"The Commonwealth of Britain" - Republican UK Wikibox TL

What city did the SNP win the mayoralty of? And Sinn Fein winning premiership of N.I!? That's going to scare some unionists. Border poll as TTL Indy Ref?
 
What city did the SNP win the mayoralty of? And Sinn Fein winning premiership of N.I!? That's going to scare some unionists. Border poll as TTL Indy Ref?
The SNP's Maureen Watt won the mayoralty of Aberdeen unseating the Lib Dem's Robert Smith, becoming the first SNP Mayor
 
And Sinn Fein winning premiership of N.I!? That's going to scare some unionists. Border poll as TTL Indy Ref?
I would like to a wikibox of how that election turned out.

Did the DUP alienate too many Alliance or UUP voters, or something? Too many unionist ballots having their preferences exhausted too early?
There was a mix of factors leading to Sinn Fein winning the Premiership.
  1. Incumbent Ian Paisley retired, leading the DUP to select Peter Robinson as their candidate. Robinson was generally seen as an a poor politician and campaigner, he struggled to hold the party together and was seen as dull and technocratic compared to the firebrand Paisley.
  2. The TUV split was much worse than OTL, this was for two reasons, firstly because third parties are a lot more viable now, secondly because the DUP has moved away from an uncompromisingly royalist position. Whilst they still support bringing back the Queen, its not their main campaign point like it had been under Paisley, this caused many ultra-unionists to switch to the TUV or abstain all together.
  3. Sinn Fein had re-branded and modernised itself, whilst Martin McGuinness was still at the head it made successful attempts to soften its image.
  4. Moderate parties like the UUP and Alliance pushed heavily a narrative of Jim Alistair and the TUV pulling Robinson's strings, this scared off moderate and cross community voters and caused lots of them to either vote Sinn Fein in the final round or abstain.
As for the question of a border poll, whilst their is a Sinn Fein Premier there is still a Unionist majority in the Northern Irish Parliament; 21 Unionist, 18 Nationalist and 6 cross-community (Alliance and Greens), meaning to pass any legislation Sinn Fein is reliant on moderate unionists or cross community votes, whilst the Alliance might back minor policies like extra spending on the Irish Language, it will take a lot to convince them to back a border poll and the division that could bring.

(Wikibox coming soon)
 
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There was a mix of factors leading to Sinn Fein winning the Premiership.
  1. Incumbent Ian Paisley retired, leading the DUP to select Peter Robinson as their candidate. Robinson was generally seen as an a poor politician and campaigner, he struggled to hold the party together and was seen as dull and technocratic compared to the firebrand Paisley.
  2. The TUV split was much worse than OTL, this was for two reasons, firstly because third parties are a lot more viable now, secondly because the DUP has moved away from an uncompromisingly royalist position. Whilst they still support bringing back the Queen, its not their main campaign point like it had been under Paisley, this caused many ultra-unionists to switch to the TUV or abstain all together.
  3. Sinn Fein had re-branded and modernised itself, whilst Martin McGuinness was still at the head it made successful attempts to soften its image.
  4. Moderate parties like the UUP and Alliance pushed heavily a narrative of Jim Alistair and the TUV pulling Robinson's strings, this scared off moderate and cross community voters and caused lots of them to either vote Sinn Fein in the final round or abstain.
As for the question of a border poll, whilst their is a Sinn Fein Premier there is still a Unionist majority in the Northern Irish Parliament; 21 Unionist, 18 Nationalist and 6 cross-community (Alliance and Greens), meaning to pass any legislation Sinn Fein is reliant on moderate unionists or cross community votes, whilst the Alliance might back minor policies like extra spending on the Irish Language, it will take a lot to convince them to back a border poll and the division that could bring.

(Wikibox coming soon)
Does Northern Ireland not have a power-sharing arrangement in parliament?
 
Does Northern Ireland not have a power-sharing arrangement in parliament?
It does but Unionists still are unwilling to approve a border poll, and its not a fight Sinn Fein want to have straight away, they want to "prove themselves in Government", grow their political support and then try and push for a border poll further down the line, in a similar strategy to OTL SNP.
 
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2009 Part 5, Scandals in a Commonwealth Summer
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Tuition Fees would be a dividing issue throughout the ConLib coalition

“Let’s be clear about what has happened. The House of Commons has not voted only for a rise in tuition fees in English universities. It has voted for the privatisation of British Higher education. Micheal Gove announced the creation of Britain’s second private university – the first for 20 years. That university is run by BPP, a provider of various professional qualifications, listed on the Stock Exchange since 1986. In 2009, BPP became part of Apollo Global Inc. The purpose of Apollo Global is to make profit from the opportunities presented by a global knowledge economy. Individuals need qualifications to sell themselves on the global labour market, and they're willing to pay a lot of money for it. But entering the higher education market is challenging. The entry costs are high. It takes a lot of money to build and staff a campus, and years to develop the kind of reputation that inspires full confidence. And there are already lots of established ‘brands’ providing Higher Education.”
- Britain, greet the age of privatised Higher Education, Alan Finlayson, OpenDemocracy (2009)

