"A Very British Transition" - A Post-Junta Britain TL

2009 Reader's Poll Result
Hola Comrades,

I am currently broadcasting from an undisclosed location as the fascist agents of Mountbatten commonly know as BT Broadband still haven't turned my sodding wifi on.

So to tide you all over here's the results from our the Reader's Poll, now it turns out Survey Monkey has a maximum response of 40 people, over 80 people replied to the poll but I'm afraid to say only the first 40 were counted (next time I'll do a strawpoll).

2009 Election Reader's Edition
  • SDP - 174 (-63) (35%) (-12.2%)
  • Nat - 124 (-65) (25%) (-12.6%)
  • SA - 99 (+76) (20%) (+15.4%)
  • Reform - 37 (+37) (7.5%) (+7.5%)
  • SDLP - 24 (+22) (5%) (+4.3%)
  • Plaid - 12 (+5) (2.5%) (+0.9%)
  • RISE - 12 (-1) (2.5%) (-0.2%)
  • Sinn Fein - 12 (+8) (2.5%) (+1.7%)
In a shocking upset it appears the Socialist Alternative have surged, nearly quadrupling their representation in Parliament. Both the major parties have suffered losses losing over a hundred seats between the two of them. The SDLP and Sinn Fein have somehow won every Northern Irish seat and then some - meaning a border poll is likely in the near future. In Scotland the SNP has collapsed to zero seats in a very unexpected turn of events.

With these results the SDP/SA government looks likely to continue with the Alternative in a much stronger position, Meacher is likely to demand Cabinet seats for him and his comrades, only time will tell if they can hold it together.

(Real exit poll and election results coming soon)
 
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2009 Exit Poll
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(Big Ben Chimes)

NATIONAL WIN

FORECAST NATIONAL LARGEST PARTY WITH 211 SEATS


Andrew Marr - Our exit poll is saying a hung parliament, no surprises there with National winning a plurality of the seats on 211, up 22. Nipping at their heels we have the Social Democrats on 203, down 34. The Socialist Alternative is on 24 seats, up 1. A good night for the Scottish National Party on 16, up 3. Sarah Brown’s reform party has made it into Parliament with 15 seats, up 15. Plaid Cymru are on 6 seats, down 1, A disastrous night for RISE on 5 seats, down 8, losing over half their MPs. And all others, including the Northern Irish parties on 16 seats. The BBC teamed up with Mori to make this poll who spoke to people outside polling stations in all 40 provinces. Our producers are telling me to stress that this is just a uniform swing exit poll, it is just meant to give a general picture of the results so don’t cash any bets just yet. I now go over to my colleague Kirsty Wark for her thoughts.

KW - This result is sure to set alarm bells ringing in Whitehall - this is exactly the result civil servants tell me they didn’t want. There’s just 8 seats between the two main parties and no clear path to a majority. The SDP/SA pact we’ve seen governing the country for the last four years is over 20 seats short, Tim Collins also has no clear path to Downing Street, even working with Reform he also falls over 20 seats short. For either party to get back into government they’ll have to make deals with people they don’t like . The SNP has said it’s open to working with either party but neither Johnson nor Collins want to be seen to endorse Scottish separatism, either way the “Celtic Alliance” of Plaid and SNP MPs look likely to play kingmaker.

AM - Yes I imagine a disappointing night for Tim Collins, some may remember at the start of this campaign he was four, five, even six points ahead in some polls, but a lackluster campaign and internal snipping on the National benches seem to have hamstrung him. Collins has already had one go at Downing Street only to come up short, if he fails a second time he faces a backbench mutiny.

KW - Absolutely, many National MPs have privately said to me “look the SDPs had a recession, terror attacks and corruption scandals - if we can’t win an election against them now - with all that going on - when can we win?” Many in the party are saying they need to move past their Junta image and bring in a civilian leader.

AM - A dramatic result in Scotland, RISE seems to have completely collapsed and the SNP have swooped in to pick up the pieces, the Sheridan Scandal has sucker punched the Scottish socialists (try saying that three times in a row). Now the SNP rules the roost, they can demand a high price for their participation in government. Could we be looking at a unified Scottish authority or even an independence referendum?

