I remember seeing maps in the test thread showing McGovern barely winning a primary against Scoop and then winning 270-268. (bruh)
And the elusive Texan somehow gets shot/impeached/25th'ed in the mid-80s and his VP Paul Laxalt becomes POTUS.
I think its been confirmed that McG will face a primary challenge from Henry Jackson. As for the GOP, I wanna say Reagan but that's too obvious.
Same. Maybe we can change that.

All that of course depends on finding fixed points in what I like to point out is an Ever-Evolving Tapestry. If one goes back to early sketches in the early/mid-2010s, although I don't think I've ever posted any of them anywhere around here, that was back at the phase I was convinced that I'd do a "Ford's Second Term/Democratic Eighties" TL first, the primary presidential protagonist wasn't even George yet. There have already been a variety of soft retcons just in material that's made its way into the McGoverning Thread here, the most noticeable to do with sports and bits of pop culture but also things where, when I sit down and revise chapters for what I hope will be an eventual ebook, details shift and sometimes change outright.

As for things not yet published they take on all sorts of changes. Some have changed already in places I've posted about; others are deliberately up in the air until much closer to chapter-drafting so I can see where the broader Ever-Evolving Tapestry wants to take things; others get altered by strokes of creativity, dissatisfaction, new research data, or simple good luck; and many more have been held much closer to my chest in the last year or two, especially as a particular part of the forum has become less a small community of writers workshopping stuff and more an opportunity to snoop behind the curtain. So there are a variety of potential surprises ahead.

Just for the benefit of all and sundry among the Careful Readers, here's a list of potential GOP presidential candidates for 1976 as of TTL's early 1975, in alphabetical order and grouped by their background (e.g. are they a senator, governor, etc.) Will all of these candidates run? No. But are they potential candidates depending on circumstances closer to the actual election and who else decides to run? Yes.

Governors: John Connally, Daniel J. Evans, Evan Mecham, Robert Ray, Ronald Reagan, Nelson Rockefeller, William Westmoreland

Senators: Howard Baker, Barry Goldwater Sr., Charles Mathias, Charles Percy, John Tower, Lowell Weicker

Representatives: John Anderson, John Ashbrook, Phil Crane

Ex-Nixonians: Melvin Laird, Elliott Richardson

As you'll note that's eighteen names - quite the clown car - and mostly leaves out crank/perennial candidates (with the partial exception of Evan Mecham.) Lot of balls in the air. We'll have to see how that all comes together.

"Moderate" and "Conservative" are a bit tricky here - always remember that the cohesion of what we think of as "Modern Conservatism" was forged in the fires of a specific period of history (e.g. the Cold War); it's been practically all but confirmed that the evolution of The Right has been altered TTL. So we may very well still get a right wing backlash reaction to McGovern-ist Liberalism taking power in the 1980's, but it will look notably different from Reagan's OTL Revolution.

All these are good points. Complex enough that they don't have to be definitive, and also good points.
McGoverning: Helpful Handegg Helpin's Redux
With luck, before I'm out of here for the week, this should fix the issues some folks had getting in to the HANDEGG goodness advertised at the top of the previous page:

With luck, before I'm out of here for the week, this should fix the issues some folks had getting in to the HANDEGG goodness advertised at the top of the previous page:
OJ getting a Super Bowl appearance was one of the major takeaways for me; not sure how that, combined with his playing for the Rams, changes his career, if at all.
So since a lot of positive changes have come about because of George McGovern being elected president do you guys see Puerto Rico becoming a state sooner in this timeline?
I'm still about two thirds into the latest batch of updates and there is one (minor) thing in the appendix I to chapter 18 which, before I finish reading, I thought I should signal:

United States Gubernatorial elections, 1974

Wisconsin: Patrick Lucey (D) def.

Unless Patrick Lucey plays by Russell Long's rules, I think there's something amiss here. :biggrin:
I'm still about two thirds into the latest batch of updates and there is one (minor) thing in the appendix I to chapter 18 which, before I finish reading, I thought I should signal:

Unless Patrick Lucey plays by Russell Long's rules, I think there's something amiss here. :biggrin:
:p that's such a lovely typo I might almost keep it. Who knew the Lucey machine played that rough? I'll rifle back through my notes and see which Republican was supposed to appear in that space.

Hey @Yes whatever happened to the Revenue Reform Act that Galbraith wanted? Did it get passed?

Quick answer: yes. A few fudges and filigrees around the edges as you would expect back in the days when Congress actually passed legislation (what a concept) but in broad terms, and at some political cost (in terms of which Dems lost seats during the midterms), it was passed. Which means that by early 1975 especially, to some degree sooner but especially by then, for the FY76 budget that would take effect later in '75, they can plan on a projected revenue basis in terms of what RRA will bring in. Also on payroll-tax adjustments related to MECA (the Medicare Expansion and Consolidation Act, what the Goldwaterites decry as "socialized medicine" but is really semi-socialized health insurance with some knock-on effects for billing and practice through HMOs.)
Sorry if this is way too late, but how did Ron Paul win a race that he lost by 40 points OTL?
Not @Yes, but OTL that race was in a very Democratic national environment whereas this year it's, well, not. Incumbency is a powerful factor, but I do think that normal variance could carry Paul the rest of the way, especially in a land fertile in conspiracists.
Sorry if this is way too late, but how did Ron Paul win a race that he lost by 40 points OTL?
Not @Yes, but OTL that race was in a very Democratic national environment whereas this year it's, well, not. Incumbency is a powerful factor, but I do think that normal variance could carry Paul the rest of the way, especially in a land fertile in conspiracists.

In this case, Casey takes a federal regulatory position earlier (George's West Wing insiders may be writing off the South for the '76 cycle but George himself doesn't want and can't afford to write off a significant chunk of the Democrats' Congressional majorities, so he plays nice giving Casey a plum post), but the upshot of that is that, in a region where McGovern Derangement Syndrome is an issue (Seventies exurban Houston), Crazy Uncle Liberty now faces an inexperienced Dem and also a more effective AIP candidate (there are a number salted across eastern and southeast Texas in this cycle) who hurts the Democrats worse than the GOP, even Jill Fein does a little better pulling from the far left of the Dems' vote, and Dr. Goldbug gets through. Very different campaign also from the sleek, low-key ganking of Bob Eckhardt delivered by Bush consigliere James Baker a few districts over, with TV ads that promised efficient, limited, moderate government with a smile and plenty of veiled insinuation about the hippie-adjacent Eckhardt. Over in TX-22, in the Seventies, Crazy Uncle Liberty can afford to say the quiet parts a little louder.
McGoverning: Chapter 20
Winter Discontents I: A Long Time in Politics

The proper office of a friend is to side with you when
you are wrong. Nearly anyone will side with you when
you are right.
- Jeremy Thorpe

In politics, guts is all.
-Barbara Castle

A week is a long time in politics.
- Harold Wilson

Jeremy Thorpe had a secret. After years clawing his way up the ladder, the exhaustion of public showmanship, the cruel close hatreds within a small political party, the near misses, the personal tragedy, and with the raw tenacity he had given the effort since the quality press first promised him this day back around the Beatles’ first record and the Profumo mess, at last in the final week of 1973 Thorpe found himself the man of the moment. The fate of the next British government lay in his party’s hands — in his hands — and he had a secret. Endless profiles ran in the Sunday long-forms about how he, that same Jeremy Thorpe, would bend the two big parties to his will. Cometh the hour, the man might too.

It was much to get on with. Fevered meetings with Liberal colleagues. Chauffeured rides to meet with Ted and Harold so they could sort the whole business out because really the Liberals had the country’s best interests at heart, didn’t they? They said it often enough in endless door-knocking and manifestos and earnest presentments that by now it had to be true. Jeremy Thorpe would make that happen. And he had a secret.

It was simple enough. In the British Establishment’s shadow masonry of closeted homosexuals, Thorpe was one of the most flippant and reckless. To quash word of Thorpe’s weekend trysts and rough-trade indiscretions while Thorpe was the darling of young British intellectuals in the Sixties was to join a cottage industry. Ignoring the fact of them squared away his success shanking Jo Grimond for the Liberal leadership. Knowledge of their existence served the security services: they had known first, before the old-boy grapevine ever reached Moscow, which could make Thorpe their catspaw unlike the “Cambridge spies” of the Fifties. Censorship and care in the management of young Jeremy’s secret life let the culturally “cool,” socially liberal Thorpe serve as a counter to the loathed and suspect Harold Wilson.

One story especially dragged along the bottom against the full sail of Thorpe’s career. It centered on a young man named Norman Scott, born Norman Iosiffe, a groom in the stables of one of Thorpe’s landed friends early in the Sixties. Taken with the boyish groom — so the story went — Thorpe had seduced him and passed a patch of time early in the decade with an affair. This might have been just one stage whisper among many, but Thorpe and Iossife-turned-Scott crazed the mold of one another’s lives in dizzy passes of neurotic dysfunction for the rest of the decade, with murmurs of fury and threats of blackmail.

Once, perhaps twice the whole mess had bobbed close enough to the surface that Thorpe’s closest confreres heard terrible musings on how admired Jeremy might dispose of the problem. In the event Scott’s nerve had cracked and the old-boy network slammed down hard the lid of obfuscation. In the early Seventies the matter was quiet, for a time, before changes in personal and national fate summoned its ghost again.

The times and terms were these. The government of Edward Heath, unexpected winner of the last general election in 1970 had, as East End slangsters still said in those days, gone pear-shaped over the course of 1973. In broad economic terms the “Barber Boom” of 1971-72, a long weekend of general uplift named for Heath’s ornithological Chancellor of the Exchequer, was now bust. In January of ‘73 the London Stock Exchange tipped into a decline that became a slow harrowing landslide of collapse. From the wreck of the boom a pall of inflation spread over the landscape as well, when taken together with the dive in growth a vise of recession and the erosion of wealth.

