"The Commonwealth of Britain" - Republican UK Wikibox TL

2004 Part 4, Dry Powder
“The Commonwealth of Britain usually operates under a presidential system, but when in cohabitation, this effectively changes, at least in terms of domestic policy, to a parliamentary system, in which the prime minister controls the legislative agenda and the president's powers are limited to foreign policy and defence.” - Taken from lecture by Richard Albert “The Fusion of Presidential and Parliamentarian”, University of Texas (2009)

Upon arriving at Buckingham Micheal Howard faced the first test of his presidency. Several controversial bills that had passed through Parliament and the Senate arrived on his desk for a signature. Most divisive for the Tory Party were the Gender Recognition Act and Civil Partnership Act. Two bills passed by the Brown government aimed at supporting LGBT rights. Social Conservatives such as Senator Anne Widdecombe were insistent the bill should not be allowed to pass. Whilst Howard personally supported the bills (it is debated whether he genuinely supported the expansion of trans rights or was trying to build a socially liberal image for the election.) Signing the bills through would risk an outcry in his party just weeks after he became President. If he vetoed the bill there was a high chance his veto would be overridden by the progressive majority Parliament and there would be uproar in the LGBT community and among younger people with whom the Bill was overwhelmingly popular. Howard had a choice: his first week would either be a Tory civil war or Parliament clipping it’s President’s wings. In the end Howard signed the bill.


Pro-Gender Recognition Act Protesters march through Westminster

Another bill on his desk was the “Higher Education Act” which would introduce tuition fees to the country, bringing in £3,000 charges for Universities. The Liberal Democrats were strongly opposed and vetoing it could pass through Parliament. Howard found the idea of being the saviour of the students amusing, but one of his main policy proposals was to balance the budget, vetoing the bill would not help. It was not the hill Howard wanted to die on.


Howard signs the Higher Education Act at a ceremony in Llanelli Boys' Grammar School

“I would describe Micheal’s approach in that first year as cautious. He didn’t want negative comparisons to Tony Blair and he didn’t want to create that nasty party image by taking a stand on issues such as civil partnerships if he was going to get overruled anyway. Our strategy was to keep the power dry for the 05 election and get ourselves a Conservative Prime Minister.”
- Nicky Morgan speaking to the Channel 4 Documentary “Tory Wars” (2019)

Finally there was the issue of the European Commissioner. Whilst Howard would have loved to appoint a eurosceptic like William Hague or Liam Fox there wasn’t a majority for it, Gordon Brown was putting his foot down. He mused over nominating a Labour eurosceptic like Jack Straw or Former Vice President John Prescott to cause a bit of division but decided he’d rather have a europhile Tory then yet another Labour politician in a position of power, the Parliamentary Tories would tear him apart. He considered Oliver Letwin an easy way to get rid of an unpopular high profile Tory, but he doubted Oliver could get the support from Parliament. There was only one man who could get support from all the major parties. After days of negotiations Howard and Brown were agreed. After receiving over 500 votes in Parliament, Ken Clarke was going to Brussels.

“Howard had to juggle the eurosceptic nature of his party with the europhilic Parliament. Whilst Howard was certainly sympathetic to the euro-sceptic argument he was wary of getting dragged into another battle around Europe, a battle he knew Brown would win” - Britain and Europe, Nicholas Crowson (2010)


Commission Nominee Ken Clarke posing for a photo with Prime Minister Gordon Brown at Downing Street

Meanwhile in Parliament Brown was trying to assert himself as the British leader. Whilst coming under increasing pressure from all sides. The victory of Howard had taken the wind out of Labour’s sails but it gave Brown a chance to assert himself and promote his allies now Blair was out of the picture. However there was a lot to attack him on. With the passage of the Higher Education Act the Liberal Democrats slammed Brown for “collaborating with the Tories to shaft students” as Shirley Williams put it. At the same time he was receiving heat from the right. Brown was criticised by the Conservatives for his tax credits scheme, research showed that the system had overpaid by nearly £2 billion. For the Conservatives this was a prime example of Brown’s over bloated and corrupt state.


