The Popular Will: Reformism, Radicalism, Republicanism & Unionism in Britain 1815-1960

What is Engels attitude towards religion after Popes new policy?
It will be similar: Pius’ papacy doesn’t really change the relationship between the Socialists and Religion. They are still adversarial, and the Church is a supporter of the Monarchy in the FDE, which makes the whole left antagonistic to the church.

The notable exception is the Union, where Irish and Anglo-Catholics are key supporters of the LDP and SDF, as the cleavage is between the Unionists and the opposition generally.
Part 5, Chapter XXIV
V, XXIV: Debating a Unionist Future

While the LDP was a federation and the SDF a movement, the Unionists were a party in the truest sense of the word. In reality, they were a political sect centred on Chamberlain and Churchill and their followers, with an organisation useful for nothing but keeping the diarchy in power.

The two titans of British politics, the Prime Minister and Chancellor, controlled Parliament with an iron fist through a few officials in Parliament, the Regency, State Governments, and Public Life. Therefore, when the Second Unionist Party Congress was called in 1891, four years after its historic founding, it wasn't expected to be the course-changing meeting that characterised the meetings of the SDF and LDP.

The Unionists met later than its two rivals after the end of the summer session of Parliament in November. Still, the party's founders envisaged the Unionist Party Congress to occur yearly. For various reasons, only smaller meetings of its sections took place during this time. It was a much smaller affair, each of its 176 constituency organizations sending two delegates.

These organisations spread across its central organisation, covering England, the Northern States, Mercia, Wessex, Cornwall, and Wales, and including its independent Scottish and Irish parties, the Scottish Unionist Party and Irish Unionist Alliance, respectively. At the Scottish Liberal Party's Spring Conference in 1891, the party changed its name to the Scottish Unionist Party, finally aligning all the parties, except for the Association of Loyal Orangemen (ALO), under the Unionist banner.


Prime Minister Joseph Chamberlain in 1891

Constituency organisations were responsible for fundraising, had a social element (many operated Union Clubs), and had input in selecting candidates for election, but didn't exert any influence on policy.

Real power was held in the four sections of the party; the 1884 Committee of MPs and Senators, the Unionist Legislative Co-operation Council, which brought together its lawmakers at the state level, the National Agricultural Labour Union, which by now was an association of well to do farmers and landed gentry, and the General Federation of Trade Unions, which was a congress of the middle class and middle management labour unions, small business leaders and factory owners.

In the intervening four years since its last congress, the party had shifted somewhat from its original goal of bringing workers, farmers, and industrialists together. It had become a Filofax of the British ruling elite in Agriculture, Parliament, the States, Small Business, and Industry.

Cliques and patronage underlined Unionist rule, but ordinary working-class members were primarily Anglican or Presbyterian, wealthier than those in Independent or Unofficial Unions, and more politically Conservative. They appreciated stability, the government's patriotic foreign policy, and the moderate economic reforms brought about in the First Programme. However, its progress stuttered in the years following the social reforms.

The party leaned heavily on its foreign policy achievements, like the outcomes in the Pacific, for support from its members. In the aftermath of the General Strikes, at home, Unionist interventions in the state had largely been a success; unrest was down, and while the economy was sluggish, the cost was mainly passed down to the lowest economic level. Riches returned as cities blossomed with trade. The middle class boomed, and Britain bloomed with inner-city commerce and trade. These people were contented with a good life.

Unionist politicians stressed their confidence in domestic measures and had some accomplishments. They had stopped strikes and had some success in negotiations with more moderate independent trade unions in labour disputes, which bolstered their credit with middle-class liberals. By 1891, however, poverty developing in the lower rungs of society had started to cause problems. In asking British voters to renew their term for an unprecedented second (or third, depending on where you draw the line) term in 1892, Chamberlain stated that the mission of Unionism was "not dogma, just the alleviation of social and industrial problems, legislating on matters which affect the moral, material, and social advancement of Englishmen, Scotchmen, Welshmen, and Irishmen."

Parliamentary activity had become quiet since the Emergency, with greater and greater amounts of secondary legislation passed as regulation, not law. Grand council committees (GCCs) also formed a greater element of governance and brought friendly state government and Unionist politicians behind closed doors to work together on policy initiatives. The rollout of the First Programme's social programs was especially linked with the GCCs. John Gorst, Premier of England, and Churchill attracted controversy when the English Legislature was only granted six days to examine the state budget after the kinks were instead negotiated between the various ministers in the Grand Council without any scrutiny.


Foreign Secretary, Senator Robert Cecil

Similarly, Parliamentary matters were a secret and closed affair, frustrating members and ensuring that policy-making remained within the institution controlled by Chamberlain's clique, the 1884 Committee. Unionist MPs and Senators were a patchwork of ideologies but had a robust aristocratic streak. In the Senate, its leader Robert Cecil was the archetype of the aristocracy. A monarchist, Conservative reactionary, Senator Cecil was a barrier to reform and a hand of conciliation to the traditionalists in Britain, who retained significant influence. The party's grandees traded their support for an overall drag toward conservatism. Retaining the regency (and hope of the monarchy's return), softening restrictions on ceremonial titles, and returning to a more nostalgic image for the Union and a blurred line between the Union and the old monarchy became Unionist aims. In a way, the Unionist establishment felt like a new establishment.

