The Anglo-Saxon Social Model

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Rattigan, Dec 17, 2018.

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  1. Rattigan Well-Known Member

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    This is a TL that I originally started thinking about just after Margaret Thatcher died in 2013. I was reading an article (on a blog and by an author whose names I’ve now forgotten – sorry for forgetting to credit you if you ever come across this) reflecting on her premiership and the author ruminated that, if the country had chosen the other way in 1979, “we [the UK] could have been Sweden” and that’s something that really stuck with me. I don’t believe that the direction of the British state in 1979, sans Thatcherism, would have been a Scandinavian social democracy but I wondered about the possibility of a TL where something like that did happen. But for this to occur, I realized that I would have to change a lot of things in the nineteenth century, so that the broad-based class and constitutional compromise which existed in Scandinavia by 1914 also existed in the UK. That is why this thread is posted in the post-1900 forums, where the most dramatic changes will take place, even though it will start in the 1870s.

    Couple of other things to put on the table before we go any further. Firstly, this is a TL which will reflect my own political tastes and it is one where the good guys (from my POV) win. Secondly, I rely a few times on individuals who died early not dying early. Sometimes this is a case of somebody surviving an assassination attempt they didn’t IOTL but other times people will not die of illnesses that killed them ITTL. I appreciate that this is a bit ASB for some people so I’ll try and keep that kind of thing to a minimum. Thirdly, this will be a bit Britwank for some people because the UK will finish it being richer and more influential ITTL 2018 than IOTL 2018 but it’s not going to be a story about keeping the empire together post-1945. But the Commonwealth will be very different and very important ITTL so bear that in mind.

    Fifthly (?), I will be keeping the focus on the UK at least for the first few decades, so please assume that the rest of the world moves on as IOTL (or, at least, with relatively inconsequential changes). I will expand my scope to cover other countries as the TL goes on. In particular, I have changes I’d like to make re the US and Russia but we can get onto that. However, I don’t want to go to wild and blunder into countries’ histories’ that I don’t know enough about and make stupid mistakes. Feel free to ask any questions about other countries not covered in the TL and I’ll do my best to answer.

    Finally, this thread will sit somewhere between Type II and Type III on the Sliding Scale of Alt Histories (see https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SlidingScaleOfAlternateHistoryPlausibility). I try to follow through the POD logically but as time goes by that inevitably slides into speculation and (in some regards) wish fulfilment. I'm not above making some TTL figures or events mirror OTL ones where I think it works for the thread. I'll also continue to use real people with their real birthdates and places, where possible. I'll also have various inventions being invented earlier or working out better but not by anything too radical (i.e. a widget will be invented earlier but only by a few years and still at a time when such an invention would have been plausible - you're not going to have Victorians with nuclear bombs).

    Also, as a way of covering my back, a lot of the ideas in the TL are hardly original and have been discussed in loads of other TLs. However, I am really enjoying the TLs ‘Why the Chinese Play Cricket’ by Miss Construction and ‘Until Every Drop of Blood is Paid’ by Red_Galiray and was also inspired by the defunct ‘East of Suez’ TL by NixonTheUsedCarSalesman. I don’t think I’ve plagiarized from them directly but I have been inspired by them so there will be some similarities. In particular, Miss Construction’s account of a WW1 without British involvement is compelling and Red_Galiray’s description of a more radical US Civil War and Reconstruction will be the seed of my description of ITTL USA if I ever get round to it.

    Anyway, if you’re interested then give this thread a subscribe. All feedback is welcome.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019 at 3:27 PM
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  2. Threadmarks: Assassination of Queen Victoria (1872)

    Rattigan Well-Known Member

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    Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria, 24 May 1819 – 29 February 1872) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death.

    Victoria was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III. Both the Duke and the King died in 1820, and Victoria was raised under close supervision by her mother, Princess Victoria or Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. She inherited the throne at the age of 18, after her father’s three elder brothers had all died, leaving no surviving legitimate children. The United Kingdom was already an established constitutional monarchy, in which the sovereign held relatively little direct political power. Privately, Victoria attempted to influence government policy and ministerial appointments; publicly, she became a national icon who was identified with strict standards of personal morality.

    Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840. Their nine children married into royal and noble families across the continent, tying them together and earning her the soubriquet “the grandmother of Europe.” After Albert’s death in 1861, Victoria plunged into deep mourning and avoided public appearances. As a result of her seclusion, republicanism temporarily gained strength. However, when she was assassinated by a radical republican in 1872, the popularity of the monarchy recovered, as did her posthumous popularity.

    She was the last British monarch of the House of Hanover. Her son and successor, Edward VII, initiated the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the line of his father.