Chancellor Andrew Smith defends tax credits in a rowdy session of Parliament

For Howard’s relatively mellow Presidency there was one major clash between President and Parliament, the Hunting Act of 2004. A bill favoured by left-wing and environmentalist MPs that Howard strongly opposed to. The first time Howard used his veto power. He was able to delay the Bill by four months in the hopes of a pro-hunting majority being elected in 2005, much to denouncement from animal rights groups. However the affair also strengthened Howard, he asserted himself as President and galvanised the Conservative base

“The British President has veto power but it is not as powerful as the American President. In the Commonwealth, the President can veto any act of Parliament and force an extra reading of the Bill, however after the extra reading it can be overturned by a simple majority in Parliament. It is less of a veto and more a delay power.” - Reform Processes and Policy Change Thomas König (2011)


BBC political editor Andrew Marr would look back on the cohabitation years as an "unprecedented" time in British Politics

How far do you agree with the statement “Howard was right to use his veto power sparingly during the early years of his Presidency” (30 Marks) - A Level History Exam (2019)
2005 Part 1, Divisions and Duty
“Massive sea surges triggered by an earthquake under the Indian Ocean have killed nearly 10,000 people in southern Asia, with many more feared dead. An 8.8 magnitude earthquake under the sea near Aceh, north Indonesia, at 0758 local time (0058 GMT) generated the biggest tsunami the world has seen for at nearly 40 years.The wall of water fanned out across the Indian Ocean at high speed and slammed into coastal areas with little or no warning. Officials in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India have all reported death tolls in the thousands and the figures are expected to rise over the next few days” - John Simpson in BBC Report

2005 began in the aftermath of a massive earthquake and tsunami in the Indian ocean. Over 200,000 people were killed in the disaster including over 400 Commonwealth citizens. Howard had his first real emergency and he chaired the government's South-East Asia Emergency Committee consisting of himself, Ancram, Brown, Laws, Reid, Hoon and Falconer. The Howard/Brown Government pledged £70 million pounds in aid to the countries affected. The government has also sent the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship RFA Diligence, the Royal Navy frigate HMS Chatham with Lynx helicopters to move supplies. Howard praised the generosity of the British people, charities had raised nearly £400 million in direct contributions from ordinary British people.

“The worldwide demonstration of sympathy and support shows that even if people are divided by geography, race, wealth and ideology we are not and we cannot be moral strangers. We are one moral universe. And the shared moral sense common to us all makes us recognise our duty to others." - Gordon Brown calling for debt relief in a Downing Street Press Conference


Fresh water was a high priority for British aid workers

The situation in South Asia forced Howard and Brown together. Although Howard negotiated the total aid package down slightly, the two men were mostly in unison. Howard took the lead in military matters, commissioning “Operation Garron” to send ships to assist. At the same time Brown took the lead on economics passing the aid package through Parliament. Both politicians recognised the disaster had captured the imagination of the British people and were eager to at least put on a united front.

The Blair Brown relationship continued to be surprisingly cordial in passing legislation. ID cards, which Howard had proposed when Home Secretary passed through their final reading of Parliament with the support of both main parties, to the denouncement of the Liberal Democrats and Labour left. Howard was also criticised by UKIP for supporting the prosecution of three British soldiers who were photographed abusing Iraqi prisoners of war.

"The appalling photographs in today's newspapers bring shame on our country, but we should recognize that they in no way reflect the true character of Britain's armed forces," - Micheal Howard speaking in a Buckingham Address


Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon criticised the Mirror for putting uncensored images of the abuse on its front cover

This isn’t to say Howard and Brown constantly got on. Howard vetoed the controversial “Prevention of Terrorism Bill” which contained powers to introduce restrictions - ranging from electronic tagging to house arrest - on foreign and domestic terror suspects. Upon its return to Parliament an “unholy alliance” of Liberal Democrats, left-wing Labour and Tory MPs managed to amend the bill to include a sunset clause, forcing the bill to be renewed every year. Home Secretary Margarett Becktt attacked Howard, accusing him of putting politics and opportunism before national security.


MPs pass the amended "Prevention of Terrorism Bill" after Howard's veto

This was the atmosphere with which Britain entered the 2005 Parliamentary Election, expected to be one of the closest elections in Commonwealth history. Whilst Howard’s victory had stalled Labour’s momentum but Brown still remained fairly popular. While Blair had faced criticism as Prime Minister for leading the UK into needless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Brown was receiving credit for helping secure a strong economy for Britain. Removing Blair may have been a blessing in disguise for the Labour camp.


Blair recognised his toxicity to the Labour brand and only made one appearance on the Campaign Trail

Polling at the start of the campaign showed Brown with a decent, but not insurmountable lead of four to five points. With the Liberal Democrats usually inclined to support Labour, especially with Blair out of the picture, odds looked good for Brown’s reelection. The Conservatives were polling in the late 20s with around 200 seats, whilst this would be enough to form a Government with the help of the Liberal Democrats Brown was confident the Liberals wouldn’t jump ship. The Lib Dems had a strong polling performance with some polls showing them only one or two points behind the Tories. However Lib Dem HQ staffers were weary, they remember the polls showing Kennedy winning the Presidential polls only to get a bitter third place.