The established feeling extended to the civil service and military, who, thanks to the purges after the Oath Crisis, firmly supported the Unionists, providing the party with its progressive streak. The military's obsession with technology and logistics dovetailed nicely with the Unionist's imperialist vision. Civil service staff travelled around the world and, in many places, spread positive stories about the significant reforms of Unionism. Soldiers and ex-soldiers respected the Unionists for Chamberlain's assertive foreign policy, and senior military figures like Kitchener and Wolseley were strong supporters of the Unionist movement. The scientific and academic community, too, firmly supported Unionism as a superior form of governance to any alternative.

As previously discussed, the mix of progressive technocrats and radical social reformers with aristocratic elites and the military had the potential for some chaffing. The party's division between the elite alliance of aristocratic conservatives, Chamberlain and Churchill, and the party's working-class supporters and more radical members would indeed occur. Amazingly, the doctrine of Unionism and its pillars; Patriotism, Centrism, and Unity, had passionate adherents. It breached class lines in ways, and these groups continued to see it as a progressive ideology. Increasingly, Progressives will remain in the Unionist Party but operate independently. By 1892, they began to question the direction of the party.
Part 5, Chapter XXV
V, XXV: Highbury Hall & The Second Programme

For progressives worried about the conservative turn of the party, the congress was the perfect opportunity to air their grievances. Chamberlain wanted to use the congress to unite the party again, feeling the split between the radical and conservative wings would damage their long-term prospects for dominance of politics. Tracking Chamberlain's motivations was intensely challenging, and his proper strategy was hard to comprehend. However, in meetings with Churchill throughout the first half of 1891, he attempted to hatch a course for the Unionist's next term to entrench them in government. Stable government and indulgence in superficial nostalgia (centrism), firm imperial policy (patriotism), and further economic reforms to improve the conditions of the poor (fostering unity) were seen as the main ways to restore a unified front in the face of electioneering in the coming year.

Chamberlain coordinated with this tight-knit organisation to develop the policies for the next Unionist government. Believing he needed an electoral platform to run on, he assumed a group of the most trusted Government and State ministers in the study of Highbury Hall in May 1891, his residence, and hashed out a plan that could achieve all their aims. Only about 20 attended, but this was a meeting of the top brass in the country.


Highbury Hall Study Room

Alongside Chamberlain, Churchill (Chancellor), Dicey (High Chancellor), Sen. Cecil (Senate Leader), Goschen (Keeper of the Seal), and Drummond-Wolff (Home Secretary), there was Alfred Milner (a senior party figure); senior State figures like Gorst (English premier), Collings (Mercian premier), and Bruce (Scottish premier); senior colonial figures like Rhodes (Cape Colony premier), and Parkes (Australasian premier); financial figures like Baring (a Unionist Senator and banker); and military figures like Gordon (Senator and Chairman of the Defence Committee), Wolseley (Adjutant-general) and Kitchener (Inspector-general). This was a meeting of the British elite, and they were all aligned with the Unionist project. In essence, this was the actual congress.

Chamberlain came to Churchill secretly with a policy he believed would allow a renewed wave of enthusiasm from the working class to win it back from its drift towards socialism. Chamberlain had been working with Alfred Milner, a senior party figure in John Gorst's office, to devise a foreign policy plan. A body of work would be completed to create a new legal structure for the empire, divesting some of the funding of its upkeep towards the Unions worldwide and creating a trading bloc funded by an import tariff on non-Imperial goods. Chamberlain set to make the new election about the 'Imperial Question' - how Britain would compete with its rivals in the future and how the British Empire would be governed as its masses spread across the world.

The plan had a number of moving parts. Churchill had presented a dire economic outlook throughout 1890 and 1891, finding that tariffs from America and Germany were making British goods more expensive in foreign markets, depressing wages, and increasing unemployment. Dicey had concluded as High Chancellor that Britain's legal grip on colonies, growing in their independence, was loose, and new legislation to create Imperial institutions would have to be created to maintain legal authority. Finally, Wolseley maintained that logistical problems and the poor quality of recruits in the Army were making British preparations for a conflict with France difficult. While the Navy had excellent recruits, sound equipment, and legislation to underpin their funding, the Army was fast becoming second fiddle.

So Chamberlain drafted a number of policy proposals with allies to sound out at Highbury Hall within this vein. Churchill and Chamberlain proposed an expansion of welfare, and a renewed emphasis on infrastructure improvements, to soak up the unemployed, funded by increased duties on imported goods. Chamberlain and Gorst proposed massive expansion in free education and universities across the states, with each major denomination receiving a university established by an Act of Parliament. Chamberlain, Milner, Dicey, and Rhodes co-authored a report on the empire's future that proposed a reform of the legal standing of the empire.

The final report was the one of most interest at the meeting. The four Unionists sketched a renewed legal structure for the empire, keeping Britain at its heart but devolving power across its global territories. AV Dicey theorised that because the empire was founded under the monarchy, the institution remained the tie between the territories, managed or maintained by the Union. Therefore, the President-Regent as holder of the empire's sovereignty held that power entirely within the latter half of his title. Dicey's analysis split the role into its constituent parts, the Presidency of Parliament and the Regency of the Sovereign. Therefore, the regency's functions should be handled separately from the functions of the Presidency.