This was the last thing Ted Heath — not the bandleader, as the nation’s comedians reminded Britons from the national refuge of the telly — needed. The first meritocrat to mount the Tories’ greasy pole, a grammar-school boy who was the son of a factory craftsman and a maid, Heath had reached Oxford by hard graft, fought for political notice and the right sorts of friends once there, been an artillery officer on the sharp end of the war, then applied the same fierce brownian motion to build his resume and grab the main chance of the Conservative Party, at that point listless and internally divided, in the mid-Sixties. Britain’s sly mercurial premier, Labour’s Harold Wilson, pilloried Heath as a gray, small man and a trojan horse for reactionaries. But in the wake of the Sixties’ muddled socialism and mad experimentation, it seemed many voters wanted to react: the Tories toppled Wilson’s government in 1970 with an electoral upset.

None of this, however, made Heath another Churchill, or even Harold Macmillan. Solitary as one of Dickens’ many oysters, arch and brittle with pride in his own intellect, peevish and standoffish even with friends, more than anything Heath yearned for a legacy and knew just what he wanted that to be. Since the early Sixties, then as a herald and haggler on SuperMac’s behalf and later as leader of the party, Heath had yearned to lead the United Kingdom into the European Community — Communities if one got technical about it — and dreamed fiercely of a federal Europe with Britain therein.

It was the closest thing to a passion “Selsdon Man” seemed to have, other than perhaps the hours he spent playing classical piano. Heath pursued the European dream with furious effort, sorting out special arrangements with Commonwealth agricultural producers like New Zealand and all too ready to put up with France holding the British to ransom on fees for entry and annualized communal costs. As Labour in opposition drifted and frayed over Europe — the election of that fellow McGovern in the States seemed to encourage left-leaners that better deals might be had from the anglophones — Ted Heath pressed that singular grasping will that had vaulted him from grammar school to the top of the party of Church and Establishment and dragged enabling legislation bodily through the Commons for European membership by just four votes.

Then, so like the man who was almost a kindred spirit — Richard Nixon — at the moment of Heath’s peak it all unraveled. The stock market tumbled; London’s housing bubble deflated; hardships on costs plus poor sales and productivity depressed industry and drove up unemployment, against which the unions demanded only more from a defensive crouch as layoffs gathered steam. Efforts to control inflation dragged at productivity. In an effort to buy time Heath’s government executed what critics right and left dubbed “the U-Turn” — said with an affect as though they’d just stepped in something — trying to buy favors with the unions and shore up social services for the affected. The promise of new trade and prosperity inside the Common Market was delayed by economic upset, but the stiff costs of membership were not. None of this soothed Heath’s dyspeptic soul.

On reflection it was the bloody embargo that tore it. The Heath government had aggressively refused aid and comfort to either side in that damnfool war, and turned a shoulder just as cold to the Americans’ requests for allied support for their own measures — since the loss of his political kinsman Nixon, Heath had folded in ever more on his own pettiness. Yet the Arabs closed the taps on Europe as well as the States, and this brought everything to a head. A hamfisted rationing of energy through power cuts and shortened work weeks, instead of breeding a sense of wartime solidarity, deepened division and gloom. The economic and physical shortcomings of the fuel crisis stabbed at the boundless metropolitan-English capacity for gloom squarely under the third rib, as suburbanites and scribes alike thought it had all just been keeping up appearances since the war and now the jig was up.

Farther down the rungs of political economy there was grim purpose. As hewers and haulers of Britain’s greatest domestic energy resource, the National Union of Mineworkers seized the moment against the long arc of industrial decline. They’d have a pay raise above the tide of inflation, thanks, and the walking-back of planned cuts in the nationalized industry. Firebrands on the left, nationalists now on trade, decried Heath’s sole joy the Common Market. The Americans seemed to prefer talking to Bonn and Tokyo about what came next. Faced with anxious — and ambitious — colleagues in Cabinet, the premier reached into his wide gift for taking things personally and found his quality.

As the days dwindled into December, Heath sought a decisive stroke. He called a snap election, the miners his target. The theme for his campaign was the slogan, “Who Governs Britain?”

He did not like the answer. In fact only one voter in five actually liked it much because it seemed to be, “No One, and If You Want to Try You’ll Have to Ask the Liberals.” The “Boxing Day Vote” (really held the 27th as British general elections fall by custom on Thursdays, but the tabloids true to form favored catchphrase over fact) was a wash. Neither of the major parties, Labour nor Conservatives, had a majority or really anything close enough with which to govern alone.

While the Tories snuck the popular vote plurality by a whisker, Labour votes were better distributed among constituencies, which gave them a Commons plurality of three hundred seats. There were clutches for Celtic nationalists of several stripes and a true snarl in Ulster, itself the subject of some comment from Dimblebys and Days and Frosts and such. But the decisive element was that the Liberal Party with fierce late effort and crucial desertions from the Tories in parts of Scotland and suburbia, entered the new Parliament with eighteen seats. This was enough, in the vote’s ragged arithmetic, to call the tune.

Heath answered first: he meant to hang on grimly as government’s caretaker, and until he’d had a good wheedle with the Liberals it would have taken explosives to pry loose his grip on Number Ten. The prime minister no more cared for the substance of Thorpe’s secret than he did anything else to do with sex, which was not at all. The only conjugation that moved him was coalition government. For that Thorpe, in his element with dear Edward — the venality of power and public regard — had a twofold price.

The first was a European crusade — it was Thorpe’s Liberals, in even smaller numbers then, who’d gotten Heath over the touch line on the European Communities Act. Now the yellow rosettes wanted a thorough renegotiation of the terms on which Britain had entered, along with a solid, public push to replace Brussels’ bland bureaucrats of butter with the European peoples’ democratic representatives. The second price was a royal commission to develop legislation for vote reform, followed by a New Reform Act on proportional representation by a whipped vote.

All that was a bit rich for Ted’s tea. To be undercut in Europe by junior partners so soon after his moment of triumph was bad enough. But as the Conservative Party bled voters in the Liberals’ direction no elder of Heath’s tribe would look him in the eye if he went along on Alternative Vote. This dovetailed with a grimmer question of pure math: even a blue-yellow coalition that worked would come in five seats short of a majority. They could nab exactly that if the government went to the lately-battered Ulster Unionists who had come off poorly in December. That involved a road the arch self-righteous Heath never would walk down: to the Unionists’ leader Enoch Powell, who Heath had sacked from his own shadow cabinet over Powell’s now-infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech with such acrimony that the two men had not spoken a word to one another in the years since. This was more than even Heath could bear.

Harold Wilson, the most implacable — and, when his best face was forward, the most skilled — opportunist in British politics, tucked his pipe into his jowls and considered the situation. For his shadow-cabinet colleagues, the backbench multitudes, the wide horizon of rank and file, Labour was more tribe and spiritual practice than political party. Coalitions were taboo: old hands who’d been idealistic youths in the Thirties, and later generations raised in Hampstead and Huddersfield alike, all knew the tale of the great Judas, Ramsey MacDonald, and what such shotgun marriages did to the Forward March of Labour. At the same time as meager a man as Ted Heath at the head of the Tories — the Tories, now — had cut that march off at the knees in 1970. Even now Labour could thank prodigious vote distribution for its chance to hold more seats with fewer votes. In the dour, many-halled mansions of his political outlook Wilson saw all that plainly.

What mattered, said ‘Arold in his best Yorkshire rumble to the strident souls who shared his front bench, was whether you wanted to govern. Ship the Liberals aboard and you could govern now, no half-hearted muddle shuffling of to another vote when the damned country couldn’t even make up its own mind and liked none of Westminster’s above. Probably you could carry on about two years if need be, less of course if advantage showed her lovely head. You looked broadminded also. Fair. Country ahead of party, or even the Labour Movement.

The radical sorts in the Young Liberals, the ones who voted on party candidates, were halfway to Labour already. So plunk down Thorpe somewhere he could chatter without harm at the Cabinet table, use the Liberals as both shield and distraction, get some things done. Then when time came, dissolve Parliament and the country would know who’d made the running. Voters would remember both when the Liberals had helped Labour and when they’d been in the way, qualities in which each different sort of Liberal voter could find something to dislike. That’d cut their numbers at the polls and swing Labour back to a majority.

While he peddled that line within the party, outside the rose-covered ramparts Wilson simply sat down with Jeremy Thorpe and let the fellow talk. If you let Jeremy bang on long enough, he could convince himself of damned near anything that might gratify him personally. Wilson for example was happy to have allies — political cover — for renegotiation of the Common Market deal. The simple fact of not being Ted worked wonders there.

As for electoral reform, Wilson stepped in to Thorpe’s tide of words long enough to lay out a detailed commission, membership suggestions, witness lists, calendar. Shell games were ‘Arold’s stock in trade, no man in British politics better at a confusion of motion that either absorbed or disaffected an audience while he got up to what he really meant unseen. In the Liberal spirit of democracy, Wilson added between puffs on his pipe, he’d take Thorpe’s view on a whipped division to Conference, let the curia of Labour chew it over first. Then he let Thorpe dangle, in the nervy middle distance, so far into the moment where power might be Thorpe’s to have, just shy of his party’s destination.