“What I think your main worry should be is the turnout.. My research shows only just 60% of Labour voters say they are definitely going to vote. They might say in polls they’re going to vote for you but if even a fraction less turn out you’ll see the Conservatives up 30, 40, maybe even 50 seats.” - Polling expert Roger Mortimore in a briefing to Labour head office staff.


Labour HQ conducted several focus groups at the start of the election

"Howard deserves more credit than Brown for Britain's response the the 2005 Indian Tsunami, discuss (30 Marks)" - A Level History Exam (2019)
The East Midlands was one of the closest Premier elections in 2004, with incumbent Patrica Hewitt. Hewitt's campaign was focused around healthcare policy under her Premiership with the aid of central Government the East of England saw a massive expansion of Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. Hewitt was a strong supporter of Tony Blair and the Iraq war with him featuring often on her campaign literature, this saw her lose votes to the Liberal Democrats and Greens in several areas, especially her home city of Leicester.

Her main opponent was Alan Duncan, a Libertarian, liberal-leaning but euro-sceptic Conservative. Duncan had been a protege of former Presidential Candidate William Hague and served as his campaign chair. Duncan built his campaign around being an "anti-socialist" trying to attach Hewitt to some of the policies espoused by more radical Labour Premiers. Duncan's campaign also attacked Hewitt was a "Blairite robot" criticising her for Labour's heavy use of spin doctors and focus groups. Like many Tory candidates Duncan promised to be a "straight talker."

UKIP scored a political coup by managing to coax East Midlands MEP and businessman Roger Helmer into defecting, in return for being the parties candidate for Premier. Helmer had been suspended from the Conservatives for breaking the whip in the European Parliament. Helmer based his campaign on reactionary Conservatism, claiming he would roll back bills such as the Civil Partnership act in the East Midlands. Helmer was also strongly anti-wind farms and based lots of his campaign in coastal areas courting anti-wind NIMBYs.

Third parties also had a strong showing, the Lib Dems did not perform as well as other parts of the country but managed a respectable 17% of the vote, mostly in Leicester. The BNP managed to acquire the 7% of voters who though Helmer wasn't extreme enough and the Greens put in a strong performance, especially in medium sized rural towns such as Bury St Edmunds.
2004 East Midlands Premier Election.png

"East Midland voters don't want an all encompassing state, whether that is an Empire in Brussels or King Blair's socialism in Buckingham. East Midland voters also don't want people like Roger telling them who they can and cannot, if you elect me as your Premier I will follow in the footsteps of JS Mill and say if you're not harming anyone, do what you want." - Alan Duncan speaking at hustings at Methodist Church Hall on Northampton (2004)
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Brown made the strong economy the centre of his campaign, pointing out the economy continued to grow by roughly 2% in each quarter and the consistent increase of spending in health and education, as much as a 4% increase. Like in the 2004 election the focus was on growing businesses and public spending. Hoping that everyone would forget issues of foreign affairs.


A vandalised Labour poster in Newcastle

The campaign also focused on the ills of the Tories. Howard’s vetoing of the Fox Hunting Bill allowed Labour to try and win back younger voters, now the possibility of a reactionary Conservative Government was visible. Labour campaigns included posters saying “don’t give him a blank cheque” with an image of Howard and Davis dressed in traditional fox hunting gear chasing doctors and nurses. Labour was also able to use Howard’s veto of the Counter Terrorism Bill to try and win back Howard voters in the Midlands, pushing the narrative that Howard was weak on defence and terrorism. The Labour campaign put a lot of stock into trying to outflank the Conservatives on crime

“Today, there is less chance of being a victim of crime than for more than 20 years. But our security is threatened by major organised crime; volume crimes such as burglary and car theft, often linked to drug abuse; fear of violent crime; and anti-social behaviour. Each needs a very different approach. We are giving the police, local councils and regions the power to tackle anti-social behaviour; we will develop neighbourhood policing for every community and crack down on drug dealing and hard drug use to reduce volume crime; we are modernising our asylum and immigration system;and we will take the necessary measures to protect our country from international terrorism.” - Labour Manifesto (2005)


The manifestos from all three main parties

The Conservative Campaign focused around the backstories of Howard and Davis as anti-elite self made grammar school boys. Davis was raised on a council estate in Tooting, a grammar school boy who failed his A-levels and had to work extra shifts to earn the money to re-take them to get into university whilst volunteering for the territorial army, a successful career in business, not elected to Parliament until he was 38: it was a “school of hard knocks” CV. Davis was also presented as an unflashy straight talker against the spin of New Labour.