    Victoria 1872.jpg
    Queen Victoria shortly before her assassination.

    Assassination

    On the last day of February 1872, tow days after a thanksgiving service for the recovery of Edward from typhoid, Victoria was travelling in her carriage through London with her confidant John Brown in attendance. As they approached Buckingham Palace, the carriage was attacked by 17-year-old Arthur O'Connor, the great-nephew of the late radical MP Feargus O'Connor, who fired three shots from a pistol. Brown was killed instantly and Victoria herself was pronounced dead half an hour later.
     
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  3. Falkenburg CMII & Bar Donor

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    Intriguing.

    I have no idea as to the specifics of how you see this unfolding but it seems to me you don't necessarily have to go back as far as the 1870s.

    A different Post War evolution would take you to a similar destination.

    The occasional narratively fortuitous death and/or incapacitation would be all that's required to 'clear the field' for a more consistently successful 'Social Democratic' societal model.

    Post War Reconstruction, Decolonisation, etc, can unfold along lines similar to OTL (if more 'conscientious' from a SD perspective), or you could even use such situations to further undermine SD opponents if they were the architects of any 'unpleasantness'.

    So long as 'Social Democracy' can be established as a plausible alternative in time to reap the benefits of the economic growth of the 60s it would be in a strong position to shape the expectations and priorities of the OTL demographic surge.

    From there legislation and provision could be utilised to realise your vision before receiving a timely boost from North Sea Oil & Gas in time to subsidise industrial re-alignment/modernisation (or Social Programmes, or be salted away a la Norway).

    I only mention such things as it would seem to save you an enormous amount of work by eliminating decades of changes to OTL.

    However I remain interested in how you propose to get form there to 'here' and await your next Post.

    EDIT: Ninja'ed by OP
    One cannot help wonder what impact such a demonstrably Irish assassin will have on Irish Parliamentary influence and strategy.
     
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  4. Threadmarks: Gladstone Ministry (1868-1874)

    Rattigan Well-Known Member

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    1868.jpg
    Gladstone.jpg

    Following the passing of the Irish Church Resolutions by the Liberals in 1868 over the heads of the Conservative government, Benjamin Disraeli took the hint and called a general election. With the Liberals now united after the passing of the 1867 Reform Act, they increased their seats in the Commons and Gladstone was asked to form a ministry, famously receiving notice of the election results while chopping wood at his estate.


    Gladstone’s ministry set the template for what came to be known as ‘Gladstonian Liberalism’, characterised by the pursuit of individual liberty and the loosening of political and economic restraints. His proposals were intended to go some way to meeting working-class demands, with the aim of a ‘free breakfast table’ a famous rhetorical target. In the pursuit of this, Gladstone’s government pursued spending restraint domestically and a foreign policy aimed at promoting peace internationally. Major legislation passed during his first term included the Elementary Education Act 1870 (which instituted national elementary education across the UK), the Trade Union Act 1871 (making membership of a trades union legal) and the Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1873 (remodelling the English court system). The Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act 1870 also went some way towards cutting down landlord abuses in Ireland.


    In foreign policy, the government pursued a range of reforms to modernise the army and streamline its workings. Although Gladstone did not take a personal interest in military affairs, he appreciated efficiency and supported his Defence Secretary Edward Cardwell in his efforts. Initially, small steps were taken to abolish archaic practices such as the purchase of commissions and bounty money but, after seeing the success of the Prussian army in the Franco-Prussian War, Cardwell seized the moment to institute a series of more radical reforms. Cardwell instituted a comprehensive overhaul of the army, reducing compulsory enlistment time, creating a viable reserve force for the first time and modernising equipment.


    In 1872, however, the government was thrown off course by the assassination, on 27 February, of Queen Victoria by the 17-year-old Arthur O’Connor. At the time, the monarchy had been undergoing a period of unpopularity as a result of Victoria’s withdrawal from public life following the death of her husband Prince Albert, and the assassination lead to concerns about a general uprising and possibly even a revolution, especially considering how the Prince of Wales, the 30-year-old Albert Edward, was also severely ill with typhoid. However, the Prince pulled through and his natural charisma charmed the public and eased tensions following the death of his mother. He chose to reign under the name Edward VII and he ascended to the throne on the back of widespread popularity, with the public warming to his personal bonhomie and there being widespread sympathy both for his recent illness and the death of his mother. Edward was crowned at Westminster on 26 July 1872, to general public rejoicing, by the 60-year-old Archbishop of Canterbury, Archibald Campbell Tait.


