"The Commonwealth of Britain" - Republican UK Wikibox TL

During my first year at University one of my projects was to design a dream constitution/political system. I held onto it and over the years I was thinking about what the UK would look like with my magic constitution. The result was this TL.

1999, New Alliances

President

Blair's already strong position as a popular Prime Minister who led the country through the Diana Crisis was further cemented by conflict in the Tory ranks. Whilst the Liberal Democrat and Labour primaries were formalities to crown the party leaders, disillusion with Hague led to him being challenged by Ken Clarke for the nomination. Smelling blood several other rivals jumped in the race and Hague narrowly scraped his nomination. Defeating Micheal Portillo by just four points in the final round of the primary.

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House of Commons and Senate

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House of Commons and Senate

The change in electoral system led to some interesting results. Despite going up by three points since 97' Labour lost over 100 seats. The main divide was between pro-commonwealth parties. (Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP and Irish Republicans) and the anti-commonwealth parties (UKIP, Ulster Unionist and most of the Tory party). The real winners of the 99 election were the Liberal Democrats and to a lesser extent UKIP. Nigel Farage, then a little known UKIP Regional Chair became the head of a nearly 30 strong block of MPs overnight. Young rising star Ed Davey led his party to over 100 seats for the first time since the Second World War. Smaller parties such as the Scottish Socialists (3 MPs and 2 Senators) and UK Unionist Party (1 MP) managed to break the 4% threshold in at least one region and gain entry into Parliament.

The clear result was a victory for the pro-Commonwealth parties. Putting the issue to bed for the foreseeable future. Due to Parliamentary maths President Blair had only one choice. On the 11th June Gordon Brown, Margaret Beckett, Paddy Ashdown, Ed Davey and Adrian Sanders were summoned to Buckingham Presidential Palace to form the first Government of the Commonwealth of Britain.

Locally Labour dominated. Winning 10 of the 12 regional Premierships. With London going to the former Labour turned Independent Ken Livingstone. The most shocking of all was Oxford MP Andrew Smith winning the South East by a margin of less than 0.2%. The Liberal Democrats put most of their efforts in the South West. Trying to elect their Chief Whip Paul Tyler as the Lib Dem's first regional Premier. He too lost out to Labour's Dawn Primarolo by a margin of 0.4%.

The Aftermath

"The 1999 election's weren't just a defeat, they were a landslide, it was a complete massacre, we fundamentally misjudged the mood of the British people and their attitudes to the new Britain, our desperate clinging to the old order doomed us for a generation" - Then Senator Ken Clark addressing donors during the 2003 Conservative Primary

The 1999 elections, now infamous in the vocabulary of Conservatives everywhere, was the first elections of the "New Britain" as dubbed by President Blair, the election was a humiliation for the Conservatives who sought to make it into a second referendum on the Commonwealth referendum of 1998, however they fundamentally misjudged the mood of the British people, pro-Commonwealth candidate Blair defeated traditionalist Hague by nearly 2-1, in both the House of Commons and the senate, the Labour/Liberal coalition won a clear majority and not a single regional government was under Tory control when the dust settled, however much like Clement Attlee in 1945 Blair's government was not built to last, and he would lose his presidency just five years later.

"The first order of business was forming a coalition, we had such a large majority combined so the conversation was less about parliamentary arithmetic and more about ensuring the Liberal Democrats got a slice of the pie equal to our mandate"
- Fmr Ashdown Chief of Staff Tim Farron

President - Tony Blair (Labour)
Vice President - John Presoctt (Labour)
Prime Minister - Gordon Brown (Labour)
Deputy Prime Minister - Ed Davey (Liberal Democrat)
Senate Leader - Margaret Beckett (Labour)
Foreign Secretary - Paddy Ashdown (Liberal Democrat)
Chancellor - Margaret Jay (Labour)
Home Secretary - Derry Irvine (Labour)
Justice Secretary - Jack Cunningham (Labour)
Defence Secretary - Robin Cook (Labour)
Health Secretary - Alan Beith (Liberal Democrat)
Business Secretary - Nick Brown (Labour)
President of Board of Trade - George Robertson (Labour)
Work Secretary - Paul Tyler (Liberal Democrat)
Education Secretary - Stephen Byers (Labour)
Environment Secretary - Mo Mowlam (Labour)
Housing Secretary - Andrew Stunell (Liberal Democrat)
Transport Secretary - Gavin Strang (Labour)
Northern Ireland Secretary - John Morris (Labour)
Scotland Secretary - Donald Gorrie (Liberal Democrat)
Wales Secretary - Ivor Richard (Labour)
Digital, Media and Sport Secretary - (David Clark)
International Development - Robert Maclennan (Liberal Democrat)