Albert Venn Dicey, High Chancellor of Great Britain

Milner, therefore, proposed that the Presidency, providing assent for bills, appointing union councillors, summoning Parliament, and presiding over sessions of the Grand Committee, should be managed with the Union Council, with the President-Regent taking the presiding role in the organisation and appointing the other members. On the other hand, the regency responsible for appointing colonial administrators, conducting treaties with foreign states, and defending the empire would apply to the Grand Council, which would maintain the "Britannic Union," an organisation headed by the Regent that would manage imperial affairs. The overlap would continue as members could be Union Councillors and Grand Councillors. This would, however, give a Unionist and military hold on the realms of the empire. An Imperial Committee of the Grand Council, comprising the Regent, the Vice-Regent for each of the Unions, and senior government ministers from each colony and the Union, would be the ultimate authority in the empire. Unionists would appoint the vast majority of the members.

To maintain the empire, a massive recruitment campaign would ensure enough British troops were present. The regency would administer new colonial holdings, make military and administration appointments, and coordinate diplomatic affairs with other states. Essentially, the plan undermined Parliamentary governance over the realms and put them squarely in the hands of the establishment. This supranational body would put domestic policy and national defence in the hands of Parliaments and imperial defence in the hands of the Imperial elite.

President-Regent Stanley was firmly against the idea. He correctly summarised that ending free trade would ruin the political chances of the Unionists. Britain had its tariff debate, and free trade won when the Liberals assumed power in the 1850s. That split destroyed the unified front for the monarchy and led to the regency. He did not want a repeat, especially one that undermined parliamentary sovereignty. Progressives within his party would also be a stumbling block and believed that the plan would undermine Britain fatally. It left too much to the colonialists and not enough to the metropole.

There were opponents in the colonies, too, especially among free traders in Canada, who wanted closer ties with the United States. It also proposed a unified Southern African holding, which the Boers and other imperial African powers opposed. This would be Unionism in a global context.

Eventually, tariffs were sidelined, but the rest of the plan became part of the official Unionist policy. Chamberlain and Churchill concluded that this was not the time for the tariff debate. Instead, increased duties on certain products that were dominated by imports, like Tobacco and hickory, would be preferred. Also, a renewed national income tax would be raised to fund social programs. The social elements of the program would be protected. The Britannic Union would be developed, but it would be very different than originally proposed. It would also catalyze the end of British rule in a long-held realm.


Jesse Collings, Premier of Mercia and one of the leaders of the Progressive faction of the Unionist Party

The Second Unionist Congress finally met in November. Churchill proposed 'the Second Programme,' a massive expansion in military capability abroad, an imperial reform, and a social welfare program at home. It was met with acclaim from the Unionist establishment, but progressives found the elements regarding the Grand Council and the empire a further entrenchment of party power. Progressive Unionism would oppose the growing relationship between the military and government. The faction's leader, Senator Primrose, would soon find a prominent leader to unify its followers in the Commons when Jesse Collings announced that he would seek to become an MP at the congress.

Collings was growing concerned about the Unionist Government's need for more emphasis on social reform. He attended the Highbury Hall meeting but was not convinced that Joe could deliver a fresh vision. He was also concerned about the growing military-political complex, like many progressives within the party. Furthermore, the Emergency had shown Chamberlain's reactive ways, as had the appointment of Senator Cecil to Foreign Secretary. As the leader of the powerful Mercian Division of the party, he held weight and was considered a grandee. However, his election to Birmingham's parliamentary constituency alongside Chamberlain would prove that the radical element within Unionism still had electoral legs. The Mercian premier would be elected along with 23 fellow Unionists from the party's progressive element and would be a thorn in the side of the coming Unionist administration.
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Supplemental: The 1891 Russian Famine
The Death of the Tsar: Russia 1890-1920, Orlando Figes, 2006

"After the Crimean War, Russian industry had a prolonged boom but lingering problems underneath that continued to simmer over the next 40 years. While other powers had industrialised, lifting its populations out of agriculture and into industrial urban centres, Russia remains an agricultural power and at the mercy of its whims. Grain comprised between 75 and 80% of a Russian peasant's diet in 1891. It was the lifeblood of communities, and the Russian balance of trade: 15 and 20% of the grain produced in the heavy agricultural regions was exported in the latter half of the 1880s. A precarious condition given the backward nature of Russian farming, some had warned the Tsarist Government that such reliance on this crop would lead to disaster. In 1891, it did.

Poor harvests littered the economically important Volga River basin through 1889, and 1890, and when combined with a serious drought in 1891, meant that farmers had a poor grain yield with little to no reserves to support them. Grain harvests in 1891 fell by nearly 7 million tonnes, devastating the economic powerhouse of the Great Empire. Out of nearly 35 million Russian subjects, 13 million in the crop producing areas suffered total failure. The damage was catastrophic. Estimated deaths range from 300,000-675,000 in 1892 alone. Russia simply couldn't feed its people any longer, and the conditions that peasants toiled in; disease-ridden, medieval, and controlled by a near feudal system of control by the mir, or commune, meant that improvements couldn't be made and administering relief was nearly impossible.

