificial world where they are told that they are part of a global empire, not a crumbling nation-state. For all the talk of the Commonwealth, and the reluctance of the United States to ever intervene in Britain, it is sad to say that military action still appears to be a dream.

    Perhaps the recent discoveries of further gas and oil reserves in the North Sea will lead to a proactive international response to the inhumane treatment of the people in the British Isles, but I am growing older and sick of hearing broken promises.

    For twenty-five years the regime has waged war and dicatatorship in the name of socialism upon its own people with little international condemnation. The time to act is now, and whilst I am not advocating a land invasion and the massive cost to life that it will incur, I feel that an air war would bring the country rapidly to its knees. The continued use of the term "Airstrip One" by the regime highlights their fear of attack from the air. They know that as an island they have a great natural advantage, but from the air they are weak, their equipment dated.

    The Commonwealth and the United States must act to save the people of Britain.

    Yours faithfully

    Harold Wilson
    Former cabinet minister, and representative of the British government in exile, Canberra
  3. Kidblast Well-Known Member

    Sep 4, 2005
    I remember this letter Will and thought it was very clever. I will be watching this thread...
    the swede likes this.
  4. Marius Member

    Mar 12, 2004
    I agree with Kidblast, looking forward to seeing more.
  5. Will Ritson Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    From The Times, Tuesday, 2nd February, 1954:

    A Conservative Party panel in the Orpington constituency last night selected Mrs Margaret Hilda Thatcher as their candidate for the forthcoming by-election. Twenty-nine year old Mrs Thatcher is a practicing barrister, and the wife of Mr Denis Thatcher, a prominant Kent business-man. She has a strong pedigree within the party, particularly at Oxford University, where she read Chemistry at Somerville College, and in 1946 attained the position of President of the University Conservative Society. (1)

    The by-election was called following the murder of Sir Waldron Smithers last month. Smithers, a vocal critic of the recent strike action in the north of England, was hit by a broken brick whilst giving an anti-trade union speech in Wigan, Lancashire. He was a staunch advocate for the introduction of anti-communist legislation, and said that the adoption of such last year by Sir Winston Churchill's government was his proudest moment as a member of the House of Commons (2). Smithers was returned by a majority of over 10,000 in the General Election last year, and Mrs Thatcher is expected to win the seat comfortably, particularly as the public raise their concern over the current national emergency.

    Wigan Constabulary, along with support from the newly established Strike Emergency Volunteers, have taken the suspect, a coal miner named Higgson, into custody, as well as arresting a number of further instigators preaching their hate to a crowd, largely made up of the lower orders, at a rugby league football match in the town. (3)

    (1) As OTL
    (2) Smithers died in OTL in December 1954. He was a staunch anti-communist, and advocated McCarthy-like measures in the UK. In the 1984 TL, with the advent of industrial action that leads to the First Revolution, Smithers legislation is readily adopted by a Churchill government that has been narrowly elected in a 1953 General Election. In January 1954, two months into a miners strike in Lancashire, Smithers tried to appease miners in Wigan with anti-communist rhetoric, only to be hit on the head by a brick thrown from the crowd.
    (3) Following the murder of Smithers, the local Police and the newly inducted Strike Emergency Volunteers (think Black and Tans), crack-down on the strikers, resulting in their shooting of 32 civilians gathered at Wigan Rugby League's Central Park Stadium. OK, this is very much a parallel to events at Croke Park during the Irish war, but in this TL is a major catalyst towards the First Revolution.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2008
  6. Talkie Toaster Brony Enabler

    Mar 25, 2008
    Hapsburg Lancashire
    Oh, very very good. Interesting angle on 1984.
  7. Will Ritson Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    Thanks for the feedback.

    I'm reviewing how I post this, as I get the impression that if I continue to post random events that it will be come disjointed and difficult to follow.

    I've decided that I will start, like all good stories do, at the end, followed by the PoD, which I have just about formulated.