KW - John Swinney has been very cautious over this election campaign. He’s tried to ride both horses, picking up disaffected RISE voters whilst not spooking moderate Scottish voters. He is likely to demand extra funding for Scotland and recognition of the Scottish nation, rather than go full pelt for a referendum.

AM - Before we discuss any more horse trading we must again stress this is only an exit poll so a lot can change in the next few hours. In the studio with me now I have Greg Clark, he’s a National MP for Kent and a leading member of the party’s liberal faction. He is seen as an ally of Former Shadow Chancellor Nick Clegg and was recently demoted from first on the Kent National Party list to third - knowing Kent he’s likely safe anyway. Mr Clark thank you for joining us. You’ve said the National Party needs to "look, sound and think like Britain” if it hopes to win, do you think Tim Collins looks, sounds and thinks like Britain?
 
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Chapter 43: Erskine Maybe
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National emerged as the largest party, but with few clear routes to Downing Street

“UK Prime minister Alan Johnson insisted on Monday that he would forge ahead with forming a government, even after his party lost over 30 seats. Commenting on the election Mr. Johnson said that “in politics, you cannot always achieve 100 percent of the goals that you set.” Still, he promised to stick to his second term objectives because “this is what Britain needs.” But Tim Collins of the National Party, suggested that the SDP had avoided the clear-cut defeat forecast by pollsters through "glitz and spin", arguing he should form the next government. In Sunday’s vote, the National Party won 211 of the 497 seats in the House of Commons, against 203 seats for the SDP. While the National Party won the most votes for the first time since Britain’s return to democracy, it fell short of the 249 seats needed for the absolute majority.”
- UK’s Ruling Party Disappointed in Ballot, Raphael Minder, New York Times (2009)

The hardest part about democracy is disappointment, sure getting beaten or imprisoned isn’t fun, but the copper wouldn’t get your hopes up. He’d say he was going to smack you, and then smack you, simpler times. Speaking of getting smacked in the face, very few people were happy with the 2009 election results - Alan Johnson had lost his majority and was more reliant on the Socialists then before, Tim Collins had failed to win a clear mandate despite all the tribulations the SDP had faced. Even the third parties were glum, the Alternative had watched global capitalism melt down around them and only gained one measly seat, meanwhile the Reform Party had spent millions of pounds for fourth place, not even on the podium. RISE had lost over half it’s MPs and the SNP had only managed to pick up three of RISE’s eight dropped legislators.

Everyone was depressed, exhausted and thoroughly annoyed at each other, such is the joy of democratic engagement. There was no time to sulk however as an invisible clock began to tick down. Politicians of all parties knew they had limited time to get some sort of functioning administration together before the military got bored and decided to march on Whitehall and shell Glasgow for old times’ sake. Collins, as leader of the largest party seemingly had the best shot at forming a government, but he found a lot of doors slammed in his face. Shockingly neither the Alternative or RISE wanted to work with him so some sort of frankenstein nationalist/communists alliance (Jean-Pierre Faye eat your heart out) wasn’t going to happen. Both Reform and the SNP were open to working with National, but not working with each other, so that route was a non-starter, so Collins’ only real path to Downing Street was hand in hand with Alan Johnson.

“Britain’s stunned political parties looked for a way forward after an election that gave none of them a parliamentary majority. “The winner is: Ungovernability,” ran the headline in the London Evening Standard. The country is confronting deadlock in the next few weeks as sworn enemies are forced to work together to form a government. The results left the governing left-wing bloc of Prime Minister Alan Johnson without a majority in the House of Commons. Financial markets fell at the prospect of a stalemate pushing Britain's borrowing costs higher. Johnson has the difficult choice of trying to agree a “grand coalition” with Opposition Leader Tim Collins or striking a deal with regional Separatists. Collins admitted on Tuesday he had “come first but not won” the crucial elections and asked parties to join him in forming a government.” - Britain seeks path out of election impasse, Al Jazeera (2009)

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Johnson wasn't going to give up the premiership without a fight

Johnson’s path to Downing Street was equally murky, assuming he could get the Alternative back on side (and that was a big if) he would need at least two other parties to get over the line. The Reform Party was the obvious choice but they had been established in direct opposition to the Alternative’s perceived radicalism. Brown had said several times on the campaign trail she wouldn’t support a government involving any far-left or separatist parties, and nothing she said after election day indicated she had changed her mind. The other option was working with the “Celtic Alliance '' of the SNP and Plaid, both countries would demand extra funding for their provinces, further powers and even an independence referendum. Swinney was likely to play hardball and cooperating with the separatists would be unthinkable for many in the SDP.

