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

Scottish Independence Referendum 2018, Part 1
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    Harvie survived another confidence vote and passed a referendum bill as unionist MSPs walked out

    “The government has accused the Scottish parliament of committing an “atrocity” by approving legislation on a referendum. The Scottish government insists that the results of the October vote will be binding. If successful, the regional government will declare independence from the UK 48 hours after the result is in. In a speech in London last May, Harvie said his government had a “inviolable” commitment to the referendum. A majority of Scots are in favour of a referendum, but polls suggest they are split on the issue of sovereignty. According to a poll at the end of July, 46% of Scots are against independence while 44% support it. But, a poll this week found that, were the referendum to go ahead, the yes campaign would take 75% of the vote on a turnout of 53%. The Scottish government has not set a threshold for turnou
    t.” - Scotland to hold independence vote despite anger in Westminster, Sam Jones, The Guardian (2018)

    A lot had happened in Scotland over the last few months, after Patrick Harvie’s first Government had collapsed snap elections had been called, with a RISE/SNP coalition supported by the Workers Party and UPA. The Scottish Government had spent the last few months tangled up in a legal battle with the Supreme Court and the British Senate. After a referendum bill had passed through St Andrew’s House, the Westminster Government had already moved to block it, dragging both London and Edinburgh into a constitutional melee. The court case itself had become a bit of a media circus with fiery arguments made on both sides, and both sides of the independence debate setting up permanent pickets outside the Senate and Supreme Court.

    The Harvie Government knew it was fighting an uphill battle, the judiciary was the last UK bastion of Mountbattenism with right-wing judges appointed by Hill-Norton holding spaces on the bench. The Senate wasn’t much better, being made up of mostly English Senators the handful of seperatist senators were strongly outgunned in any debate and in the Senate’s Provinces and Communities committee, which led the debate, only one of the nine Committee Members were Scottish. The National Senators mostly used the debate as an opportunity to divide the UPA’s Senate Caucus, with the national party claiming to support the union, whilst its Scottish branch voted with the Harvie Government in favour of a referendum. Memes of Ribeiro-Addy’s “confusion” around the Scottish issue quickly made their way around conservative Twitter.


    The Supreme Court was not a friend to Separatism

    There was little surprise when the Senate declared the Referendum Bill to be outside the competency of the Scottish Government, this was swiftly followed by the Supreme Court suspending the Bill. Negotiations had reached their climax, it now fell to the two Governments to back down, or call for pistols at dawn. The Westminster Government for their part pressed the attack, with William Hague telling reporters the Senate’s decision confirmed a referendum would be an “intolerable act of disobedience”. Dominic Raab, the UK’s Federal Chief Prosecutor said the Ministry for Justice and the Home Office would press charges against anyone who assisted in the preparation of referendum logistics.

    "The UK's state prosecutor’s says he will present criminal charges against MSPs who voted in favour of a referendum on independence. The regional parliament, adopted the so-called “referendum bill” with 46 votes in favour and 10 abstentions. 40 anti-referendum MSPs walked out of the vote in protest, with only the leftist UPA abstaining, although three of it's MSPs broke the whip to vote with the separatists. Prosecutor general Dominic Raab said he had asked security forces to investigate any referendum preparations. He said two different lawsuits are being prepared. One seeks to punish the MPs who allowed the debate and vote on the legal framework of the planned referendum. The other is planned against the executive branch of the regional government.
    " - UK to bring charges against Scottish parliamentarians, Al Jazeera (2018)

    In a raucous meeting of the Scottish Parliament opposition parties called a vote of no-confidence against Patrick Harvie in a last-ditch effort to stop an independence referendum. Unionists hoped that pressure from the London leadership would pry the UPA out of Harvie’s coalition causing it to collapse. Much to the frustration of everyone, Mihrai Black ordered her MSP’ to abstain in Harvie’s confidence vote, allowing RISE to hold onto power by just four votes (three UPA MSPs broke the whip to vote with Harvie, with two later defecting to RISE). Neither side had backed down, as MSP’s walked out of St Andrew’s House Harvie gave his victory speech, officially ordering the Scottish Civil Service to make preparations for a referendum.


    MSPs risked being martyrs for the cause

    This didn’t stop the Scottish Government who reportedly began printing ballots and producing strongboxes. Across the nation small legal tugs of war broke out as the various local councils chose sides between the Edinburgh and Westminster Governments, with unionist controlled authorities locking away their ballot boxes. In the ultra-loyalist Orkney Council local officials literally threw their election supplies into the sea rather than see them seized by the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government also failed to gain access to the Electoral Roll, which was held independently by the Electoral Commission in London, forcing them to start a voter registration process from scratch.

    Over the next few months over two million Scots would register to vote, or a little over 40% of the nation’s population. Pro-independence campaigners launched huge campaigns urging Scots to register to vote in the referendum, believing a turnout of over 50% would prove the referendum’s legitimacy. Of the 50 Scottish local Councils, just under 30 of them agreed to give logistical support to the referendum, almost all of them controlled by RISE or the SNP. This included the all important Councils of Edinburgh and Glasgow, the two cities alone being home to around a third of Scots. With the No campaign boycotting the referendum, the campaign quickly became a battle between activists and the police as Yes activists tried to hang up posters faster than the Civil Guard could tear them down.

    “Police on Sunday seized 1.2 million pamphlets supporting Scotland's independence referendum. Scotland's pro-separatist government is determined to hold a referendum despite it being banned. The documents were seized at an advertising distribution company near Edinburgh, the Home Office said in a statement. Among the documents were about 700,000 leaflets promoting a “yes” vote in the referendum and 400,000 flyers with the logo of the Scottish government. Westminster has multiplied its efforts to crack down on the referendum, having threatened to arrest mayors who allow the vote. On Sunday, hundreds of people attended a meeting in London to show support for the referendum.” - Police seize referendum pamphlets, BBC News Bulletin (2018)


    Westminster didn't fully trust Police Scotland, so English officers were bused north to fill the ranks
    2018 Scottish Independence Referendum, Part 2
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    Polling stations turned in warzones as federal police tried to prevent the vote

    “British riot police fired rubber bullets and seized ballot boxes from polling stations in Scotland on Sunday. As the vote opened, scenes of chaos erupted as police began moving in to prevent people from casting their ballots. Police forced their way into Glasgow University's sports centre where the region's separatist leader was due to vote. Scottish Vice-President Keith Brown said on Sunday afternoon that 242 people had visited hospital with injuries. So far 65 have been confirmed to be injured. Video footage appeared to show police firing rubber bullets and tear gas at the crowd outside the University. The Telegraph newspaper is reporting that a person has died due to an head injury believed to have been caused by a rubber bullet.”
    - Riot police in Scotland fire rubber bullets at crowd as they block voters at besieged polling stations, Sam Edwards, Reuters (2018)

    Heavy handed action by the police only continued to stir tensions as the referendum campaign reached its zenith. The most violent day of the campaign would be in early August, where federal police raided a Glasgow concert by The Proclaimers, where several hundred activists including the Reid brothers themselves were arrested. 40,000 people would surround the concert hall in a flash mob preventing the police from leaving. Demonstrators destroyed Civil Guard vehicles and the Civil Guard agents were trapped in the hall overnight, not escaping until Glasgow police units arrived early in the morning. The whole affair was humiliating for the Civil Guard, having been so easily overwhelmed.