Another element of the Conservative campaign was to break the gridlock of Parliament. Tory activists argued that a cohabiting Government would be slow and dysfunctional, that a Prime Minister and President needed to work in harmony. The party warned of a dysfunctional coalition of Labour and Liberal Democrats . Tory leaflets referenced a “nightmare scenario” of Howard as the only adult in the room over a bickering coalition that would let crime run rampant and leave immigration uncontrolled.

“I already know what I believe. I believe today what I believed six months ago. I believed six months ago what I believed five years ago. I know that Britain's economy needs lower and simpler taxes and the first budget of the next Conservative government must begin to deliver them. I know that thorough public service reform - extending choice and securing local and professional control of schools and hospitals - is the only way that our pupils and patients will get world-class treatment. And I know that free trade, good governance and property rights are the key to progress in the third world. Some of them may not look popular now but time and the facts are on our side.” - David Davis speech at a speech to CBI Yorkshire in Sheffield (2005)


Davis' frequent boasting of his SAS background was mocked by some political cartoonists

For the Liberal Democrats: Menzies Campbell decided to step back as the Liberal Democrats Parliamentary leader. The membership elected Vince Cable as their lead candidate, unprecedented as Cable was not an MP but rather the Mayor of the London Borough of Richmond. However Cable had made a name for himself during the YES to the euro campaign, possibly the only politician who had his career enhanced by that campaign.

Cable gave the party renewed credibility on the economy, with the support of the right of the party Cable moved away from Kennedy’s policy of increasing taxes to fund the NHS. Instead he announced a Liberal Democrat Government would not increase any taxes. Cable also heavily targeted the student seats that had gone strongly for Kennedy. The promise to scrap tuition fees was a central plank of Liberal Democrats’ manifesto. Cable argued that the scrapping of tuition fees was a “good investment” as students with degrees would make more money, pay more tax and pay it back into the economy.

“We are good at the grass roots. We're good at running things.” Cable says that, in many northern cities that would once have been traditional Labour territory, such as Liverpool, the Lib Dems have got a foothold in councils and regional Parliaments and hope to translate that into parliamentary seats. Cable points out to his own success in running Richmond. “We’ve seen local businesses thrive in Richmond, we’re now one of the most prosperous areas in the country, that's what Liberal Government looks like.” - Extract from “Vince Cable: A Profile, Heather Stewart, The Observer (2005)


The novelty of having a Mayor run for Prime Minister was not lost on the Liberal Democrats. They made "putting local first" a big part of their campaign

Third parties were looking likely to make significant gains. Nigel Farage kept his promise to Malcolm Pearson, stepping aside to allow the Tory defector to lead UKIP’s Parliamentary cohort. UKIP focused its campaign around appealing to right-wing voters who thought that Howard needed to be more aggressive with the Brown Government. Led by Anglia Regional Senator Adrian Ramsay, the Greens also expected to have a good night, after their breakthrough in the 2003 election the Greens were a truly national party expecting to break the 4% hurdle in Anglia, London and the South East. The party focused its campaign as anti-corruption and anti-war, making a point of having no millionaire donors.

“This election will be a momentous occasion, a real once in a lifetime opportunity to put the environment at the heart of Westminster. To say look we’re here, we’re Green and we’re not going away so you better bloody do something about us. Every Green MP means more pressure on the Government to start adopting long term fixes to the climate crisis. In the Senate we’ve already seen what a difference just ten senators can make, what about 30, 40 even 50 Green MPs?” - Green Lead Candidate Adrian Ramsay in an interview with Radio 5 (2005)

As the election drew to a close polling showed Labour with a narrow lead, although well down on where they had been in 2002 mostly losing votes in places like London to other progressive parties like the Greens and Liberal Democrats. The Conservative campaign had gone slowly up over the course of the campaign, whilst the polling was close unless they made a big jump they were unlikely to come out as the largest party. The Liberal Democrats held relatively steady from the start of the campaign, they started from a high place polling in the mid 20s, if Cable could hold it the party would win a record number of seats.

As the clock struck 10pm for the fifth time since 99 the nation gathered around their TVs to see who their new Prime Minister was, would Brown lead the country into three more years of cohabitation, would Davis reign supreme or would “Mayor Vince” cause an upset?


The BBC election team settle in for another long night

How far do you agree with the statement: “The Liberal Democrats ran the most effective campaign in 2005” (30 Marks) - A Level History Exam (2019)
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Closer Look: 2005 Parliamentary Election in the North East

DD - Looking like the North East is retaking it's crown as the first region to declare, as we can see the lead candidates are getting on the stage. It's time for our first results of the night ladies and gentlemen

RO - I Ged Fitzgerald, Chief Counting Officer for the North East Region give notice that the total of votes was as follows. Labour Party 858,841, Liberal Democrats 425,837, Conservative Party 267,865, UK Independence Party 84,138 votes.... ....As such the distribution of seats as is follows Labour Party 14, Liberal Democrats 8, Conservative Party 5, UK Independence Party 2.