Thorpe carried on down baroque hallways of thought about the balance between constituency activists and new voters, until Wilson paused to repack his pipe bowl and gave the final nudge. I’d thought you might like Foreign Secretary, said the Labour leader. Thorpe and Heath had talked over the Home Office instead, dear to Liberal Party reformist hopes. But the Foreign Office, where Thorpe could jut out his chin for the photos as a man of ideals, splash across the quality papers on Europe and vexing the racists of southern Africa, wear beaver hats in Moscow and mug for BBC World Service, most of all blather at anyone not swift enough to walk away at first glance, all this Wilson knew was too rich a prize to forswear.

Again one of the most skilled and least principled men in the nation’s politics bet on the horse to come in just as he’d figured it then walked off with the winnings. While Thorpe’s members fidgeted over the reform vote, Thorpe pressed them like a Welshman at chapel on the chance for two years governing until they wore down. So it was at New Year’s Harold Wilson got back into a Bentley for the short ride up The Mall to Buck House where he would kiss the hand and govern again. Thorpe, forever keen to be adored at any opportunity, announced the pact before a meeting of Young Liberals and was cheered up to the rafters. While Jeremy-of-the-secret exulted, ‘Arold sat down with his typist turned consigliere Marcia Falkender and disposed the Cabinet.

Wilson handed the Foreign Office to Thorpe secure in the belief that Oily Jeremy would, thereby, do the least harm. There would be a junior post or two for rank-and-file Liberals of distinction, while ‘Arold would even chance making that elfin striver young David Steel the Secretary of State for Scotland as a public show that the Liberals were not just window dressing. The big, polymath bruiser Denis Healey would move in next door to Wilson at Number Eleven as Chancellor of the Exchequer, where Healey’s sheer intellectual and physical bulk and capacity to browbeat and bully might keep the mandarins in line.

The ruddy-cheeked, smiling backstabber Jim Callaghan would act as deputy leader when Wilson revived the Labourite novelty of a First Secretary of State, and also tackle the Home Office — dealing with Northern Ireland for his sins — as ‘Arold kept friends close but Callaghans closer. Wilson’s former heir Roy Jenkins, who had craved the Foreign Office in his donnish marrow, became Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons, in effect stage manager of the coalition. It made sense; Woy always had a special feeling for the Liberals, Wilson remarked with the dry knife edge he brought to many of his political opinions.

From there the rest played out. Though it was a bother and a drain on him, a grey occupation without relief, Wilson would tackle Europe himself with Thorpe strictly a show pony. The anti-Europeans of the party, old colleagues from Bevanite days, could run many of the briefs for economics and social security, but never would be left unsupervised on European issues. That rakish administrative maven Tony Crosland, who wanted an economic ministry quite badly, would be sent to Defence for his trouble where Wilson hoped Crosland would sulk in perfunctory memos and leave well enough alone. The remainders were favors, patronage, details. Now he could get on with Europe, the economy, figuring out what exactly George McGovern’s rather curious crowd in Washington wanted. One damned thing after another, as ever.

From the proud Italianate towers of the Foreign Office the view was different. Jeremy Thorpe had, at last, the grand stage of his life’s desiring, what everyone who was anyone had told him he deserved. The chance to matter, to be the most significant Liberal leader since Herbert Samuel, perhaps Lloyd George. And he had a secret, the festering: persistent, damnable secret. As the long arcs of pride and precarity threatened to cross in the high moment of Thorpe’s career, Thorpe paced the grace-and-favour lodgings at his ministry and thought dread thoughts on how to make his shadows go away.


The wait at Heathrow was both long and dull, as it tended to be. Peter Shore watched the VC10, lean, fast long-distance runner for the lately formed flag carrier British Airways, land and taxi very close to schedule. The Shah had offered Shore’s guest free passage on Iran Air but both Shore and his guest had agreed that while it would give excellent comfort it would also be very poor form, so Shore had rummaged his own pockets for first-class fare this way. Time piled up while the aircraft waited on the byzantine tarmac movements of smaller jets to clear a path for an appropriate gate. This burned away an enervating twenty minutes, a reminder of the work to be done on so many fronts. Fronts that included the one for which Shore sought to leverage photographers and comment today. Then the aircraft found its gate and spilled out passengers; it was time.

This little exercise in contrived publicity was a filip for eight months’ hard slog but also more than that. It was meant to show the public and Labour’s faithful what Shore sought to build — a renaissance of British industry taken up by the guiding hand of the state, effective, profitable, resilient, most of all industry that could stand free of the costly shackles of the Common Market with which Ted Heath had bound the nation.

Shore’d say so, too, given a reporter who could hold the tape recorder still for long enough. He was a talker, reckoned with good reason among the Commons’ great speechmakers, not given to pass up a chance to rail against what he saw as the European delusion. Lean and from the right angle striking, Shore had swotted his way up the Oxbridge path from a middle-class childhood to become an Apostle at Cambridge, marry the daughter of a noted historian, move in the right circles — indeed he looked far more like one of the nation’s defining satirists, the likes of Goons or Pythons or especially That Was The Week That Was, rather than a Labour MP.

Shore’s idiosyncratic — some said eccentric — brand of left-nationalism was matched to his departmental brief: Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, yet another reorganized Labour super-department built around the productive bits of the economy. Harold Wilson had shunted the enthusiastic Tony Benn aside from shadow-cabinet responsibilities for industry to handle the Energy portfolio instead, while Wilson also built in a jealous rival for Shore with Tony Crosland, denied the economic ministry in favor of Defence. Wilson had hoped, too, that the large and quite public tasks at Trade & Industry would pinion Shore with the spotlight, circumscribe Shore’s actions with his every movement observed and described, accountable to Cabinet colleagues. Not for the first time Wilson had underestimated Shore’s self-possession.

Shore wasted no time before he lit out after what often seemed, with ‘Arold still about, a radical notion: making Labour’s platform a legislative reality. To that end he worked with, wheedled, flattered, manipulated, and cajoled the Leader of the House of Commons with surprising skill; Woy was perhaps the most Europhile man in the Cabinet, maybe in Labour, and a natural foe of anything that looked to much like autarky or of an anti-European bent. So the effort to press ahead on party-platform industrial policy for purely socialist reasons took a good deal of indirectness, understatement, and occasional subterfuge.

That said, Shore had refused to waste a good crisis. One of his first moves in the full flush of coalition government was to legislate into being a National Enterprise Board, as laid out in the party platform. A centerpiece of government planning and industrial renovation, the NEB was to see over, assess, and as needed take control of foundering corporations in any of several dozen lines of economic activity, in order to make them commercially viable again or in a few cases put them on an effective form of life support in order to prevent crucial job losses in depressed regions. Shore had sold the Cabinet on the NEB’s ideological top billing, the need to show the country as well as the business community and the financial markets that Labour meant what it said about planning a path to economic reflation and recovery.

Shore came first at the large beasts of the fields. Emboldened by the fact that now even the Americans, too, meant to have a thought-through and joined up industrial policy, Britain shouldn’t spare haste to take its leading industrial prospects in hand. In the first six months of the new Parliament Shore had fused together the aircraft manufacturers into a unified British Aerospace entity, both sole and nationalized. Indeed he’d logged the miles in a VC10 very like the one just landed to win contracts for civil aircraft abroad: while there were moments of uplift in the Commonwealth and idiosyncratic Romania, the big prize covered some of the greatest distance as the Maoists’ stolid and unitary Civil Aviation Administration of China signed on for no fewer than sixty of what had been Hawker Siddeley’s Tridents in two types. Shore pressed one hand to wash the other as well, badgering Denis Healey on financial-services surcharges and Eric Varley over at Transport to generate funds for the new British Airways to buy the nation’s own short- and medium-range haulers likewise, all to help generate capital for a new generation of commuter aircraft on the draughtsmen’s boards.

It had taken longer but now — in the three weeks just past — Shore had Britain’s broad, hallowed, but rickety shipbuilders in hand also. That was legislation of almost theological complexity: the British Shipyards construct Shore had wrangled with Woy and the Attorney General Peter Archer and the relevant constituency MPs in their battalions was really a nationalized holding company, to be managed by the triune forces of Shore’s own brief, the NEB, and an advisory board drawn from both the yards’ formerly-private owners and the unions. What had been the old companies of note — your Yarrows and Govans and Swan Hunters and Cammell Lairds and the like — would serve as sub-units in a larger nationally strategized scheme of production. Shore’s goal was to specialize, different yards each with a distinct national role rather than in competition, and for that he’d had to shutter a pair of subsidiary yards already one of which sent twitterpations up no less than Foreign Secretary Thorpe’s leg. Not an easy task then — he had the intimation of a hunch that Cammell Laird might be the death of him, feeding them enough capital for life support so that Merseyside did not rise as one against him was a terrible net drain — but necessary for a viable industrial future.

These were just first steps, of course, the first cards of a hand. Shore had forestalled nationalization in the electronics sector for the moment but pushed enabling clauses for the NEB to set up advisory boards for commercial assessment and financial support — grants and loans — in different electronics fields. One of the toughest nuts would be the specialty steel producers: left out of the half-baked and chuntering British Steel nationalization during Harold Wilson’s previous ministry, the specialty mills had distorted the market in their favor and in the process hobbled the commercial adaptability of the public forges and roller mills. Shore wanted the full caboodle brought into public ownership, but wrangling over valuation and Common Market regulations proved thorny. He hoped, half-hoped at least, today’s stroke might generate momentum on steel as well.

This, though, today, was the grandest of targets. The white whale — or as his departmental private secretary had cautioned, perhaps a white elephant instead. Newspapermen and backbencher liked to bandy about the figure of a million jobs; when you got into the weeds of sub-contractors, sales and marketing, subsidiaries, that was not too far off. British Leyland was the unholy homonculus of Britain’s automotive industry, a “domestic champion” kitbashed together by Tony Benn late in the Sixties from the largest British-owned players in the field. The grandest entity in UK heavy industry, the indispensable corporation.