Blair and Brown looked to form their first cabinet and looked to give a bi-partisan feel by being generous to the Liberal Democrats, granting powerful positions like Foreign Affairs and Health to the Liberal Democrats, this angered many Labour figures, especially former cabinet minister who had not stood for office expecting to be reappointed to their old jobs and now found themselves unemployed, MP Dennis Skinner remarking that Blair was more "chummy with Ashdown and the Liberals then his own MPs that put him in power in the first place."

Blair also had to form a Presidential staff, he appointed his head of policy David Miliband to chief of staff, and unsurprisingly Alistair Campbell remained Buckingham communications director.

"The first year of the Commonwealth to say the least politicians and the public were still trying to work out the social and political norms of the "New Britain", a key factor in this would be the strong relationship between President Blair and Prime Minister Brown, with each able to focus on their personal preference, Blair the international stage and discussions of national purpose and identity, and Brown's domestic agenda" Andrew Marr, "The Birth of New Britian", BBC 1 (2008)

1999 was a year of upheaval, Britain was still getting used to the politics of proportionality, with 26 UKIP MPs in parliament making ever more controversial statements, or firebrand Scottish Socialist Senator Tommy Sheridan making speeches decrying capitalism on the floor of the senate, the overton window of British politics had certainly widened, however the coalition generally held strong, most of the legislation passing through parliament was generally inoffensive, and the "two Micheals" running the parliamentary and senate Conservative parties struggled to provide strong opposition, it looked like "Liblab" would be in power forever.

"Hague's poor performance in the 1999 Presidential Election was more down to opposition to the Commonwealth then divisions in the Conservative Party, discuss" (30 Marks) - A Level History Exam Question (2019)
 

Attachments

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1999 Election Results
turnout: 68.4% (30,582,823)
President
Round 1
Blair/Prescott (Lab) - 14,893,835 (48.7%)
Hague/Lilley (Con) - 8,563,190 (28%)
Ashdown/Beith (Lib) - 5,688,405 (18.6%)
Mackinlay/Holmes (UKIP) - 1,437,393 (4.7%)

Round 2
Blair/Prescott (Lab) - 15,169,080 (49.6%)
Hague/Lilley (Con) - 9,297,178 (30.4%)
Ashdown/Beith (Lib) - 6,116,565 (20%)

Round 3
Blair/Prescott (Lab) - 19,053,099 (62.3%)
Hague/Lilley (Con) - 11,529,724 (37.7%)

Parliament
Labour - 300
Conservative - 171
Liberal Democrat - 114
UK Independence Party - 26
Scottish National Party - 12
Plaid Cymru - 5
Sinn Fein - 5
Social Democratic and Labour Party - 4
Ulster Unionist Party - 4
Democratic Unionist Party - 4
Scottish Socialist - 3
Alliance Party - 1
UK Unionist Party - 1

Senate
Labour - 164
Conservative - 86
Liberal Democrat - 56
UK Independence Party - 12
Sinn Fein - 7
Social Democratic and Labour Party - 7
Ulster Unionist Party - 7
Scottish National Party - 6
Democratic Unionist Party - 6
Plaid Cymru - 4
Scottish Socialist - 2
Alliance Party - 2
UK Unionist Party - 1

National and Regional Premieres
Labour - 10
Independent (Ken Livingstone) - 1
Social Democratic and Labour Party - 1

Metropolitan Area Mayors
Labour - 74
Liberal Democrat - 2
Conservative - 1
Sinn Fein - 1
 
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Feedback is very welcome since this is my first Timeline, It's an idea that I've been thinking about for ages so its relatively planned out so should be able to get instalments out every couple of days.