Tsar Alexander III sat atop an inflexible, infallible, and unresponsive regime characterised by its motto: Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality. While his father had 'freed' the serfs, redemption dues and a lack of will to improve the lives of peasants by the state had left in a sort of limbo between serf-like slaves and impoverished wage workers. A lack of innovation in spreading central control and power across agriculture outside of mere patronage had meant that Russia was not ready for a social crisis like this. All power to the Tsar had created a situation where civic society and governmental structures could not dovetail to provide assistance to those in need. When the crisis became acute in October 1891, it was forced to play catchup.

Its mobilisation, therefore, is on the face of it impressive for the Tsarist regime. Five million people received relief between October and December 1891, and 11 million by August 1892. While you may think congratulations may be in order, the reality was that civic society united in 1891 to administer a empire-wide relief effort. The zemstva, primitive local organisations of statisticians, liberal nobles, and economists, coordinated relief, a massive undertaking, throughout the harsh winter of 1891. While the Tsarist regime provided some of the financing, a public campaign to raise funds was enacted which brought together this civic spirit further. It was the zemstva, not the Tsar, who saved Russia at its darkest hour and prevented total economic collapse.

Financing for this relief effort would also arrive from all over the world, but state aid would come most significantly from the French State. Constable Boulanger and Chancellor Dillon pledged finance, aid, and support to help its distribution across Russia. While tensions remained between the two countries, Britain also pledged a significant financial contribution to the relief effort, but the French aid would be the more celebrated in St. Petersburg. After the harvest recovered in the autumn of 1892, Boulanger arrived in the capital and would be warmly greeted by adoring crowds. The famine brought the two countries yet closer together.

For a society built on the myth of the benevolence and wisdom of the "Father Tsar," the 1891-1892 Famine was a seminal moment. The Russian press, vibrant, but usually supportive of the autocracy, developed a sarcastic and critical streak. While not destroyed, the myth that the Tsar alone should rule because he was born to rule was certainly tarnished. A generation of Russians, growing in literacy and brimming with ideas, began to question the direction of the Empire. Most notably, peasants, long misunderstood by the autocracy, would never forgive the Tsardom the pain of 1891-1892. They learned that they needn't be hungry again, relief could come, and that famine was a choice, not an inevitability. Russia never forgot the famine, and thirteen years later, the core of the mobilised civic society would launch an attack against the Tsar and win. It would be another Tsar on the throne, the last Tsar, Nicholas II."
Russia never forgot the famine, and thirteen years later, the core of the mobilised civic society would launch an attack against the Tsar and win. It would be another Tsar on the throne, the last Tsar, Nicholas II."
Russian Revolution time it seems, I'm very intrigued that apparently 1920 is the death of the monarchy, so I suppose you have different plans for the collapse of the monarchy.
Russian Revolution time it seems, I'm very intrigued that apparently 1920 is the death of the monarchy, so I suppose you have different plans for the collapse of the monarchy.
Not to give too much away, but one of the sections of the next book I'm working on is entitled "The Death of Empires: 1905-1920," if that piques your interest a bit. A widespread monarchical collapse will occur, but will be... messy.
Party 5, Chapter XXVI
V, XXVI: The Failed Experiment

Canada, and its relation to Britain, is a complicated matter. Established as a model colony in 1867, its leaders had grown outward-looking and progressive but were, on the whole loyal to the Crown. Royalist sentiment was high but unevenly distributed. British Quebec, Newfoundland, Labrador, and New Brunswick were hotbeds filled with Imperial subjects that had done well under the crown.

Ontario, French Quebec, and Western Canada had little attachment to Monarchy. When it collapsed, the Canadian population was perplexed at the affair and responded differently according to disposition towards the institution. The Royalists continued to act as if nothing had happened and continued to exercise their right that the Crown still ruled on, cemented by the Regency. The Republicans divided in two ways: towards Independence from Britain or, increasingly after the 1880s, annexation by the United States. Few were convinced by the halfway house that was Unionism.

While the joys of the Union of Canada initially seemed boundless, John A. Macdonald’s dominance of Canadian affairs chafed with more progressive sentiment in the West and Metropolitan areas. The corruption and failed project to build a Trans-Canadian Railway were left in ruins. An unfinished station in Vancouver was the only remnant of the failed Pacific contract, which lost large sums and produced a pitiful amount - all on Macdonald’s recommendation.


John A Macdonald, Prime Minister of Canada

With Imperial funds drying up after the turbulent 1870s in Britain and trade hit with an economic slowdown, Liberal opposition proved themselves to be as incompetent, botching the downturn after the Panic of 1873. This brief experience with Liberalism ended after five years when the electorate returned Macdonald. Macdonald plowed more money into the railroad throughout the 1880s but faced breaks in labour, weather problems, and concerns from MPs about the size of the debt. For some, the railway’s failures showed that the Canadian experiment had failed. To the Royalists, it was a Royal colony without a King. The entrenchment of Unionism in the motherland made it unlikely that the Monarchy would return. Realism set in for both sides.