Johnson approached Meacher first, in the talks lasting several days Johnson managed to talk Meacher down from a position of “full communism immediately” to three key pledges. Firstly, a cap on the pension age, keeping the retirement age to 65 throughout the parliament. Secondly, no cuts to corporation tax and finally a 400 euro payment to the long term unemployed to prevent Britain’s growing jobless population from falling into poverty. In return for these pledges Meacher agreed to keep the confidence and supply agreement in place with the SDP, voting alongside the Social Democrats in confidence votes, including the budget.

With the Alternative pact signed, sealed and delivered Johnson once again led the largest bloc in parliament, with this momentum he could make an approach to the unruly Celts and attempt a last desperate dash back to Downing Street. Seeing his political capital fall through his fingers, Collins made a last minute gambit. He held a eleventh hour press conference where he announced plans for National to “bring the country together in a time of crisis” National proposed a continental style grand coalition stretching both left and right, to steer the country through the financial crisis. Collins called on the Social Democrats to put party politics aside and come to the negotiating table for the sake of national unity and to avoid a prolonged period of uncertainty.
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Mountbatten's dictatorship had started with a "national unity government"

Collins signed his speech off with the now infamous line “Mr Johnson, the future of democracy as we know it is in your hands”. Alarm bells went off across Westminster, many perceived the speech, especially the last line as a threat. Appearing on the John Simpson Show, Alternative Deputy Leader Diana Abbott described Collins’ speech as “get on board or our mates send the tanks in - it’s a soft coup!”. The “coup clock” as SDP party insiders called it, was ticking closer and closer to midnight. Johnson’s options were narrowing; he could risk it all on a deal with the separatist parties, or he could let the “soft coup” happen. The postie from an Inner London Council Estate had been bombed, shot at, bribed, threatened and beaten in the name of democracy, was he ready to do it all again?

“It's quite hard, at a time when most politicians appear to have popped out of the womb yelling for a Hansard, to imagine a prime minister who was once a postman. It's quite hard to imagine a prime minister who was, from the age of 12, brought up by his 15-year-old sister in a council flat, and left school at 15. It's quite hard, but it shouldn't be, because our Prime Minister is Alan Johnson. This is a man who cares about the kinds of people who don't grow up dreaming of Downing Street. "We were in a bar the other night," says his aide and I overheard someone saying 'There's someone famous over there, but I don't know his name'". Johnson laughs. "I guess," he says, "I'm never going to make it now". To a second term, I ask, or as a rock star? Alan Johnson flashes me a smile. "Both," he says, and quite a big part of me wishes he was wrong.” - An Interview with Alan Johnson, Christina Patterson, The Independent (2009)

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"Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die" by Alfred Lord Tennyson was a popular saying among the Junta era military
 
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2009 Election Detailed Results
UK House of Commons as of June 2009
  • National Party - 211
  • Social Democratic Party - 203
  • Socialist Alternative - 24
  • Scottish National Party - 16
  • Reform Party - 15
  • Plaid Cymru - 6
  • RISE Party - 5
  • Sinn Fein - 4
  • Ulster Conservatives - 4
  • Social Democratic and Labour Party - 3
  • Ecology Party - 3
  • Mebyon Kernow- 1
  • Northern Irish Liberals - 1
  • Worker's Party of Scotland - 1
 
Collins, as leader of the largest party seemingly had the best shot at forming a government, but he found a lot of doors slammed in his face.
Yeah, it turns otu years of misrule, and then your buddies in government going and pissing off every non National Party has side effects, who knew?
Collins signed his speech off with the now infamous line “Mr Johnson, the future of democracy as we know it is in your hands”.
And then we have him doing shit like this. How exactly did he think anyone outside the party would take it?
 
Election update makes a great point - in most elections in the immediate aftermath of the economic crash in 2008, it was the chance for left-wing anti-capitalist parties to seize power and it never materialised. They only came about during the economic recovery/austerity era and not straight away, which you would think would be the case! Love the work as always and I agree with Nick..
 