    Letter from Arthur Morris, appointed ambassador for the International Cricket Council, to the management committee of the ICC, 30th June 2008 (sent via email)

    Australian Consulate, London

    Dear Sirs

    It with great dismay that I have visited the Oval this afternoon, and I regret to inform you that the ground will require significant investment if England is to host an Ashes series in 2013.

    For all the information that the reconstituted MCC had provided us, nothing could have prepared me for the vision of horror that awaited me in Kennington.

    The ground is derelict and abandoned after fifty years of neglect and violence. It is a far cry from the venue I visted during the 1948 tour, and will require several million dollars of investment to bring it to even the most meagre of standards for international test cricket.

    The interim government here in London are keen to embrace the sporting traditions of the past in an attempt to boost national confidence and identity, and despite the condition of the ground, my first instinct is to urge the council to press ahead with restoration of the venue.

    I will work with my colleagues in producing a more detailed report on the facilities, and will contact you again once we have reached Leeds on Thursday. In the meantime I attach a photgraph of the venue that says more than I ever can about the woeful neglect that has been beaten into this country for three generations.

    I trust that this reaches you.

    Yours faithfully

    Arthur Morris (1)

    (1) This is Arthur Morris, the Australian test cricketer. In OTL he became involved in the administartion of the game in Australia after his playing days, becoming a trustee of the Sydney Cricket Ground.

    In the 1984 TL he continues to be involved as administrator in Australia after the sitaution in Britain deteriorates. As one of the few remaining survivors of a team to tour England, he is chosen to act as ambassador for the ICC in their assessment of England's readiness to host an Ashes series once again.

    As you will no doubt be able to tell, by 2008 Big Brother has fallen...
  8. Will Ritson Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    The Oval, London
    Tuesday 30th June 2008
  9. Tarchon Sodalis

    Mar 27, 2008
    America Medioccidentalis
    This is quite intriguing... keep up the good work!
  10. Will Ritson Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    The PoD

    The PoD:

    Monday, 26th October 1931

    "It's looking pretty disasterous, old chap." Oswald Mosley shook the hand of Jimmy Maxton as he dismounted the train at Birmingham's New Street Station.

    "Aye." replied Maxton, weary from the overnight journey from Glasgow, and not particularly relishing the journey home in a little over four hours time - never mind the General Election tomorrow. "D'ye fear for the party like I dae?".

    Maxton's broad Glaswegian accent brought a sly smile to Mosley's face. A smile that aluded to intelligence, yet was the same as that as a small boy on Christmas morning, yet Maxton found this quite comforting, given the circumstances.

    The Labour party was on the brink of schism. At the call of Mosley, arguably one of the most influential politicians across the party, despite his recent forming of the "new party", and respected by all political hues, Maxton had come to discuss the impending collapse. The pair found a coffee shop on New Street - a venue comfortable for Maxton, yet one with a certain rustic charm that reflected Mosley's idealist approach to socialism.

    "We must, as a unified party, endorse the Birmingham proposals." uttered Mosley suddenly and with a degree of urgency. "I have advocated this economic policy for the party for several years, and we must regroup around it. If the party is to become electable again, we must focus on an attractive economic policy."

    The two sat in silence for a few moments.

    "I'll see what I can dae." shrugged Maxton, shaking his head, but even he knew that economic reform needed to be at the centre of the Labour party policies in the future.

    And so it happened.

    The following day the Labour government was reduced to a small number of seats at Westminster, with Ramsay MacDonald heading a National Government dominated by Conservatives. With his closeness to MacDonald, and mutual respect for Maxton, Mosley began negotiations for his "New Party" to find reunification with Labour, and to strengthen the political influence of the Independent Labour movement from within.
  11. Will Ritson Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    Excerpt from A History of the British Labour Party 1900-1955 by ANW Benn (1987)

    The return of Mosley and reunification of the party - in summary
    The schism formed by the move of MacDonald to a National Government set the Labour Party back several years, and coupled a significant lack of success at the 1931 General Election.

    With MacDonald expelled from the party, it fell to Arthur Henderson to lead Labour into the election, one in which Henderson himself lost his seat. Relinquishing the leadership the following year, Henderson was succeeded by George Lansbury, whose pacifist sympathies were increasingly out of touch with opinion as Germany began to re-arm.