In the sweltering heat of July came a reckoning for the Commonwealth’s Liberal Democrats, the Higher Education Act of 2009. Amongst several reforms to “streamline” and “moderniser” universities, there was a raising of tuition fees from £3,000 a year under the Labour Government to £6,000, doubling the level of debt for young people. This policy was particularly damming for the Liberal Democrats, anti-war and anti-fees young people had been the party’s base of support throughout the last few Parliaments, worst of all Liberal Democrats, including Ed Davey and Vince Cable had signed the National Union of Students pledge to abolish fees should they get into Government. Not only had the Lib Dems failed to scrap fees, their MPs were actively voting to increase it.

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Most Liberal Democrat candidates signed the NUS pledge during the 2008 election

Protests erupted in London and around the country. In Birmingham about 30 protesters occupied the city council's offices. There were also protests in Leeds, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Belfast, Brighton and Manchester. School pupils took to the streets to join students. The Met police arrested a total of 160 people during the course of protests in London. Some 140 were arrested for breach of the peace, and ten with violent disorder.

The opposition hoped to use this division to bring the coalition crashing down just a year after its birth. David Miliband condemned the fees as a "tragedy for a whole generation of young people". Miliband confirmed his party would vote against the proposals. Miliband argued that it was unfair that the cost of degree courses was being put on to students. Miliband warned that fees would "force students to choose the cheapest courses, not the one that suits them best". The Greens and SNP also saw an increase in support due to their policy of scrapping tuition fees. In a viral speech, Green MP Shahrar Ali condemned MPs for hypocrisy, arguing that they had all benefited from free tuition fees and had “pulled the ladder up behind them.” Despite rumours that Cable or Huhne would resign, most Liberal Democrats kept the faith and travelled through the aye lobby in support of the Government. The coalition was here to stay.

“The government has survived a revolt by Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs over its plans to increase tuition fees. Parliament approved the policy 46 votes. The coalition lost its majority and had to be bailed out by UKIP MPs following an impassioned five-hour Commons debate. 46 Lib Dem MPs rebelled, along with five Conservatives. The coalition motion, backed by 340 votes to 294, would raise fees to £6,000 a year. The debate took place while thousands of students staged protests at Westminster. After the outcome became clear, protesters smashed windows in the Treasury buildings. Ministers said that the fees increase was necessary and fair, but Labour argued it would deter the poor from going to university. Some 46 Lib Dems rebelled, while 76 - including the party's ministers - backed the change, and three abstained. Five Tory MPs voted against the motion and two abstained. All Lib Dem MPs said before the election that they would oppose any rise in tuition fees. The coalition deal included an agreement to allow them to abstain in any vote on the issue.” - Tuition Fees Vote, BBC (2009)

This wasn’t the only scandal of the summer. The Guardian published allegations that the publisher of the News of the World paid £1m in court costs after its journalists were involved in phone tapping. The Guardian claimed News of the World settled three cases after obtaining information illegally. It claimed News Group paid £700,000 in damages and costs to the head of the professional footballers' association. News of the World targeted over 3,000 high-profile figures. These included model Elle Macpherson and former Vice President John Prescott. The scandal especially affected the Conservative Party, this was because the editor at the time of the hacking, Andy Coulson was now George Osborne's press officer. Osborne said he was "very relaxed" about the story. "The ramping up of this story is ridiculous - this is about a payment made well after Andy left the News of the World." This launched a massive legal case and the decline of public trust in both the media and the Conservative Party.

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Coulson made the cardinal sin of a political staffer, he became the story

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Eric Pickles was struggling to stay on top of the growing Swine Flu pandemic. The Government launched the National Pandemic Flu Service across England. This was a website and phone line allowing people who thought they had the virus to bypass the NHS to get antiviral drugs. The website crashed within hours of its launch due to the overwhelming demand. This further fed to the narrative of a dysfunctional coalition Government that was unable to deal with events, for a Labour Party coming out of a disastrous defeat, the chaos was warmly welcomed. Labour saw a small uptick in its polling mostly at the expense of the two coalition parties, especially the Lib Dems

“A new poll reveals that the 'fees generation' are opposed to any increase in university fees. The poll, conducted by YouGov for UCU shows that a staggering 85% of young people (18-24 year olds) oppose an increase in student tuition fees. Only 5% are in favour. 2011's elections will be the first for many students who started their university education. The poll's warning was echoed by Senator John Leech who called on the party to make education a natural Liberal issue. Scott said the party should force the Tories to show their hand on the issue. UCU is warning that the 'fees generation' may reap revenge unless the Lib Dems commit not to increase university tuition fees. In the 2008 general election the Liberal Democrats led Labour among 18-24 year olds, now Labour leads. UCU said today that any party wishing to win the next election could not afford to ignore voters on the controversial issue of student funding. Even in 2005, top-up fees' unpopularity had led to defeat for Labour in areas with large populations of students.” - Beware revenge of 'fees generation' poll warns Lib Dems, UCU (2009)