    The Scottish branch of the FBU had been loyal supporters of independence

    In the aftermath of the Proclaimers Incident Glasgow Police and Crime Commissioner Kim Long and Glasgow Police Commander Joseph Alexander were both arrested and charged with sedition, with Ministry of Justice officials accusing the pair of purposefully preventing local police from assisting the Civil Guard. A charge both denied, arguing they didn't have the time to prepare on the manpower to disperse such a large crowd. Several leading organisers of the protest also had the book thrown at them, with one 18 year old sent to prison for climbing on top of a police vehicle. All in all nearly a hundred people were charged for various offences at the concert, although the Reid brothers were released without charge.

    Not trusting local police forces, especially in seperatist controlled councils, Westminster flooded Scotland with English soldiers and police officers, with 15,000 extra security personnel sent north of the border. Police continued to raid warehouses where ballot boxes and other election materials were held, leading to activists forming human chains around the warehouses. In some areas there protests would turn violent as police would violently clash with protests to try and gain entry. The most defining image of the campaign was off a British rifleman threatening an older lady holding a ballot box at gunpoint. The UK Government also used the power of tech giants like Google and Microsoft to shut down referendum websites. Most bizarre were clashes between the police and seperatist dominated firefighters corp, with firefighters in full uniform forming human shields around election workers.


    Unionist paramilitaries set fire to polling stations in seperatist areas

    “The fight between the Scottish and British authorities is expanding online. This week, an organisation managing how users find websites with the .scot extension was raided by the Civil Guard. The .scot domain is used by more than 80,000 websites promoting or showing information about Scotland. The website of the foundation running it shows the domains are intended to "raise the profile of the Scottish identity"." The list includes a fan club website for Celtic F.C. a weather website weather.scot, academic websites and local blogs. The authorities' move to target domains raises serious concerns with those trying to defend internet freedom. The technique is reminiscent of the days of the Junta where the government would often shut down parts of the internet and block or remove certain information.”
    - UK authorities try to shut down referendum websites, Maxime Schlee, Politico.EU

    The night before the referendum was due to take place Worker’s Party Deputy Leader Aamer Anwar would be the first MSP to be arrested. Whilst the police had avoided targeting elected officials, fearful this would make them into martyrs, Anwar was taken into custody after speaking at an illegal conference on independence. Police also stormed polling stations in pro-independence local authorities, with the Scottish Government estimating 700,000 voters worth of ballots were seized by police the night before. At 6:30am on referendum day the Scottish Government announced they would be suspending rules on polling stations, allowing electors to vote anywhere, not just at their assigned polling station. President Harvie himself had to take advantage of this as his assigned polling station in Glasgow University had been destroyed by the police.

    The results were explosive, a 96% vote in favour on a 46% turnout, the Westminster Government immediately seized on this as a victory, with less than 50% of Scots turning out. But the seperatist parties pointed out that voter intimidation and the seizure of voting places had artificially deflated turnout. Unionist supporters would counter this with reports of people voting twice, with some local authorities having more Yes voters than registered electors, and non-Scottish residents voting in the referendum. One Express headline reporting “coach loads” of Welsh nationalists being bused up to Scotland to vote for independence, taking advantage of the sudden change to where electors could vote, just half an hour before polls opened.

    Four days after voting the official results were published, Patrick Harvie told the international press he intended to issue an official declaration of independence within a matter of weeks after consultations with the other parties in the Scottish Parliament. This was followed by the establishment bringing out the big guns, King Charles made an unprecedented direct political statement. In a Palace broadcast to the nation, His Majesty condemned the actions of the Scottish Government, calling the situation north of the border “extremely serious”. Lloyds bank announced it would be moving its regional headquarters out of Scotland due to fears of a unilateral independence declaration and even the Royal Bank of Scotland told shareholders it had contingency plans to move south. Ultimately the referendum had settled nothing.

    “Two million Scots have braved the threat of a police boot in the face to demand independence within both the EU and the Eurozone. Scotland's claim to self-determination is strong – and should have been tested in a legal referendum. Instead, the whole crisis has been driven by Westminster’s attack on autonomy, itself driven by the need to impose austerity. It is tragic to see European centrism ready to dilute self-determination in the face of EU rules and economic rationality. Because progressive nationalism is not going away. From Barcelona to Athens, there was always a Scottish flag waving above the crowd. The “breakup” narratives of modern Europe are all driven by a central fact: the current settlement does not work.” - Speech by Patrick Harvie (2018)


    Harvie promised a radical break from not just the UK order, but the EU troika order as well
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    Chapter 100: The Night of Long Speeches
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    International NGOs condemned the UK's response to the referendum

    “British police engaged in excessive force when confronting demonstrators in Scotland during a disputed referendum, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch spoke to victims and witnesses and reviewed video and medical evidence from three Scottish cities. Human Rights Watch found that Security Forces excessive force in all three locations as they sought to execute court orders. “National police without a doubt used excessive force,” said Kartik Raj, Western Europe Researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The police may well have had the law on their side to enforce a court order but it didn’t give them the right to use violence against peaceful protesters.” Across the region, the Security Forces sent in by the central government, along with local police sought to execute a court order to stop the referendum.”
    - Police Used Excessive Force in Scotland, Human Rights Watch Press Release (2018)

    The final total for the referendum was 802 injuries, including 130 hospitalisations and tragically five dead, the worst record of political violence during an election campaign for nearly a decade. Police action to secure Glasgow University, dubbed “The Battle of Gilbert Scott '' was responsible for almost half the deaths during the campaign, with several activists, mostly under 25, killed by accidents involving rubber bullets. Across the political spectrum almost everyone agreed the police had gone to far, with reports of officers purposefully breaking fingers and even rumours of sexual assault against women campaigners. There were also strong divisions between the federal Civil Guard and Police Scotland on one hand, and the various local police forces on the other. With Home Secretary Graham Brady telling journalists several local police forces had been “entirely taken over” by separatists.

    Violence continued well after the referendum results, with three way brawls between separatists, yoons and security personnel erupting across Scotland. In protest against the violence a new campaign named “Blether” - slang for chat - would pop up in the days following the referendum. Blether organised protests wearing all white calling on all sides to engage in good-faith dialogue. This campaign would be supported by parties in the centre of the constitutional debate, including Alba and SDP. Anas Sarwar, leader of the Scottish Social Democrats in particular played a leading role in these “cross community campaigns”, calling for a grand coalition of all the major parties and citizens assemblies to decide the future of Scotland.


