TLIAD: The Quiet Death of Liberal England

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Agent Boot, Apr 7, 2014.

  1. TimTurner Cartoon Phanatic

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    You should extend this into a full-blown TL exploring things deeper and past 2018 if possible. I would happily read a TL like that, set in the universe you have here.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2015
  2. Agent Boot Failing upwards

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    To be honest I'd rather do something different for my next project. Working with the universe from the Cypriot vignette above for instance.

    I'm open to a "redux" at some point in the future, potentially reworking things in a more plausible direction, rather than strictly following the "3rd parties must die because premise" rule. I'd recommend Thande's Curse of Maggie as a more interesting scenario of a less successful Liberal (Democrat) Party - one rooted in the particular circumstances that allowed that party to grow seat numbers and consolidate in the OTL mid-90s.

    The beauty of the TLIAD format - even if time limits are not strictly followed - is that it allows for the broad brush strokes of exploring a scenario without becoming bogged down in the depth of detail that might undermine it. I fear that an expanded QDLE (as it currently stands) would cause it to collapse under its own weight from contradictions and butterflies and the like.

    I only went past the then present day of 2014 because ALT 2018 offered a better "closure" point for plot arcs - both with the retirement of the last Liberal MP and with the first minority government since 1979 (led by a leader born in 1979). Personally I found the timeline got harder and less fun to write after the end of the Osamor years.
     
  3. Sideways Trans *space* woman. Note the antennae Donor

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    Anearly #GreenSurge isn't the way to go about bringing the Greens to power, in my opinion.

    We've had three Green surges:

    1. 1979 - Ecology stood over 50 candidates,there was a massive surge in membership. But retention was poor and there was political resistance to scaling up operations.

    2. 1989 - The Greens did well in the EEC elections, but this brought extra attention on the party's less savoury elements - population control and Icke. There was resistance in the party to scaling up, and the people proposing scaling up were often not very sensible about how to go about it. Green government by 2000, and all that.

    3. 2015 - The Greens had a membership surge, but attracted extra media attention, had problems with policy and Natalie Bennett had trouble meeting the increased demands of the media spotlight. Which I believe is understandable. We'll see how much resistance there is to scaling up, and whether proposals to do so are sensible.

    Surges are not good PoDs for the party. In general, the party's actual sustainable growth has happened slowly, with local candidates gaining support on the ground level. These big surges have done the party as much harm as good.

    I very much enjoyed your last TL, and I'm looking forward to some good stuff on Harold Wilson.
     
  4. Agent Boot Failing upwards

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    I defer to you entirely as someone far more knowledgeable on Green Party history than myself. Is there any chance of you continuing your excellent "Hippy Blair" timeline?

    It will be interesting to see the longer term effects of the 2015 "surge". Particularly in terms of retaining vote shares and votes. I also wonder just how many of the new members will be retained longer term, and how many can be / have been actively engaged to the party's benefit. Arguably the "surge" helped to prevent the Green vote from being more squeezed than might otherwise have been the case in a close election - thereby saving held council seats (and Brighton Pavillion, if mid-term polls national polls predicting its loss count for much).
     
  5. Sideways Trans *space* woman. Note the antennae Donor

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    I'm really flattered you remember that one! Thanks very much.:)

    I might rewrite that one, though I'm working through notes for an ASB thing exploring what a Green election victory might have looked like.

    I'm curious about this surge. It seems like the party may actually have a real desire to scale up. Discussions I've seen on policy reviews have been mostly positive.
     
  6. Agent Boot Failing upwards

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    The GPEW doesn't get a lot of love on this forum. What I remembered most vividly was that scene (from alt-83?) where the Green candidate and agent, on hearing the count supervisors provisional results, realise that they've split the vote and let the former NF Tory candidate win. Such a scenario was very much in the back of my mind on May 7th between hearing the exit poll and hearing the Northfield result declared.

    A decent "100 days of UKIP" style timeline is something I'd very much to see. Channel Four tried it, and after a reasonable start it devolved into a cross between banal West Wing and "If Pens Got Hot". There's equal if not greater scope to do that with a (handwaved) Green victory.
     