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UCU Industrial Action spread like wildfire around the country

The Government’s attempts to get a handle on the Swine Flu situation included a mass delivery of informative leaflets to every household in the country, whilst this massive project started weeks ago, it faced a snag. Business Secretary Dominic Grieve had announced his intentions to privatise Royal Mail. This received a great backlash from Britain’s major trade unions who argued the Government was being opportunistic in its privatisation and should wait until after the pandemic, Royal Mail workers were risking disease through working and were scared of receiving worse conditions.

The Government didn’t listen and Osborne confirmed in October the privatisation would be going ahead. In response workers voted to take strike action over job security and working conditions. They voted three to one in favour of action, with nearly 62,000 out of a total of 81,000 workers who voted saying they wanted to strike. The Government tried to de-legitimise the strike, arguing said 60% of the total number of postal workers working in the UK did not vote to strike. Whilst most expected the union to vote in favour of strike actions, the landslide result came as a great surprise. Three quarters of union members polled endorsed the union's call for a national stoppage. This undermined the suggestion that disaffection was restricted to a few hotspots. The CWU, and its leader Billy Hayes were a formidable opponent. Vice President Michael Ancram "condemned" the plan to strike as "deplorable and irresponsible". He said it would drive away customers and undermine confidence in the postal service. The privatisation of Royal Mail would not be the last privatisation controversy of the year.

“Dominic Grieve today insisted the government's plan to privatise Royal Mail would bring a "gale force of fresh air" to its management. Whilst David Miliband said Labour would support the use of some private companies in Royal Mail, he ruled out supporting any full privatisation. Labour rebels are geared up for a fight over the proposals. The Business Secretary said that it was too much to expect the taxpayer to take on the whole burden of financing the modernisation of the company. But Labour and Liberal Democrat backbenches opposed to the move claimed that they had the support of some cabinet ministers. More than 30 Labour MPs have already signed a Commons early day motion (EDM) saying they are opposed to the scheme. They want Royal Mail to remain "wholly publicly-owned". Earlier today, Grieve met around 20 Liberal Democrat MPs in the Commons to discuss the issue. The meeting was "civilised", although the business secretary did not give ground and did not appear to win over any of his critics.” - Grieve insists Royal Mail privatisation will go ahead, Andrew Sparrow, The Guardian (2009)

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The last 2000s saw an upsurge in industrial action in the UK, both from UCU and the CWU

To what extent did the 2008 coalition bring stability to the Commonwealth? (30 Marks) - A Level History Exam (2019)
 
Closer Look, 2009 Northern Irish Premier Election
Taken from Election Night 2009

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DD - We have some breaking news from Belfast, Martin Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein has been elected Premier of Northern Ireland, beating the DUP's Peter Robinson by less than 6,000 votes, BBC Northern Ireland's Political Correspondent Stephen Walker is in the studio to talk us through. Stephen what exactly happened?

SW - That is exactly the question the DUP are asking, just 6,000 votes or 0.3% of voters in it, the result here was incredibly close. Many in the Robinson camp blame Jim Allister and the TUV. Mr Allister told his supporters to put him as their number one choice and not put any further preferences, in protest of the DUP's position of "Reluctant Acceptance". This is the DUP's policy of not making the return of Elizabeth Windsor a red line in any Government negotiations.

DD - That greatly upset unionist communities correct?

SW - Exactly, when the UUP adopted an acceptance policy in the early 2000s it was seen as a betrayal by many unionists who shifted to the DUP, looks like those same have been scorned again. They're switched their votes to the TUV or stayed homee entirely.

DD - And what does this mean for the future of Northern Ireland, will we see a border poll in the next few months?

SW - Well of course this isn't the first time Northern Ireland has had a Republican Premier, moderate John Hume became Premier in 1999, but of course Mr McGuinness is seen as much more radical than Hume. Sinn Fein was the political wing of the IRA and some have accused Mr McGuinness of being a recent IRA fighter, charges he strongly denies, saying he left the Republican Army in the 70s. As for a border poll anything is possible but Mr McGuinness has said it is "not a priority at this time". Mr McGuinness hopes to try and cool anxieties and grow his support in the Northern Irish Parliament at the 2011 elections, there are currently more unionists than republicans in the Parliament so it'd be difficult for Mr McGuinness to push through a border poll even if he wanted to.

DD - I'm sure tensions will be running high in unionist neighbourhoods, is there any chance of this result being challenged? Or worse a return to violence?