    Several local police leaders had declared open support for either side

    Unionists also saw a fresh burst of energy behind them, over 300,000 turned out in Edinburgh for the largest anti-independence demonstration since. Among the speakers included former Prime Minister Alan Johnson, scientist Steven Hawking, novelist Martin Amis and European Commissioner Gianni Pittella, as well as opposition MSPs. Both the Blether and overtly unionist protests called on Harvie not to make a unilateral declaration. Behind the scenes leading political figures were begging Harvie to step back from the edge. European Council President Helle Thorning-Schmidt even flew out personally to Edinburgh to try and talk the Scottish Government down.

    “Helle Thorning-Schmidt, president of the European Council, has made an appeal to Patrick Harvie to hold off from announcing independence. On Tuesday, Brussels was accused of failing to show leadership, by calling for dialogue rather than intervening. “We called on all those concerned to get out of this confrontation and to start dialogue,” Thorning-Schmidt said. “Violence can never be a political tool.” Thorning-Schmidt added that Brussels had “confidence in the UK to manage this delicate process in full respect of the British peace process." Earlier the committee of the regions, heard a passionate speech from RISE MSP Craig Murray who said the UK had acted like the “old Junta”. The police had treated people “brutally,” Murray told the committee.” - Don't make dialogue impossible, Helle Thorning-Schmidt tells Patrick Harvie, Daniel Boffey, The Guardian (2018)

    In what was a very strange speech to the Scottish Parliament Harvie said the Scottish Government had secured the “right and the mandate” to form an independent state, but he would be freezing moves towards independence to pursue a Scottish State. Whilst Harvie and other MSPs signed a symbolic document calling for an independent Scotland, no direct order was given or legislative action taken. Whilst this was welcomed by the UPA, who were internally pulling themselves apart on the unilateralist question, it infuriated the Workers Party who had been promised an independence declaration within two weeks of a Yes vote. Harvie needed some kind of win, otherwise his coalition would fall apart.


    The EU hoped to be a neutral arbiter, but was distrusted by separatists

    In London Hague decided Harvie was blinking and went on the offensive, after an extraordinary Cabinet meeting Hague announced he was giving the Scottish Government a week to officially confirm whether it had declared independence and if not, to withdraw any legislation implying Scottish Independence. If not, Hague confirmed he would take the “nuclear option”, invoking Article 219 of the Cardiff Accords, which - if it received two thirds support in the Senate - would allow Westminster to withdraw devolved powers from Scotland, leading to direct rule from London. Róisín McLaren also piled on the pressure on Harvie’s left, threatening to withdraw the Workers Party from his Government unless he made an official independence declaration

    Harvie instead chose neither, writing to Hague in response he called for both sides to suspend “constitutional mechanisms” for a two month negotiation period. Hague refused this in his counter letter, calling on Harvie to either back down, call fresh elections or face Article 219. After Harvie refused snap elections or withdrew his claims to independence, Hague confirmed the British Government would officially seek Senate approval to invoke Article 219. The ninth of September became known as the “night of the long speeches”, as in London the Senate voted on Article 219, whilst in St Andrews House Harvie called a vote on a unilateral declaration of independence.

    The Scottish vote passed by a landslide, with unionist MPs once again walking out and UPA MSPs abstaining, the ballot was issued secretly in an attempt to prevent legal action against separatist MSPs. In London RISE, SNP, Plaid and other separatist Senators walked out of the chamber, 260 Senators from National, the SDP, Unity and others voted in favour of enacting Article 219 well above the 243 Senators needed to press the big red button. Within hours of each other, the Scottish Government had declared its independence from the British State, and the British State had revoked the Scottish Government’s legal powers, it was a very boring, very British way to potentially spark a civil war.

    “Any actions by the Scottish government to increase the strength of its local security forces would aggravate fears of a violent challenge to the state. Especially given the longstanding fear over violent SNLA terrorism. Scotland's president has already invoked the language of the security dilemma. He describes the latest British move to reassert control over the region as an “attack” that cannot be accepted. The response by Scottish forces will be critical in determining whether Scotland turns to an organised rebellion This piece is written in the explicit hope that it is wrong. The hope that Britain is not edging along the path to war, that cooler heads will prevail, and that peace and diplomacy carry the day. If it turns out that the past is prologue, policymakers can at least use the lessons of political science to cut the risk of serious conflict.”
    -The Risk of Civil War in Britain, War on the Rocks Podcast (2018)


    The British Government responded by sending even more troops to Scotland
    Chapter 101: And like a torrent rush, Rebellious Scots to crush
  • Author's note: updates are likely to be spotty for the next few days as it's election week - wish me luck!


    King Charles travelled personally to dissolve the Scottish Parliament

    “Britain's King may have hoped warning Scotland against declaring independence would be enough. Now he has to follow through on his pledge to impose direct rule, knowing this is risky. William Hague argues that Scottish separatists have left the King no choice. He had to act, to return the region to "legality", as Westminster puts it. But actually doing that will be complex and fraught. It's why Mr Hague called for calm, after the vote for independence. He is acting with broad, cross-party support though, and public backing. Here in England many people have begun flying the Union flag from their windows, to show their support for keeping the country united. There is some sympathy down south for the Scottish cause, due to the police crackdown during the referendum. But far louder are calls to prosecute those pushing for independence.”
    - King Charles dissolves Scottish Parliament, CNN News Bulletin (2018)

    King Charles announced in a personal address at St Andrew's house he was dissolving both the Scottish Parliament and Executive, with Deputy Prime Minister Jeremy Clarkson appointed as “Acting Scottish Coordinator”, effectively assuming the duties of the Scottish President. Clarkson confirmed his intention to call snap Scottish elections as soon as possible to ensure an elected Scottish President. Director of Public Prosecutions Dominic Raab filed charges of treason, sedition and rebellion against the Scottish Cabinet but it was too late, Harvie and most of the Cabinet had already sought asylum in Dublin or Brussels. Still as soldiers and police rolled into Scotland and took control of key ministries there was surprisingly little civil resistance. With their leaders fleeing abroad and literal tanks on the street, shock and awe seemed to have worked.

    It wasn’t a good look for the Government abroad, tanks in the streets and elected leaders fleeing to Europe had a distinctly 1960s feel to it, “the Brits are up to their old tricks” as one Irish diplomat joked. The Supreme Court summoned the eleven members of the Scottish Cabinet to stand trial, although only two were in British custody, SNP leader Keith Brown had refused to flee, and poor Tommy Sheppard had been in London for negotiations when the warrant for his arrest was put out. The British Government put out a European Arrest Warrant for the remaining Ministers, especially Patrick Harvie, who turned himself into Irish authorities and instructed his colleagues to do the same.


    Apart from sporadic SNLA attacks, there was no armed uprising

    In Edinburgh, Scotland and other cities across Europe protests on both sides erupted, with separatists demanding the release of Harvie, Brown and Sheppard calling them “political prisoners”. Speaking to crowds in Dublin Harvie said he would cooperate fully with the Irish authorities, but added the Supreme Court ruling spat in the face of democracy. He called on the nations of Europe to “take a stand” against Britain's “slide back into authoritarianism”. Meanwhile in London, Brown and Sheppard were both sentenced to up to thirteen years in prison for “high treason”, making them the first people to be tried under the Treason Act since the fall of the Junta.