    Having previously led a somewhat dissolute lifestyle, Edward’s accession to the throne changed him. Although he retained his natural bonhomie and charm, he cut down on his drinking and smoking and devoted himself to the business of state. He established a warm and mutually respectful relationship with Gladstone, and Lord Hartington, the Secretary of State for Ireland, became a confidante.


    Within two years of Edward’s accession, however, Gladstone’s ministry had begun to crumble largely over religious disputes. Questions of education and Irish disestablishment played an important part in splitting Gladstonians, who wanted to guard religion’s independence from a modernising civil power, and the Whiggish wing of the party, which wanted greater state control of education. These splits pressaged deeper difficulties in passing more radical land reform and education policies and so Gladstone unexpectedly got the King to agree to a dissolution of Parliament in January 1874.
     
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  5. Luath I like Trains

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    Oooh that is a biggie of a POD. I do want to see were you go with this, will there be a Commonwealth Council/Parliament? Customs Union? Single Currency? Most importantly do we annex Hanover?

    Luath
     
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  6. Rattigan Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for this - all good food for thought. I'll be trying to skip through the 19th century bits over the next couple of days so hopefully it'll all become clear why I thought I needed to begin where I did.

    Trust me - Ireland is going to be a very different place ITTL.
     
  7. Rattigan Well-Known Member

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    I have so many ideas for where I want to go with the Commonwealth - I don't think I'll know fully until we get there.

    Have definitely thought about how Hanover fits into this - bear in mind that it had already been annexed to Prussia by 1872 so nothing will happen immediately but I'm definitely thinking of making a change on that front (keep an eye on Bavaria too) further down the line.
     
  8. Rattigan Well-Known Member

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    Just dropping character for a second here to apologise for my bad IT skills here with the images. I'd like to upload tables for elections like they present them on Wikipedia but I'm afraid my photoshopping skills aren't what they'd need to be. Let me know if anyone has any good cheats for this.
     
  9. Luath I like Trains

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    Oooh yeah. Well keep it up anyway.
     
  10. Falkenburg CMII & Bar Donor

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    The opening of Post #4 seems a little confused (or is it just me?)

    The figures suggest Gladstones' Liberals had 369 seats before the Election but the text puts D'Israeli as PM (Calling the Election) despite his Party having 289 seats going by the numbers.
     
  11. Rattigan Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, it is a bit weird to modern eyes but those are just the OTL figures transposed over. Bear in mind that at this point party allegiances weren't as clearly drawn as they would be even a decade later. Lord Derby and then Disraeli became PMs at the head of Conservative administrations because they could peel off a few protectionist Liberal MPs to give themselves a majority.
     
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  12. Threadmarks: Disraeli Ministry (1874-1880)

    Rattigan Well-Known Member

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    1874.jpg
    Disraeli.png


    Unlike Disraeli’s Conservatives, the Liberals had let much of their internal organisation decline since 1868 and they had also failed to ensure that their voters were kept on the electoral register. In a tightly fought election, the Liberals won a majority of votes both nationally and in each of the UK’s nations but the Conservatives took advantage of the fact that many of their MPs were returned unoposed to give the party a majority of 23. The election also saw the emergence of a formal third party for the first time in British politics, with Isaac Butt’s Home Rule League taking 60 seats (probably helped by the Secret Ballot Act 1872 preventing landlords from blackmailing their tenants into voting according to their wishes).

    When he returned to the premiership, Disreali’s government’s biggest challenge was the ongoing effects of the Long Depression. With its origins in the United States in the autumn of 1873, the economic crisis did not have an immediate effect on the UK but nonetheless caused the Bank of England to hold interest rates at a relatively high 9%, causing general economic sluggishness. Although the government was constrained by its free trading ideology from making more direct investments in the national economy, Colonial Secretary Lord Carnarvon pursued a number of policies directed towards the development of colonial economies, notably in encouraging emigration to the colonies in North America, Australasia and Africa. The British East Africa Company and the British South Africa Company were chartered in 1878 and 1879, respectively, in order to sure up British trading interests in those regions and explore the possibility of establishing settler colonies.

    Elsewhere in foreign affairs, Disraeli’s government arranged for the purchase of a controlling share in the Suez Canal in 1875 and pursued what might be called an interventionist foreign policy. In particular, Disraeli attracted notice for his pro-Ottoman views, particularly as against Britain’s rival, Russia. In particular, Disraeli’s support for the Ottomans over the Bulgarian Uprising in 1876 encouraged Gladstone to return to public life in the West Lothian Campaign, having previously retired in 1874. Despite his pro-Ottoman views, he and Foreign Secretary Lord Salisbury participated in the Berlin Congress and consented to the partition of the Balkans in return for concessions from Germany against British interests in eastern and southern Africa.