SW - If there is violence it will be from smaller splinter groups I'd imagine, both the UUP and DUP have congratulated Mr McGuinness and say they want to keep the power-sharing arrangement under the Good Friday Agreement going. I'm sure Sinn Fein is very aware of how scary this will seem to some communities and that is probably why McGuiness' reconciliatory victory speech was so cautious.

DD -Thank you Stephen, I now have with me the Liberal Democrat Senator for East Anglia with me ,Matthew Oakeshott, Senator Oakeshott, only 8% of the vote for your sister party Alliance, it's not looking good for the yellow team, what is the lesson from this election?...
 
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I wonder what the continuity SDP is doing?
Not much tbh, they have a few Council seats around the place in places like East Yorkshire but they've never managed to break through at either a regional or national level. Their best recent result was in the Yorkshire Parliament Election of 2008 where they got 1.8% of the vote, way off the 4% threshold. Occasionally a local councillor somewhere will defect to them but they have a fairly small impact on Commonwealth politics.
 
2009 Part 6, Selloffs and Sellouts
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Vince Cable became the public face of privatisation

Cable and Grieve’s “privatisation blitz” continued as the Commonwealth’s hot summer turned to a damp winter. Cable announced plans to privatise major existing infrastructure as well as future infrastructure projects. The total sale was nearly £20 billion of public assets. The most contentious was the Government’s plan to privatise the Dartford Crossing. The plans caused an outcry, especially in Conservative/UKIP marginal areas of North Kent like Gravesend and Medway, locals were worried privatisation would lead to a marked increase in the toll, which could spell disaster for many companies on the Kent/London border. Over 150,000 vehicles used the crossing each day. The annual profit from tolls was nearly £60 million.

“David Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition welcomed the move to sell off assets but said any plans to do so in the current market were "barmy". He said: "Given the state of the public finances, asset sales, at least in principle, make sense. But this government does not have a good track record in getting the taxpayer a good price from asset sales. Attempts to sell off large amounts of government land into a very depressed market as we have now would be barmy. The Chancellor should base asset sales on a financial calculation not a political one." a Labour source described it as "the largest sell off since the 1980s privatisation".” - George Osborne's fire sale of public assets to raise £20bn, Allegra Stratton, The Guardian (2009)

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Osborne and the Conservatives were still enjoying a honeymoon in the polls, which Osborne used to push through radical economic reforms

This scheme caused particular anxiety amongst South East Conservative MPs and Senators, Kent had long been a Conservative bastion, but in the most recent council election UKIP had broken 25% of the vote, winning 22 seats and becoming the County’s main opposition party, many South East Tories were nervous that UKIP would take advantage of the controversy to grow its political support in the region.

“The strongest vote for Ukip in the entire country came in the small town and port of Boston in Lincolnshire. 45 per cent of voters cast their ballot for the party. But this was not the only place where the party had increased its vote to surge past the 30 per cent mark. Most of its strongholds were market towns or working-class communities that were scattered along the east coast. from Lincolnshire to Norfolk, Essex, Kent, Suffolk, and round the cost to Sussex. They included South Holland, Norfolk and a large swathe of territory in Kent that covered Gravesham, Medway, Shepway and Swale. Some areas outside the east had also given strong support. These included competing with the BNP for the industrial Labour towns of Mansfield and Rotherham.” - UKIP: Inside the Campaign to Redraw the Map of British Politics, Matthew Goodwin (2015)

Over in Northern Ireland tensions were slowly simmering. Nationalists had great hopes for their new Premier, Martin McGuinness, republican areas were rolling out Irish tricolours ready for an imminent border poll that never came. For the most radical nationalists McGuinness was a disappointment, he continued to share power with the DUP and ruled out a border poll in the near future, whilst this was popular with most voters and helped cool unionist concerns, some radical republicans saw McGuinness and Sinn Fein as at best a disappointment, at worst a traitor.

This discontent with Sinn Fein saw a small increase in sporadic dissident republican attacks. A bomb was detonated under the car belonging to a Police officer's wife in the Unionist area of East Belfast. Paramedics took the woman to hospital with minor injuries as the bomb was set to go off in the passenger side where her husband usually sat. Luckily for the officer he was not present on the day. The Real IRA later claimed responsibility. A few days later an improvised bomb was thrown at an army base in the north of Belfast some time before 1am. The bomb didn't injure anyone. The base was the home of the North Irish Horse Regiment, a Royal Armoured Corps unit. The worst attack was a drive-by shooting by dissidents which killed two British soldiers. The Real IRA believed a deteriorating security situation on the streets would prompt backbenchers in Sinn Fein to push for a border poll. The various attacks were poorly organised and aside from the two soldiers no one else was seriously hurt. They were condemned by all sections of the Northern Irish community, but it did represent another issue the Government had to deal with.