    “The dark shadow of the descent into dictatorship looms so large over this family dispute. The scars of Mountbatten run deep, especially among older generations who seem most fearful about this current crisis. One woman whose father was jailed by Mountbatten told me that she fears they will suffer again. She switched to supporting separatism after seeing police attack elderly voters. Even younger Scots talk about “fascists” in Westminster while street nationalism remains potent. It seems strange to discuss such issues in a modern European city, especially one as alluring and wealthy as Edinburgh. Yet these disruptive events show again the scale of dissent and unrest confronting Western societies.” - The shadow of the Junta hangs over Scotland, The Irish Times (2018)

    The Irish confirmed they would be declining the UK’s warrant, releasing the imprisoned ministers, with the Belgians shortly following, transferring their imprisoned Ministers over to Dublin. The Scottish Separatists would be given full freedom in Ireland but were instructed not to leave the country and to update the Irish Government of their accommodations. Harvie told journalists he would not be returning to the UK as his safety and right to a fair trial could not be guaranteed. In a virtual call to RISE party members Harvie said he would lead the party into the next Scottish election from his exiled Dublin apartment if needed, and if reelected as President he would continue to serve the Scottish people.


    For most people life went on as normal, with a few more troops around

    Whilst London had hoped to have Harvie in irons before elections were called, the Irish Government’s decision knocked the ball back into their court. Clarkson decided to press ahead with snap elections, hopeful Scotland’s silent majority would rebuke RISE and put the issue to bed. In his address Clarkson said “the people of Scotland can now choose whether they want to push further into chaos, or elect a government that respects the rights of all Scots and the rule of law.” The Government would later confirm this election would be overseen centrally by the Federal Electoral Commission, and that security for the election would be provided by the Civil Guard, rather than local police forces.

    Snap elections were risky for both sides, Harvie’s separatist coalition was on the brink of collapse. The Workers Party were still enraged that Harvie had held off on declaring independence directly after the referendum result, and the federalist UPA were uneasy at supporting a RISE Government that was seemingly becoming more and more radical on the constitutional question, especially as they hoped to show themselves as a party of Government nationally. The elections was also fraught with danger for Hague, with his control over the National Party increasingly slipping away, a poor result for National in Scotland could destroy any political authority he had left, some polls showed National getting wiped out, with one poll reducing National to just two MSPs, behind Alba and the Workers Party. Whatever happened, the Cardiff Accords and the Scottish peace process were about to be pushed to their limits.

    “In an Edinburgh apartment, Rosie Campbell debates her son over Scotland's bid for independence. The 67-year-old lived through the dictatorship of Louisa Mountbatten who oppressed her people with an iron fist. After all the turbulence she has seen in Britain, Campbell doesn't care for the current standoff between over independence. "It feels like a Civil War but without the bombs," she said with a laugh. In Mountbatten's time we had no freedom of expression, but now this is all too much. We need to find something in the middle." The Scottish people will go to the polls next month to choose a new regional government. But many voters will be casting their ballots as if it were an official referendum on independence. There are few options for that "something in the middle." - Scotland’s Messy Vote, James Badcock, Foreign Policy (2018)


    Scotland was divided between three flags
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    2018 Scottish Election, Part 1
  • Author's Note: Unfortunately I lost by just 60 votes - still, more time for AH!


    Scotland's President would fight the election from Dublin

    “Scotland kicked off regional elections on Tuesday as many pro-independence candidates sat in jail or in exile. Polls have the separatists and pro-Westminster parties neck and neck ahead of the vote. "London doesn't want us campaigning on an equal footing with the other candidates," said Patrick Harvie in a video message to supporters. From his haven in Dublin, Harvie said Scots must "choose between nation or submission." Harvie's former deputy Keith Brown and three other independence leaders had their request to be released on bail rejected on Monday. The central government wants Harvie and his associates imprisoned for rebellion — a charge that can carry up to 30 years in prison. British prosecutors are currently fighting to have Harvie extradited back to the UK to face trial.”
    - DW News Bulletin (2018)

    When the election began the first question was of the party leaders, two of the three largest parties in Scotland had its leaders either in exile or imprisoned, and a considerable chunk of separatist MPs were held in custody awaiting trial. Keith Brown and Tommy Sheppard, the two most high profile Scottish politicians in prisons, both appealed to be released for the duration of the election campaigns due to their senior political positions. After these appeals were rejected Brown announced his intention to lead the SNP from his prison cell in Belmarsh. However, nearly 90 MSPs, MPs, Councillors and activists were released on bail in order to campaign, the Court justified this by saying these minor political actors were not at risk of causing violence, unlike Brown and Sheppard.

    Polls showed a tight race with the three hardcore Separatist parties polling an average of 49%, whilst the unionists and federalists stood on a total of 51%. The race for first place was also close, with Patrick Harvie’s RISE Party and Ruth Davidson’s Unity within margin of error of each other. Traditional parties were expected to do badly, especially National whose new leader Adam Tomkins had risen to the top more out of loyalty to the London Head Office, rather than from any love of the Scottish electorate. Some National MSPs had called for an non-aggression pact or even formal alliance with Unity to ensure a unionist plurality, but this had been dismissed by Tomkins out of hand, leading to MSP Donald Cameron to defect to Unity.


    Unity had moved to the right in hopes of squeezing the National vote

    Parties in the middle of the constitutional issue were also getting squeezed, the People’s Alliance were desperate to pivot the conversation away from independence and towards issues of austerity and inequality, but this only made them seem delusional and out of touch. Anas Sarwars’s “blether” campaign had initially seen a lot of support but as the immediate threat of armed conflict dissipated, most voters moved back towards their original constitutional camp. The Social Democrat’s devolutionist pledge didn’t appeal to anyone, and with the party becoming increasingly irrelevant at a Westminster level they couldn’t even present themselves as the only way to give the Tories a kick.

    “The Social Democrats voted for the implementation of Article 219 and for the British Government seizing Scotland’s autonomy. It also walked out in protest during the voting on the Declaration of Independence in the Scottish Parliament. It did so, in fact, along with two other unionist parties: Unity and National. But, the SDP is the only left-leaning one of the three, putting it in a delicate position. It has wavered on a unionist alliance with Unity and National, even flat-out denying it would back a Unity or National Scottish presidency. The SDP has been focusing on other political elements other than the independence road-map for its campaign. In all, the Social Democrats are eager to move on from the pro and anti-independence narrative that’s been dominating the election cycle. Whether voters feel the same, is yet to be seen.” - Scottish Election Profiles; the SDP, BBC News (2018)

    Harvie’s personal popularity had shot through the roof, despite mostly taking place over Teams his rallies pulled thousands of attendees where Harvie’s face would be projected onto a giant screen. However both his party and his broader separatist alliance was feeling the pressure. Most of RISE’s leadership were abroad or in prison, and whilst Teams rallies were all well and good, ground campaigning noticeably suffered as experienced MSPs and party staffers rotted awaiting their day in court - with younger activists having to step up and coordinate local campaigns. To make matters worse, Róisín McLaren had pulled the Workers Party out of any election cooperation with RISE, with the party’s base infuriated at Harvie’s delay in declaring independence.