Intended as Frankenstein’s creature to quote poetry and bestride the world, instead BL operated like the work of a drunken taxidermist, with its management snarled in scattershot structural fancies like an Escher drawing, its overexuberant product range often in competition among its own divisions. Those divisions were balkanized as well: Austin and Morris still feudalized and at war with one another though they’d been merged early in the Fifties, other divisions remote, wary, and woe to the junior manager, designer, or lineman who switched factories from one to another. Now, in the grey contemporary skies of the Seventies, also riven by industrial discord, walkouts and wildcat strikes, shoddy build quality that verged into occasional sabotage, woeful logistics, fratricidal badge-engineering, with no unitary structure or direction from the top.

Shore had laid British Leyland’s mess squarely in the National Enterprise Board’s lap as soon as law let them assemble; to his satisfaction they’d responded with vigor. In three months the NEB sized up the issues, pored over BL in detail, and produced a summary report with strategic suggestions for Parliament’s review that, Shore noted, did and said more or less exactly what he’d sought from it. Comprehensive managerial and structural reorganization, establishment of participatory and executive structures for industrial democracy, streamlining operations and brand development, most of all a form of nationalization designed to revamp the business so it could buy its way back into the private sector with the fruits of modernized success.

Indeed Shore brandished the stiff multi-year investment bill now presented to the government — north of two billion quid when you factored inflation — as a talisman. In return for the phased investment capital BL needed to revise and retool plus the purchase of golden shares in corporate governance, Shore meant to phase in a repayment plan out of projected profits starting four years into the plan. The NEB had its marquee project, and in time HMG would make money on the deal.

At the top of the playbill came today’s dog and pony show. Part of the NEB judgment included a demand for new leadership. The current board including its boss, who numbered among them boardroom friends of the Prime Minister, would be put out to pasture in ancillary positions, not strictly sacked but certainly neutered. In their place would come dynamism and when the NEB worthies sat down with Shore in the latter’s office to sort their way through possible names, he’d settled on one quite firmly.

The flashbulbs clattered as Peter Shore waited, chauffeur and Special Branch detective in tow, by the gangplank from which George Turnbull emerged. Tall, smartly dressed, and bespectacled, by the standards of most management bods Turnbull even passed as telegenic with that chiseled smile. A rare beast among postwar British industrial leaders, Turnbull had come up through the practical side of the business, apprenticed young as an engineer and, after a B.Sc. taken in Brum, worked his way up Triumph’s career ladder by dint of legitimate achievement. After the grand merger of the late Sixties, as a high flyer, Turnbull had been handed a job intended either to make or scupper him — the jury at the time had been out on what drove the move.

Given the Austin Morris division to run, the most balkanized, bolshie, and ramshackle in BL’s whole confused panoply, Turnbull had not only whipped it into shape but produced two full new sedan models in record time and turned the first profit for the division since before the BL merger. Then rewarded with the corporation’s safest profit engine — the Leyland trucks and busing division — Turnbull had not tarried. The latest of a series of reorganizations piqued him wrong, as it advanced his bitterest rival to the number-two spot on the corporate ladder, and just as soon as he’d been hailed as the future Turnbull was off to Iran. There he’d been commissioned by the Shah himself to overhaul Iran’s domestic automotive producers, especially their licensed knock-down production of Hillman models, and also the logistics and parts chains thereof. It was another success and there had been talk of him taking over one of the Iranian outfits to design and produce an indigenous Iranian vehicle, but with some real effort Shore had wooed Turnbull home.

The two men tarried long enough to smile briefly and make a handful of pat remarks for the disheveled press mob, but then made off — to a racing-green Rover 2500, as Shore’s hand with public relations would have it — for more detailed conversation out of view. At British Leyland itself opinions varied on the NEB and Shore’s dispensation. In some quarters, especially at Austin Morris, a “WINSTON IS BACK” mood prevailed among folk who saw Turnbull as a bright prospect. But he was an ambitious man, some said downright Machiavellian, and the earlier whispers in those quarters of satisfaction at his departure were reversed by his return. The managerial, sales, and marketing populations especially were less than enthusiastic about an engineering and design man at the top.

For Shore and Turnbull, on the ride from Heathrow to Shore’s ministerial offices prior to a confab with the NEB and press release, talk was all business. Shore asked after Turnbull’s readiness for frank talk with the NEB: you can speak to the build program succinctly, then? he asked.

Turnbull nodded neatly: nothing at all to slow the move to SD1 and SD2 on schedule — Turnbull referenced the “quality” sedans on the drawing board for Rover and Triumph respectively. Giovanni Michelotti’s proposed a revised second generation for the Dolomite and we should proceed, especially if research gets us the increased efficiencies with the inline-four. We could just about wangle a fresh export from that.

You have chapter and verse on ADO88? Shore added. “ADO88” was British Leyland’s in-house code for the development of a new “supermini” in the Austin Morris division, meant to supplant the legendary Mini and compete with the wave of new superminis soon to pour forth from Ford Europe, Volkswagen, Fiat, Renault, possibly Opel.

Your people, said Turnbull with a quick smile, were kind enough to provide full photography on the clay models while I was still in Iran. We will sit the board down with the research bods and select two for test development. My own goal is full sail, we should press for ADO88 to market by ‘77 or shouldn’t be in the business.

A brisk tempo, said Shore, not displeased.

You brought me in for ADO88, Turnbull said matter of factly, for the ability to give Austin Morris a bit of stick. We shouldn’t stop there either. There are a few people I want to hire in to the organization for a second project, we need to get beyond the Marina and I believe they can make a very specific sort of contribution.

There’s discretion in your brief, said Shore. Practical questions with such matters will always run to money.

Turnbull nodded — I intend to maximize whatever we can get from Parliament. Also to trade on concrete proposals with the commercial banks. There are … arrangements we may be able to reach with the Shah and his lenders also, dependent on the future of those Hillman marques in the Iranian market. We can offer him some attractive alternatives.

Those options sound as though they’ll suit the job, Shore replied. Anything that showed how much greater a national economic return on investment the UK could derive from its own resources and trading partners outside the Common Market, as opposed to the danegeld of Communities membership, was welcome in Shore’s book.

We should talk up the practical matters also, added Turnbull. How we get a better quality of structural steel. How we sort out some form of academy or extension training for mechanics to handle the new engines. Rationalizing sales branch. Cost-based assessment on whether to chuck non-automotive subsidiaries. How we haggle for better quality of cabin-interior materials.

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pressed on: and industrial democracy?

I don’t believe we ought to restrict ourselves to counting board memberships, Turnbull replied. It’s very well and good to create executive representation, certainly we can do some of that. I’m more interested in some of the approaches the Americans are on about now. Teams of workers on the shop floor who manage their own productivity. There at the level that lies below even shop stewards. Go to the men directly for problem solving and efficiency, in cooperation with management.

I feel certain we can explore the full range of approaches, said Shore. He could see Turnbull’s desire to work around the stewards, who’d been the centurions of roiling labor unrest at British Leyland. Whether that approach, even with innovative assembly collectives on the factory lines, could be sustained under a Labour government was another matter. And, Shore thought, a matter for another time. Plans and funds first, then details.

Shore went on: they’ll want a summing up for the press. A statement of strategy, of intent. Though Shore did not say so aloud he hoped for something that stressed the indelibly British nature of the project, and the British rewards they hoped to reap.

Moments after Shore brought up the parting shot, as the Rover wended its way along the Hammersmith Flyover of the A4, a Ford Cortina swung out into the passing lane, windows down enough for a cassette tape of electric guitar to bedazzle in the wind, as the Cortina roared past in a fume of leaded gasoline.

Less of that, for starters, said Turnbull.


They sat down to talk amid the tidy, graceful Neoclassical modesty of the Palais Schaumberg, the Bundeskanzler’s official residence, in a working room that overlooked the grounds, tall windows open to the late September breeze. The two men, who smoked like the chimney stacks of the Ruhr, both were well over a pack into the day’s work. Each being given to philosophical reflection as well, they appreciated the chance for quiet, away from flash bulbs and aides and ministerial formalities, in a still room simply furnished, a wall of books behind them.

Anthony Crosland spoke first. After a quick drag and with the slightly louche spread on a narrow smile that he showed when engaged in humor, Crosland asked his host, Have you penciled Maier in yet for his National Order of Merit?

It was a bit of fun: though he was a public-school Oxonian who’d grown up in Highgate, Crosland was a devoted football fan. West Germany’s legendary keeper, Sepp Maier, had redeemed the host nation’s hopes in the recent FIFA World Cup when he kept a clean sheet against a gifted and relentless young Dutch side that earned Die Mannschaft, on a late counter from Holzenbein, third place in the tourney.

West Germany’s recently ensconced Bundeskanzler, Helmut Schmidt, smiled drily himself. Second Class perhaps, said Schmidt; some of us had rather hoped for better. My predecessor — Schmidt meant Willy Brandt, the vast, mythic, and now somewhat tragic eminence of German social democracy, undone at last by the treason of an aide but beyond that by sheer weariness of the world — has chalked up the Poles’ triumph to a victory for Ostpolitik. We each have our frames of reference.

As the breeze licked up a bit from outside Schmidt nipped a quick breath on his cigarette and took the lead. When I heard you were coming over for a tour of British Forces Germany — Schmidt leaned a little on the right armrest of his chair which put him closer to Crosland — I thought this would be an excellent time to sit you down. And not just so Loki — Schmidt’s wife Hannelore, his boyhood sweetheart, who was a junior government minister herself — and Susan could have an afternoon wandering the park to talk ecology. No, this seemed our best opportunity to talk without the … encumbrances of cabinet government about a few issues we have in common.

