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

And the stage is set for a populist surge. With the SDP and other leftists in government this will probably come in the form of right wing populism, but if the unions become sufficiently annoyed at Johnson they may back decide that backing a rival left wing party is better for them. It'll be interesting to see, to say the least.
If Sugar's anything like he is in our timeline, and I suspect he is, the actions he undertakes are almost certainly going to be worsened by his complete inability to keep his trap shut when riled up enough. A backlash is incoming.
.The Euro had slid by almost 15% against the dollar since the financial crisis and Brussels insiders were increasingly worried that if the Union’s “weakest links”, namely the UK, Greece and Portugal failed, they could bring the whole continent crashing down with them.

I'm surprised. Spain is not considered weak link...
Chapter 55: The Scottish Way

Alex Neil had worked to move RISE away from it's SNLA past

“Over 700 people crowded into Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall for a RISE rally on 25 April. Earlier in the week, despite heavy rain Alex Neil spoke to hundreds of students in open air meetings at two Glasgow universities. These full meetings show the support of working-class and young people for RISE. The rally started with a performance by Scottish rapper Eastborn but moved onto the political speeches. The first was from a striking worker from Sunvic Controls where management are trying to cut wages and worsen conditions. He thanked RISE for its support and compared it to a local SDP councillor who said he showed his support by tooting his car horn as he passed the picket line. Next up was Mohammed Asif, an Afghan refugee who thanked RISE members for supporting asylum seekers and refugees in Glasgow.”
- Packed public rally for RISE, RISE Party Press Release (2010)

Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake is a term thrown around a lot in politics, but nowhere could this be more applicable than in Scottish politics. The 2009 election had been a disaster for RISE, it’s leader had been arrested months before, it’s hard-left faction had split into the Workers Party of Scotland and it had lost over half of it’s MPs going from 13 legislators to just five. It all looked over for Scotland’s radicals, then a lot of people made a lot of mistakes. During government negotiations, the SNP, liberally inclined and terrified of a potential coup, agreed to a piecemeal devolution deal that didn’t even grant the nation a parliament.

During the coup, RISE was one of the few mainstream parties to take to the streets straight away in protest, with one of its provincial presidents Colin Fox being the loudest voice in local government against the coup. These two factors combined had pulled RISE back from the abyss and given the party new life, with it’s hardliner faction away with the Workers Party - RISE’s new leader Alex Neil had spent the last few months distancing the party from SNLA dissidents and establishing rise as a mainstream, democratic socialist party. The events of the last few months had brought RISE’s polling almost back to 2005 levels and reestablished the party as a true rival to the SNP.


Younger separatists had been disappointed by the SNP

In July 2010 the Scottish Autonomy Bill passed through Parliament, and Scotland’s Executive Committee was established, Chaired by SNP leader John Swinney. The Scottish Executive had very little real power, mostly acting as a Steering Group for the nation's four provinces and as a line of communication between Westminster and the Scottish provinces. Members of the Executive Committee were appointed by the provincial parliaments, giving them no direct accountability to the Scottish people - and they had almost no power in regards to taxation and public spending. It became quickly apparent to the Scottish people that the Executive Committee was little more than a talking shop.

“In Scotland the enthusiasm for democracy associated with the initial phase of the transition to democracy is gone. Lack of trust in politicians and institutional politics has alienated a rising number of citizens. Only 1.3% of Scots consider that they have too much autonomy, 20.9% are satisfied with the current level and 67.8% are frustrated by insufficient autonomy. Today 33.8% are in favour of Scotland becoming a state within a federal Britain and 32% want it to become an independent state. The rise of secessionism in Scotland emerges out of the will to decide upon its political destiny as a nation. It questions the assumption that it is possible for a nation without its own state to flourish within a larger state containing it.” - The rise of secessionism in Scotland, Lecture by Peter Lynch, London School of Economics (2010)

With the bill’s passage huge protests broke around up and down the country, around 800,000 Scots would march through Edinburgh demanding a Scottish Parliament, chants of “we are the people - we decide”. Often leading these protests were senior politicians from RISE including Neil himself. Protests weren’t limited to the “usual suspects” of Scottish Separatism as many devolutionist and moderate unionists were also outraged at the lack of powers for Scotland, Amicus and the AGO - Scotland’s two biggest unions, had recently voted in favour of a devolutionist settlement for Scotland and joined in the protest. New civil society groups would also pop up after the bill’s passage, this included groups like the Tartan Society, a group to promote traditional Scottish culture and values or Separatist Councils Association (SCA) of local authorities that supported Scottish Independence.