    Both the SDP and National were struggling to stay relevant in Scotland

    During his rallies Harvie dropped several hints of a planned return to Scotland, with millionaire Christine Weir offering to charter a private jet to return the exiled President to Scotland. This was the nightmare situation for Westminster, in one leaked briefing Security Forces told the Prime Minister they would be unable to stop crowds from storming Glasgow or Edinburgh airport should Harvie make a return, warning arresting Harvie in the face of an “organised crowd” would be “a near impossibility”. The martyr affect around Harvie seemed to paying dividends politically as even international audiences were joining in on the “#FreePatrick” campaign.

    For Ruth Davidson, not being in prison was a big plus, allowing her to attend rallies and press interviews in person. The Unity campaign focused not only on unionist voters but winning over soft-nationalists through appeals around securing Scotland’s place in the EU. Like in the 2016 elections, Unity hoped to attract quiet unionists to turnout, those who weren’t particularly fussed by the high-level philosophical arguments around sovereignty, but were worried about paying their bills and preventing a return to violence. The fear of the bad old days was a real draw for voters, as scuffles broke out between sectarian gangs and even the occasional car bomb attack by SNLA dissidents.

    Violence aside, just the rhetoric between parties was increasingly aggressive. In separatist areas, Unity posters of Ruth Davidson’s face had swastikas graffitied on them. Unity’s Ian Murray complained of harassment by “radical separatist activists” claiming some nationalist neighbourhoods were becoming “no-go areas”, in Maryhill a mural appeared overnight entitled “You are now Entering Free Glasgow”. The political parties reported ten incidents of vandalism, with seven of these reported incidents taking place on Unity or SDP offices. In Dumbarton a group of young Social Democrats were assaulted putting up posters, the youngest victim being just fifteen years old.

    “Scotland's election campaign has been shaken up by the murder of a man wearing the British flag. Many supporters of the union allege they are the target of a "hate campaign". Some separatists, meanwhile, say they have been assaulted by their opponents. A 55-year-old man, David Clark died on Tuesday four days after he was hit on the head with a metal bar outside a bar in Dundee. Clark, who was wearing union jack suspenders, got into an argument with the alleged attacker, Rory Lewis, a police spokesman said. Witnesses told local media that Lewis and the three others began yelling at Clark and calling him a "fash", or fascist, because of his suspenders. When Clark left the bar, Lewis, 33, allegedly ran after him and hit him from behind with a metal bar before running away, leaving him unconscious.” - Murder of unioinst Scot shakes up election, France24 Bulletin (2018)


    Political violence ranged from coordinated bombing campaigns to pub brawls
    2018 Scottish Election Debate
  • Battle lines drawn in intense Scottish election debate

    BBC News

    The first debate among candidates for the regional elections in Scotland has highlighted the divides on the issue of independence. Supporters of secession are a long way from giving up on their ambitions.

    The televised debate among Scotland's political leaders - at least those not in jail, or self-imposed exile - was a heated affair. Insults were thrown among party representatives reflecting the narrowness of the polls.

    The upcoming election sees pro-independence forces lined up against “constitutionalist” parties. The unionists insist on the need to stop the independence process and get the teetering regional economy back on track.

    Occupying the uneasy middle ground is Mhairi Black's United People Alliance which is opposed to both the application of Article 219 and unilateral independence.

    Attempts by Black to gain traction on issues such as health and education floundered as the debate rarely strayed far from the constitutional question.

    If social issues are taking a back seat it is because secessionists argue until independence there is no point in pushing for social change. They complain London uses the courts to overrule the Scottish parliament when it makes decisions that are not to its liking. Many of the UK's senior judges were appointed during the Junta and are fiercely anti seperatist.

    The constitutionalist bloc is made up of National, Unity and the Scottish branch of the Social Democrats. These parties are far from a united front but they parked their differences on Thursday night and avoided attacking each other. This strategy was also adopted by the pro-independence RISE, the SNP and the radical anti-austerity Worker's Party. All three parties are still linked to their recent history as partners in the independence drive that led to the illegal referendum.

    In an intense debate lasting 75 minutes, the declaration of independence came under scrutiny. The absences of RISE candidate Patrick Harvie and the SNP candidate Keith Brown were a further reminder of this recent past.

    While pro-independence parties in Scotland have retreated from their hard-line strategy of unilateral secession, they are not giving up on independence.

    “We will continue to push ahead with the implementation of independence. That is our democratic mandate. We will do it,” said Jim Sillars of RISE - standing in for his exiled boss.

    The RISE leader is exile in Dublin for his role in the unilateral declaration of independence in and anointed Sillars to campaign in his name.

    Politicians do not come more pro-independence than Sillars but Harvie may live to regret his choice. Sillars has been described as a tough scrapper with a glass jaw – and he is proving a liability when he leaves the comfort zone of the pro-independence media.

    According to Sillars “There never was a unilateral way, that was something invented by the British state.” Eyebrows were also raised when he claimed Westminster told the Scottish government there would be “blood on the streets” if they did not desist. This was denied by the government and Sillars has never been able to substantiate the claim.

    Worker's Party candidate Róisín McLaren was even more explicit, saying the party would “establish a republic and face down the coup".

    “Instead of feeling regret, you will do the same thing again. We can’t allow ourselves four more years of referenda without realistic proposals,” said Unity candidate Ruth Davidson.

    “What these people have provoked is institutional madness, economic debacle and social fracture,” added Davidson. “Not only have you driven companies away, if you remain in power, you’re going to cause more harm.”

    To her left, SDP leader Anas Sarwar who currently polls fifth, was even blunter: “Don’t deny reality — you’ve impoverished the country.”

    Sillars argued that the independence discussion "does not affect the Scottish economy — we’ve seen growth.” “The only madness is the deplorable images of August 14,” he said, referring to the footage of police officers beating unarmed voters at polling stations.

    "The British state is allergic to democracy, it is so allergic to us practicing democracy that it has completely altered the rules of the game. It does not respect democratic principles. That is what prevents our leader Patrick Harvie from being here today," said Sillars.

    Davidson said it was time to move on. "The best alternative to separatism is not inaction it's reform. The separatists have not been able to convince everyone of their standpoint. It's time we left the independence process behind and started a new political era of reconciliation in Scotland."

    Sarwar tried to steer the debate away from the recent past, saying: “I want to speak about what we are going to do in the future. The failure of the unilateral and illegal route has been demonstrated, it was a total and absolute failure.” He said job creation and economic growth were now the chief priorities.

    Meanwhile, one heated moment in the debate saw McLaren attacking Black for the UPA's perceived failure to take sides on independence. But Black tried to establish her party’s position outside the framework of two opposing blocs.