Questions about who's the Mayor of your hometown or what XXXX political or otherwise figure is up to in this world will be gladly answered as well
 
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Feedback is very welcome since this is my first Timeline, It's an idea that I've been thinking about for ages so its relatively planned out so should be able to get instalments out every couple of days.

Questions about who's the Mayor of your hometown or what XXXX political or otherwise figure is up to in this world will be gladly answered as well
How has the change to a Republic affected relations with Ireland? I assume Scotland is its own region, if so are any old English regions also given premiers? Mercia for example.
 
How has the change to a Republic affected relations with Ireland? I assume Scotland is its own region, if so are any old English regions also given premiers? Mercia for example.
In terms of international relations the transition to Commonwealth has led to a more pro-EU and pro-Irish Government, both due the inclusion of the Lib Dems and Blair's personal persuasion. It has also enhanced his friendship with Bertie Ahern.

In terms of Northern Ireland, The referendum was fought mostly on sectarian lines, same with the election. The UUP came out badly as their party was heavily split over the transition. More radical unionists moved to the DUP or abstained from voting all together. This led to a decline of the UUP and rise of the DUP faster than in our timeline. The DUP ran on a platform of inviting the Queen back as the head of Ulster which was largely mocked. The division amongst the unionists led to David Trimble falling to 3rd place in the premier election and John Hume being elected as Northern Ireland's First Premier.

Scotland has its own region. Donald Dewar was elected Premier with 50.3% in the 2nd round against four other candidates. He is currently supported by a coalition of Scottish Labour and the Scottish Lib Dems.

The English regions are drawn along NUTS lines, with nine regions in total. The historical country of Mercia is split between the West Midlands Commonwealth led by Clare Short (Labour) and the East Midlands Commonwealth led by Patricia Hewitt (Labour).
 
So, does each Celtic nation and English region have a directly-elected Premier?

Are the premiers and the president elected using instant-runoff?
Yes each nation and region uses a semi-presidential system. Similarly to the national government and OTL France and Finland. With a directly elected Premier using Alternative Vote. The state Premier then appoints a First Minister with the consent of the regional Parliament and Senate.
 
Yes each nation and region uses a semi-presidential system. Similarly to the national government and OTL France and Finland. With a directly elected Premier using Alternative Vote. The state Premier then appoints a First Minister with the consent of the regional Parliament and Senate.
Thanks.

How much devolution do the English regions have? As much as Wales (minus language-related matters)? Less?

Do Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have as much devolution as OTL, less or more so?

I'm assuming that Labour is more popular in Scotland ITTL, and the SNP less so.
 
What happened to the other Commonwealth Realms?
The Queen is still the Head of State of non-republic Commonwealth countries, although there is a growing debate among many of adopting republicanism, most high profile in Australia. The Queen currently spends her time between Canada and Windsor Castle. Britain remains an active member of the Commonwealth.
 
Thanks.

How much devolution do the English regions have? As much as Wales (minus language-related matters)? Less?

Do Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have as much devolution as OTL, less or more so?

I'm assuming that Labour is more popular in Scotland ITTL, and the SNP less so.
All the Nations and Regions have equal levels of devolution. Roughly equivalent to OTL Scotland, each has powers to make primary legislation in all areas of policy which are not expressly 'reserved' for the UK Government and parliament such as national defence and international affairs.

In terms of Scotland the results in the first round for Premier were:

Round 1
Donald Dewar (Labour) - 47.5%
Alex Salmond (SNP) - 19.6%
Jim Wallace (Liberal Democrat) - 16.1%
David McLetchie (Conservative) - 9.3%
Robin Harper (Green) - 7.5%

Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens are all more popular then they were in the 1999 Scottish elections OTL. Labour and Liberals this is down to general popularity of their national politicians and a strong night all round, as well as the personal popularity of Dewar. Greens are seen as more of viable option due to the multi-party national landscape so perform better. The SNP and Conservatives are weaker then at this point OTL. Tories because of the disarray of the national party, splits in the Scottish Tories were particularly vicious. The SNP is a victim of circumstance having had all of their short term goals handed to them they lose a lot of the "devo-max" protest vote and are reduced to hardcore nationalists.
 