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Police presence in Northern Ireland would increase in the late 2000s

“Sinn Fein united with the British government in Westminster, in condemnation of attacks claimed by the Real IRA. A dissident republican group opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process said Sunday it shot dead two British soldiers at an army base. This is the first such killing in 12 years. A man from the Real IRA claimed responsibility for the attack at the Massereene barracks northwest of Belfast in a phone call to a newspaper. The soldiers were killed when two masked gunmen pulled up outside their barracks and fired two long bursts of automatic gunfire. The attack has raised fears that sectarian violence could return to Northern Ireland. The nation has seen relative peace since 30 years of sectarian unrest which cost some 3,000 lives was ended with a 1998 peace accord. Figures from all parties vowed the shootings, would not shake the political system put in place as part of the peace process. Northern Ireland is a British nation ruled by a devolved power-sharing government. Premier Martin McGuinness said the days of conflict "can never come back again". -
Parties unite to condemn attacks claimed by Real IRA, France 24 (2009)

Despite the various challenges the Conservatives still had a comfortable lead of 13 points in the polls and the coalition managed to blast through several pieces of early legislation. Some highlights included the “Marine Access Act”, a Tory right pet peeve which regulated fishing in British waters, including the establishment of an exclusive economic zone. A cross party group of MPs also passed the “Autism Act”. The bill required the Secretary of State to prepare and publish an autism strategy. The strategy set out the strategy for meeting the needs of adults in England with autism. It called for an improvement of relevant services to such adults by local authorities and NHS trusts. Despite votes against by BNP and UKIP MPs, the Bill passed by a landslide.

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The Autism Act was a great victory for neurodivergent rights activists

Labour was facing problems of its own, after the two defeats of 2008 and 2009 the party was looking for a scalp before the vital elections of 2011. David Miliband was a competent commons and media performer but struggled to articulate what specifically Labour stood for, many in the party, especially the left were annoyed at his lack of opposition to spending cuts and privatisation. Miliband’s support for the Government’s infrastructure privatisation project became the last straw for many Brownite and left-wing MPs. A cabal of 40 MPs, organised by arch Brownite Yorkshire MP Jon Trickett pushed for Miliband to resign, or at least announce he would not lead the party into the next election, his leadership in 2008 had been a disaster, his Presidential campaign had collapsed, he was essentially a dead man walking, all they needed was for someone to twist the knife.

A friendly and cordial meeting between Miliband and a group of the Trickett rebels took place in Miliband’s office in Norman Shaw North, after a ninety minute discussion the meeting was concluded, later that evening Miliband addressed the PLP, and then the media in the press conference. He announced he could not in good faith lead the party into the next election, nor could he walk away in a time of national crisis. Miliband announced he would serve a full term as Leader of the Opposition, but would not seek re-election in 2011, and thus would not lead the party into that election.

"Veteran Brownite hands launched a media offensive that ensured they set the tone for how many would explain Miliband's announcement. Tom Watson, described Miliband's strategy as a ‘hideous and ghastly experiment." Preeminent Brown ally, Ed Balls, claimed 2008 ‘was an election that Labour could have won. David Miliband lost it’. Miliband had discarded what Balls called ``the eternal Brownite truth". According to Balls, "a Brownite wants to win as broad a coalition of support on the centre and left to make the country fairer." John Trickett said on the issue "People talk about opposition for opposition's sake Blairites think you can win elections by agreeing with everything the Conservatives say. Support for support’s sake." By supporting many of the government's cuts and attacking Labour, Miliband alienated Labour's core vote." - Labour's Campaigns 2008-2011, Steven Fielding (2012)

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Brown's defeat and Miliband's announcement played into the hands of Former Education Secretary Ed Balls, who was now one of the most senior Labour politicians left standing

“Brownism was the dominant ideology in the Labour Party 1999-2011”, discuss (30 Marks) - A Level History Exam (2019)
 
2010, Part 1, Clean Hands
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Prime Minister George Osborne payed tribute to Hamer in the House of Commons

“Michael Howard led tributes today to Sunday Mirror defence correspondent Rupert Hamer who was killed in an explosion in Afghanistan. The President praised Hamer’s “courage, skill and dedication”, while colleagues said he was “popular”. Hamer, 39, who was married with three young children, died of his wounds at the scene north-west of Nawa. He is the first British journalist to be killed in the current conflict in Afghanistan. The newspaper’s photographer, Philip Coburn, was injured in yesterday’s blast, which also killed a US Marine and an Afghan soldier, the MoD said. Coburn, 43, is in a serious but stable condition, the MoD said. He and Hamer embedded themselves with the US Marine Corps when they were caught in the explosion. They were accompanying a patrol when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. According to the Sunday Mirror, the experienced pair flew to the region on New Year’s Eve for a trip scheduled to last a month. He wanted to embed himself with the US marines at the start of their surge into southern Afghanistan.”
- Sunday Mirror's Rupert Hamer killed in Afghanistan, Press Gazzette (2010)

2010 started with dark news for the Commonwealth. Sunday Mirror defence correspondent Rupert Hamer was killed in an explosion in Afghanistan, making him the 17th journalist to be killed in the Afghanistan War. This brought the issue of wars in the Middle East to the forefront of British politics once again, just as Aliastair Campbell was called before the Chillcot inquiry.