  7. Agent Boot Failing upwards

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    If anyone's curiosity was piqued by the Cypriot vignette on page 4, I have now started posting the timeline its from ("The Loud Blast That Tears The Skies") over in the ASB sub-forum.
     
  8. iainbhx Wie trösten wir uns, die Mörder aller Mörder?

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    Bobby certainly has national ambitions, although I think he'd give them up to be leader of BCC.

    Making Mark a Labour man is perfectly feasible in the circumstances, I'm not so sure about making Steve Webb a Tory.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Hemming ended up as the Tory MP for Yardley.
     
  9. Agent Boot Failing upwards

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    Would someone like Jeremy Browne or David Laws fit better? (The latter I avoided because it became it bit cliche in the alt-PM list threads, and of course his own strenuous denial in "22 Days" of any possibility of his defecting, past or present.).

    My inclusion of two OTL Lib Dem MPs was a nod towards the likelihood that the obscure Liberal Party of TTL ends up a little, ahem, "confessional". After twenty-odd years I would assume that the more pragmatic of the younger generation might feel that their ambitions are best served by the lesser of two evils. And the two main parties are slightly more pluralist in their internal coalitions.

    A Conservative Party with John Hemming in it would be a better Conservative Party.
     
  10. Agent Boot Failing upwards

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    Bonus Endings! - or "Maybe the Dead Horse Will Learn To Be A Quiet Liberal"

    Taking a short break from my new timeline, "The Loud Blast That Tears The Skies", I've written some slightly frivolous bonus content for QDLE. Two alternative endings.

    The first is for TimTurner. Its a flash forward taking the story a little bit further to incorporate some flavour from the recent OTL UK General Election, though within the original QDLE continuity. You may recall that QDLE ended in 2018 with a Labour minority government supported by the Nationalist parties. One of the interesting things about OTL 2015 is, as discussed on the previous page of this thread, expectations about multi-party politics being here to stay / permanent coalitions being a Thing now have, at least in terms of English seat totals, been rather shattered.

    The second is for Turquoise Blue (who first prompted me for it over a year ago) and BrotherSideways (who gave me some useful insight). It's an Alt- of the main QDLE timeline, diverging in the early 90s, and is on the whole rather more fanciful if not wish-fulfillment-y. But it was fun to write, which is really why I'm here.

    Anyway, enjoy, and if you've enjoyed this timeline then please do have a glance at my new one, currently in the relative obscurity of the ASB subforum.


    ******************************

    1. Eats, Shoots, and Reeves.

    The Prime Minister anxiously paced up and down the kitchenette, a succession of blunt Anglo-Saxon terms tumbling through her inner monologue. Well, no matter, at least it would soon be over. What a f***ing grim five years it had been. "Don't do it!" they'd warned her - prophets of doom and ghosts of Christmas' past. Lord Healey had been exceptionally blunt. You didn't expect that kind of language from a centenarian.

    Never trust the SNP. Never. Backstabbing faux-leftist kilt-wearing deep-fried-mars-bar eating BASTARDS... It was almost literally 1979 all over again. She should have seen it coming, there was no excuse. At least in 1979 she had actually been born yesterday.

    And to think that less than five years ago they'd been pushing for a full coalition - "in the National Interest", or some bullshit platitude like that. That lot didn't know what the "National Interest" was, unless it was the National Interest of Scotland - and even that was only carried as far as it was politically opportune. No, "supply and confidence" was all she'd let them give - and they gave precious little of either. They'd squeezed Devolution out of her - because that was clearly more important than free school meals, or care homes. Then they'd had the cheek to go into the first Scottish Assembly elections campaigning as a party of opposition. Hell, they'd fought - and won - a by-election in Glasgow (Glasgow of all places) on that shtick. Being sanctimoniously "principled" when it was convenient, wielding the parliamentary whip-hand when it was expedient. Had the arithmetic in the House not precluded it, she'd have long ago pulled the plug. But the polls had never looked good enough. No sense letting Bobby's lot back into Number Ten.