To Republicans and Liberals, it seems that without a King, the Republic was less connected across the Atlantic than the Republic to the South. Among Academic circles, support for part of Canada joining the United States grew. The economic connection between the Pacific Northwest cities of Portland, Vancouver, and Seattle saw business ties make significantly more connections between the United States and Canada than the eastern Canadian cities, further problematic by the failure of the intercontinental railway line.

The North West Rebellion in 1885 further widened this split. Macdonald's brutal suppression of the Metis created a new Canadian nationalism, but this sweeping feeling missed much of the West. The Union Policy also proposed sweeping protectionism, further alienating the metropolitan areas on the border with the United States.

Opposition to the execution of the North West Rebellion's leaders also alienated Liberals in Ontario, where the bulk of the Liberal Parliamentarians was based. Despite an uptick of positive Canadian patriotism in the immediate aftermath, this uptick was fleeting. Macdonald's "Union Policy," which emphasized the expansion of trade and infrastructure across Western Canada, was heavily rebuffed by Ontario and British Columbia voters in the 1887 election.

Still, due to a lack of a single opposition movement, the Conservatives were able to form another government. Macdonald's intention to encourage immigration across the country failed, and immigration from the United States filled the gap, increasing the movement for British Columbia to join the United States. French radicals also began to advocate for Quebec to become a state. In Toronto, United States flags could be seen flying from many buildings as immigration from the American East Coast continued.

The North West Rebellion also stirred anti-Unionism in the Canadian military elite. Thomas Strange, the leader of the English Revivalist movement, embedded deep nostalgia for Royalism. The Conservative elite began to demand the return of the Monarchy, and some even proposed offering Prince Albert-Victor the title of King of Canada. Such demands declined after the Clarence Street Affair and moved to his brother, the 24-year-old Prince George Frederick Ernest Albert, who was next in line to the throne after Albert Edward and Albert Victor. George, unaffected by his older brother's problems, moved to Ottawa in December 1886 and was received well by local Conservative elites. Many Conservative aristocrats, including the President-Regent's brother, followed his flight away from Unionist Britain to Canada. These groups were collectively known as the 75ers, who left and deemed the Union a failed experiment. Arriving with wealth and prestige, joined by frustrated middle-class monarchists, they made quite an impression on Canada.


Prince George, later King George I of Canada

It was socially unacceptable for outright royalists to find positions in the British Army on the mainland, but Canadian internal forces were significantly more lenient towards ex-Royalists. The steady stream continued to flood into Canada after 1889, as Macdonald indicated that he might retire; the rising political might of the exodus generation seemed certain to influence the decision for whom to replace him. While Macdonald retreated from retirement towards the end of the Canadian Parliament’s turn, the Conservative Party and the 75ers became intertwined politically.

This toxic mix of Liberals drifting from the Canadian concept and wishing for free trade and business between America and Canada, Conservatives reclaiming their support for Monarchy, and French radicals meant that Canadian politics was splintering. A further force of pro-Monarchist migration east to the coast meant that Canada was politically splitting in two.

All this came to a head with the Second Programme. Monarchists considered Chamberlain’s plan to force Canada to take up some of the administration of the Empire controversial. Inter-union relations had been only superficially cordial, and Canadians saw more in common with American brothers than Australasians. If they were aligned with anyone, it was Prince George. The young prince became a fixture of newspaper gossip, attention, and adulation. A liberal opposition too exploded, demanding that Canada reject the Britannic Union and enter the US orbit. Led by the French Canadian Wilfrid Laurier, Liberals proposed either disassociating with the Britannic Union or joining the United States.


Wilfrid Laurier, leader of the Republican Party of Canada

The 75ers, en masse, moved east and settled in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland, quietly began restoring the spirit of monarchy in their territories. Statutes of Queen Victoria were built, and the 75ers combined pro-Monarchist leanings with a veterans spirit from the North-West Rebellion. A synthesis between Monarchism, Canadian Nationalism, and Militarism has been achieved. When the Britannic Union was first proposed in late 1891 after the Unionist Congress, the debate in the Canadian Parliament descended into a fistfight between Conservative and Liberal MPs, disagreeing with it for different reasons. Macdonald, too, opposed the measure, arguing that protectionism, not a common market with the empire, was the most fruitful method of maintaining Canadian unity.

Macdonald tried to rally Monarchist sentiment by proposing to Chamberlain that Canada readopts its old colonial flag complete with Union Jack. A renewed wave of immigration from Britain between 1889 and 1891 saw Monarchists swell the populations of Eastern Canada, and town charters for settlements called Victoria, Georgetown, and Kingstown, inhabited by Britons and Canadians, avoiding the reality of Unionism, began to emerge.

After the heated debate on the Second Programme, Laurier announced a new political party, advocating for the end of British ties with Canada. He called this party the Republican Party of Canada. He advocated that Canada become an independent federal republic or that the individual provinces join the United States as full states.

He received the support of many members of academia, most notably Goldwin Smith, who advocated that the Union had been a waste of "Anglo-Saxon power." Among some of Smith's more unsavory views, he was a fierce anti-Semite and Hibernophobe. He strongly supported the dismemberment of Canada and the chance for Canadians to join the United States.

In support of Laurier's position, he wrote "The Failed Experiment," which refuted the concept of Canada as a distinct entity from the United States. He said that geography meant that Canada was destined to eventually unite with its neighbour to the South to form an English-speaking great power in North America. In the depressing reality of Canada, this seemed an ever-appealing prospect for liberal Canadians.