Scotland's nationalist movement was a broad coalition of conservatives, socialists, devolutionists and separatists

Two weeks later over a million protesters formed a 100-mile long human chain running along the Scottish Border stretching the breadth of the county. The human chain, known as the “Scottish Way”, echoed the Baltic Way protests of the 1980s, where Baltic citizens formed a chain across the three Baltic Republics to protest independence from the Soviet Union. Whilst several SNP politicians did join the Scottish Way, and the party officially gave the movement it’s backing - Executive Committee Chair John Swinney refused to join the Scottish Way citing “institutional reasons” meanwhile standing arm in arm along the Scottish Way was RISE leader Alex Neil.

Bottom-up protests like the Edinburgh March of Scottish Way represented a shift in thinking amongst Scottish Separatists. Until recently most separatist activities had been coordinated in a top-down approach - this reflecting the danger of being a separatist in the Junta years and the military structure of the SNLA. Elite actors and politicians were entrusted with political support with the expectation this support would garner political results. Whilst the SNP remained Scotland’s most popular party it was hard for their voters to avoid being felt let down or betrayed. The attempted coup and the executive committee compromise had disheartened many separatists - especially the younger generation.

Whilst many of these disillusioned youngsters would turn to the Continuity SNLA or other dissident groups, the more bottom-up, direct action independence movements would give a different outlet and a fresh way to make their voices heard. The fact these protests involving at times a million people had kept mostly peaceful was a testament to how civil society had evolved in Scotland, and how relationships between Scottish Separatists and the British state had generally improved. No longer were the two sides shooting at each other but instead peaceful, bottom-up protests could be used to gain political concessions. By being the largest peaceful protest of the post-Junta era, the Scottish Way showed how politics could be different.

“An estimated 1.2 million people have joined the ‘Scottish Way’, a 100 mile long human chain stretching across the Scottish border’. RISE's Alex Neil emphasised “the difficulties” in calculating such a figure but stated that 1.2 million “would be the lowest estimate”. This means it is the largest demonstration that has ever taken place in Scotland. The SNP's Spokesperson, Alexander Anderson, stated that “very few noble causes could gather so much support at world level”. Hundreds of thousands of Scots travelled to protests in one of the 591 stretches into which the organisers had split the ‘Scottish Way’. For a few hours, the Scottish Border in its entirety was paralysed by the massive demonstration."
- BBC News Bulletin (2010)


Traffic backed up for miles on the border
Still loving the updates.

Out of interest, did the SNLA do much fundraising in the US like the IRA did? I imagine they might of had some success in Canada, what with 15% of the population being of Scottish ancestry. Plus they have the largest Gaelic speaking population outside of Scotland. Actually, I reckon (what with the Junta's attitude towards minorities) there's a chance that ITTL Canada probably has the largest population of Scottish Gaelic speakers left.
Still loving the updates.

Out of interest, did the SNLA do much fundraising in the US like the IRA did? I imagine they might of had some success in Canada, what with 15% of the population being of Scottish ancestry. Plus they have the largest Gaelic speaking population outside of Scotland. Actually, I reckon (what with the Junta's attitude towards minorities) there's a chance that ITTL Canada probably has the largest population of Scottish Gaelic speakers left.
Whilst not as extensive as the IRA's US funding networks the SNLA did get some money from the American Scottish diaspora, but yes Canadians were the SNLA's main funders in the West. During the height of the Cold War the SNLA did get backing from the Soviet Bloc, but after that they pivoted towards more eclectic funders such as Qaddafi and other Arab Nationalists in the Middle East as well as groups like FARC in South America.
Actually, I reckon (what with the Junta's attitude towards minorities) there's a chance that ITTL Canada probably has the largest population of Scottish Gaelic speakers left.
Actually, IIRC, the decline in Canadian (Scottish) Gaelic has been so steep IOTL that teachers from Scotland have to be recruited to teach Gaelic because there are not enough Canadian teachers to do the job. So, to me, I would assume Scotland would ITTL still have a larger population of Gaelic speakers - only if Scottish people began emigrating to Canada and getting meshed up with the nascent revival of Gaelic in the Maritimes (especially Nova Scotia, where it could catapult it a couple of decades earlier than OTL) would there be a lower population of Gaelic speakers in Scotland than OTL.
Chapter 56: School’s Out

Johnson warned trade unions against becoming the 'delusional left'