Schmidt carried on: Tim Hoopes, Cy Vance’s deputy, stopped by at the end of last week also. Of course you saw him at Rambouillet for the talks but he digressed here for an afternoon before he flew home. It was useful. Now that the smaller European partners have chosen General Dynamics’ aircraft he was very pleased with our interest in Northrop’s F-17. He’ll speak to Congress in favor that Northrop and Dornier should explore licensed production over here.

Now don’t worry, Schmidt mollified. We are committed to the Panavia project, to Tornado — I understand you saw the test flight? But really that’s enough for MBB to get on with, if Dornier have plenty of work also then we have the bosses, the bankers, and the machinists’ unions happy. A bit of military Keynesianism among friends — Schmidt puffed his cigarette and kept on. Also if we build both aircraft we can be rid of the bloody Witwenmacher that much sooner — here Schmidt referenced the ill-starred Lockheed F-104 whose handling in flight had killed more Luftwaffe pilots than anything since the Eastern Front.

Schmidt added: Hoopes said additionally they’ll bring over one of our Leopard 2 test beds for competition with their new tank design — though of course they won’t buy foreign — and that they’ll put our MTU diesel in their end product for NATO commonality — which they will do, more than we might have hoped. Alles gut gegangen, then.

With another puff the Bundeskanzler played the gracious host: I don’t mean to talk over you on your brief as Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for Defence. Since it used to be my own over here I’ve kept up an interest. This surely crossed over conversations you had in Paris, but Hoopes repeated from Cy Vance that the administration understands us on the Pershings, that we mean what we say or at least intend to get SS-20 cut down by way of exchange.

Yes, said Crosland in reply, we did have conversations to that effect.

Schmidt’s point was this: the Americans intended to replace their present medium-range nuclear missile in West Germany, the Pershing I, with a much-evolved system simply called Pershing II. If blueprints measured up in production, Pershing II’s computer-targeted warhead would be one of the most accurate ever built. A missile body of woven kevlar with other synthetics, along with a much lighter-weight warhead, would give it range well into the European Soviet Union.

At the same time the Soviets planned to deploy their own road-mobile theater missile, in Moscow’s nomenclature the RSD-10 Pioner, for NATO uniforms the SS-20 “Saber.” It had range to lay Western Europe waste from back beyond the Urals — where many wise European heads believed the Americans might not retaliate for fear of atomic fire rained down on Michigan or Florida. The SS-20s could carry a single one-megaton warhead or, so warned the spy services, multiple warheads that could be “thrown” at independent targets over a hundred miles apart, MIRVed like the great intercontinental missiles for even more assured, solely European destruction.

Schmidt had sat down the American ambassador in Bonn, Tim Hoopes, even Secretary of State Shriver and Clark Clifford in full Rambouillet regalia to lay out Bonn’s line. Simple replacement of US Pershing Is would neither do nor deter, said Schmidt. The US already had offered to replace the Luftwaffe’s two nuclear-missile wings, still armed with “dual-key” Pershing Is code-locked by the Americans until agreement between Washington and Bonn on their use. Washington offered a single-stage version of Pershing II with the short range of the old Is to retool West German capability.

Schmidt insisted at least one of the two wings take on full-cream Pershing IIs. It would raise a hell of a racket in Moscow, Schmidt demurred. No Politburo member who drew breath wanted German hands near the control of missiles that could hit Leningrad, or Moscow. But the chance of this had to be proffered — had to be credible — in hopes Moscow would trade their removal from the board for no MIRVing of SS-20s, or at least brave restrictions on their number.

You’d want then to talk over something like a more coordinated, or at least coherent, European response on intermediate weapons? asked Crosland.

I would, answered Schmidt. But there are several threads we should draw together here, not only that.

Susan warned me in the car coming over, said Crosland with a contemplative nicotine drag. She said Schmidt-Schnauze will have graded my work and woe betide if it’s wanting. The rakish Crosland smile followed.

Now Schmidt smiled with a ruddier humor. “Schmidt the Lip” — in German Schnauze was the muzzle of a wolf or big dog that snapped back with wicked acuity when challenged — warmed happily to byplay. Said Schmidt: your wife’s as wonderfully direct as she is observant. I did read the report. I like its candor, also its clarity. Quite often we get too little of either from you British, it leaves we Germans to wonder whether it’s reticence or indecision.

The Bundeskanzler was right enough about what he’d seen. Harold Wilson, when he drew up the Cabinet membership for Britain’s ruling coalition, knocked Crosland’s ministerial arc onto a diagonal and landed him at the Ministry of Defence. Wilson had hoped to disillusion one of the senior professors of Labour’s parliament, who would then sleepwalk the brief. Instead Crosland had thrown himself into the work, especially the full-scope Defence Review due in that same Parliament, first since Denis Healey’s famous go-round in 1966. Far from a rubber stamp, Crosland made to reshape British grand strategy, military dispositions, industry, and research.

Crosland and a trusted clutch of examiners disliked much of what they found in the works as byzantine, parochial, strategically outdated, or ginned up by the Treasury to divide and rule the Armed Forces through bribery. With the same keen eye for levers of power and centers of action he’d brought to controversial plans for sweeping education reform in the late Sixties, Crosland did not intend to glad-hand and go steady. What left Her Majesty’s Stationery Office presses known already as the Crosland Report showed that in full.

The report expressed Crosland’s intense dislike for former imperial entanglements, with an even more thorough withdrawal from “east of Suez” and paring down of the few small remainders thereafter: even the discreet war in Dhofar province on Oman’s behalf would be run on the thinnest of strings. There were cutbacks elsewhere too, a few in the Royal Air Force but larger in the Army and Royal Navy. The report was not made of cuts alone: the Army would gain tanks with a new generation of armor and refigure its combat forces in line with recent French thinking, while the RN would regain small escort carriers and extra nuclear-powered attack submarines. But disposing of battalions and surface ships in job lots summoned every Disgusted in Tunbridge Wells of the right-wing press to fume about lost frigates flogged off to Latin Americans, or cutting the Gurkhas to the bone.

The Crosland Report’s centerpiece agitated a different constituency: Labour’s own unilateralists. Crosland’s central goal was to revamp Britain’s nuclear deterrent so that it gave the greatest possible strategic value. Crosland shut down the byzantine, hidden “Polaris Improvement Programme,” and in its place made technological improvements, changes in strategy, and retargeting centerpieces of his plan. Sharp cuts elsewhere in the Forces would pay for the oft-mooted fifth submarine for the Polaris force, and long-range cruise missiles to reequip the RAF’s Vulcan bombers.

Once complete, Crosland’s deterrent reforms would yield an alert force that could strike many more targets than before, deeper in Soviet territory. Crosland pointed out that, also, the plan would leave Britain with fewer operational warheads than before, in line with proposals for the CART talks at Rambouillet. Britain would also give up the use of US “tactical nukes” in case of wartime; instead British warheads, and the nation’s theater-level weapons, would be British designed and made. Crosland had also spent the summer on a transatlantic commute between London and Washington to revise the language of the Polaris Agreement of 1961. This gave Britain greater freedom to target and control the use of its deterrent. To the unilateralists down the Cabinet table from him Crosland offered two arguments for change: Britain would gain more power over weapons release, and the revamped force would have enough value to be worth Moscow’s time negotiating it away.

Crosland dragged on his cigarette and thanked the Bundeskanzler for his good opinion. Said Crosland: the work needed done and the decisions we took can perhaps lend that clarity we’ve lacked for quite some time. In the end it may prove almost as popular as my ideas for education — to that Crosland gave a wry ironic smile.

Your countrymen, answered Schmidt, would do well for themselves with either and better with both. But as I say, for us today the central issue is Europe which I know, as I am to come over the Channel and speak to Conference in November, has your Labour Party at cross purposes also.

Now Schmidt spoke more expressively, as his cigarette drew whorls and tendrils that sketched trains of thought in the smoke. He picked up again: on Europe, your brief holds a key to Anglo-German coordination on the future of the Communities.

That certainly would be of interest to us, said Crosland. Up to now all roads through the thorns of renegotiation have led through Monsieur le President.

Schmidt smiled again. Remember, Schmidt said, Pompidou is not a permanent fixture. Nor is he made of stone. France has many interests and I will say for the Americans that they’ve discovered how to excite his attention on matters that might be linked favorably to Britain’s situation.

Both men guarded their expressions: neither wanted entirely to give away their own governments’ views on Pompidou’s staying power as the myeloma crept fatally through his system. From Crosland’s point of view it also kept eyes off some rather queer, shaky moments in Harold Wilson’s own health since the summer that might prejudice the Common Market renegotiation that Wilson personally had taken on. Schmidt had a point about the Americans. Sargent Shriver, the francophile Secretary of State, knew and charmed Pompidou on several issues, while at the same time Ken Galbraith at the Treasury was the stern master of Western currency stability and the fight against inflation, ready to whip French nationalism into line on exports and the value of the franc.

Now Schmidt bid for the big picture — we together should understand a basic misapprehension about the European project, Tony. France often complains, and urges the smaller Community members to this opinion, that we Germans and you British aren’t fully committed to Europe, that our eyes wander elsewhere. That from Bonn we may look to the East or towards Washington; that you British look to Washington as well, or outward to your Commonwealth.

This misleads. The central issue with the European enterprise is that the French treat it as a proprietary system, a project to secure and exaggerate French grandeur, to play at Charlemagne in the name of united Europe. For Europe to succeed we must change this dynamic, reintegrate the system with France an essential partner among equals. To do that we must keep them close, convince them of the value in that change.

We would take well to such a thing, Crosland replied.