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Police had to escort Campbell through a scrum of press

Most commentators agreed that Campbell gave a mixed performance and seemed rattled. He said he defended "every word" of the September 2002 dossier on Iraq's WMD - which included the infamous "45 minute" claim. He said he was "very proud" of the part he played and Britain should be proud of its role in bringing democracy to Iraq. He revealed Blair had sent a series of notes to George Bush in which he said, should military action become necessary, Britain would "be there". In the afternoon he also suggested Blair had not included Paddy Ashdown in the "inner circle" of advisers on the war. Campbell justified this saying the Government couldn't trust Ashdown not to leak information.

After Campbell’s appearance was Chillcot’s “main attraction” former President Tony Blair. Despite losing his Presidency Blair had remained in the public eye often appearing as a commentator in the media. Some had expected Blair’s election defeat to humble him, they had been wrong.

Blair said the Iraq war made the world a safer place and he had "no regrets" about removing Saddam Hussein. In a nervous defence of his decision to back war, Blair said Saddam was a "monster and he threatened the world." A member of the public barracked he former President as Blair made his closing statement at the end of a six-hour grilling at the Iraq inquiry. He said Iraqis were now better off and he would take the same decisions again. Family members of service personnel killed in Iraq had been sitting behind Blair in the public gallery as Chilcot questioned him. Chilcot asked Blair at the end of the session if he had any regrets about the war. Blair said that although he was "sorry" it had been "divisive" he believed it had been right to remove Saddam. "It was better to deal with this threat, to remove him from office and I do believe the world is a safer place as a result." When Blair left some members of the public booed him and three women shouted at him "you are a liar" and "you are a murderer".

“Tony Blair has been accused of warmongering spin. The Former President claimed that western powers might be forced to invade Iran because it poses as serious a threat as Saddam Hussein. Richard Dalton, accused Blair of trying to make confrontation with Iran an electoral issue. This came after the former prime minister singled out its Islamic regime as a global threat in his evidence to the Iraq war inquiry yesterday. Blair said many of the arguments that led him to confront Saddam Hussein seven years ago now applied to the regime in Tehran. "We face the same problem about Iran today," he told the Chilcot inquiry. Dalton said it was essential that all the political parties made clear that there would be no repeat of Blair's actions in respect of Iran. "One result of Tony Blair's intervention on Iran is to put the question of confronting Iran into play in Parliament. We need to be much clearer, as voters, with our politicians that we expect a different behaviour and a greater integrity in our democracy next time." - Tony Blair accused of putting war with Iran on the electoral agenda, Today Programme, BBC Radio 4 (2010)

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The anti-war Independent was not happy with Blair's statement

Gordon Brown was the next major Labour figure to give evidence. Gordon Brown told the Iraq inquiry the war had been "right" - and troops had all the equipment they needed. The former PM also insisted Tony Blair had not kept him in the dark, despite not being aware of some developments. His own intelligence briefings as PM had convinced him that Iraq was a threat that "we had to deal with", he said. But the main issue for him was that Iraq was in breach of UN resolutions - and that he could not allow "rogue states" to flout international law. If the international community could not act together over Iraq, Brown said, he feared the "new world order we were trying to create would be put at risk". He began the session by paying tribute to the "sacrifice" made by British servicemen and women. He then said: "it was the right decision and made for the right reasons." Brown acknowledged that there were "important lessons" for the country to learn from the way Iraq descended into chaos. "It was one of my regrets that I wasn't able to be more successful in pushing the Americans on this issue."

The inquiry had been an embarrassment for Labour who were still reeling from David Miliband’s planned departure. The Liberal Democrats also struggled to take advantage of any goodwill the inquiry may have created, whilst many members of the public respected Ashdown’s principled stand, anger over the Osborne coalition stopped the Lib Dems from taking advantage of the situation. The main beneficiary of the inquiry was the Greens, the only unabashedly anti-war national party. Pro-Green journalist Natalie Bennett took to the airwaves and made a name for herself as the voice of the British left , the Greens saw a small pick up in their vote, polling over 6% in one poll, which would earn them 40 seats.