“A deadline for the government, trade unions and business to agree on labor reforms, aiming to avert a general strike looms in the coming week. Government debt is also likely to take a drubbing when bond markets reopen after a ratings downgrade late on Friday. One poll showed that National would take 45 percent of the vote if an election were held now, 14 percentage points ahead of Johnson's SDP. The SDP were neck and neck with the conservative National Party at the March 2008 general elections. But their handling of the economic crisis and unemployment, which has more than doubled to 6.5 million since then, has gutted their support.”
- UK’s Social Democrats face deep crisis as support dives, Reuters (2010)

After the Sugar budget passed the country entered into a standoff between the Johnson administration and the unions for several months the government entered into a back and forth between the “big two” trade unions, Amicus and the AGO, who represented a cartel of smaller unions all representing over 70% of Britain’s unionised workforce. Negotiations would collapse in September when the Union of Communication Workers (UCW) of post office workers walked out of talks, with other unions promptly following. The loss of the UCW was an especially bitter pill to swallow for Johnson as it was the union he had led during the General Strike of 2003 and an organisation he had been a member of his entire adult life.

Outside Jack Jones House in London, the leaders of a dozen major unions announced talks had broken down, and that they would be calling a 24 hour general strike. The last speaker was UCW General Secretary David Ward, Ward condemned Johnson as a “reincarnation” of his former self, urging him to return to his former beliefs and dump the austerity budget. The General Strike would fall on the 29th of September, as part of a European day of action where dozens of trade unions across the EU would also join in walkouts against austerity. The TUC declared that the workers of Britain would “not go quietly” and would join “brothers and sisters across the continent”. Civil disobedience was nothing new to British unions and they hoped to set an example for their international cousins.


A motion to expel Johnson was submitted to the UCW executive

The General Strike represented the first mass industrial action since Johnson took power. Whilst there had been periodic workplace unrest throughout his premiership, there had been nothing on this scale. Britain’s unions were militant, having operated in the shadows for so long, and it had been a General Strike back in 2003 that had toppled the Junta. Johnsons aides knew a general strike was not a good look, for many voters, especially on the left, a general strike had been seen as a sign for hope and democracy in the darkest days of the Junta, now Johnson was the target of the people’s wrath - the comparisons to Hill-Norton in the tabloids would write themselves.

“In May 2010, unable to come up with an appropriate response to the economic crisis, Johnson made an about-turn in his economic policy. This was a desperate bid to avoid a bailout of the British economy and to maintain the performance of the public debt in stock markets. In September, the trade unions Amicus and the Association of Government Officers (AGO), with some 2.1 million members, called a general strike. Although this was successful on the day, it fell apart due to a lack of long-term political support. The Socialist Alternative provided confidence and supply to the government, leaving it unable to offer any real political alternative. Amicus and the AGO were still fundamentally loyal to the SDP. They were loath to encourage any political launch of an anti-neoliberal left.” - Occupying London: Post-Crash Resistance and the Limits of Possibility, Samuel Burgum (2018)

The SDP also had its international reputation to worry about. Several international finance institutions had already announced they would no longer be lending to the UK, weary of it’s unstable economy. The EU’s “troika” of the Central Bank, Commission and IMF had welcomed Sugar’s original budget and warned if Johnson backed down then further financial support could not be guaranteed. With Britain on the edge of crashing out of the eurozone and falling further into depression, the Government couldn’t afford to lose it’s bailout lifeline, the unions. On the day of the General Strike Sugar would be attending a meeting of European Finance Ministers in Brussels to discuss a response to the crisis - Westminster had to show strength.


Violent strike-breaking had been a hallmark of the Junta

Around 14 million people, making up around 70% of Britain’s workforce, downed tools on the 29th. In areas with particularly strong unionization such as education and health, almost 100% of the workforce walked out. The near-omnipotence of the Teacher’s Union meant every single school in the UK was forced to close. Public transport would grind to a halt, freezing major cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester, Whilst most of the pickets were peaceful, Home Secretary Eddie Izzard did order extra police onto the streets of some cities, and there was some sporadic violence. The worst occured in the city of Derby, where nearly 10% of the city’s population was employed in a single massive Rolls-Royce compound. Derbyshire Police would charge the protestors and 13 picketers would be injured. The General Strike would burn brightly and quickly, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in protest but there were no long-term plans made, no occupation of buildings, no clear long-term demands other than the retraction of a budget that had passed months ago.