    When William Hague's local candidate Adam Tomkins was asked what would be National's first move in the unlikely event of them winning the regional presidency, he said he would “call the companies that have left and ask them to come back.”

    Thursday's election is expected to attract a record turnout with RISE running neck-and-neck with Unity. Both are are likely to fall far short of the 48 seats needed to hold a majority.
    2018 Scottish Election, Part 2
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    Volunteer counters would be closely watched by security forces and international observers

    “Pollsters also have predicted a high turnout on election day. YouGov suggests that it could pass the 80 percent mark. That would be the highest turnout ever for a British election since 1951. As secessionist and unionist forces face the election day neck and neck, uncertainty is rising. Neither the separatist nor the unionist forces are predicted to secure a majority in the regional parliament. The leftist, anti-austerity UPA is said to hold the key that will disentangle the government formation. The pro-independence bloc has become fragmented in the last few months. "A hung parliament is very likely," says Sheila Dow, an economist, "so I do not think that the election will unblock the current crisis, many do not support independence, but also don't feel that any of the unionist parties represent them."”
    - Scotland votes, high turnout, high uncertainty, DW News Bulletin (2018)

    As the election reached its final stretch, the two communities became increasingly fragmented. On the seperatist side the Workers Party had pulled out of any alliance with RISE, and the SNP had been effectively beheaded by the imprisonment of Keith Brown. On the Unionist side Unity had been increasingly annoying the other pro-union parties through aggressive squeeze messaging, with campaign literature saying a vote for the SDP or National was a wasted vote. Hopes for a unionist majority were dashed when SDP leader Anas Sarwar said at a campaign rally he wouldn’t support a Ruth Davidson led executive, calling her a “shoddy democrat” over these heavy-handed tactics.

    Polls showed Unity quickly gaining on RISE in the last days of the campaign, partly boosted by Davidson’s strong performance in the debates - and Sillars’ relatively lackluster one. Unity’s campaign was focused on emerging as the largest party, arguing if RISE was pushed into second place it would stop independence in its tracks. Support for smaller unionist parties, especially the Scottish branch of National, was collapsing fast, with one poll showing National being swept out of the Scottish Parliament entirely as voters abandoned the Tories for Ruth Davidson. Tomkins had proven himself a fairly ineffectual leader, barely registering in the debates. Even William Hague seemed to have abandoned his comrades north of the border, only making one appearance over the whole campaign.


    Facing internal challenges in Westminster, Hague preferred to keep his head down

    As odds were slashed on a second election, the financial repercussions hit purse strings in Edinburgh and London. The Bank of England warned projected growth in the UK economy had fallen by almost one percent since the start of the Scottish crisis. Accusations of brutality on behalf of British security services also harmed the UK’s standing abroad with organisations like Amnesty International, the Red Cross - even the UN had called on the British state to reduce military presence in Scotland. The UK’s belligerent demands for Ireland to return Patrick Harvie to the UK even alienated EU allies. Separatists warned that plans to have armed soldiers guard polling stations would amount to intimidation of ordinary voters.

    “This rebellion is by no means a narrow nationalist or apolitical struggle. Indeed, the Scottish movement is a mobilisation against the authoritarianism of the British state. In the last decade or so, the resistance to London’s authoritarian nationalism has gathered momentum. Since National lost power in 2005, its strategy has been to regain electoral appeal by deploying an ever more crude brand of nationalism. This has meant overt confrontation with the principle of Scottish autonomy. This has resulted in some bizarre strategies by groups linked to National such as calls for a boycott of Scottish produce. People now talk about ‘Scotphobia’. Anyone who saw the crowds sending off the army from their barracks last month with the chants ‘go get ’em’ will understand this is not an exaggeration.” - Scottish power on the streets, David Whyte, Red Pepper (2018)

    The unionists were banking once again on ordinary Scottish voters being tired of the election protest and voting for the moderate status quo. The separatists meanwhile were motivating their voters by advertising the election as referendum part two, having their leaders martyred in prison was a powerful motivator with images of Patrick Harvie front and centre in late campaign literature. The election wasn’t one of ideas or persuasion but one of turnout, whoever could get their voter blocs to the polls were likely to win. This naturally gave the advantage to unionist parties whose voters tended to be older, and thus more likely to vote. The main challenge for RISE was to get the young people to go to the polls, rather than a picket or even a SNLA camp.


    Political consciousness was at an all time high, whatever happened

    The day itself was mercifully quiet, nearly 2,000 polling stations opened at 7am without incident, with 12,000 security forces protecting voting places, every school assembly hall or leisure centre had at least five police officers standing guard. In more fractious areas these officers were replaced by armed soldiers.There was no great SNLA uprising, with only a handful of amateur attacks taking place on the day itself, whether this was the work of a security services, or the SNLA not wanting to jeopardise a seperatist majority was unclear. Either way people were able to vote without fear of bombs or baton, a great upgrade from the referendum just three months earlier.

    The main question now was how would London react? If RISE were returned to power, would the central government relinquish article 219 and allow a return to devolution? If Harvie was re-elected as Scottish President would he be allowed to return? If the seperatist coalition was democratically re-elected - perhaps with a greater majority - and the British Government refused to return control, it risked turning a generation of Scots away from the democratic process and towards violence. Some were discussing the need for a cross-community power sharing agreement involving both communities, names like former Minister Charlie Falconer, head of civil service Gillian Russel or even Billy Connolly were named as potential leaders of a “power sharing government”.

    “Unity is now neck-and-neck with RISE days before Scottish voters cast their ballots. But Jim Sillars is playing down Unity's chances. “They have a discourse that goes against Scotland, against the fight we have had for more than a decade,” Sillars said. With full self-awareness, he accused Unity of making hay out of the independence issue. “They talk more about independence than we talk about it!” she said. “You talk about energy poverty, they talk about independence. You talk about governance and they’ll take out a flag and talk about independence. It’s true.” Asked if the result might herald the return of Patrick Harvie, Sillars said they had been in touch, but “it’s too early to say now. If the president is me, great. If it’s Patrick, even better. We’re going to prepare for everything.” - Scotland’s RISE faces down unionist threat, Sam Saeed, Politico.eu


    Despite having it's leaders abroad, RISE was riding high
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    2018 Scottish Election Exit Poll
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    (Big Ben Chimes)



    Brian Taylor - Our exit poll is suggesting RISE will be the largest party after all the votes are counted. Patrick Harvie’s RISE party won 25 seats, up two. Unity has also gained seats on 20, up three, the best result ever for the party. SNP on 16, up three. The UPA on 12, down one, the Social Democrats on 9, down three. The Worker's Party on 8, up two. Alba on 3, up one. And finally an absolute disaster for National on 2 seats, down seven. It is just and exit poll and we will see how accurate it is when results come in. But it doesn’t seem like we’ve seen any breakthrough in the great constitutional debate. Laura Miller, your reaction?