    And yet that was exactly what they'd done, or near enough. No doubt they thought they could win even more seats from Labour in the General. There was even talk of potential Tory-SNP coalitions. Conventional wisdom said that such an arrangement was unlikely, but she wouldn't put it past them. Their leader would sell his own grandma if there was a revised Barnett formula in it.

    She let herself simmer a while longer before drawing a line under it. There'd be plenty more time for recrimination later. Nothing more to be done about it now - the polls would be closing in fifteen minutes.

    She reached for the kettle that had boiled ten minutes earlier, pouring a tepid cup of milky tea, before shuffling back into the lounge. The kids were asleep, thankfully. At least from tomorrow she'd have more time to spend with them. As silver linings went that was definitely the best. Her partner was on the sofa. She joined him while her agent sat quietly at the back of the room. All other party workers and office staff had been banished, at least for a few hours, to the constituency office. They were unlikely to run out of champagne tonight. Se exhaled loudly. Better to be prepared for the worst.

    She'd gone for a short campaign - better to catch everyone on the hop and to eke out some bonuses from incumbency. Four weeks was not enough time for the raw emotion to subside, not enough time to forgive or to forget. She still remembered their smug faces from before the confidence vote. She wished then that she could have remembered Michael Foot's old put down. Well, they'd made the best of it, the campaign - hammering home four and a half years of solid achievement in health, education, the economy. That had to be more important to voters than ludicrous demands for an independence referendum for Scotland, at least to voters who weren't living in the 1740's. They'd laid into the SNP north of the border for "letting the Tories in" - that one the buggers could never refute. And in England they'd pulled out all the stops to halt "Bob's Mob". The Shadow Chancellor wasn't bad, ukulele aside, but the dignity of the Office of Prime Minister did not deserve a man in tie-dye shirts. It had been dirty, sure, but sometimes you just had to get down in the mud and wrestle with everyone else. Negative campaigning worked.

    How long now? She glanced at the clock, about five minutes. She motioned to her partner to switch the television on. The BBC election night coverage was just beginning. Dimbleby was opening with relish his last election night ever - though he'd called it that last time, and the time before. The other anchors were there in pale redundancy. Jeremy Vine was there too, justifying - or otherwise - half of the BBC's CGI budget. Apparently viewers had some tortured jungle canyon rope bridge metaphor to look forward to - complete with the Leader of the Opposition's animated uncanny valley figure. The Prime Minister would stay up for the Exit Poll, and maybe a small part of the commentary, and then she'd catch some sleep. She had no real enthusiasm for the waffle of Lord Talkinghead.

    "And now" Dimbleby began, clearly enjoying the theatrics of it, "for the Exit Poll."

    BONG!

    The chimes of Big Ben, almost as loud as the combined interjections of "Er... It's the Queen Elizabeth Tower actually..." from tedious pedants everywhere. And there across the clock face was projected the result, not a blue Conservative torch, but a red Labour rose.

    "Labour, to win a majority - that's a majority - of 34 seats."

    From the succession of words she would exclaim - this time out loud - the Prime Minister was glad the children were safely tucked up in bed.

    "Our seat projections in full" Dimbleby continued "Labour 317, that's up 26 on last time. Conservatives 242, they've fallen backwards. Other parties on 41 between them - including the SNP on 19."

    Already the BBC was cutting between feeds from the respective party HQs and the corresponding scenes of jubilation and disbelief. The Prime Minister leaned forward in her seat. Weeks of campaign exhaustion melted away in an instant. It was early days of course, Exit Polls had been wrong in the past, but it looked like they had pulled it off. Just about. She could not see the smiles of her partner and her agent, but she could feel them.

    Now the BBC had the Chair of the Conservative Party, flailing hopelessly in speculation and half-clutched straws. The Political Editor was cruelly prolonging the torture. The Prime Minister caught herself smiling too. Maybe this would be worth staying up for after all.