The Government called the union’s bluff, Downing Street reasoned that whilst the unions could turn out for a few hours for a general strike, they did not have the discipline or the support for prolonged industrial action. The strike had only been planned for 24 hours, and the expectation amongst union leadership was that the pan-European action would force EU leaders to halt austerity measures - they did not. Amicus and the AGO did not have plans in place for more than a few days of industrial action, due to their closeness with the SDP they had allowed strike funds to run dry and local discipline to break down On the morning of the 30th, the British unions had to join their sisters across the continent in going back to work. Amicus General Secretary Jack Dromney called it a “warning shot”, but for now life went back to normal.

“Europe's stock markets became a sea of red today as traders fretted about the state of several eurozone economies. The UK was particularly hit, having sustained a general strike yesterday. Investors doubt its faltering economic growth will be enough to sustain debt payments. The FTSE index of Britain's most stocks plunged by 3%, as the Treasury was forced to offer investors a better return to get the sale of government bonds away. Britain sold €2.8bn of six-month bills, paying an interest rate of 1.2%. Last month the rate was 0.7%, showing how concerns about Britain's ability to cope with its deficit have ballooned. The Bank of England is at the centre of the storm after it seized control of Ulster Bank, a small, Northern Irish savings bank hit by the property collapse. "Ulster Bank's seizure has highlighted Britain's collapsing property market" said Gavan Nolan, a credit analyst at Markit.” - Fear of UK debt contagion sends markets tumbling, John Hooper, The Guardian


EU financial leadership hoped to isolate failing economies such as the UK and Greece from the rest of the Eurozone
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Chapter 57: The Disappeared

The grave had been accidentally discovered by a Harry Potter film crew

“On the left hand side of Pilning Cemetery the graves are arranged in a wall. But across the path from the engraved headstones and flower arrangements, a very different kind of grave has been discovered. The vast pit now being excavated is a burial site from Britain's Junta. In August 1981, dozens of dissidents - were shot and flung there. Now uncovered, their bones lie sprawled as they landed: an arm above a head, a skull face down, the soles of shoes still intact on skeletons. Lewis Paterson was five when his father was taken away by civil guardsmen loyal to the Junta. All Lewis has today is one photograph and the conviction his father was killed here. "I want to find him and bury him over on that side, in a proper grave," Lewis says, gesturing towards the flowers. "That's all I want. Nothing more."
- Digging up Mountbatten-era truths in the English countryside, Pierre Ranger, New York Times (2009)

Britain was a county of bones, unmarked graves, thousands of them, dotted the British countryside. Near Severn Beach in Gloucestershire, Warner Brothers were filming the Deathly Hallows, the latest film in the Harry Potter franchise. After all the disturbance from the film crew the most shocking of all these hidden graves was found; alongside dozens of other victims in the mass unmarked grave, the body of Tony Benn was found. Benn had been the left-wing Minister for Technology during the coup, whilst uncovering Junta era killings was common-place, finding a former Cabinet Minister was no small feat. The discovery of Benn’s corpse was even more mysterious considering Benn was last seen alive in Brixton, over a hundred miles from when Benn’s body had been dumped. Benn had disappeared in the early 80s prompting dozens of conspiracy theories, and now they had been laid to rest.

Like many of his contemporaries Benn had been imprisoned in the aftermath of the Junta and held in Belmarsh prison. A prolific writer, somehow Benn had managed to get his hands on a pen and paper from Belmarsh, and smuggled these writings out through friendly opposition cells. Benn’s “Letters from Belmarsh '' became popular amongst international observers and underground leftists. The letters would be printed en masse in other anglophone countries and Benn became a nuisance for the authorities. Then in the 80s, Benn simply disappeared. The official line from the Junta was that Benn had escaped Belmarsh and left London with the assistance of Red Brigade terrorists. Except no method of escape was ever discovered, Benn had simply disappeared. The Benn mystery captured the public zeitgeist, taking off in underground resistance culture. The left-wing musician Billy Bragg even wrote a song on Benn’s escape “The Ballad of Belmarsh”.


Benn was the most famous name to have disappeared

After several weeks of investigations, historians and detectives settled on an official version of events. Whilst Benn was a nuisance to the Junta, he was too popular abroad to have killed without a level of deniability. Thus Benn had been told he was being transferred to a lower security prison for good behaviour, at the time several political prisoners were being moved out of Belmarsh as the authorities wanted to project a more liberal image abroad. Benn, and several other prisoners were transferred to a transport driven by a Civil Guard death-squad, who would then take them far away from civilisation, kill them, and dump their bodies in the Gloucestershire countryside. The Junta reasoned the temporary embarrassment of Benn’s “escape” would be better than the international condemnation from killing him openly.