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Many disaffected Lib Dems voters and local politicians would make the jump to the Greens during the coalition

“The Green Party is polling at 6% in the Independent’s latest poll. The poll reveals that 12% of people who voted Lib Dem in 2008 intend to vote Green in 2011. The Green Party has been polling at some of their highest numbers ahead of a General Election since 2003, a breakthrough year. The Greens have been closing the small polling gap on UKIP (8%) in recent months. Richard Mallender, acting Green Party Parliamentary Leader, said: “As pollsters and commentators are recognising, next year's election will be a genuine five-party race. The four business-as-usual parties have shown they cannot move on from the failed policies of the past 30 years. It is not surprising that support for the Green Party is swelling. We're offering the idea of real change with a society. We're not going to see transformative change from UKIP or the Lib Dems. We offer a transformation of our economy so that it works for the common good, not for the good of the few. The Green Party's support for decent wages and benefits for all who need them offers the positive way forward."
- 12% of people who voted Liberal Democrat in 2008 intend to #VoteGreen2011, Press Release on the Green Party’s Website (2010)

It wasn’t all sunshine for the Conservatives either, the Royal Mail dispute continued in deadlock. Osborne and Grieve were unwilling to back down, and neither was the CWU. Added to the Government’s woes, UNITE announced BA cabin crew would be going on strike over the crucial Easter period. BA cabin crew were striking over changes to pay and staffing levels imposed by the airline last November. Besides strike action, the union announced at a press conference that it would also ballot its members on BA's offer tabled earlier this week. UNITE said it would not recommend the deal. Shortly afterwards, BA boss Willie Walsh told the BBC that the airline's offer was no longer available. He said the offer was conditional on UNITE averting strike action, and so he had withdrawn it. Unite's assistant general secretary Len McClusky said the move by British Airways "beggared belief". UNITE denied that the offer was ever conditional. Both sides reasserted that they were available for further talks, but the language on both sides hardened. Walsh said the two parties were "not close at all" to coming to an agreement. The union's proposals to save more than £70m at the airline included staff pay cuts that BA described as "wrong". Walsh said Unite had failed to provide any credible plan to date.

With industrial action mounting the coalition was increasingly in trouble, however it would be nothing compared to the scandal the coalition was about to face its biggest scandal yet, when senior Ed Davey staffer Ibrahim Taguri was caught on camera offering favours to a fake businessman, in return for donations to the Lib Dems.

“Commonwealth party finance law in 2010 was as follows: Donations to parties from individuals or institutions was capped at 9 million. Campaign spending by parties was capped at £25 million. Trade unionists could "opt into" political affiliation (rather than "opt out" as at present). State aid to parties was disturbed on a cash-for-votes basis after Parliamentary elections (£4 per voter, for each party winning seats).” - Politics UK Textbook, Bill Jones (2018)

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The Commonwealth's generous state aid policy came under scrutiny during the "Cash for Influence" scandal

Campaign finance is increasingly important in determining the outcome of Commonwealth elections.’ Analyse and evaluate this statement. (30 Marks) - A Level Politics Exam (2019)
 
Closer Look, 2009 Senate Presiding Officer Election
Since Haselhurst stayed on in a caretaker position, the need to elect a Senate Presiding Officer was less urgent then in the House of Commons. The Senate held it's election a few months after its sister chamber, but like it's sister chamber the election was divided between reformists who wanted to radically change the chamber, and traditionalists who had supported Martin and Haselhurst. After seeing the victory of Campbell in the House of Commons, the two main parties closed ranks, anxious not to see another third party speaker, both the Lib Dem's Alan Beith and UKIP's Peter Whittle considered bids but were rebuffed by Senatorial colleagues.

Nigel Evans was a leading traditionalist. The Welsh-born Conservative MP was popular in his own party and had friends in UKIP and Labour, Evans ran as a traditionalist, promising to "protect" members and act as a "silent champion for the backbenches". Evans also tried to embrace the change mantle by coming out as gay during the election. During the campaign Evans drew criticism over his £370 a month expenses on phone bills. Eyebrows were also raised when journalists discovered Evans had bought three digital cameras. Evans later drew criticism for saying that he struggled to live on his salary of over £70,000 per year. He said he made those comments in jest.

Evan's main rival was the reformist Scottish MP Tom Clarke. Clarke was a veteran politician, having served as an MP since 1982 and in the Senate since 1999. Clarke said the Senate had to "embrace change" and campaigned on closer links with the House of Commons, as well as further support for Senators, like an on-site nursery for Senators and their staff.

Lindsay Hoyle ran as a middle ground candidate between the two, the warm Lancastrian had crashed his ministerial career after several high-profile clashes with President Blair, Hoyle said he would reform the Senate to give more power to ordinary back-bench Senators, and he would select Senators to speak on basis of expertise rather than seniority.

Uber-posh "old Tory" Geoffrey Clifton-Brown also ran as a traditionalist, Clifton Brown was popular with MPs but was seen as a toff and many were weary of him becoming the public face of the Senate, unlike the other candidates Brown didn't really have a unique selling point, with most traditionalists deciding the younger Evans would be a better choice.
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The result was a fairly clear victory for Evans, both Hoyle and Brown were traditionalists at heart and most of their preferences flowed to Evans in the final round. Nigel Evans had become the Senate's second ever Presiding Officer.