The 1891 election was therefore fought between the Conservatives, who wanted to further ally with the British Empire through the Britannic Union but contained within it a vital element of Monarchists, and the Republicans, who wanted to join the United States preferably, or at least declare independence for Canada. As the results were collated, Canada had indeed split into two camps. A liberal band advocating free trade with America spanned British Columbia to Ontario and Quebec, the Eastern Seaboard was fiercely Unionist thanks to significant Monarchist support.

The Conservatives held on, just, but the Republicans won more seats than expected, with Laurier’s party winning 97 seats in the House of Commons. Macdonald was returned as Prime Minister and celebrated in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with none other than Prince George among a crowd waving Union Jacks. In his victory speech, he declared his opposition to the Second Programme and insisted that Canada had “earned the right to determine its own future.”
Part 5, Chapter XXVII
⚠️ I'll attach somewhat of a trigger warning to this piece. It does contain details of death.

V, XXVII: Burning Birmingham

Having been rebuffed at his attempts to reimpose an emergency on the Union a few months prior, Home Secretary Henry Drummond-Wolff looked to move to more fertile legislative pastures. The provisions of the Anti-Socialist Laws expired on March 1st, 1892, and he looked to renew them, believing he had cross-party support to restrict the activities of socialist groups ahead of the upcoming elections.


Henry Drummond-Wolff by Spy

He required the approval of MPs and Senators to do this but was firm in his belief that he had the votes. With a majority in each chamber, it would require a rebellion of erstwhile reliable Unionist senators and a significant number of his own party in the Commons to strike the bill down. With this in mind, he introduced a new bill to censor the activities and fundraising of a list of groups, including the SDF, TUC, and the newly inaugurated group known as Socialist Action, which shunned parliamentary and community politics and focused solely on violent and revolutionary aims.

Socialist Action was known to the Directorate, and spies had been placed within its ranks to sniff out any danger. However, three assassinations of Unionist state legislators piqued the interest across November and December and brought the group to national attention. A bomb placed in the grandstand of Aintree Racecourse during the Grand Sefton Handicap was found and diffused by The City and Liberties Police, with a note claiming responsibility posted through the letterbox of the Association of Loyal Orangemen's headquarters the next day. Senior SDF leaders denounced the group's actions and insisted that no group in the Federation sponsored violent means. The newspaper of the Unionist movement, The Union, conflated the two groups together. Much to the Feds' annoyance, the mud stuck.

The assassination of a Mercian State Councilor on New Year's Eve attracted significant attention, especially from Unionist supporters in the state, colloquially known as the Teal Guards. Despite Jesse Collings' attempts to quell the group, the Teal Guards had the tacit approval of the Prime Minister, and the philosophy forced during the Teal Revolution made them the most radical and violent such group in the Union, even more than Socialist Action.

Teal Guards responded to the assassination with the arson of Birmingham newspapers that supported the loosening of the Anti-Socialist Laws throughout New Year's Day, including the local LDP branch and the radical newspaper, the Birmingham Journal. The mob also attacked and burned down the Working Men's Club, the Old Oscott Club. Such violence against Working Men's Clubs was not uncommon in Birmingham at this time.


Arson attack on the Birmingham Journal's offices on Granville Street

When we examined the SDF in a previous chapter, the closure of Working Men's Clubs in Birmingham has been used as an example of the suppression of Socialism in the state. What I failed to mention (to which I will apply a firm slap on the wrist) is that these closures were not forced by the Mercian State Police or Government but were done for the protection of their members: Teal Guards had ransacked or burned down eight in December 1889 alone, killing seven innocent people.

This is not to say that the rank-and-file police in the state were sympathetic to protecting Socialists who were at risk. They were not. Premier Jesse Collings found this when he instructed Mercian State Police to quell the unrest. They refused. Seeking support from the Home Secretary, he, in turn, supported the mob, stating in the Commons, as reports surfaced of the violence, they had applied an 'understandable and proportionate response to the violence inflicted on their city.' Collings tendered his resignation as Premier of Mercia that night.

The following day, the Birmingham Journal, printing from Manchester, reported the events that led to the destruction of their offices with the headline "Burning Birmingham." Collings returned to the Mercian State Legislature the same day and delivered a scathing rebuke of the actions of the Home Office and Mercian State Police. He reserved particular scorn for his own Interior Minister, Austen Chamberlain, who coordinated the response (or lack of it), and the Commissioner of the Mercian State Police, Joseph Farndale. Collings was a loyal companion and friend of his father, Joseph, and the Prime Minister believed Collings had personally betrayed the Union and him.

Progressives within Collings' state party came to his aid, but the national leadership, centring on Drummond-Wolff, supported the Mercian State Police action. Thanks to its commanding majority in the State Legislature, the remaining elements of the Unionist Party could continue to rule despite the dissenters led by Collings. In a cruel twist of the knife, the 29-year-old Chamberlain appointed his son Premier of Mercia to replace his father's long-time ally. While Chamberlain thanked Collings's work in the Commons after his son's appointment as Premier of Mercia, a division between the two was becoming apparent. However, this division would be the least of the Unionist's concerns in the coming weeks.