“On 18 August 1981, writer and politician Tony Benn was killed by the Junta's Civil Guard on a beach in Gloucestershire. Now a short film set in Bradley Stoke near the site where Benn was murdered, is part of an exhibition in London. "Death of Love" is on until 9 October at the MP Birla Millennium Art Gallery, in West Kensington. The exhibition rings together the work of 11 artists, working in a range of mediums, including painting and ceramics. John Molyneux engraved 120 Benn quotations on ceramic plaques and hung them from trees, using them as the emotional focus of the film. Molyneux says his film honours the memory of Benn and the other innocent victims who died there.” - Press Release by the Millennium Art Gallery (2011)

Benn’s discovery was an apt reminder of the Mountbatten period’s horrors. In a moving speech on the Common’s floor Hilary Benn, the SDP’s Chief Whip gave a moving speech in tribute to his father - Hilary had been only 14 when Tony had been arrested. Despite being dead for most of the Junta years, Benn had become a symbol for resistance to the Junta, on par with figures such as Pablo Neruda. The younger Benn spoke of a "mixture of relief, and great sadness" to learn that his father’s body had been found. National Leader William Hague would take the opportunity to further distance himself from the Junta on a difficult news day for his party, telling the press “"My thoughts are with the Benn family and I would hope that confirmation would be speedy to ease the burden the family has endured."


National hardliners wanted to keep the stiff upper lip in place

More than 200 unmarked graves had been unearthed since the 2005 election, but it was the uncovering of Benn’s grave that spurred the government to action. Home Secretary Eddie Izzard announced an 8 billion euro budget towards unearthing Junta hidden graves, and giving those left there a proper burial. The vast majority of unmarked graves were still undiscovered with some estimating there were as many as 3,000 sites across the United Kingdom. Some on the right of British politics were annoyed at this, seeing it as opening up old wounds and some 70 National MPs voted against the “Victims Remains Bill”, one of those voting against, Surrey MP Diane James insisted “"it should be left in the past” in her speech “nothing can be fixed now, we can't bring the dead back. We should leave them be.”

The Severen Grave was the first event to really break the “stiff upper-lip” code of silence around Junta era crimes. Whilst some mid-range Junta officials had been prosecuted for minor crimes there had never been a reckoning as to some of the atrocities committed over the Mountbatten era, some leading Juntaistas, such as Margaret Thatcher, Edward du Cann and Edwin Bramall were all living a quiet, peaceful retirement. Many on the left of the political spectrum argued now was the time to open a proper investigation into the crimes of the past, whilst others on the right argued it was best to leave the past in the past, arguing Britain had to move on for the sake of national unity. Whilst Johnson personally preferred to let sleeping dogs lie and no official investigation was commissioned, the Severen Grave would form the first dent in Britain’s code of stoicism.

“During the 2010s century the historical memory movement underwent consolidation in the public arena. Through the action of the movement, the victims of the Mountbattenist regime regained visibility. A new generation of activists contributed to the public recognition of these memories and worked to end the impunity of silence. NGOs such as Amnesty International have started to support the claims of victims and to lobby for them. At the same time, international organisations have started to denounce the unofficial British policy of silencing. In 2005, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances included Britain for the first time in the list of countries that had not resolved or investigated historical disappearances. Britain remains on this list today.” - Exert from “Impunity”, a documentary on Britain’s Disappeared (2014)


Benn and others like him were finally getting a proper burial
Holy shit. For some reason until it was plainly spoken it didn't click with me. Tony Benn dead in a shallow grave?! Fuck. This isn't going to work. This consistent belief that you can just stay silent and let the bastards die off and that will be enough is ridiculous. Something has to change, and Johnson is clearly not up to that task.
This is going to cause all kinds of issues.

Have archaeological digs also come across mass graves? There's probably going to be a mass geophysical survey of the country to try and find all of them.
This is going to cause all kinds of issues.

Have archaeological digs also come across mass graves? There's probably going to be a mass geophysical survey of the country to try and find all of them.
They have stumbled on them, but it will be a mammoth task to find all of them

Nick P

Yeah, that would be a concern - fortunately, technology and carbon dating can help, if only partially. There's probably also certain ways a mass grave from a dictatorship could be distinguished from a plague pit.
Carry out an aerial survey of the UK and compare the images with those taken post 1945 as part of Operation Revue, looking for large patches of disturbed land.

Otherwise there's the modern clothing, dental records, the bullet in the back of the skull....