    On the domestic front, Home Secretary R.A. Cross enacted several reforms, most notably in extending inexpensive credit to poorer households in order to encourage house-building and extending the period of compulsory education up to the age of 10. In addition, the government legalised peaceful picketing and introduced laws allowing employers to sue employers in civil courts for breach of contract.

    However, despite the noise aroused by Disraeli’s foreign policy, what really damaged the Conservatives as 1880 approached was their inability to effectively defend their economic record. The economic stress emanating from the Panic of 1873 had not abated and had created downward pressure on wages. Although Lord Carnarvon’s policies had developed the economies of the colonies, they had not done anything to ameliorate the conditions of the British industrial working class and agricultural labourers. The government’s free trade policies made the British government defenceless against the flood of cheap wheat from North America (which was exacerbated by a bad harvest in Britain in 1879). Aware of these issues, Disraeli was initially wary of calling an early election but, encouraged a few better than expected by-election results in early 1880, Disraeli dissolved Parliament and went to the country in March 1880.
     
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  13. BigBlueBox Well-Known Member

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    @Rattigan This thread belongs in the pre-1900 section.
     
  14. Rattigan Well-Known Member

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    I did think about putting it there but the biggest changes are going to take place post-1900 so I thought I'd keep it here. I hope to skip through the 19th century pretty quickly.
     
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  15. Threadmarks: First Hartington Ministry (1880-1885)

    Rattigan Well-Known Member

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    1880.jpg
    Hartington.jpg


    The Liberals won a comfortable majority of 25 with a swing of 110 seats against the Conservatives, with a campaign dominated by Gladstone’s vigorous campaigning in Midlothian, which saw him returned for the Scottish seat. Once the results became clear, the king immediately approached Lord Hartington to form a government and, after negotiations with Gladstone, he agreed to form a government with the Grand Old Man as his Chancellor. Patriotic and cautiously pro-imperialist, Hartington appointed the radical Joseph Chamberlain freshly arrived in Westminster from the mayoralty of Birmingham, to the position of Colonial Secretary, with the Gladstone’s old crony Lord Granville installed at the Foreign Office to keep an eye on him.

    On the domestic front, the Liberals undertook a thoroughgoing programme of social and economic reform. In August 1880, compulsory education was extended to the age of 12. This was followed, in July 1881, when the tireless work of the Vice-President of the Committee of the Council for Education A.J. Mundella was rewarded by the passing of the Workmen’s Infants Scholarships Act 1881 (along with his promotion to the Cabinet as the first Secretary of State for Education and Science). The 1881 Act provided for scholarships and interest-free loans to be advanced to young schoolchildren from poor backgrounds to attend education after the age of 12 and, eventually university. In the decades and centuries since its passing, the Act has attracted criticism for the strictures it placed on recipients’ families (for example, all support would be stopped if either of the recipients’ parents was arrested while drunk or if they divorced) but it was nonetheless progressive in its time: giving working class children a path to higher education.

    Meanwhile, Chamberlain’s meddling in colonial affairs was instantly felt in December 1880, when his attempts to fully absorb the independent Boer republics saw war break out in southern Africa. Although the British army was superior in most formal battles, the Boers’ guerilla tactics lead to a string of sharp defeats. Grenville and Hartington intervened personally, believing that conquering the Boers far outweighed any benefit, and negotiated a face-saving treaty effectively granting the Boer republics independence under (nominal) British suzerainty.

    Perhaps the most significant moment in the Parliament occurred, however, in January 1881, when Chamberlain allied with Charles Stewart Parnell (the leader of the Home Rule Party since May 1880) to prevent Irish Secretary William Forster taking his Coercion Bill to the Commons (which would have, amongst other things, legalised arrest without trial in Ireland). Humiliated by the failure of his signature policy proposal, Forster resigned and was replaced by Lord Frederick Cavendish, Hartington’s brother. A triumvirate of Parnell, Chamberlain and Cavendish would not generally have been predicted five years earlier but, working together, the three of them pushed through the Irish Land Act 1885, which gave greater rights to Catholic tenants to purchase the land they farmed from their (predominantly) Protestant landlords. Within 15 years of the passing of this act, over 90% of Irish land had been put in the hands of the peasantry, at a stroke reversing the Protestant Ascendancy which had obtained since the 1640s.

    Elsewhere, British force was projected with more success than had been the case in south Africa. The result of the Anglo-Egyptian War in 1882 was to strengthen British control over the region at the expense of the French and the Ottomans. When an uprising against Anglo-Egyptian rule began in Sudan two years later, General Charles Gordon was dispatched to Khartoum to evacuate the British officials there. Contrary to his orders, Gordon instead attempted to administer Khartoum and began to defend a siege from the Mahdist forces in March 1884. Despite acting contrary to explicit orders, Gordon’s refusal to surrender made him popular with the public and an expeditionary force under the command of General Wolseley was despatched to relieve him. Wolseley won a resounding victory at Omdurman in January 1885 and successfully relieved Gordon.