    Behind the scenes, Henderson and Mosley were instrumental in establishing a coherant strategy for the future direction of the party. Mosley spent much of his time studying the development of the Mussolini regime in Italy. Whilst he distanced himself from Facism, there is little doubt that his 1932 publication "Notes on a National Scheme of Public Works" was influenced by the Italian government of that time.

    Following the death of Tom Smith in 1933, Mosley was selected to stand in the vacant Normanton seat in Yorkshire - a by-election that was uncontested - and saw his triumphant return to Westminster, and also a return as an active member of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

    Six months later Henderson returned to Westminster as MP for Clay Cross, but would never again lead his party.

    Mosley, led by his experiences of the Great War, was a strong advocate of an anti-war message, famously standing side-by-side with Churchill in delivering condemnation of Hitler and the re-armament of Germany, albeit in Mosley's case without supporting British re-armament as a solution.

    By the 1935 the party was beginning to see the return of some momentum, and although the General Election of that year was a landslide for the Tory-dominated National Government of MacDonald, it marked the turning of a significant corner for Labour, who obtained 41% of the vote, but due to the system, only attained 162 seats in Parliament.

    Mosley heralded this as recognition of his strategy, and under the new leadership of Clement Atlee, was to extent his influence on the strategic direction of Labour from 1935 onwards.
  12. Strategos' Risk Oriental Orientalist

    Mar 10, 2004
    Okay, so it's a totalitarian state, but wholly self-contained. I guess that's what happened briefly in the new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book.

    I have great expectations for this.
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  13. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person Banned

    Sep 26, 2005
    This has a very good look. I'll keep looking into it. :)
  14. Will Ritson Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    Emmanuel Goldstein
    Emmanuel Goldstein was born in Aston, Birmingham in 1897, the son of a Jewish cabinet maker, a Pole named Lewis Goldstein and his wife Annie (1). The younger of two brothers (Samuel, b. 1895) Emmanuel followed his father into cabinet making, before taking an interest in local politics. During the Great War Goldstein saw action in France, resulting in a minor injury due to shrapnel.

    In 1918, following the war and his return to Birmingham, he joined the Labour party and became a proactive member and strong organiser. Alining himself with the left of the party, he first came to the fore as an worker within Oswald Mosley's campaign to unseat Neville Chamberlain from Birmingham Ladywood in 1924 - Goldstein's home constituency - and played no small part in almost achieving a defeat of the incumbant Conservative. (2)

    Following the campaign, Goldstein became a key part of Mosley's staff, especially during the 1926 campaign that saw the maverick politician become MP for Smethwick.

    By the early 1930s he was beginning to emerge from under the shadow of Mosley and become an instrumental figure in the Labour party in his own right.

    (1) I have taken a certain amount of licence with this. This person did exist - he and his family are listed in the 1901 census. It is purely coincidence that he happened to reside in a constituency contested by Mosley in the 1920s. Any details other than what I can take from the census return are fiction, but it is a great tie-in with this story that an Emmanuel Goldstein existed in such a location at this time.

    Obviously you could query Mosley's relationship with a Jewish politician, but I believe that this is early enough to be before Mosley becomes too influenced by facism and anti-semiticism.

    (2) In OTL Mosley lost by just 77 votes. This is before the PoD.
  15. ninebucks Banned

    Nov 29, 2006
    Wow, I commend you for your research.
  16. Will Ritson Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    It's worth visiting the 1901 census website if you ever need to find any "authentic" characters. The search engine is quite handy, and it only took a matter of minutes to find an Emmanuel Goldstein born around the turn of the century, and all the details of his family. The fact that there was a four year old in a constituency Mosley contested almost thirty years later sold it to me.