    ******************************​

    2. "Do You Loike Windfaarms?"​


    "Surges are not a sustainable form of party growth." The words of the MP for Brighton Kempton still rung in her ears as Natalie leaned back into the black leather upholstery of the Rolls Royce. He'd been right, she'd thought. Slow, steady, sustainable growth was the way forward - it was as true for party development as it was for the economy. Well, maybe that mindset would have to change - for the former at least. "Hashtag Green Surge" had always been half wishful thinking - again, like the economy, it sometimes took confidence to become self-fulfilling. She slouched downwards again. These seats were comfortable. That was something else that would have to change. In the middle of the second decade of the twenty first century it clearly wasn't right for the state to be running such an expensive and frivolous fleet of fossil fuel vehicles.

    Hell, it was surreal to even be thinking about things like that. To be here, now. Even when she'd become leader she would never have guessed how far they'd come. An administrator. Someone to reorganise the party on the inside, to build a machine capable of moving from the party of perennial protest to one that won seats. Leaders of third parties didn't get public exposure - mostly because Britain didn't have third parties. Okay, there were the Tartan Tories up in Aberdeenshire, and those people who set fire to holiday cottages in Carmarthenshire, but they scarcely counted. Then there was that fellow who had passed away the previous year. Thorpe. Whatever had happened to his lot? So perhaps it was inevitable then, that they'd risen - a credible third way alternative to the entrenched two party system. Protest voters - that was what their supporters had been dismissed as, at least until they started overturning five figure majorities. it irritated Natalie no end that they were portrayed in this way - after all that effort to make the campaign about positivity, and the hope for a new dawn.

    Of course she'd long gotten used to media hostility. It was there from the moment they'd first got into the public eye. The fourth estate had taken every opportunity to do them, and her, down. Illnesses, quotes from obscure council candidates, what she wore; there was no level the gutter press wouldn't stoop to. Thankfully David Icke had kept himself contained to Bristol Zoo's reptile house, or who could imagine what they'd have had to put up with.

    The funny thing was though, none of these attacks had really gained any traction. "Non-stick Nat" they'd started calling her in the campaign office. If anything the press hostility only increased their underdog appeal. Every smear was just another desperate lashing out by the dying Westminster Establishment - or so their voters perceived. Even the press jumped on the bandwagon in the end. Despite their deep antipathy, the Press Barons could not resist an easy and exciting narrative and her party had certainly given them that, with by-elections and defections and Royal endorsements.

    Now that had been a story and a half. Constitutional crises aside it had been especially awkward for Natalie, as a committed republican. Granted, His Royal Highness hadn't exactly endorsed them as such, only let out a few unguarded and favourable comments, but it was enough to be construed as an endorsement by those willing to make the jump. Recently released letters had only confirmed his sympathy - though to those who could deceiver the black scrawl handwriting, the Prince's longstanding support for conservation was no great revelation. Of course, the monarchy is strong enough and the constitution maleable enough for both to absorb the scandal. The long term effects were mostly negligable, Natalie reasoned. For every gentleman hippy whose support they gained that likely lost a radical watermelon.

    Interesting then, in all senses of the word, their ascent had been. From a handful of seats in the mid-nineties - built up from local election gains in previously one-party councils, and from the successes and momentum of 1989. Natalie hadn't even been a party member then. They were obscure giants upon whose shoulders she'd stood. The real leaps forward had come in the noughties, as the Labour government had grown stale under a succession of tired old men, and its lurch to an authoritarian law and order position alienated middle class liberals. With both big parties stuck in blinkered conversation with their electoral bases, cracks began to form in the duopoly. Nature abhors a vacuum. Now there was a vacuum for a party that adored nature.

    The member for Brighton Kempton might still be right, to a degree. Their growth hadn't exactly come overnight. It had been a long patient accumulation of votes and support (and latterly seats). They had been aided, undoubtedly, by what Harold Macmillan once referred to as "events". It was the lot of the third party, Natalie reflected, to be buffeted about by the political weather, hoping only to one day direct it. But from their own narrow perspective events had been favourable. The Phipps government's delusional energy policy, the hurricanes which devastated the Gulf states in the US, the oil shocks of the late noughties, the widespread flooding of the previous winter. After decades of being ignored on the fringe, the ears of the wider electorate had at last become attuned to the message of environmentalism. It also helped that they'd broadened and clarified their wider platform beyond single issues. Natalie could justifiably feel proud of that. It was hard, mostly unrecognised work behind the scenes, but it had paid off.