    In India, Lord Ripon, the Viceroy, passed the Indian Legal System Act 1883, which included provision for the introduction of native Indians to the civil service and the judiciary. The provision which caused the most controversy was the proposal that Indian judges be allowed to try white defendants or claimants. However, it eventually passed with the proviso that Europeans could demand a jury made up of 50% Europeans in such a case. More importantly, however, it provided a path for higher caste Indians to enter the civil and military services, the beginning of the slow ‘Indianisation’ of the subcontinent.

    Although the government has been regarded before and since as one of the great reforming Liberal ministries, as 1884 turned into 1885, Hartington found that increasing numbers of his cabinet were dissatisfied with its direction and the straightjacket of the Liberal governing tradition in general. Gladstone had remained close to the King and, in a letter in February 1885, he confided that he was concerned about what he called “Tory demagoguery” and the desire of the Liberals to “take into the hands of the state the business of individual men.” Hartington too was unnerved by the radicalism of people like Chamberlain but was also repelled by Gladstone’s moral self-rectitude and was unwilling to risk playing out Liberal divisions in public.

    In this context, Hartington’s melancholy moods became more pronounced and he used the opportunity of the passing of the 1884 Reform Act and the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 (which extended the vote to agricultural labourers and redistributed seats more equitably) to ask the king for a dissolution in November 1885.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
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  16. Threadmarks: Second Hartington Ministry (1885-1886)

    Rattigan Well-Known Member

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    1885.jpg Cavendish.jpg
    Lord Frederick Cavendish - Chief Secretary for Ireland and author of the First Home Rule Bill

    Despite the loss of seats, the election showed that Hartington’s government had in fact retained much of its popularity, with the vote holding up reasonably well in England, Wales and Scotland. However, what cost the Liberals their majority was the success of the Irish Parliamentary Party. With their relatively advanced electoral machine, the near-dictatorial control Parnell showed over its internal workings and their record of provable legislative success (in the form of the Land Acts), they picked up 23 more seats in Ireland (wiping out the Liberals on the island in the process). These defeats, combined with the Conservatives picking up another 10 seats across England and Scotland, caused the Liberals to lose their Parliamentary majority, although they remained the largest party in the Commons. As such, the King turned to Hartington again and, in the absence of obvious alternatives, Hartington accepted the offer.

    It was clear from the off that the Liberals would have to work closely with the Irish Parliamentarians and that there would be certain trade-offs required as a result. Although many Irish MPs (including Parnell himself) were not instinctively pro-Liberal, they understood that Lord Salisbury’s Conservatives had no chance of offering them the devolved Dublin assembly that they so craved. Their position was helped by the views of Cavendish and Chamberlain, who remained in their influential positions of Irish Secretary and Colonial Secretary, respectively. Both had been converted, via their collaboration with Parnell on several measures, to the cause of Home Rule. The ambitious Chamberlain, in particular, saw home rule as being a key plank towards the creation of his ultimate aim of an imperial federal parliament. Gladstone had also been converted to the cause and, after a long conversation with his brother at the Reform Club, Hartington was too.

    The resulting Irish Home Rule Bill came together with significant contributions from the Chamberlainite radicals as well as the Irish Parliamentarians. Nevertheless, when the proposed legislation was presented to the Commons by Cavendish, it provoked bitter debate through the summer of 1885. While some radical Liberals held private doubts, Chamberlain’s public support for the bill meant that there was little doubt that it would pass the Commons on the back of Liberal and Irish votes. However, the Lords, with its in-built Conservative majority, was a completely different matter. Despite a rebellion of 31 Liberals, the Bill passed the Commons in November by 389 votes to 281 and then went up to the Lords. There the Liberals mounted a vigorous defence of their legislation and the King even intervened privately to attempt to persuade those peers who were thought to be amenable. But the Bill nonetheless failed by 339 votes to 121.