Is it weird that part of me wants a grand coalition just so we can see the two party system completely collapse in 2012?

Also that was a very direct threat from Collins, that'd probably hurt him more than it would help him in the long run.
 
Chapter 44: Storm in a Teacup
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The Junta's shadow still loomed large over coalition negotiations

“The last time a Queen of England made an emergency speech to the nation was after the death of First Lord Hill Norton in 2004. The time before that was in 1968, when the monarch’s intervention gave legitimacy to a coup d’état. On Tuesday night Queen Elizabeth made her own speech, calling for unity in the face of an election result that threatens to tear the country apart. But, to its critics, the speech risks fanning the flames of division in the UK. The Queen took an uncompromising line criticising unnamed parties that sought to “break the unity of our Kingdom”. “The Queen effectively warned the main parties away from negotiations with the separatist parties. Instead of trying to play good cop and push for a mediated solution, she took a very hard line,” said Patrick Dunleavy, professor at the LSE.”
- Queen of England’s emergency speech takes her to political front line, Chris Good, The Atlantic (2009)

In some ways Collins’ thinly veiled threats around democracy had done Johnson a favour, nothing focused the minds like an old-fashioned counter revolution. The Social Democrats decided to try and play both sides for as long as possible, using Collins’ intervention as leverage with the regional separatists. Whilst the Celtic Alliance had planned to open with a referendum demand and negotiate down from there, the newly found time pressure put John Swinney in a mood to compromise. Instead negotiations moved more towards constitutional settlements, and of course, more money. Both the SNP and Plaid demanded a unified authority for their nations with further powers and capital to these authorities. The separatists hoped to secure a deal that would strengthen their nations, without going too far and having tanks rolling down Edinburgh's Royal Mile. It gave Johnson the opportunity to play good cop with to Collin's bad cop

Johnson agreed an extra billion euros to Welsh provinces and 3.2 billion to the Scottish provinces. Whilst he denied creating a unified Scottish and Welsh authority, he did agree to several constitutional reforms. Symbolically, Johnson agreed to recognise both Scotland and Wales as their own nations within the United Kingdom, with the rights to special privileges benefiting their situation. Each Nation also received an empowered “Executive Committee”, with representatives from national parties and the constituent provinces to resolve disputes between the nations and central government, and to coordinate policy between the various provinces. The Executive Committees would be granted extended powers in regards to things like taxation, transport, and labour policy, in other words - autonomous governments in all but name. Most importantly, Johnson agreed to a theoretical recognition of both Scotland and Wales’ right to self determination, opening the door for a possible future referendum.

The pieces were in place for a rainbow coalition, all Johnson had to do was give the go ahead. Still a full second term with the Socialists and Separatists was no easy feat. Even with it’s SDLP sister party and all it’s confidence and supply partners, the Johnson government would only have a majority of five seats and this was assuming the military would let such a government happen. When democracy had first returned to British shores, Johnson had a meeting with Denis Healey, leader of the British Government in Exile, for a formal handover of power. His first piece of advice had been “keep the bastards out at all costs”. The Social Democrats had come too far and sacrificed too much to put National back in power. Johnson gave the order, he was going to Buckingham to have the most important cup of tea in his life.

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Reports indicated Her Majesty was privately disappointed with Johnson's decision

“Britain took a leap into the unknown last night when the SDP formed the second government since the transition to democracy. Johnson finally entered Downing Street after seeing the Queen at Buckingham Palace last night. His accession concludes a remarkable two-week political tug of war. On the steps of Downing Street, Johnson said: "This is going to be hard and difficult work. The recession has thrown up all sorts of challenges. But together we can provide that strong and stable government that our country needs." The deal with the SA, SNP and Plaid Cymru was finally agreed last night after Johnson offered further autonomy to the Scottish and Welsh provinces. Johnson declined an offer from Opposition Leader Tim Collins for a grand coalition with the National partly.” - Alan Johnson leads SDP back to power, Patrick Wintour, The Guardian (2009)


After a taxpayer funded chat with the magic old lady (and nearly being pissed on by a corgi) Johnson returned to Downing Street to announce his second term government and show the public his Cabinet. In his speech Johnson pledged to be a “Prime Minister for all people” promising to bring the country together after a difficult four years. Johnson pledged to bring the country out of recession “without breaking the backs of the poor” through locking the pension age at 65 and a new basic payment for long-term unemployed Brits. Most radically, Johnson declared his government would usher in a new constitutional settlement to recognise the special status of Britain’s minority nations and to further empower provinces and local governments.