    By the end of last year they were hovering around 25% in the polls - the clear "Third Party" to the point where even the BBC started referring to them as such - but still far behind the main two, and with far fewer seats.

    "There will be no debates" - it had become a media truism, repeated and believed long after the ground had begun to shift. They were "a vile American import". They were "too presidential". They exemplified "style over substance". And they happened. That there would be two lecterns was almost a given - one for the Prime Minister, and one for the Leader of the Opposition, head to head. No-one, not even Natalie, had expected there to be a *Third* Lectern - the very idea was like something out of a political fantasy. And yet somehow, galvanised by hordes of young "activists" on Automedia - armed only with keyboards and an abundance of time - the campaign to invite her party had begun. With an eclectic range of supporters the campaign had succeeded in persuading the broadcasters to change their arbitrary inclusion criteria; for another set of equally arbitrary but more favourable criteria.

    And so there had been a Third Lectern - placed with unintentional symbolism between the other two. In objective terms Natalie's performance had not been stellar - nerves and an excessive focus on figures had held her back. But framed as the novelty insurgent, set in stark contrast to the grey men to either side of her, she had eked out a comfortable win. Less favourable commentators attributed that solely down to low expectations against the two known quantities of her opponents. Of course there was only the time for the one debate, and by then it was too late in the campaign to schedule more. First (and only) impressions count, and hers had most definitely counted.

    The polls went crazy. First they were in front. Then they were third. Then second, and so on, all three parties - because now there were quite clearly three - swapping places back and forth. "Margin of error" was any parties lead. Uniform swing gave up and went home. The election came down to the final few days, with online activists sharing graphs lamenting the inequity of the electoral system. The political media bubble frothed itself up into obsession projecting potential coalition deals.

    And all for naught, Natalie reflected wryly. Majority government had become seen as an unlikely outside chance. A traditional big party would certainly have been expected to lead it. When the Exit Poll was released she had been sat at home, expecting some modest gains, a respectable performance, and an early night. As Dimbleby spoke to the chimes of Big Ben, numbers flashing up on the screen, Natalie had let out a single, monosyllabic, and typically Australian expression of surprise.

    First past the post gives predictable results, expect for when it doesn't. Whether through late surge, high turnout, or the long awaited fruits of decades of hard work, they were winning seats across the country. It was again "the most unpredictable general election in a generation" according to the BBC. For once they were right. There would no doubt be a lot of awkward moments ahead, for earnest paper candidates for whom victory was never even contemplated. Of course there had been the emergency at Sellafield in the final week of the campaign - thankfully disaster had been averted but under the relentless glare of 24 hour news it was the two main parties who were most tarnished by it, thanks to both past policy decisions and pro-nuclear stances. In hindsight it obviously helped Natalie's party - perhaps by more than they'd anticipated. Perhaps it was the final freak event that tipped them over the top. Had such a thing ever happened in a TV political drama, no doubt fans would have lambasted the writers for such a Deus Ex Machina plot twist. But reality doesn't care about being cliche.

    The car slowed as it turned in at her destination. It arced around the courtyard drawing up to the building entrance. Natalie made to open her car door, and was surprised to find it being opened for her. Suddenly intensely nervous, she stepped out. The Queen's Private Secretary was there to greet her.

    "Her Majesty will see you now, Ms Bennett."
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015
  11. Callan Absolutely Dire

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    Those Bonus ending are great. I really like the Politibrit in-jokes that you filled in. Natalie Bennett actually gaining meaningful power might be pushing plausibility somewhat, but it's fun to consider. How long will that Green Government last, I wonder?
     
  12. Agent Boot Failing upwards

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    Well, if you're going for implausible, why not go for broke?

    Thank you. I did particularly enjoy sneaking in a succession of Politibrit jokes. Consider them tributes to my own Giants.
     
  13. Sideways Trans *space* woman. Note the antennae Donor

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    Love it. Love it. Love it.

    That made my day:)