"Nigel was a teenager when he joined the Conservative Party - and in his twenties when he was elected as a county councillor. His ambition to become an MP was finally realised in 1992 when he secured the Lancashire seat of Ribble Valley. Michael Howard appointed him Vice-Chair of the Conservative Party between 1999 and 2001. He was the ranking opposition member on the Senate's Wales Committee from 2001 to 2004. As member of the Panel of Chairs, he was responsible for chairing Public Bill Committees. The Senate Elected him Presiding Officer in 2010. He was the first LGBT politician the Senate elected to the role and stood on a campaign pledge to promote LGBT issues globally. In his spare time Nigel enjoys playing squash and listening to classical music." - Biography of the Presiding Officer, Senate (2020)
 
That David Milliband quote re: privatisation! I forgot that the Labour party used to be like that. Glad they got rid of him ITTL. Wonder if we'll see the rise of the left as per OTL? Part of me thinks that Corbyn's rise required a lot of chance (reform of Labours voting system, getting the required number of MP nominations etc) but on the other hand a lot of the structural issues that caused the rise of the left (rising inequality post-recession, the perceived electoral failure of the centre and centre-left Labour wings etc) are still likely to be there.

Incidentally, I used to work with a civil servant who said that she'd worked with dozens of Ministers in her time. But the worst one she ever had was David Milliband when he was Defra Secretary of State. She described him as a slimy git who didn't care at all about his policy portfolio and only cared about his image.
 
That David Milliband quote re: privatisation! I forgot that the Labour party used to be like that. Glad they got rid of him ITTL. Wonder if we'll see the rise of the left as per OTL? Part of me thinks that Corbyn's rise required a lot of chance (reform of Labours voting system, getting the required number of MP nominations etc) but on the other hand a lot of the structural issues that caused the rise of the left (rising inequality post-recession, the perceived electoral failure of the centre and centre-left Labour wings etc) are still likely to be there.

Incidentally, I used to work with a civil servant who said that she'd worked with dozens of Ministers in her time. But the worst one she ever had was David Milliband when he was Defra Secretary of State. She described him as a slimy git who didn't care at all about his policy portfolio and only cared about his image.
Ironically David Miliband may have doomed Blairism. In this timeline "Brownite" is the dominant term for the Labour right not "Blairite", since Blair was only at the top for five years, compared to Brown's ten. Also since Blair lost his 2004 election and Miliband crashed and burned in 2008, the "Blairism is the magic bullet to winning all elections" mythos never really emerged. Instead since he won three elections, Brownism is the term associated with electability and Brownism is the dominant faction in the Labour Party. There aren't that many hardcore Blairites left apart from D.Miliband and Alan Johnson.

As for the left the are only around 15-20 MPs in the "Socialist Caucus", the successor to the Campaign Group. In the early days Blair tried to push them out into local Government, many took to this with gusto, Micheal Meacher was First Minister of the North West for nine years, Jeremy Corbyn and Dianne Abbott are both Mayors of Islington and Hackney and have been fairly successful, there's now a small caucus of Labour-Left Mayors around the country.

Much of the younger "new left" have ended up in some of the smaller leftist parties like the Greens, Scottish Socialists and Respect as these are now viable options.

There are some influential left wingers in the Labour Party, for example Jon Trickett, the "left-Brownite" is fairly powerful and there was a lot of buzz about a potential Presidential bid from left-wing Blue Labour London Senator Jon Cruddas.

The rise of the left will still come, as we saw in nearly every western country some form of left-populism rising in the mid 2010s, but it won't be as united as the 2015 Corbyn surge, they'll be some in the Greens, some in the Labour left and maybe even a new British equivalent to Podemos who could some inroads under this system.
 
I'm wondering if Respect is going to end up turning into some kind of UK version of Dei Linke, Syriza, or other Party of the European Left members.

That might also lead to them cannibalising other hard left parties, or leading to entryism into Respect, rather than into Labour.
 
I'm wondering if Respect is going to end up turning into some kind of UK version of Dei Linke, Syriza, or other Party of the European Left members.

That might also lead to them cannibalising other hard left parties, or leading to entryism into Respect, rather than into Labour.
They try and they're more successful than OTL, but Respect still struggles with it's image with people like Galloway at the top, in fact this is made even worse that several of its more unsavoury figures are elected members of Regional Parliaments and because of the voting system splits in Respect are much more common as smaller parties like the SWP feel they can go it alone. Respects's peaked in 2004 with 3 MEPs and around 20 members of Regional Parliaments and Senates, however they have declined since then having failed to break through nationally. Lots of the anti-war left have found themselves in the Greens who are anti-austerity, anti-war and have representation in Parliament.

This isn't to say Respect aren't influential, in some London Boroughs they are the official opposition, but without radical change they are unlikely to break through nationally.
 
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