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2000, The Stagecoach Picks Up Speed
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President Blair at New Years Celebrations

2000
"And I say to the Foreign Secretary to be increasingly careful in the use of force, especially at the order of a Labour Prime Minister, need I remind him that we are both Liberals, and Liberals don't feel the need to intervene in other countries to impress Bill Clinton" - Liberal Democrat MP David Ward, during a Foreign Relations committee meeting with Secretary Ashdown (2000).

President Blair opened the Millennium Dome whilst Vice-President Prescott oversaw fireworks celebration on the Thames river. A small group of grumbling royalists sang “God save the Queen" into their drinks as the millennium of the Commonwealth began. Blair had his eyes on the future. He was not content with the new political system he had created; he looked forward to a new order. A more interventionist UK, both economically and in foreign policy, and a more internationalist UK at peace with its European neighbours.

“I believe it was Harold Wilson who said “This party is a bit like an old stagecoach. If you drive along at a rapid rate everyone aboard is either so exhilarated or so seasick that you don't have a lot of difficulty.” We’ve got to keep the coach moving David, the show must go on” - An alleged exchange that formed the epigraph of David Miliband’s biography “Hanging onto the Stagecoach” (2017), Blair denies the quote.

The year 2000 in the Commonwealth was marked by two things. Firstly the Blairshdown doctrine of humanitarian interventionism, and Brown and Jay’s policies of economic investment.

With more freedom over domestic policy, and with a first woman chancellor eager to prove herself, Brown gave the go ahead for a major expansion of government spending especially in Health and Education, with a raise on National Insurance to pay for it. The Education Secretary, Stephen Byers pushed ahead with increasing spending on early years by over £1.5 billion, a large part of the budget going to several hundred “sure start” centres. Mo Mowlam saw a renaissance in her popularity by opening up several thousand miles of land as public footpaths. Leading to speculation in the media she could be Britain’s first female president.

“From a standing ovation at the 1998 conference to a snub from Tony to countryside hero. Mowlam has risen, fallen and risen again.” Steve Richards, “No Mo Mowlam Probably won’t be President", New Statesman (2000)

Meanwhile Blair and Ashdown continued to increase British intervention around the world, especially in the Balkans and West Africa.The intervention in Sierra Leone was the fourth deployment of British forces abroad during the premiership of Tony Blair, and the largest operation undertaken by the United Kingdom alone since the Falklands War. Blair would often give speeches on the doctrine of humanitarian intervention around the globe and became increasingly intoxicated by the respect it earned him.However the two men clashed on how to intervene, whilst Ashdown preferred less direct methods such as air support and aid, Blair preferred to take a direct boots on the ground approach, furthermore whilst Ashdown was intent on getting the approval of the international community, Blair was much more flippant about international permission. Ashdown also became resentful feeling that Blair used his military service as a political prop. Disputes like these would continue to grow the rift between Blair and Ashdown.

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Foreign Secretary Ashdown welcoming Former President Mandela to Buckingham Palace.

In European Policy the Lib Dems were very keen for a referendum on the Euro and the relaxing of Brown’s “five tests.” Bitter rows between Prime Minister Brown and Paddy Ashdown often took place in the cabinet. With President Blair being uncharacteristically indecisive. Finally after a particularly long cabinet meeting both the Liberal Democrats and Labour announced they would be going in the 2002 midterm Parliamentary election on platform offering a referendum on joining the euro zone, if the coalition was returned the referendum would happen. The decision was in the hands of the voters.

“Blair is playing a high-stakes game. If he pulls it off, it will be his third major transformation of this country in just five years. If he fails his new order could come tumbling down.” - Guardian Journalist Julian Glover speaking on BBC news

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A visibly older looking Brown announcing Labour's election Euro pledge

To what extent did Tony Blair "Keep the coach moving" through rapid policy and identity changes (30 Marks) - A Level History Exam Question 2019
 
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Come to think of it, what's Britain's national anthem now?
"Land of Hope and Glory" was decided rather controversially. Alternatives discussed included "Rule Britannia", "Jerusalem" and "I Vow to Thee"
They should have gone with the Republican version:


God save the Guillotine
Till England’s King and Queen
Her power shall prove:
Till each appointed knob
Affords a clipping job
Let no vile halter rob
The Guillotine

France, let thy trumpet sound –
Tell all the world around
How CAPET fell;
And when great GEORGE's poll
Shall in the basket roll,
Let mercy then control
The Guillotine

When all the sceptre'd crew
Have paid their Homage, due
The Guillotine
Let Freedom’s flag advance
Till all the world, like France
O'er tyrants' graves shall dance
And PEACE begin.
 