The economics of it all, Schmidt went on, that is one of two essential points of leverage. And of course since the October conflict, the OPEC embargo, that is no longer a purely European matter anyway. The Cambridge Group has thoroughly replaced the “snake in the tunnel,” and on different terms.

Here Schmidt referenced the former EEC agreed structure for joint currency stability within a fixed, narrow breadth of exchange rates pegged to the dollar, and its replacement by the transatlantic Cambridge Group that most of all sought a collective, coordinated effort against inflation — in which West Germany had established themselves from the start as the Americans’ reliable European pillar of strength — along with mutual coordination, including mutual defense, of Group members’ currency reserves to promote the stability of a “community float” based on the coordinated valuation of the Group’s currencies. Given that the deutschmark, sterling, and the franc were the heavy hitters among the EEC’s congregated monies, the fortunes of the Group drove those of the Communities in turn, a big tail that wagged a middling dog.

Indeed — Schmidt affected an air of reasonableness — we might say much better the Group than the tunnel in any case. The French effort to revive the Community exchange mechanism has not excited much interest. Of course I’ve talked that over with Denis at some length — here Schmidt dropped in the inescapable bulk of Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Denis Healey. Denis, being very much himself, described the former mechanism as, “like fucking a hedgehog. One has really just the single path that avoids pain.” Much better the structured Group float then — Schmidt-Schnauze paused for a wry pull on his cigarette.

It would tell you nothing new then that the Chancellor’s view is shared around Cabinet, Crosland answered.

Not new, but encouraging, said Schmidt. Encouraging. Especially here in Bonn as we’ve spent considerable effort in two directions with the Group. First to prevent any French, or American, adventurism on wide valuations — I trust Galbraith on inflation and also their Federal Reserve man, Herr Brimmer, who I now actually favor over Ken as a conversationalist as it happens. But there are other economists around the White House with… looser morals.

Second we have as you know put direct effort into British debt service, while you host ever greater resources through the petrodollar deposits system. The Group is better for industry in any case, which is better for us socialists — Schmidt grinned at his guest again — and in time, as Pompidou’s grip from the Elysee slackens, we can perhaps wean the French from their addiction to the Common Agricultural Programme in favor of regional policy.

Now we come to our part together, said Schmidt. European union, European stability, depends on European security. Europe needs constant, certain deterrence of Soviet expansion and aggression so that the Community doesn’t fragment from outside pressures, so also we can reach across the Curtain to build connections for a larger, peacefully integrated Europe. The fruits of the Helsinki Conference if you will. Lose security… one faces a situation of each nation for itself where centrifugal force defeats the European ideal.

Schmidt fixed Crosland with a gaze. In Bonn and London, we of course rely on the United States’ part in that security. I don’t happen to share the concerns making their way around the Community to do with Humphrey-Cranston, the troop reductions, that together with Rambouillet this is all some slippery slope of US isolationism. I don’t find that actually in the McGovern administration, any more than any sensible European socialist can take the opposition propaganda about McGovern, that it’s all wild-eyed leftist ideals, at all seriously.

These McGovern people are sometimes too trusting of those they view, or wish to view, as friends, yes. Other than that these are men who exhibit the honorable American tradition of pragmatism, and that little bit of isolationism we could understand by remembering that the United States is, since the end of the Mexican revolution, in effect an island — as you know isolationism comes up with the washing among island peoples, Schmidt added with another wry look.

We ought to be grateful to these “McGoverners” in one respect, said Schmidt: they take the new Europe, at least the Europe we seek, for what it is. We say we should be a cohesive body, an export power, a partner if not quite an equal one amid the superpowers. Fine, they say in the White House, if you will act like that we’ll treat you as such. We must take opportunities such as this when they’re given.

Schmidt hunched forward a bit and leaned in. Again, however, we are back to security. In the long term, regardless of George McGovern’s fortunes, the American decision about European security remains just that — an American decision. Until we can work on terms of equal partnership with Paris, French policy remains just as national, perhaps more so since they lack the Americans’ sentimental streak.

For Europe’s sake, Schmidt went on, we must be men of the long game. In ten, twenty years from now we cannot let Europe, as your Nye Bevan put it, “go naked into the conference chamber” with a reckless United States, one that pulls itself away from Europe to gaze over the Pacific, or one that thrusts out to aggravate the bear in Moscow. Most of all of course, we need political persons and not glorified clerks in Brussels to coordinate Europe’s response.

For unfortunate but entirely obvious reasons, said Schmidt, we have no outright control over nuclear weapons. We have a lead role to play in Europe, yes, the largest economy on the Continent, an indispensable currency, the largest conventional military in Europe west of the Soviet border. But for you and for France the nuclear question is different. When we at last reach the time and place beyond Georges Pompidou, Anglo-French nuclear coordination, even cooperation, may be a foundation stone of Europe’s salvation.

Schmidt paused to give space for Crosland, who thought for a moment then replied. I can say certainly that governments of both parties have given this consideration; Heath and Wilson alike have raised the matter in Paris. The Elysee’s reply was rather cooler than yours.

Schmidt opened his hands in expiation. So long as Georges is with us, said Schmidt of Pompidou, we still stand in the General’s shadow. But his rather reluctant heir — Georges’ reluctance not Chaban-Delmas’ — is a more… pliant figure. If the eventual presidential election went the other way I would say on international issues that Mitterand is a better Gaullist than Chaban-Delmas, but Mitterand is a good socialist at home and we would seek to play that to advantage.

Schmidt leaned in again: to be direct as a man of affairs, in lieu of a capability of our own we Germans have a rooting interest in Britain’s deterrent. We’ve come to regard it as part of the family. All the more so if future American security guarantees are in any way complicated or constrained. Anglo-French coordination on targeting and strategy could yield a capacity to wreak such damage on the Soviets that, as hard-minded old commissars who lived through the war, reasonable men in the Kremlin might sincerely be deterred from adventurism in Europe. We needn’t police the world after all, Europe is our true concern. A harmony on targets and employment, in time perhaps even shared research and development, would only enhance a broader European partnership.

This is a German estimation of Anglo-French potential? asked Crosland.

It is the German opinion on Anglo-French collaboration which is to say mine — Schmidt flashed his eyebrows up a moment for emphasis. Let me put this as Harold will understand it. Within the mechanisms of the Cambridge Group we are quite prepared to defend the pound, for that matter to buy British debt paper punctually, in the long term mutual interest of Britain’s economic health. In return we wish you in London to understand Britain’s nuclear contribution to European security, and the development of an equal, working security partnership with the French, are crucial interests here in Bonn and in the wider Community. The smaller partners just don’t know it yet — another smile behind a puff of smoke.

After a moment’s thought Crosland smiled at the metaphor he’d come up with and replied: in Britain, Cabinet government is rather like the Holy Trinity. We have collective responsibility yet separate opinions. This I’m afraid is true on both matters you’ve marked out as essential, the Community and the deterrent both.

I find it in fact charming, said Schmidt, that so many of your Labour unilateralists believe Armageddon can be banished — Schmidt waved his cigarette a bit for effect — by unimpeachable good conduct. Likewise only Englishmen could be self-important enough to not plan retaliation against a nuclear first strike, given the capacity, certain their virtue would shine even through the glowing rubble. Of course when I search more closely I find too few of them heard the bullets crack and whine as we did, or smelled the flesh in the smoke.

To that both men paused in silence. Then a young leutnant in the Flakartillerie Schmidt had been shelled and rocketed by the Soviets in the waking hell of the East. Crosland, a captain in the Parachute Regiment, had fought Schmidt’s countrymen the whole way up Italy’s bloody length.

We who did, Schmidt went on, have a lifelong responsibility to prevent future conflict, not wish it away but prevent it actively. And to build a Europe that will not breed such horrors again. The nature of our present circumstances have created an opportunity, thanks in no small part to your ministerial decisions, that could yield up a system of working relationships inside the Europe we wish to build that would produce security, effective integration, and positive growth.

The question then that you must bring back to your colleagues, said Schmidt, his smoking arm drawn to the side of his face as if to frame his words, is whether they are ready to exchange some virtue for peace and prosperity, or prefer virtue though the heavens fall?


Young man, said Barbara Castle, the gleam of inner fires ever in those eyes — for a Liberal you might not turn out a waste of space after all.

Alan Beith, hardly the first junior minister to shift in his seat uncomfortably under the gaze of Labour’s Red Queen, summoned up a reply. The beaver-cheeked Beith, an academic of Anglo-Scots descent who’d been a politics lecturer in Newcastle before he replanted the Liberal flag at Berwick-upon-Tweed in a by-election and kept it grimly fast in the tight December vote, credited his betters. Really, said Beith, I should point out the spade work here was all Mr. Hooson’s at Treasury. What we have for itemized figures and the projected spread of revenue requirements is…

First, young man — said Castle, not in the least impeded by Beith’s explanation — I doubt you need to address Emlyn as “Mister,” he being only a Liberal as you are and in a Labour government no less. Second, the real importance of this scheme lies in what your brief — what your boss’s ministry, Tony’s — can do for it over the long term. Redistribution phased in from a reliable long-range resource is something close to a magic formula right now and we haven’t many of those. So in your own words and if you don’t mind the request from a persistent sort of woman, go once over the framework again.

Beith obliged. It wasn’t a long journey from the first version of the plan to the second, and had the virtue of pointing out the features that captured Castle’s imagination. As one of the deputies at the Treasury, Emlyn Hooson had seen fit to work up a proposition voiced in the Liberals’ manifesto ahead of the “Boxing Day Vote” and circulate the proposal in the name of the coalition’s marketplace of ideas. A man of the Liberals’ right-hand side, Hooson appreciated its roots, in part, in propositions put forward by neo-Austrian economists, though it clearly and with purpose also echoed the McGovern administration’s fateful Demogrant. This was an income-credit program run through the tax system, with three categories of credit provided: personal income, housing, and social security. In theory all Britons above a certain age would be credited — income credits for children would move through the mother — and taxation would apply from the first pound, but in a scaled form of negative tax that provided the greatest support for those with the least income to tax, which then would be taxed away as one moved up the earnings ladder.