    Furious at the anti-democratic actions of the Lords, the King agreed to dissolve Parliament in January 1886 and Hartington called an election specifically on the issue of home rule.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2018
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  17. Threadmarks: Third Hartington Ministry (1886-1888)

    Rattigan Well-Known Member

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    1886.jpg
    Parnell.jpg
    Charles Stewart Parnell - the key figure in the debates around Home Rule and the development of the early Edwardian settlement

    A vigorous and divisively-framed campaign resulted in a surprisingly static set of results, with the only change being a loss by the Conservatives to a so-called ‘Independent Conservative’ (who took the Conservative whip on almost all issues in any event). This gave clear democratic legitimacy to the Irish Home Rule Bill, which was presented (in a largely unamended form) to the Commons in March 1886 and passed easily, this time by 403 votes to 267. During the course of the Commons debate, Cavendish, introducing his legislation once more, stated that he would ask the King to break the Lords deadlock “in this Parliament” if necessary, a clear reference to the oft-suggest proposal for the King to flood the Lords with 400 Liberal peers to guarantee a majority.

    In high-level talks attended by Hartington, Gladstone, Chamberlain, Cavendish and William Harcourt as well as the Conservative leaders Lord Salisbury and Stafford Northcote, Hartington informed the King that his government would resign if the Lords vetoed the bill once more and asked for assurances that the King would appoint the necessary number of peers to carry it. Salisbury informed Edward that he would attempt to form a government if Hartington resigned but Edward stated that he did not believe that such a government (even if it could rely on the rump of Liberal ‘unionists’ - of which there were only two on the last division) could command the confidence of both Houses and pledged that he would honour Hartington’s request.

    Nevertheless, when the bill appeared in the Lords for the second time, Conservative peers introduced a series of wrecking amendments that would have effectively nullified the meaning of the new Dublin assembly. In response, Edward agreed to Hartington’s request to make his pledge public and Chamberlain began to (in a move that was, strictly speaking, outside his brief) draw up an act limiting the powers of the Lords. New (and largely speculative) lists of potential new peers began to appear in the papers, further adding to the pressure on the Lords, although what links these lists had with reality was open to question. Cowed by this show of Liberal and monarchical force, Salisbury buckled and the Lords passed the Irish Home Rule Act on 29 April 1886 and it received the royal assent the following day.

    Sensing blood in the water, the Liberals decided to press home their advantage and attempt to crush the in-built power of the Conservatives in the Lords once and for all. Their chosen means for doing this was via the Chamberlain-drafted piece of legislation known as the Parliament Bill. A series of cross-party discussions on the bill took place throughout the summer and autumn of 1886 but by November they had collapsed without agreement. In the end, the bill which was put to the Commons was effectively a combined Liberal-Irish affair, ending the Lords’ right to veto money bills and changing their power of veto over other bills to a power of delay (for up to two years). In discussions around the bill and in the bill’s preamble a revision of the Lords’ make-up was promised but there was no provision in the actual contents to make any such change.

    The bill passed the Commons and went up to the Lords, where many were urging Salisbury to take a final stand and vote it down. It was known that Edward did not favour yet another election on the issue of constitutional reform but, at the same time, his threat to create 400 Liberal peers remained very much on the table. The bill was finally passed in the Lords by 131 votes to 114, reflecting both the level of aristocratic opposition and a large number of abstentions. It was signed into law on 14 January 1887 as the Parliament Act 1887.

    The remainder of the Parliament was dedicated to constitutional issues and the administrative task of setting up the new Dublin Assembly. Although there was the expectation that the majority of the biggest names in Irish politics would return to Dublin, the Home Rule Act reserved a large amount of power in Westminster’s hands. Preparations were thrown into a degree of political chaos, furthermore, over the dissolution of the Irish Parliamentary Party. Having completed its stated mission, Parnell announced in January 1887 that he would be moving to dissolve the party, with MPs free to caucus as they wished. With not a small degree of lazy thinking, most supposed that the vast majority would simply join the Liberals. However, while most Irish MPs did have Liberal sensibilities, many did not. The party was rocked when Parnell began to openly caucus with the Conservatives in the Commons and, from March 1887, take the Conservative whip, announcing that he would be remaining in Westminster after the foundation of the Dublin Assembly in 1888. With such a prominent Irish figure remaining in Westminster politics, the liberal Irish faction soon came round to the idea that there needed to be a similarly prominent Irish politician in Westminster in order to speak up for liberal Irish interests. The figure chosen was Parnell’s long-time but now former ally John Dillon, who began to (with his followers) take the Liberal whip from April 1887.