DD- A very strong night for the Liberal Democrats in the North East, if we see these results repeated across the country we could see gains of 30 or 40 seats. This is a much better night for the Liberal Democrats than last year, maybe their dream of become the second party might see reality. Tony?

TK - Yes absolutely if we see these results across country it would put them within touching distance of the Tories. What about those Labour losses that's 40 seats down for Labour as well, not a good night for Gordon Brown it seems the damage to Labour wasn't just limited to Tony Blair.

DD - The Conservatives haven't gone up massively though, it looks like it's going to be incredibly close between the three big parties. Speaking of Conservatives we have one in the studio now. West Midlands Senator Christopher Prout in the lions den, over to you Jeremy...

2005 North East election results.png
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2005, Part 3, Barren Years
“I’m sorry but that’s a childish analysis, if all of Labour’s woes were down to the evil Tony Blair then they wouldn’t have had what was at the time their worst result in Commonwealth history a few months after he left.” - Alt History Forum commentator in “chat” forum (2014)

Commonwealth house 2005.png

If Labour had hoped their problems would end with Tony Blair they were sorely mistaken, when the dust had settled they lost nearly 70 seats across the Commonwealth, most notably in London where Labour’s losses reached double digits. It became clear that big city voters were not just annoyed at Tony Blair but the whole Labour brand. With just a third of the vote this was the worst Parliamentary result for Labour in the history of the Commonwealth, and it's worst vote share since 1987. Whilst the party had expected to make losses the loss of seats was much greater than many had expected. Brown allies were quick to blame the “deeply divisive” Iraq War and claimed that Brown hadn’t been given enough time to prove himself as his own man separate from Blair. However there was a silver lining for Labour. Brown’s personal popularity in Scotland saw the party actually make gains north of the border helping to dampen the 70+ seat loses in England and Wales.

The Conservative’s had a moderately successful, albeit a disappointing night. Many in Conservative Campaign Headquarters banked on Davis leading the largest group in Parliament, the calculation being the Liberal Democrats wouldn’t block a Davis premiership if he had the largest mandate. In this sense the Conservatives failed. whilst they weren’t massively damaged by the surge of Liberal Democrats and Greens they failed to make noticeable gains only picking up 17 seats, many from a beleaguered London Labour Party in south-east London areas like Merton and Wandsworth. However most polling show despite electing him voters still didn’t fully trust Howard, let alone Davis. Voters still believed Conservative policy was trapped in the past.

“Far too little has been done to achieve the 'minimum requirement' of opposition - presenting the party as a clear alternative government-in-waiting, with faces other than President Howard who command respect, articulating widely understood and credible policies. Doing so would have shown that the party had gravitas and was worthy of election.. Had the Conservative leadership performed better, Labour's increasingly divided, uncertain and modest record in government would have been more convincingly exposed. Howard and Letwin share some culpability, but Davis bears the primary responsibility. Failure to address its leadership deficiencies could result in the party being out of office for as long as it was from 1846 to 1866. Therein lies the greatest failure of the Tories' barren years of 1999-2005.” - Anthony Seldon, Recovering Power: The Conservative Party Since 1867 (2005)

The Liberal Democrats had the strongest night, Cable gave the party much needed credibility, although they failed to break through to official opposition like some of Cable’s advisers had hoped. For the Liberal Democrats, two features stood out. First, unlike in the other elections, advances in Liberal Democrat support were neither in their heartlands nor predominantly in areas of local election and regional success. Rather their vote share increased most in university constituencies and in areas with large Muslim populations. Academics estimated the combination of the education vote and the Muslim vote may have won the party as many as 14 seats. Second was impressive gains the Liberal Democrats saw in the Labour heartlands such as the North West.


Polling showed BAME, especially Muslim voters moved strongly away from Labour, mainly towards the Liberal Democrats.

For third parties UKIP had a respectable night gaining a steady seven seats gaining a second or third MP in most nations and regions and breaking through areas they never had before. However they failed to match the 6% of the vote Knapman got. The Greens also had a better than expected night, the party focused most of its efforts in trying to win seats the South East and London expecting those to be the only places they broke through, instead the Greens broke through nearly every region in England, giving them a respectable 24 seats and over a million votes, cementing them as Britain’s fifth national party. The SNP struggled in this election, the popularity of Brown meant the party didn’t make the gains other Progressive parties made.