Hooson touted the system’s simplicity, its reduction of administrative overhead, especially its destruction of means-testing, and its universal nature. It would potentially interfere with or supplant a variety of bills, those of the government and private members alike, on disability insurance, child benefits, and other more piecemeal means of raising social-services payments to vulnerable populations. The most immediate point raised by Hooson’s Labour colleagues in the Treasury trenches was the need for indexing cost escalation, especially in the inflationary circumstances of the moment. Another was whether the original Liberal proposals, that relied on scaling up the top end of progressive taxation and a restructured VAT, could cover a truly universal system.

This was where Beith had played in. The bods at Energy had been encouraged by their boss, Tony Benn, to design and present a “maximal case” for the licensing, infrastructure, and development of North Sea oil and gas resources, for greater and more purely national front-end exploration and exploitation than the more measured model of commercial licensure and privately funded exploitation favored by official consensus before the Lib-Labs took office. Since, as it turned out, the Liberals were perhaps even more protectionist and instrumentalist about North Sea development than Labour, Benn had warmed to unexpected allies and let them poke about the figures.

What emerged from it, among other things, was Beith’s variation on Hooson’s theme. This allowed, first, for some stopgap measures on social relief to be funded with both financial-services taxation and North Sea fees and tariffs. Over a period of five years into the waning days of the Seventies, based on the maximal-case North Sea development model, revenues would phase in from more directly national development. These would then be used for a permanent fund of the kind several other oil-producing nations, notably OPEC members, had created. One revenue stream of the permanent fund would be dedicated to infrastructure development for the UK, including monies put back into further exploitation of energy resources. The other, larger revenue stream would fund the income-credit model, still taxed away on a rising scale but one that might afford being a little more generous if revenue predictions for the North Sea held up.

Castle pressed again about what it would take to ramp up production, initial investment costs, what it would take to boost indigenous exploratory outfits, grab British Petroleum by the nose and haul it away from dwindling assets in the Middle East for the harder work of pumping North Sea fields. Beith, patient and content to let the work of his staff speak, went down the ledger and discussed the decision-making levers available to HMG as a result of the public shares in British Petroleum, what it would take to raise tariffs on Amoco who had the largest working claim at the moment, how to rope in Scottish drillers under government review.

After the best part of half an hour Castle seemed satisfied. Right then, said the Red Queen — we should talk to Tony. With that she swung briskly around the left side of her desk and made for the door as Beith bundled up his paperwork and followed, taken a little by surprise that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Welfare would dart straight out of her office and march roughly a quarter of the way across Westminster on a busy afternoon to buttonhole Beith’s boss before there was any risk of him making himself scarce in a committee meeting.

Beith noted that Barbara Castle seemed serenely untroubled to tear along Westminster sidewalks in a light mist at a quick clip, without aides or driver or detective — she’d had one posted to her since a couple of public flour bombings whilst she stared down striking doctors over an NHS salary freeze — just Beith himself and his unruly jumble of folders hot-footed behind her. As they wheeled on to the short end of Victoria Street, headed toward Westminster Abbey with the umbrellaed gaggles of tourists visible on the horizon line, they came up on the concrete-and-glass pile of Beith’s home department. Castle bustled in wordless, past the doormen and front kiosk with only an iron stare and Secretary of State for Energy Anthony Wedgewood Benn’s personal secretary likewise.

Tony, we’ve cracked it, said Castle to Benn, the latter only a little bemused, as she strode into his private office.

I see you’ve brought young Alan, Benn answered in an ameliorated tone, so I’m given to think this is something to do with the incomes scheme?

A British Demogrant, Tony, Castle answered with the coruscating sincerity for which she was known. A British Demogrant. What McGovern and his lot couldn’t finesse across the Atlantic. Long-term redistribution. Universalized income security. A firmer rein on the North Sea corporate landscape which you ought to have regardless, Tony — Castle pointed a disapproving matron’s finger at the ideologically rebellious aristocrat — and more bloody industrial policy for our people who want back out of the Common Market. British energy, British capital — d’you know that’s a fine name for the program, British Capital — and British prosperity for the people we have left along the side of the welfare state too long.

I take it you have the convert’s zeal, then, Benn answered dryly.

Castle shot back: I see how your department, and mine, likely Peter’s as well, can steal a march on Harold. We bring the women and children along too — this was one of Castle’s driving goals, Beith and Benn both knew — and without the rigmarole of indexing the best years of earnings or applications for the right to receive dependents’ benefits. Universal income support per capita, taxed away from the propertied. If that’s not a sweeping hand of English socialism I don’t know what we’re getting on with.

Michael will surely put in — here Benn meant Michael Foot, the splendidly decent eccentric and tribal elder of the Labour Left who was now Secretary of State for Employment — about redundancies we may face in the work force for existing administrative mechanisms, no need to have the National Union of Public Employees up against us. We don’t know what… favors the Americans may seek to extract if we mean to raise fees on the Amoco project or hold licensure more closely to British operators. The ramp up to proper operation of the scheme frankly looks a bit ramshackle. Not to mention that we haven’t the numbers from Treasury about inflationary effects of price-indexing the system. It could entwine us further with the Common Market than we really intend if we hope to keep that inside lane for sales against whenever the Soviets begin selling gas and more fuel oil in Europe. And it’d do their economy no favors if we have a parochial advantage, which could prejudice other negotiations we have with Moscow.

If you set out to find problems, Tony, said Castle with a lean edge to her voice, then find them you will. This offers us a clean line of process to income security and poverty relief, rooted in self-sufficiency. I fail to see why we shouldn’t take that high ground and then — then — fend off whatever comes.

It offers a fiscal solution to what are fundamentally fiscal issues, said Beith, by way of one of the only rising long-term resources we have in the domestic sphere. The Prime Minister may even appreciate the fact it’s clever, tidy, and readily controlled without any reference to the Europeans or the Americans.

Said Benn: I fear, Alan, you’ll find in Cabinet-level work that the ability to trust a single word that comes out of the Prime Minister’s mouth is a vanishing commodity. To say nothing of Denis watching the Treasury gates like three-headed Cerberus whenever there come suggestions on the Budget that didn’t spring whole from his brain. We can hope to sway the Labour conscience but the practical impediments mount up rather quickly.

God’s teeth, Tony, said Castle. Buck up a bit. All very well to register dissent but we have to move policy directly, or else lose the novelty and opportunity this gives us. Get up under Denis’ great bum and budge him to a bit of socialism — this Castle suggested with sweeping and illustrative hand gestures. She added: this is our chance to do just that.

You’d press Denis on Treasury policy whilst he sits in the right hand of Harold? Benn queried.

Denis and I, said Castle, have a healthy mutual understanding of one another’s capacities. He will bristle and prevaricate like a great bear put off its lunch but he’ll bloody well listen.

Beith worked with a deep, Low Church earnestness not to smile at the Secretary of State for Health and Social Services’ metaphor, given that his boss was watching.

We may be caught nonetheless between the Devil and the deep blue sea just as the song says, said Benn, on European regulations as they affect management and commerce with our energy supplies. If we rely on sales in that market to raise the revenues we’d have to dance to their tune. Some days Brussels seem to be making those rules up as they go as we get a stronger sense of what the resource and earnings potential is in the fields. No question at all that Pompidou will seek to tether our hydrocarbons to the grand project. Schmidt might also.
Pompidou may not last the winter, Castle answered. And if you want to tell the British public why the Common Market’s not for them perhaps we ought to lead with the possibility that it would rob them — rob them — of the common decency of income security if they mean to tell us what to do with our oil.

Of course, said Beith with a tone of mild reflection, the Scots may want a word about it also.

The Nats? answered Castle. Saints preserve us from the day we have to take them seriously.

I would return again, said Benn, to the question on which Michael may press us which is the question of restructuring and job redundancies in the present system of welfare provision. It would do the progress towards socialism rather poorly in public eye if we solve one problem by making two more.

A People’s Budget, Tony, said Castle, jaw squared and eyes without a quantum of relent. We can have one, and put it into industrial recovery as well, but it will take this javelin well thrown. Guts, Tony — to be found and used.

Benn narrowed his stare a small but significant measure at Castle’s challenge to his character. Said Benn: we do have a possible green paper on North Sea nationalization in queue also…

Then write it up! said Castle with vigor, as she smacked the palm of her hand against the top back of the chair in which Beith, still juggling his folders, had sat down, which caused him to judder slightly. Write up the paper and tot it along to Cabinet when we have at Denis, Castle concluded.

Benn looked thoughtful. Castle sallied again: socialism in one country, Tony. Oil, planning, economic justice for working folk and the least of our own. Time to decide if you want it; the hour may be rather later than it’s seemed.


The mist snared the long dark folds of the North Devon moors in icy damp, and everything was shit. All of it. Shit. The old world was well and gone, the world of endless martinis and backhanded wealth, leather-padded and whiskey-limned clubs, walking in step with the great and good, jet airliners and pencil-thin suits and James Bond films and all the rest, especially the money that had measured him and fitted him to sit at Jeremy’s right hand.

Now it was inflation and unemployment and a shaggy down-at-heel gloom, mediocre football on the hotel telly or else screaming musicians tarted up like carnival clowns who made the Beatles look quaint, summoned to the remains of the old country by the tethers of his near-bankruptcy, owned and controlled by the worst of men, worn to the bone with the endless rain — it wasn’t like this even in February back in Santa Barbara, one of the many reasons southern California was a haven for wandering Englishmen. Rain and doom and terrible deeds for the vanity of splendid men, that’s all there was left. Just shit.