    Although, with the addition of the liberal Irish MPs, the Liberals had a majority in the Commons once more, the party was beginning to noticeably come apart. In particular, Chamberlain in his position as Colonial Secretary was increasingly carrying out his own private policy regardless of Hartington’s views or those of the Gladstonians in cabinet. Chamberlain began instituting a variety of policies to support British colonial settlement in Africa, culminating in the chartering of the colony of Rhodesia on 20 January 1888, under the governance of Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company. Gladstone, an instinctive critic of imperialism even if he called himself a defender of the Empire, was furious that Chamberlain had circumvented cabinet discussion of the move and demanded that Hartington ask for his resignation. Hartington agreed with Gladstone and Chamberlain complied promptly with Hartington’s request and returned to the backbenches

    With a clique of around 70 radical Liberal MPs at his side, Chamberlain put down an amendment to the budget in April 1888. Although a relatively minor amendment in and of itself (it regarded the funds to be spent on the continuing reformation of the Egyptian army), Hartington correctly interpreted it as a direct challenge to his authority. Feelers were put out to the former Irish MPs who now sat with the Conservatives but it became clear that the Conservatives intended to vote with the radicals on this matter, meaning that the budget would fail.

    Hartington offered his resignation to the King but Edward, unwilling to see his favourite go, instead persuaded him to go to the country once more and see if he could construct a majority without needing the radicals. Although he was increasingly melancholy at the state of politics, Hartington dutifully put his shoulder to the wheel and began yet another general election campaign.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
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  18. Threadmarks: First Chamberlain Ministry (1888-1890)

    Rattigan Well-Known Member

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    William Harcourt - the owner of the unfortunate record of the shortest clear and effective term as Prime Minister

    The election was, in its own way, a success for both parties. The Conservatives performed unexpectedly well in Ireland, sweeping up over 50 seats in Ulster and along the east coast. Parnell was returned for his seat and even began to be spoken about as a possible Conservative leader in the future. Many of the former Irish MPs who had caucused with the Liberals lost their seats but the party remained strong in the south-west of England, the West Midlands and Scotland. They also picked up support in rural and western Ireland, gaining a total of 35 seats to recover a majority of 19. However, the areas where the Liberals had performed well were Chamberlain’s power bases. The King’s gambit had failed: instead of undermining Chamberlain the election had strengthened him as increasing numbers of Liberal MPs - some out of conviction, some out of electoral calculation - began to openly identify with his cause.

    Hartington offered his resignation and was soon joined by the aged and tired Gladstone. The King, recognising but attempting to hold off the inevitable, accepted and sent for William Harcourt, Gladstone’s preferred successor. Harcourt’s short-lived ministry failed to accomplish much of note, being as it was stuck between the hostile and newly-confident Conservatives and an series of backbench Liberal MPs in almost-open revolt. But it did manage to pass the Working Class Housing Act 1888 in July, which provided for local councils to take out loans from the Treasury for the construction of what came to be called social housing. However, the Parliamentary situation was clearly hopeless for Harcourt and, after only 79 days in office, he resigned and, bowing to the inevitable, advised the King to call for Chamberlain.

    Chamberlain declared that Britain and her Empire were entering into an age of what he called “new liberalism,” and busied himself with a radical series of military, imperial and domestic reforms. On the domestic front, Chamberlain and his new Home Secretary Frederick Maxse proposed a legislative platform which came to be known as the ‘radical programme,’ incorporating land reform, increased direct taxation, free public education, more protection for trades unions and an expansion of the franchise.

    On the military front, George Tryon was promoted to the rank of First Sea Lord in 1888 and he instantly began the process of further modernising the training of Royal Naval officers. Amongst his most significant changes was to introduce his system of TA maneuvering, increasing both the flexibility of the fleet and the initiative of his commanders. In the army, Cavendish, now Secretary for War, built on the work of Hugh Childers in the early 1880s, bringing major improvements in equipment, tactics and recruitment. In 1889, the possibility of introducing conscription along German lines was discussed but ultimately rejected.

    The remainder of Chamberlain’s first two years in government, however, was taken up by a fight over an increase in the franchise. Chamberlain was in favour of full-manhood suffrage, following the lines of some of Britain’s colonial dependencies in North America and Australasia. On occasion, this feeling had also included him making positive statements about women’s suffrage, the call for which had been gathering some pace over the past decade. The Local Government Act 1889 gave propertied women the right to vote in local government elections for the first time and this was followed up by the Representation of the People Act 1890, which extended the franchise to all men over the age of 21. Originally passing the Commons in September 1889, the Lords did their best to halt it, delaying it for a year, but it passed into law in 1890 and Chamberlain immediately called for fresh elections on the new franchise. The King was initially minded to reject Chamberlain’s request, having grown tired of constant elections and having also a great deal of antipathy for his new Prime Minister. Nevertheless, he was advised by his Private Secretary that it would not do to flat out reject such a request and so he consented to a dissolution.
     
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  19. Jimbo808 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2015
    I am really enjoying this timeline, keep up the good work.
     