Green activists in Norwich celebrate the election of three Green MPs for the region, including their lead candidate Adrian Ramsay.

“No, I don’t think we’ve had a disappointing night. We were told the SNP would be wiped out, we were told a Gordon Brown wave would wash Scotland red. Well that simply hasn’t happened. We held strong and I’m sure by the end of tonight there'll be over a dozen strong voices for Scotland in Parliament.”
- Senator Alex Salmond speaking to Jeremy Paxman on election night 2005 (2005)

Again Gordon Brown was faced with a choice, make a deal with the Liberal Democrats or form a minority Government and dare them to vote for Davis. This time it was more of a risk, Cable was more aligned with the right of the Liberal Democrats, and a functioning blue/yellow coalition was viable without UKIP. However the Liberal Democrats still demanded several policy concessions Brown felt he couldn’t keep, most notably on withdrawing all troops from Iraq and scrapping tuition fees. The Liberal Democrats had rejected Davis but a few months ago so Brown was feeling confident that Davis wouldn’t accept the Lib Dem demands so they’d be forced to vote for the lesser evil.


David Davis and Menzies Campbell share a joke before being interviewed near Parliament

Again history repeated itself. Davis too refused the Liberal Democrat demands so Parliament sat without a clear Prime Minister, again the Liberal Democrats abstained. The Conservatives were without a deal with UKIP and Pearson also ran for PM. All four parties' Prime Ministerial candidates went into the vote with only the backing of their MPs and their Irish partners and in the third round of voting Brown received confidence from Parliament, albeit on the slimmest majority in a long time.

“Lying behind the incompetence, naivety and arrogance is a failure to understand how big, complex organisations work. The British public sector spends more than the world's two biggest companies - GE and Exxon - combined. It employs more than the combined total of the US, Chinese, Russian and Indian armed forces. I made Richmond run with just over a thousand employees. The idea that Gordon Brown and a few of his friends can manage these over five million state employees runs contrary to everything we know about good organisation. It is doomed to failure.” - Vince Cable’s speech to Parliament. (2005) He noticeably tried to appeal to classically liberal Tories to rebel and vote for him


There were rumours Cable had made a last minute deal with Conservative rebels and Blairite MPs to become Prime Minister but these seemed to be rumours from an excited commentariat.

“Gordon Brown was more of asset than a hindrance in the 2005 Commonwealth Election, Discuss (30 Marks)” - A Level History Exam (2019)
Greens in a really good position. I would bet that you'll continue to see growth in the green party as climate change moves up the agenda and PR gives them space.
What is UKIP's role going to be in the new parliament, if anything?
Pearson is a fairly competent UKIP leader and he'll spend most of this Parliament trying to professionalise UKIP's Parliamentary Party by bringing in a strong hierarchy and a stronger whip. Pearson will avoid lots of the infighting UKIP had in the last Parliament especially since most the "Kilroyites" have gone.

However UKIP main role is still acting a right wing vanguard for the Conservatives and making anti immigration speeches, in short like @Analytical Engine says, making a lot on noise. They're the only national monarchist party so they'll still propose a Bill to bring the Queen back every few months, similar to Tony Benn's "Commonwealth of Britain Bill" in OTL. The "Restoration of the United Kingdom Act" will only ever get around 30 votes.

However you are right that occasionally they will find themselves on the same side as Labour. For example for votes on a sunset clause for the Counter-Terrorism Bill last Parliament you saw a strange coalition of Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, the Labour Left and smaller progressive parties like the SNP against an alliance of Labour and UKIP.
Greens in a really good position. I would bet that you'll continue to see growth in the green party as climate change moves up the agenda and PR gives them space.
Yes PR has allowed the Greens to break through much earlier than in OTL, and with much greater numbers, however this does leave more room for division. In OTL since Caroline Lucas is Britain's only Green most of the parties factional infighting is done where ordinary people can't see. However in this Parliament we had "watermelon" left-wing Greens such as Joseph Healy alongside more "mango" liberal greens. The party will spend much of it's first Parliament in an existential crisis around what it believes.
2005 Part 3, Terrorism and Rebates
Directly after Brown was returned as Britain’s Prime Minister, Europe was catapulted back to the top of British politics. Over the election period French President Jacques Chirac held several meetings with German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and the pair pressed for the UK to give up the rebate won by Margaret Thatcher in 1984. Howard was back on comfortable terrain; his presidential powers gave him much more influence over European than British politics, Howard was by nature a eurosceptic and fighting to defend Thatcher’s legacy from encroaching Europeans was an opportunity he relished. Howard pledged to get a “fundamental reform of the EU budget.” Howard claimed if he could keep the rebate in place he would save the British taxpayer a billion pounds a year.