    I wonder what he actually ended up doing in OTL?
    Whiteshore likes this.
  17. Talkie Toaster Brony Enabler

    Mar 25, 2008
    Hapsburg Lancashire
    This is clearly VERY well researched. :D

    More please! (When you have the time, obviously:)) I can't wait to find out how the end occurs...
  18. Will Ritson Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    The ascent of Goldstein and the Abdication Crisis
    In 1931 Goldstein began his studies at the University of Birmingham, where he read economics and modern history in the Faculty of Commerce. During his time as a student, which was sponsored by the resurgent Independent Labour Party, he worked as a tireless volunteer at a soup kitchen in the slums of Digbeth, an experience that was to have great influence on his political leanings in the years to come.

    In 1935 he graduated with a first class honours degree, and later that year was elected to Birmingham City Council as a Labour party candidate for the Nechells ward. The following year Goldstein established himself as a rising star of the party at a national level, with his famous speech relating to the Abdication Crisis.

    "...who are we to judge a King on his personal life and relationship. Of course, as a head of state he is accountable to the people he represents, but we should no more judge him than we should our neighbours and our community. The King is as much a citizen as you or I, and as such we must respect his decsion..." - speech delivered to students at the Birmingham Guild of Students, 1936.

    The speech attracted nationwide attention, and from the Tory press strong condemnation - not of his attuitude to the crisis, but of the fact that this man from the lower orders should consider his monarch to be his equal and not his better.

    Emmanuel Goldstein was beginning to make his impact felt.
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  19. Will Ritson Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    Introducing Jones and Rutherford.
    Following the abdication of the King in 1936, Mosley began work on his most ambitious project to date. With his influence within Labour Party secure, he recieved the go-ahead from the National Executive to formulate a strategy to win the next General Election, scheduled for 1940.

    The political direction for the strategy was very much influenced by the Independent Labour Party, who sponsored the work and helped recuit two recent graduates of the University of Manchester, both of whom had received bursaries from the ILP during their studies.

    Bryn Jones was born in Merthyr Tydfill in 1916. Fiery in a character formed as a youth brought up in a coal mining district during the 1920s, Jones won a scholarship to his local Grammar School, and it was during a visit to Cardiff in 1932 that he first encountered Mosley, who was speaking to dockers in the city, and promoting his recent publication of "Notes on a National Scheme of Public Works".

    The 16 year old was drawn to the publication, and could identify with many of the issues and solutions identified by Mosley in the work. He shortly afterwards joined the Labour Party and the Youth section of the ILP.

    As a student he researched the condition of the working classes in Lancashire, and spent two years interviewing working people in the Clifton and Pendlebury coalfields, as well as in the mills of nearby Swinton, and the docks of Salford and Old Trafford.

    James Michael Rutherford or Mick, as he was known, was the youngest of three brothers, and was born in Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire in 1915, three months after his father was killed in France.

    His upbringing was harsh, with Rutherford reminising about how he and his brother would tread for flat-fish in the treacherous sands of Morecambe Bay in order to find a decent meal for the family.

    At fourteen he left school and entered a period of unemployment and occasional piece work in the shipyard or steelworks of the town.

    In 1931, aged sixteen, he was hauled before the magistrate after being caught in possession of a dead sheep which was found inside the sidevcar of his motorbike. Whilst Mick had killed the animal for food, he claimed that he hit it whilst travelling the narrow country lanes around Barrow with his sidecar. Although the suspicions of the police and the magistrate though otherwise, there was no evidence to the contrary, and Mick Rutherford was found not guilty.

    The winter of 1931-2 brought more food and cold problems to the family, and Rutherford, whilst queueing for work outisde the shipyard, was pursuaded to attend a public meeting organised by the local Communist Party, which he subsequently joined.

    Work began to pick up at the steel works, and Rutherford became a key player in the trades union at the works, where within 18 months he had made such an impression that he earned a bursary from the ILP to attend the University of Manchester to study engineering. It ws there that he pursued an active interest in politics, and met Bryn Jones.

    Note: Jones and Rutherford are two of the names mentioned in "1984" as being instrumental in the revolution
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  20. Goldstein By the way, it is Goldstein. Banned

    Jul 25, 2006
    St. Neots, Cambridgeshire, Anglo-Spanish Empire
    Honestly, I've never been very fond of the "Isolated Airstrip One" theory, but I'm enjoying this anyway. Keep it up!