Peter Bessell hadn’t understood — hadn’t allowed himself to understand — how fully they still owned him until he was summoned back, was sat down in that room. The money was enough by itself: that he’d fled the UK ahead of his creditors, that the old golden touch with which he’d coasted through the Sixties was dead and gone, that they could help his creditors in the pursuit, ruin him, make him a bankrupt, leave him with nothing. But the rest mattered also. Always he’d been the contact, the mediator, pliant and plying, there to hand over bundles of cash and do favors and lie lies and make Norman Scott go away. So much so he’d collected a bundle of evidence, folders worth, about Scott and even from Scott who’d trusted Bessell’s easy and sympathetic manner. Such a bundle had been found tucked away where Bessell left it, in hopes one could just walk away, inside an office building scheduled for demolition. It had been found out, suppressed with the aid of Jeremy’s contacts in the police and the press. That made him vulnerable too.

So he’d been sat down in the room, there with that dreadful Holmes: David Holmes, Jeremy’s own secret police, best man at the first Thorpe wedding, the coldest and most awful of resolute men. Holmes had a sharp-lined face you could even call handsome, looked very much the secret agent even in his square glasses, a man of firm and terrible purpose, ready to do anything for Jeremy. And anything was now very much the game.

Holmes laid out the situation for Bessell. There were now two drivers for the situation, said Holmes. The long-term issue was that it seemed Norman Scott had his own master file of incriminating materials stored in his Devon home — with the wan neediness so familiar from Scott’s career up to this point, after Scott’s latest patron off in Wales had popped her clogs he moved to be closer to Jeremy’s parliamentary constituency. Scott’s psychiatrist had tumbled to this in sessions and reported it to a friendly ear in the police force whence it made its way to Jeremy at the FCO.

The other danger was closer at hand. Some weeks back Scott had been involved in a scuffle at a local pub. Given the chance to speak under oath before the magistrate, Scott launched into a potted version of his Jeremy story, laid his woes at Thorpe’s doorstep with a statement protected from the libel laws. Newspapers and magazines had perked up their ears but waited to hear a more detailed version with more witnesses before they did anything about decade-old gossip.

Now, said Holmes, was the time of decision. They would cut out the cancer before it spread, said Holmes. Bessell sat there and summoned his old self as best he could, the stolid, frightened self who’d sat through so much cold and hard and terrible talk about what to do with Norman Scott, and prayed to hold his nerve. It was a matter of trust, Holmes went on. Had to be handled by those Jeremy could trust: someone like Holmes, because of who he was, someone like Bessell because now he had no other recourse, did he? Bessell kept still a little longer as he felt his bowels begin to fail him. A simple process, insulated by the instruments of power that had attached themselves to Jeremy, two only who could keep a secret. Slush funds and offshore cash, that to handle the operation — Holmes even talked like a television spy — and to buy Bessell’s silence in the aftermath. Cut-outs to hire the resources and divert paper trails from the mission’s core.

Devon was the natural setting, Holmes went on — Jeremy had said so himself more than once. Track Scott’s movements, his habits, find him where he was vulnerable. They’d take a car, just the two, Holmes and Bessell. Catch him in the middle of nowhere. After Scott took a good clip — Bessell faded even further into the tunnels of his mind as he considered who Holmes would want at the wheel for that — Holmes could get out and take care of any final details. After that it was just — the “just” hung off the edge of Bessell’s mind at a sickening angle — a matter of disposal. Plenty of nowhere in which to lose a body out on the moors. Trapped in a screaming corner of his brain Bessell harbored no illusions that there would not be two lost souls if he let Holmes down.

So now here they were, crammed in a Ford Anglia hired through two different front companies, miles past Barnstaple, near the pub where Scott had been mussed up and to which he liked to return, nerve-prickled but dramatic and defiant, like a dog to its sick. They’d heard from a local gossip that Scott had gone in for a drink, parked off the edge of the pub’s back garden, lights dimmed down, enough time to tear through four or five cigarettes before the reality of it screamed in again. Holmes had the ease of a man of conviction; the much taller Bessell did what he did best and feigned calm until someone tall enough to be Scott walked out the front door and Bessell twisted around to retch over the Anglia’s right front tire. Holmes hissed at him for calm — it was a false alarm — and went back to his own meditations.

Three quarters of an hour later, though, it was no false lead. Holmes laid a wicked elbow into Bessell’s side as the two made themselves scarce behind the car’s blind side, then Holmes checked his watch. The plan was to give Scott ten minutes’ lead, no sign of urgency to the car’s departure. They’d catch him soon enough. Even if the weather turned; you could only see as far as your lights, but Bessell was terribly aware that would take them far enough.

Bessell saw him ahead. Had to be him. Right height, the build, the almost feminine hair. Walking a dog, for Christ’s sake. Walking a dog in his wellies along a country lane, the most English scene imaginable. Was this what it had come to? An Englishman just following orders? All for the sake of the fortunate few. Holmes arched forward in the passenger seat. The cold rods of overwhelm pressed against the inside of Bessell’s skull; his stomach cratered, limbs numb. Christ. Must be time.
Last edited:
I've always been fascinated at how much stuff there is in the UK, all the actors and banks and industrial concerns and rail transit systems and political associations and overbearing police state infrastructures that have been rearing their condescendingly carnivorous heads since Peterloo. It's an intriguing place, although all I can truly say for certain is that you can get excellent cookies at Ben's in London.

The prime minister no more cared for the substance of Thorpe’s secret than he did anything else to do with sex, which was not at all.
Actual Ace Icon Ted Heath.

Thorpe and Heath had talked over the Home Office instead, dear to Liberal Party reformist hopes. But the Foreign Office, where Thorpe could jut out his chin for the photos as a man of ideals, splash across the quality papers on Europe and vexing the racists of southern Africa, wear beaver hats in Moscow and mug for BBC World Service, most of all blather at anyone not swift enough to walk away at first glance, all this Wilson knew was too rich a prize to forswear.
Reform? In the Home Office? Funny.

Intended as Frankenstein’s creature to quote poetry and bestride the world, instead BL operated like the work of a drunken taxidermist, with its management snarled in scattershot structural fancies like an Escher drawing, its overexuberant product range often in competition among its own divisions. Those divisions were balkanized as well: Austin and Morris still feudalized and at war with one another though they’d been merged early in the Fifties, other divisions remote, wary, and woe to the junior manager, designer, or lineman who switched factories from one to another. Now, in the grey contemporary skies of the Seventies, also riven by industrial discord, walkouts and wildcat strikes, shoddy build quality that verged into occasional sabotage, woeful logistics, fratricidal badge-engineering, with no unitary structure or direction from the top.
*stares in Bethlehem Steel*

even the discreet war in Dhofar province on Oman’s behalf would be run on the thinnest of strings.
A bit of proxy warfare that might deserve more discourse in due time.

Young man, said Barbara Castle, the gleam of inner fires ever in those eyes — for a Liberal you might not turn out a waste of space after all.
You can't see it, but I'm presently sporting a grin wider than the M25. The only queen I'd kneel to.

What emerged from it, among other things, was Beith’s variation on Hooson’s theme. This allowed, first, for some stopgap measures on social relief to be funded with both financial-services taxation and North Sea fees and tariffs. Over a period of five years into the waning days of the Seventies, based on the maximal-case North Sea development model, revenues would phase in from more directly national development. These would then be used for a permanent fund of the kind several other oil-producing nations, notably OPEC members, had created. One revenue stream of the permanent fund would be dedicated to infrastructure development for the UK, including monies put back into further exploitation of energy resources. The other, larger revenue stream would fund the income-credit model, still taxed away on a rising scale but one that might afford being a little more generous if revenue predictions for the North Sea held up.
And so, a Second Great Heathen Army descends upon England from the shores of the far north. This time, not of reavers and settlers fit to transform Northumbria, but of responsible long-term policy planning fit to transform incomes from old Wessex to Wolverhampton. I'd also be curious to see how this scheme might ripple out long-term. One would imagine that a certain RT host's arguments would fall flatter than they otherwise did if the North Sea was managed in a different fashion.

she’d had one posted to her since a couple of public flour bombings whilst she stared down striking doctors over an NHS salary freeze
There are only two classes of strikers whom I'll likely never sympathize with: cops and doctors. And sometimes it's hard to tell the difference, with their pay scales. Mouths stuffed with gold indeed.

Time to decide if you want it; the hour may be rather later than it’s seemed.
An encapsulation of Benn's career if ever there was one.

Must be time.
Holy shit, is this actually going to happen?
I am a little too tipsy to actually have coherent comments on this, but a lot is going on! And even worse, it matters quite a bit! All I can really say is that I'm penciling in Barbara for a child's name, because my god.
So what date is this attack on Scott happening TTL? Because FWIG of OTL, the attempted murder was late 1975, and it definitely seems to happening earlier here.

Also, can't wait to see what kind of ripples Foreign Secretary Thorpe is making on the world stage (especially in the southern third of Africa).
Wow. The prose, the sheer level of detail, the characterisations... that was quite a read. So many rum characters, from that extraordinary generation of Labour politicians that converged in the ‘70s to the uniquely fascinating Jeremy Thorpe himself, all of them rang true and seemed to come alive. I particularly enjoyed the glimpses of Denis Healey, no shrinking violet he.

Perhaps most of all, as a Brit, it’s a real treat to read an instalment of McGoverning where I get the subtleties, and makes me appreciate the sheer level of detail, characterisation and writing we’ve been getting throughout. Wonderful.