Johnson Cabinet 2009-
  • Prime Minister - Alan Johnson (SDP)
  • Deputy Prime Minister - Rosie Boycott (SDP)
  • Chancellor of the Exchequer - Alan Sugar (SDP)
  • Foreign Secretary - Chris Huhne (SDP)
  • Justice Secretary - David Miliband (SDP)
  • Defence Secretary - Field Marshal Charles Guthrie (Military)
  • Home Secretary - Eddie Izzard (SDP)
  • Development Secretary - Charles Kennedy (SDP)
  • Education Secretary - Polly Toynbee (SDP)
  • Industry, Tourism and Trade Secretary - Peter Mandelson (SDP)
  • Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Secretary - Sandi Toskvig (SDP)
  • Public Administrations Secretary - Ed Balls (SDP)
  • Culture Secretary - Alistair Darling (SDP)
  • Health Secretary - Paddy Ashdown (SDP)
  • Environment Secretary - Alastair Campbelll (SDP)
  • Housing Secretary - Tim Farron (SDP)

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The Government's critics accused Sugar of buying his way to the Treasury

The most notable promotions were Rosie Boycott and Alan Sugar. The party’s old Deputy Leader, Alan Milburn, had decided he liked the perks of the private sector better and disliked the constant attempts on his life - thus he had quietly declined to seek re-election to the Commons. Boycott, as Foreign Secretary and a strong Johnson ally was tapped for the Deputy Leadership making her one of the most powerful women in British history. Sir Sugar was a different story, having been appointed as the Government’s business tsar Sugar had impressed the party higher ups (a million euro donation to the party didn’t hurt) and he was quickly rushed to the top of the electoral list in Inner East London - and then to Treasury

To his supporters, Sugar was bringing fresh experience into government, to his detractors it was a Putinesque scene of corruption, paying his way into the Cabinet. Sugar was infamous in some circles for his ego and prickly personality, with many pundits doubting he could be a loyal team player under Johnson. To balance the maverick Sugar, loyal Cabinet members like Chris Huhne, Eddie Izzard and Charles Kennedy all received much expected promotions, and younger Junior Ministers like Ed Balls and Tim Farron were promoted to the top table. Johnson had his Cabinet, younger, fresher and ready to go, now he just had to make sure to get them through parliament, preferably without any of them getting shot.

“Retired members of Britain’s military have sent two letters to the Queen expressing concerns about the “communist” Johnson government. In these emotional missives the retirees address the monarch as head of the armed forces, and pledge their allegiance to the “homeland,”. They claim the UK's “national cohesion” has been weakened by the minority government led by Alan Johnson. These extraordinary letters were followed by a manifesto along similar lines. This one described Britain’s SDP government as “a serious risk to the unity of Britain” and was signed by more than 500 former members of the military. The outrage expressed in these documents was sparked by the deal that Johnson cut with leftist, and separatist parties.” - Britain’s Military Has No Time for Democracy, Thomas Ricks, Foreign Policy (2009)

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The military saw little difference between the SNP and SNLA
 
I'm kinda impressed that National somehow managed to screw themselves out of a new term in office. Like they can't escape the sinister undertones of where their party came from and most of the people inside can't stop putting their foot inside their mouth. It's really quite fascinating. I'm curious here, is there a lot of backpedalling going on in the media? By which I mean is National trying consistently to calm everyone down after they make dumb-ass statements like that, or are they trying to own it? This is a genuine question by the way, I find this stuff fascinating.
 
The terms negotiated by the SNP are pathetic, not even a national parliament. I love the title of the Atlantic's piece, 'the Queen of England'. Here's hoping for a Scottish republic, although knowing this TL it'll descend into Catalonia style madness!

Speaking of which, does Scotland still have a separate legal system ITTL?
 
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