New Premier of Mercia, Austen Chamberlain

The Directorate prepared to arrest 34 members nationwide of Socialist Action nationwide in response to the assassinations, but none of the Teal Guards. On the morning of January 8th, the arrests took place. The next day, the decentralised leadership of the organisation issued a letter to major newspapers across the Union warning of a "cavalcade of revenge" for the arrests. Unfortunately for Socialist Action, many messengers for the group had been on the payroll of the Directorate for some time, and informants shared the names and addresses of the signatories almost as soon as the statement was printed. January 10th saw a further twelve arrests. In an astonishing act of irony, the Home Secretary spoke of the "eradication of the organizational zeal of this treasonous group."

Unluckily for Drummond-Wolff, the 46 now incarcerated included Charles Mowbray, who was not a group member but would prove the most dangerous. Mowbray, an anarcho-communist who traveled to Spain to fight with the FRE-AIT bands of the Volunteers of the Republic during the Spanish Revolution, hated Drummond-Wolff. He had been arrested for his role in the London General Strike, leaving his wife, Mary, and children without regular income.


Charles Mowbray

When he returned in 1891, when the President-Regent vetoed the Emergency extension, Mary had succumbed to tuberculosis and was near death. With no fixed income and no job, she was not eligible for care, and the family was left in their house, alone in the cold. He was looking after her when he was once again arrested in the general sweep, despite having no connection to Socialist Action or the assassinations. He protested his innocence but to no avail.

When other arrested members confirmed he was not involved, he was released after four weeks on February 11th, 1892, but only after the tireless efforts of an SDF consul who appealed to President-Regent Stanley himself. Returning again, he discovered Mary dead in his house, rotting, having succumbed to TB one day after his arrest. The children had survived by scavenging but had been forced to live in the same house as the corpse of their mother. He was determined to exact revenge on the man responsible: Henry Drummond-Wolff.
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Part 5, Chapter XVIII
⚠️ I'll give this one another trigger warning. It's a grizzly one. ⚠️

V, XXVIII: The March Massacre

The Home Secretary prepared to introduce the legislation to renew the Anti-Socialist Laws the same day as Mowbray's release. Skeptics littered the chamber, believing Unionists were the proponents of violence more than the SDF and TUC. An LDP MP said, "Was it not the supporters of the Home Secretary's party which purported the most ghastly violence in recent weeks?" Stone-faced, Drummond-Wolff sat as members called him "the Angel of Death," a "Tyrant," and the "Butcher of Birmingham." Concerningly for Drummond-Wolff, some of those calls came from the government benches.

Irish and Northern MPs defended free speech in the debate by opposing the Anti-Socialist Laws. Henry Broadhurst of the LDP was invited to lead the opposition to the bill. A socialist, he defended individuals' right to express their political beliefs, devastatingly attacking the Unionist project. "A moral vacuum in which reason and moderation die in the name of unity," he called it.

Still, the renewal passed the Commons by four votes, 163-159. Despite a rebellion by the Progressive faction of the Unionist Party, the measure had passed its toughest test. To aid public support for the effort, The Union, now managed by Editor-in-Chief Alfred Milner, ramped up its propaganda and raised the anger of the Teal Guards in Mercia and supporters in the State of England, an equally fervent Unionist state.


Alfred Milner, Editor-in-Chief of The Union

"Anarchists and Socialists seek to destroy our Union and incite a civil war from which we will never recover, encouraged by a cohort of nefarious forces and funded by foreigners, most notably the French," a particularly paranoid editorial stated, "only a cleansing of the so-called 'Feds,' who lurk in every tenement, every town, and every city, will suffice in the natural healing of this great country."

As previously mentioned, the public's exposure to The Union greatly influenced its feeling toward Socialism. In the Celtic nations and the Northern states, the newspaper was one among several on newsstands. It was the only game in town in Mercia and England, as running a smaller independent paper was dangerous work, as the Birmingham Journal's staff could attest. It was no coincidence that these states had the country's highest proportion of Teal Guards and provided the lowest life expectancy to National Democrats, Liberals, and Socialists. In more pluralistic states, public sympathy tended to side away from the gangs causing havoc on the streets.

So while the streets of Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow, and Dublin were quiet on the night of February 12th, Oxford, Cambridge, Birmingham, Southampton, and the Potteries lit up. Marches and accompanying violence littered many towns across the South and Midlands. Police in England and Mercia sat back and did nothing. The February violence introduced new dimensions and targets: Catholics, Foreigners, and Northerners became the latest groups to be enveloped in the "Fed" threat to the Union. Shops were burnt, people were beaten, and State Governments did nothing to help individuals affected.

Reports in independent papers, like the Manchester Guardian, The Nation in Ireland, and The Beehive in London, extensively chronicled the events with horror. "A night punctuated with glass breaking, women and children screaming, and the cheers of Teal-clad Ne'er-do-wells. A horror for our hitherto civilised country" wrote Annie Besant in The Beehive.

The Union presented a different version of events, complete with "columns of men protecting the homes and livelihoods of good English folk against marauding bands of men of foreign leadership and persuasion launching attacks on the kind and gentle residents of villages across old England, seeking a repeat of the turbulences of two-and-a-half years prior." The Union's report on the events concluded, "We thank the good lord the patriots were able to lessen the damage and fight for England, Union, and Empire."