  20. Threadmarks: Second Chamberlain Ministry (1890-1895)

    Rattigan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2012
    1890.jpg
    Chamberlain 1890.jpg
    Joseph Chamberlain - Radical Imperialist, Municipal Socialist and Prime Minister

    With the Liberals picking up a slough of fresh seats in urban and rural areas most affected by the extension of the franchise, Chamberlain was returned to power with an increased majority and even more of a mandate to pursue his ambitious reform policy. More secure in his power base, out went Gladstonians like Goschen, Harcourt and Morley and in came radicals in key positions such as Charles Dilke (Chancellor of the Exchequer), John Dillon (President of the Board of Trade) and Lord Rosebery (Foreign Secretary). For the Conservatives, they had gone down to their fifth consecutive defeat and many in the party felt despondent in the face of seeming radical Liberal hegemony. However, hope for the future was provided by the performance of their new leader Lord Randolph Churchill, who seemed at ease in a democratic electoral culture and was busy reforming and professionalising the Conservative infrastructure.

    One of the key planks of the Liberals’ election had been land reform, which came to be known under under the slogan “three acres and a mule.” Although the phrase never, strictly speaking, became a government policy, Maxse (still Home Secretary) was greatly concerned by the plight of both the agricultural and urban poor and in 1891 introduced the Landlord and Tenant Act, which provided for the purchase by local authorities of land to provide garden and field allotments for all labourers who might desire them, to be let in plots up up to 1 acre of arable land and 3 acres of pasture. The legislation also included provisions to give local government compulsory purchase powers and the power to compel landlords to undertake improvements to their property. In 1892, the government also introduced the first old age pensions in the UK, modeled on the scheme introduced in Germany in the 1880s. The other important domestic reform was the introduction of the Workmen’s Compensation Act 1893, a key plank of the emerging British welfare state, requiring employers to take out insurance to cover the costs of injuries suffered by their employees.

    In education, Chamberlain initially had ambitious plans to disestablish the Church of England and use their endowments to pay for compulsory free education up to the age of 18. However, such policies failed for a variety of reasons, not least the religious sensibilities of many of his MPs. However, Education Secretary Francis Adams still managed to pass the Compulsory Education Act 1891, diverting greater money to non-denominational schools and increasing the school leaving age to 16. This was followed up by an act in 1891 providing for free school meals across the country.

    Constitutionally, Chamberlain also pursued further devolution on the model of Irish Home Rule. To this end, the Scottish Home Rule Act and Welsh Home Rule Act were passed in 1892, which created Scottish and Welsh Assemblies in Edinburgh and Cardiff. The powers of these assemblies differed slightly (Wales, without a distinct legal system, for example, did not have legal responsibilities devolved to it as was the case with Dublin and Edinburgh). Plans to create a further devolved assembly for England were unveiled in 1893 but ultimately foundered for a number of reasons: Irish, Welsh and Scottish MPs were concerned that England’s demographic lead would allow it to dominate a federal union; and, more prosaically, various interest groups could not agree on where the English assembly should be situated.

    To pay for these reforms, in 1891 Dilke introduced a budget that included several proposed tax increases, most notable was the introduction of grading for the income tax and a supertax on incomes of over £5,000 (£519,000 today). In addition, a number of tariffs were introduced on imports with the aim of not only raising a large amount of money (which they did) but also to protect British industry and agriculture from European competition and boost trade and integration within the Empire. To balance out the price-raising effects of the tariffs, Dilke also introduced a programme to provide a complete valuation of all the land in the country and a 20% tax on increases in value when land changed hands. This had the effect of hitting the largest landowners hardest while also encouraging people to hold onto and develop their own land rather than sell it or sit on it. Shorn of their veto powers, the Lords were powerless to prevent the passing of what became known as the ‘People’s Budget.’ It was an important moment: the first time a budget had been passed with the explicit aim of redistributing national wealth.

    As 1894 rolled into 1895, however, the mood in the Liberal party was one of, if not exhaustion exactly, then at least one where many thought a fresh mandate would be required for the ever-more radical policy platform that Chamberlain was pursuing. Lord Randolph Churchill, meanwhile, had recovered from a mysterious illness (rumoured but never confirmed to have been syphilis) that had debilitated him in the autumn of 1894 and returned to lead the Conservatives with renewed vigour in January 1895. Lord Randolph had formulated a policy of progressive Conservatism which he called ‘Tory Democracy.’ Key to this was the idea that the Conservatives should not oppose popular reforms but instead take on their mantle for themselves. Since taking over the leadership of the Conservatives in 1889, he had built up its organisation in towns, reinforcing its support amongst the urban middle classes while simultaneously including working class elements. When Chamberlain called an election for the early of summer of 1895, it was described by wags as ‘the first mob election in British history.’
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
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