    LM - We have all lived through some of the most turbulent times in our nation and our politics. If this exit poll is correct those times look set to continue, 49 seats for the unilateralist parties and 46 seats for the unionist and federalist parties. So a very small majority of one if the three parties that make up the current government can pull themselves back together. That is a big if! The Worker’s Party especially have been very hostile to its former allies on the campaign trail so a third term for the unilateralist alliance isn’t a certainty.

    BT - Bad news for William Hague, National has been nearly wiped out, whilst National were never Scotland’s natural party of Government they always played a role and held at least a bench or two of seats. Hague is under a lot of pressure down south and I’m sure National MPs will not be happy to see these results. A disappointing night for the SDP as well, with only nine seats, many in the party had hoped their soft unionist message would allow them to regain lost ground but Unity have left them in the dust.

    LM - And there’s the question of the regional President, if RISE is able to form a government who will lead it? Will the British Government let Patrick Harvie return to Edinburgh, or will Jim Sillars or one of the other few remaining not imprisoned RISE officials lead the Government. Or - as some have suggested - will Mr Harvie lead a “Government-in-exile” from Dublin?

    BT - The parliamentary maths gets even more complicated when you realise nearly a third of RISE’s electoral list are in prison or exile. Will these MSPs be allowed to take their seats? Or will the seat pass down to the next person on the list? Despite topping the RISE Glasgow list it still isn’t clear whether Patrick Harvie will legally be an MSP. This could be a question for the courts - who we know are no friend to Scottish nationalism.

    LM - What are the odds of a “cross-community” Government like they have in Northern Ireland forming here in Scotland? The UPA and SDP have both called for a coalition stemming from both communities with Ministers of all sides of the constitutional debate sitting around the Cabinet table. Could this be a way forward?

    BT - It’s certainly a nice idea Laura but both Patrick Harvie and Ruth Davidson have ruled such a deal out. This has been an absolutely vicious campaign, even between parties within the same constitutional blocs, there doesn’t seem to be the trust needed for such a grand coalition. Both RISE and Unity have made gains and will be eager to declare themselves as the winner, inviting an enemy into Government will only slow their momentum. Again any such deal would require Patrick Harvie returning to Edinburgh, but I can’t see William Hague or Ruth Davidson agreeing to that.

    LM - Yes whilst Unity has had a good night, it has slim pickings of coalition partners - its aggressive squeeze messaging seems to have worked too well. Both the SDP and National have been ground into the dust. As for the federalist parties, whilst Alba is open to working with all sides the UPA won’t work with Unity whilst it props up William Hague in London.

    BT - Absolutely, Unity have consolidated the Unionist support in their camp but it looks like the Separatists have fragmented to all sorts of different parties. The SNP have done well, especially rural and highland areas. The Workers Party too seems to be surging in the inner cities. RISE won’t be able to steamroll over it’s nationalist allies - they may even have to give the Workers Party full coalition status, with the ministerial powers that provides.

    LM - Certainly lots of questions to answer tonight. With us now we have Jean Urquhart, one of the few senior RISE politicians in Belmarsh or Dublin. Ms Urquhart thank you for joining us, what are your thoughts on our exit poll?
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    Chapter 102: Schroindger’s Scotland
  • qPufnOof7nSkUnJ87fAVS_A8kctTMungZBz-_8p37P0Axrk4Bp9U2q2Al39h-59xdlfhAZO4EtO0crRcFOH5BF0k6_KFk_eSef1YLYNZx0hnXdikf0zy1CLGpD3xblN-ir0vevKg5P1WvxO-ug

    Whispers of a leadership challenge to Hague had become a chorus

    “Britain's prime minister has defended his handling of the Scottish crisis after the snap election he called resulted in pro-independence parties holding on to their majority. The three separatist parties won a total of 48 seats in the 95-seat regional parliament. Speaking the day after, Hague stood by his strategy of taking control of the region in response to an illegal independence referendum. Asked whether he accepted responsibility for the disastrous poll showing of his National party, Hague replied: “I accept responsibility for anything that happens to party." He shrugged off suggestions that his use of article 219 of the Cardiff Accords had proved costly and counterproductive. “Article 219 was applied as it needed to be,” he said. “We were prudent. It was applied with the agreement of an enormous majority in the senate.”” - UK PM defends handling of Scottish crisis after election blow, NBC News Bulletin (2018)

    The three unilateralist parties had secured an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament, in many ways this was incredibly impressive considering the separatists had their leadership decapitated and the full force of the state against them. Strong turnout also gave the nationalists reasons to be cheerful, with nearly three quarters of Scots turning out to vote - one of the highest turnouts in post-Junta history - the result was obviously legitimate. Particularly delightful for RISE was the decimation of National, who collapsed to just three seats - putting them behind the Worker’s Party in total votes. The hated Tories had been completely wiped out north of Berwick.
    It wasn’t all sunshine for the Harviestas, nationalists had very narrowly lost the popular vote, and the unionist bloc was a lot more unified than the separatists, as Unity had swallowed up the declining support for National and the SDP. Meanwhile a relatively strong result for the smaller seperatist parties - especially the Workers’ Party - emboldened them ahead of coalition negotiations. There was also the question of what would happen to the various imprisoned or exiled parliamentarians. Nine of RISE’s 27 strong delegations were abroad or in Belmarsh, including the President himself. Whilst RISE argued the result represented a clear repudiation of Article 219 - and a mandate for Harvie to return home - it was unclear whether the courts would agree with this interpretation.
    Ultimately the result hadn’t been divisive enough to answer any of these questions, and in terms of pure maths, little had changed from 2017 - aside from National’s wipe out. Ultimately the only winner of this election was uncertainty. If the courts blocked Harvie’s return things would only get more chaotic, there was no one else able to hold the seperatist coalition together, let alone the broad internal church of RISE’s competing factions. Figures who might be able to pick up Harvie’s torch like Tommy Sheppard were also living in cells or hotel rooms. Most that remained of RISE’s leadership were grizzled old hands like Jim Sillars and Alex Neil, who both came with their own controversies.


    Tomkins now led a caucus of three

    “Patrick Harvie has called for new talks with Westminster after separatist parties won a slim majority in Sunday's election. He said he wanted the negotiations in Dublin, where he is living in self-imposed exile, or another EU country. William Hague later appeared to reject the idea. He said he would hold talks with the head of the new Scottish government but that leader would have to take up their post in Scotland itself. "Scotland wants to be an independent state," said Mr Harvie, speaking in Ireland on Friday. "This is the wish of the Scottish people. William Hague's plan is not working, so we have to find new ways to tackle this crisis." Mr Hague's National Party recorded its worst ever result in Thursday's vote. Hague had hoped that the poll would restore stability and said the British government was "willing to talk".”
    - Harvie calls for talks with Westminster, BBC News Bulletin (2018)

    In a night of no real winners, there was one clear loser - William Hague. Hague had thrown everything at squashing Scottish separatism, from tanks on the street to Article 219 itself. Hague had put a great deal of personal and political capital behind preventing a nationalist majority, now his party had been swept away and the sharks in Westminster smelt blood. One YouGov poll published after the election results had National polling at just 18% nationwide, well behind the UPA. In England, National was quickly losing ground to the radical right Centrists who were going from strength to strength polling as high as 12%.