"The third perennial issue to confront the Howard/Brown Government concerned the size of Britain's budget contribution. To British fury the issue re-emerged at an extraordinary acrimonious EU Council in Brussels in January 2005, which ended with Chirac and Howard trading personal insults." - British Foreign and Defence Policy Since 1945, Robert Self (2010)

Howard refused to renegotiate the rebate. Howard argued the EU could find other areas to save money, particularly on the Common Agricultural Policy which composed 40% of the EU budget. Howard knew that in just a month Britain would assume the Presidency of the European Council giving him a much stronger negotiating position. Howard was praised for his strength in the right wing press with the mail hailing Howard for “Slamming the EU’s grotesque budget.” The Sun went with the simpler headline “Howard tells Europe, hands off!” The rebate was popular and Howard’s posturing increased Conservative poll ratings as Brown struggled with a divided Parliament. As Howard travelled to a G8 summit in Edinburgh, disaster struck.


The 7/7 attacks were the first of their kind in Commonwealth history

“We must engage properly with British Muslim communities, listening to their concerns and empowering them to tackle disenfranchisement and radicalisation at its root. Critically, we have to understand much better what leads someone like Mohammad Khan to commit such dreadful acts of terror. How do we stop others following this dreadful path? We must support the fantastic youth groups that have been working for years to make sure young British Muslims grow up feeling they belong in their community. And we must recognise that our first and best line of defence against radicalisation is the strong voice for moderation within our Muslim communities - a voice that we must amplify, not undermine. Extremists must be isolated so that they fail in their appalling attempts to recruit young people. This is the battle we must win.”
- Liberal Democrat Senator Norman Lamb speaking on “Any Questions, 7/7 10 years on” (2015)

7/7 was a date forever etched in the minds of Commonwealth citizens. Four terrorists detonated three bombs in succession aboard London Underground trains and, later, a fourth on a bus. The train bombings occurred near Aldgate, Edgware Road, and near Russell Square. Apart from the bombers, over 50 UK residents of 20 different nationalities were killed. The bombs injured around 700 in the attacks, making it Britain's deadliest terrorist incident since the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. The attack was England's deadliest since World War II, as well as the country's first Islamist suicide attack.

Howard quickly returned to London and gave a joint address with Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Howard appeared strong and emphatic and his address was watched by over a million people across the country. Howard stated “The country is completely united in its resolve to defeat and to deal with those who are responsible for these appalling acts.” Howard sat in on Cobra meetings chaired by Home Secretary Margaret Beckett. London was locked down for several hours whilst authorities tried to ascertain if any further attacks were going to happen, eventually the all-clear was given at 10:30am the next day.


Met police lock-down Westminster

“Government, the security services, the police, local authorities and community organisations like the Commission for Racial Equality have and will continue to work closely together to ensure the safety and security of all communities at this time and to reassure communities that might feel particularly vulnerable. Any crimes should be reported to the police. The response to religiously and racially motivated hate crimes at all levels will be robust. The police are alive to the need to reassure communities that might be targeted and are liaising directly with community leaders.”
- Statement given by the Home Office in August. Crimes motivated by religious hatred increased by over 500 percent in London in the month after the 7 July bombings. (2005)


7/7 saw an immediate polling increase for far-right parties like UKIP, the BNP and the English Democrats, alongside increased number of hate crimes

Howard and Brown made a joint announcement they would be writing a cross-party bill and invited spokespeople from the Liberal Democrats and UKIP to help in drafting a bill. Although talks with the Liberal Democrats and UKIP broke down, the Liberal Democrats thought the bill was too harsh and UKIP demanded the 14 day detention without trial limit be extended to 90 days. Eventually the finished Bill was presented to Parliament. The bill created a series of new criminal offences intended to assist the police in tackling terrorism. The offences included things like encouraging terrorism or preparing for terrorist acts. The bill also gave wider power to the Home Secretary to proscribe terrorist groups and amended the law to allow the proscription to continue when the group changes its name. Brown, alongside some in the Conservatives, wanted the detention without trial period doubled to 28 days but Howard threatened to veto the Bill if the detention period was extended. Howard argued that no suspected terrorists who were released under the 14-day regime were later incriminated by new evidence, meaning that the police had never practically needed longer than 14 days.