2001, Part One, The Darkside of Representation
2001 was marked by disputes about the Euro, former presidential candidate William Hague, alongside former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had founded a campaign group called "NoEuro" to fight against the common currency, whilst it was supposed to be a cross party group it was generally seen as a campaign arm for the right of the Conservative Party, however it was well funded and had a committed activist base. Many of the right’s future politicians would cut their teeth in the NoEuro group.

Several Labour figures, especially Prime Minister Brown became increasingly concerned with the popularity of the pound with polls showing support around 60% for keeping the old currency. Anti-euro voters were increasingly rallying around the Conservatives whilst pro-euro voters were being attracted to the Lib Dems. Leaving Labour caught in the middle. Brown was not the only one concerned. Alastair Campbell, Blair's Director of Communications feared a pro-euro Labour offensive might produce "Vote Conservative” editorials in the Euro-sceptic Sun.

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Former Presidential Candidate William Hague speaking at NoEuro Rally

"Whilst never as influential as groups like the NRA in the states, NoEuro was significant in the context of British politics, and was the first of many influential pressure groups in the Commonwealth"
- W.N. Coxall - Pressure Groups in British Politics.

Another key event in 2001 was Oldham riots, whilst the BNP had failed to get national representation, it had made breakthrough in local parliaments, including 6 seats in the North West Parliament, and Nick Griffin being elected as the parties sole representative in the North West Senate, as well as absorbing the majority of the National Front. After the attack on veteran Walter Chamberlain by three Asian youths, senator Griffin appealed for the right to a march in Oldham.

Griffins march, accompanied by Neo Nazi skinhead and thugs, was met with resistance from anti-fascist groups such as the Anti-Nazi League and local Asian groups, the march quickly escalated and a egg was thrown at Griffins face from the crowd, which caused the march to descend into violence, whilst quick intervention from the over 600 police officers in the area prevented mass violence and led to the dispersion of the crowd.

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A photographer captures the moment the egg impacts on Griffin

The "Battle of Oldham" led to much condemnation from the national press, Griffins egging garnered him little sympathy and there were calls for the BNP to be banned, most notably from North West Premier Jack Straw, the Battle of Oldham would see the BNP's standing in the opinion polls decrease dramatically, some linking the BNPs support to just 1%, and it would take several years for the BNP, and Griffins reputation to recover.

In Griffin's first speech since the riots, instead of turning their backs like they usually did all other senators left the room in protest. Leaving Griffin giving a speech to an empty room. Save the North West Senate’s Presiding Officer Bill Egerton who audibly sighed and tutted as Griffin spoke. This caused much amusement in the local press and Egerton became a media sensation.

In the weeks following the Oldham Riots membership of groups such as the Anti-Nazi League grew by nearly 2,000 members. The ANL prioritized its next campaign around preventing the BNP reaching the 4% threshold to enter national politics. Several regional Governments led by the North West Straw administration expanded its anti-racism legislation.This was celebrated by many. Pro-Commonwealth activists argued that the spotlight caused by their new platform killed the BNP. Anti-Commonwealth campaigners pointed out that because of electoral reform the far right now had staff, offices and legitimacy.

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North West Premier Jack Straw Condemning the Violence and announcing measures to crack down on far-right groups

"Oldham saw the darkside of our expanded democracy, whilst it allowed new ideas to flourish it also brought extremists like the BNP and unfortunately cost people their lives"
- Micheal White, The Darkside of Representation, Oldham One Year on", The Guardian (2002)

To what extent do you agree with the statement "Representation killed extreme parties such as the BNP" (30 Marks) - A Level History Exam 2019
 
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I just wanted to say I'm really enjoying this TL and looking forward to seeing where you take it! Updates can't come soon enough.

I suspect with PR implemented the Greens might start to have some real successes before too long. Perhaps we might even see the Green party in some coalitions? They've had some important impacts up in Scotland, at least in recent years.

Also, I'm appreciating the regional politics! I've often thought that England has some intriguing possibilities for divergences in how different regions could do politics and policy.
 
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