Tensions calmed over the next few days as other things, most notably the interstate football match between Mercia and Ireland at Wellington Road, Birmingham, that ended with a 6-1 win for the Mercians, captured the attention of the masses and restored the Brummies' sense of superiority over the dastardly Hibernians. However, The London Times report on the fixture noted, "Union flags graced every corner of the ground, and many of the spectators wore Teal." One unconfirmed story states that before kick-off, a group of Mercian supporters raided the Birmingham Conservatoire, stole a harp, and smashed it to pieces outside the grandstand as the Irish players arrived. Hooliganism, 1890s style.

The fight for state bragging rights was over; on February 18th, the battle for "England, Union, and Empire" reached its next legislative stage as MPs passed the renewal of the Anti-Socialist Laws to the Senate. The President of the Senate, Senator Arthur Peel, summoned the debate, but as soon as it began, protestors stormed the chamber and registered their displeasure at its contents. After the Usher of the Black Rod removed them, a 14-hour debate ensued well into the night. By 89-67, the bill passed its first reading, but cowering Unionist senators fled the chamber to avoid detection by an angry massing crowd. Within two weeks, it had passed through the Senate Internal Affairs Committee, second reading, and was presented back onto the floor to be approved for the President-Regent to give assent.


President of the Senate, Arthur Peel

The day before, March 3rd, Charles Mowbray visited the Spitalfields Market to visit an old friend from his LTC days, Fred Henderson. Henderson introduced him to a chipper fellow in the market who sold military antiques, and Mowbray purchased a Lefaucheux M1854, a 40-year-old revolver, which he insisted to Henderson he was using to scare off a group of hoodlums who had attempted to break into his house. "I wouldn't use it, sir," the trader said to Mowbray, "it'll jam after a single shot."

"That's all I need," said Mowbray.

When the Senate debated the Anti-Socialist Laws for the final time, Drummond-Wolff observed the proceedings in the viewing gallery. Mowbray stood outside the gates of Parliament, waiting. The third reading debate was unusually long, as Senators debated watering down the bill and sending it back to the Commons. Fierce disagreements emerged between its opponents, Senator Ruskin, LDP, and Progressive Unionist Senators, and supporters of the Government. Ruskin brought forward amendments to exclude the SDF and TUC from the bill but expanded the provisions of the restrictions to be compatible with the Political Associations Act: anyone who advocated violence against the Union.

It became evident that Senators wouldn't resolve the deadlock that day, so Senator Peel adjourned the session and allocated more time to debate the bill the following day. Drummond-Wolff retired from the chamber and headed to his carriage to be taken back to his London residence. As he ran there, Charles Mowbray stepped out of the crowd, reportedly told Drummond-Wolff this "was for my darling Mary" and shot the Home Secretary in the head. Ultimately, the Spitalfields arms dealer was wrong. Mowbray fired two shots. The second blasted through his heart just as police attempted to apprehend him. Both died instantly at the scene.

The very night of the assassination, Directorate agents began the investigation and arrested Fred Henderson, the Spitalfield market trader, and an associate of Charles Mowbray, David Nicoll. In light of the tragedy, Chamberlain requested Parliament be prorogued for ten days. He also issued an Order-in-Council enforcing a two-week state of emergency and implemented many of the provisions of the Anti-Socialist Laws with secondary legislation. The order placed several prominent public Socialists under house arrest, including Henry Broadhurst MP, William Morris, Annie Besant, and Senator John Ruskin. It put all police jurisdictions under the authority of the Directorate, bar two: Mercia and England.

The death of Drummond-Wolff launched a spasm of violence once again from the Teal Guards, who believed that a foreign-backed Socialist coup was underway, encouraged by the editorials printed in The Union. In Birmingham, egged on by the State Police and with the backing of the Mercian Government, the Teal Guards went through Irish Catholic, immigrant, and neighbourhoods with SDF supporters, dragged all the adult men from their homes, and beat them mercilessly. Ten men were killed in the Birmingham streets that night.

Teal Guards replicated these events in the coming days across the South-East. In Norwich, a group of 'patriots' locked 87 men, women, and children of Golden Triangle in the unfinished St John the Baptist Catholic Church and burned it to the ground. Rioting continued for three nights, and the events became known as the 'March Massacre.' Premier Austen Chamberlain of Mercia, and John Gorst of England, called for calm and an end to the violence, as it was calming anyway. In Norwich, surprisingly seeing the worst violence, Jeremiah Colman delivered a scathing rebuke of Unionism at a candlelit vigil for the massacre's victims a few days after, presided by the Catholic Bishop of Northampton, Arthur George Riddell.


Catholic Bishop of Northampton, A. G Riddell

Many blamed Alfred Milner, Austen Chamberlain, John Gorst, and the Union Council for the bloodstained streets and the stench of death. An unnerving amount of people in the Union saw the violence as justified - clerks, factory workers, and ex-soldiers who believed an evil had been swept away from the streets. An atmosphere of fear, compounded by international events in the coming weeks, would dominate the upcoming elections. While an election would be held, Britain again found itself in the grip of an Emergency.
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