Home Secretary Margaret Beckett led negotiations on the Terrorism Bill

Over the course of the year the Bill made its way through Parliament. In this time UKIP was heavily criticised when its leader Malcolm Pearson began his first speech since the attack with “Am I allowed to talk about Islam yet?” To verbal boos from across the house and public condemnation. The Bill passed its first reading and went into the second reading with the support of Labour, the Conservatives and UKIP, who came round to the bill in the second reading believing it was better than nothing. The bill eventually passed second reading with 439 votes to 219 with the Liberal Democrats Greens, eleven Labour MPs SNP, nine Tories, Plaid, Scottish Socialists and Alliance Party voting against.

"This is an unacceptable undermining of civil liberties in the Conservative tradition of knee-jerk legislation." - Socialist Caucus Chair Kelvin Hopkins speaking in Parliament (2005)

Negotiations over the rebate continued over the course of the year and an agreement was finally agreed at the EU’s winter summit. Howard was a bullish negotiator and greatly soured relations with many European member states, especially Chirac and Schröder, eventually the EU relented. an agreement was reached to increase British contributions to the EU Development Budget for new member countries by a very slim amount, the rebate would remain untouched. However the Howard EU Council Presidency was marked by Britain’s continued withdrawal from Europe and burning of the bridges Blair had built, whilst Howard’s approval ratings had shot up, on the European stage Britain was becoming increasingly isolated.


Howard discussing Chirac with French press in the Élysée Palace

How far do you agree with the following statement? “The Howard/Brown terrorism legislation was proportionate and reasonable in the wake of the 7/7 attacks.” (30 Marks) - A Level History Exam
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Generally speaking, third parties perform better that OTL as they have more funding and legitimacy from getting staff and representation at various levels of the Commonwealth. In 2004 right wing partes UKIP and the BNP both had very good nights as many of the protest voters who turned out to vote NO and for Howard voted for the most extreme anti-European party to ensure the Government got the message. The main parties, Conservatives and Labour both had fairly bad nights, EU elections are still used for protest votes in this timeline and neither parties were particularly popular. In 1999 the Conservatives had a strong night as many used them as an anti-commonwealth protest vote but in 2004 that came crashing down.

British European Elections 2004
Conservative Party - 16 (-13)
Labour Party - 16 (-4)
Liberal Democrats - 13 (-1)
UK Independence Party - 12 (+4)
Green Party - 7 (-1)
British National Party - 5 (+5)
Respect Party - 3 (+3)
Scottish National Party - 2 (-1)
Plaid Cymru - 1 (-1)
Democratic Unionist Party - 1 (-)
Sinn Fein - 1 (+1)
Ulster Unionist Party - 1 (-)
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Closer Look, 2005 Anglia Parliamentary Election
Like in so many other regions the 2005 election in Anglia was not a good night for the Labour Party, incumbent first minister Bill Rammell had been an outspoken supporter of joining the Euro and served as the disastrous campaign's Anglia chair. This did not play well in the heavily eurosceptic working class areas in Essex that Rammell had won in 2002, such as Castle Point and Thurrock. Furthermore Rammell was a strong supporter of tuition fees and often took to the airways to defend the policy, meaning he lost his other base, students in Norwich and Cambridge. All in all the party lost a third of its MAPs. (Member of Anglian Parliament, a much mocked title.)

The Conservatives saw a similar result to the national picture, overall it was fairly disappointing, considering the state Labour was is many expected Pickles to pick up half a dozen seats at least. Pickles was seen to be a competent and witty leader and expectations were high. Pickles centred his campaign around "Norwich fat-cats" pledging to cut the number of staff working for the Anglian Government, pointing the £125,000 salary of the Permanent Secretary to the Anglian Government.

The Liberal Democrats were led by Cambridgeshire MAP and former constitutional politics academic David Howarth. Howarth had advised on the writing of the Commonwealth, making him a minor celebrity in the world of political scientists. Howarth focused his campaign around picking up younger voters Rammell had scorned, especially students at his home region of Cambridge.

Both UKIP and the BNP had very strong nights, they made gains in the poorer areas of southern Anglia, Clacton, Thurrock ect that had become alienated due to Rammell's pro-European politics. The Greens struggled to make their mark due to infighting and the fact that they pushed most of their resources into breaking into Parliament and getting Adrian Ramsay elected.

"You cannot trust the Tories, trust me I know. I spent six years as a Deputy First Minister to Eric Pickles and it nearly killed us out in Anglia. We lost our core vote; graduates, prospective graduates and the parents and grandparents of graduates – The Tories launched an all-out attack on those very voters. But those voters are still there and still share our values. In fact, there are too few other people who share our values to make us a viable political force without them. So we cannot betray them." - Thoughts on the way Forward, David Howarth - Social Liberal Forum. - Howarth's experience in coalition regionally made him one of the strongest Liberal Democrat voices against a national coalition in the mid 2010s
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