    The first issue came when the Courts ruled any elected MSPs must take their oaths of loyalty to the King in person in St Andrew’s House by a month after their election date. If no oaths were made, their seat in the Scottish Parliament would carry over to the next candidate on their party’s list. This obviously made things difficult for Mr Harvie who had a small army of police waiting at every Scottish airport for his return. Tommy Sheppard and Keith Brown appealed to be released on bail in order to attend their swearing-in ceremonies but this was also denied by the courts due to the pair’s “long time commitment to un-constitutional and extra-parliamentary actions”.


    Both sides knew they had reached a dead end

    As the clock turned closer to one month, the seperatist parties got to work putting their coalition back together. The RISE/SNP pact made several concessions to the Workers Party - although notably not Ministerial jobs - these included pledges to introduce strict rent caps to ease Scotland’s housing crisis and stronger investment in state funded renewable energy. Whilst McLaren made a great song and dance during talk, this deal was agreed fairly quickly In reality the seperatist parties had little choice but to work together. With the threat of another Government crackdown hanging over their heads, the separatists had to form a stable government to prevent a second imposition of the detested Article 219.

    The parties also agreed to demand Patrick Harvie's accession as President, whilst this was portrayed as a symbolic act against Harvie’s exile, in reality there were few other than Harvie who could attract support across the seperatist spectrum. With just days to go before the investiture deadline, Harvie was officially proposed to the Scottish Parliament - yet again Scotland’s fate would be fought at the courts. Firstly to decide whether Harvie was legally an MSP and secondly to decide whether the Government would be compelled to allow his return to lead the Scottish Government. Scotland now had a Schrodinger’s President leading a Schrodinger’s Government.

    “Scotland's parliament nominated former leader Patrick Harvie as President in a sign of defiance to London and William Hague. Harvie and his supporters say he can rule from self-imposed exile in Ireland, where he fled to avoid arrest. London has rejected this possibility and said it will challenge any attempt by him to rule remotely in the courts. Harvie said on Monday the independence movement would not bow to British authority during a talk at the University of Copenhagen. "We will not surrender to authoritarianism," Harvie said at the event, which marked his first trip away from Ireland in three months. Harvie became the top candidate after elections in Scotland last month gave secessionists a slim majority. The 47-year old faces decades of jail in Britain if he is convicted of the charges leveled against him.” - Scottish crisis rekindled as parliament proposes Harvie as President, Reuters (2018)


    Harvie hoped the election result was a mandate for his return
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    2018 Scottish Election Detailed Results
    • RISE: 27 (+4)
    • Unity: 20 (+3)
    • Scottish National Party: 13 (-)
    • United People Alliance : 13 (-)
    • Social Democratic Party: 9 (-3)
    • Workers' Party of Scotland: 8 (+2)
    • The National Party: 3 (-6)
    • Alba: 2 (-)
    Last edited:
    Chapter 103: Plan D
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    Without Harvie, Brown or Sheppard, the separatists would need to move onto plan D

    “The Supreme Court has moved to block Patrick Harvie from assuming the presidency of Scotland. The former leader has been living in Brussels escaping charges of sedition and rebellion. Mr Harvie is the only candidate for the Scottish presidency, but the Supreme Court has now ruled he cannot lead the region's parliament from abroad. Mr Harvie believes he was given a democratic mandate for his declaration of independence. The charges against the separatist leader are serious, and could result in 30 years in prison. Supporters of Mr Harvie had argued that he could carry out his role with the use of technology such as video links from Dublin. The British government has contested that a "fugitive" cannot lead a regional parliament. Downing Street had asked the court to rule on the issue. In a statement, the court said that it was suspending Mr Harvie's swearing in.”
    - Court rules Harvie must return to UK to assume Presidency (2019)

    The Supreme Court’s ruling was as swift as it was expected, after several weeks of back and forth the court declared the President of Scotland had to be able to physically attend confidence votes in St Andrews House. Furthermore as Harvie had not attended his swearing in ceremony he was legally no longer an MSP, and his Glasgow seat would pass to the next in line on the RISE electoral list. The separatist coalition now had a choice, legally they had a few months to present a President, or the Scottish Parliament would automatically dissolve. They could either refuse to nominate someone in protest, allowing for a snap election, or they would have to choose someone else.

    Repeated snap elections risked the electorate tapping out and voting for a unionist just to end the impasse - or worse Westminster re-imposing Article 219. The Scottish economy had been absolutely hammered by the constitutional crisis, dragging it on even further risked real hardship and perhaps even a local recession. In a call with leading members of the coalition Harvie confirmed he was willing to step aside as Scottish President to allow someone else to take the reins - telling party allies he didn’t want to hold the movement back. Now the coalition had to negotiate a new candidate for President, someone who could appeal from the rural conservatives in the SNP all the way to hardliners in the Worker’s Party.


    RISE's popular Deputy Leader - Tommy Sheppard - was also denied a request to form a Government from Belmarsh

    The question was who? Harvie’s deputy Tommy Sheppard was in prison so he was automatically excluded, other senior ministers like Dennis Canavan, Colin Fox and Maggie Chapman were in Dublin with Harvie. Nearly half of RISE’s parliamentary caucus had only been elected that year, many of them were older activists who had agreed to stand as paper candidates at the bottom of the list, but had slowly been dragged to the top as those above them lost their court appeals. The oldest of these was 86 year old Ian Gilbert. What experienced MPs remained were either old bruisers like Jim Sillars or younger radicals like Martin Compston, both alienated some of the nationalist church.

    “Patrick Harvie appears to have conceded defeat in the struggle for independence, according to leaked text messages. "Downing's Street's plan has triumphed,” reads one of the messages allegedly sent to one of his former ministers. Harvie sent the messages on Tuesday to another exiled pro-independence politician, Dennis Canavan. “I suppose it is clear to you that this is over,” reads another text, adding that he hopes it is true because then “everyone can get out of jail”. Other leaders of his secessionist government are jailed in London. Harvie and Canavan neither confirmed nor denied the content of the exchange, but both condemned the violation of privacy. “Obtaining private conversations from third parties is a crime in Ireland and the UK,” tweeted Canavan. Harvie also reacted on Twitter: “I am human and there are times that I also doubt.”” - Harvie tells allies it’s over, Politico (2019)

    One figure did emerge, Alex Neil. Neil was the former leader of RISE and had been credited with detoxifying it after Sheridan was expelled from the party. He briefly served as a Minister under Harvie before being elected as the Scottish Parliament’s Speaker - technically making him an independent. Neil’s role as Speaker had protected him from prosecution during the referendum, whilst allowing him to play a prominent role in Scottish politics. Broadly liked across the Parliament for his outspoken nature Neil was the only real candidate to be “acting President” in Harvie’s stead. After another long set of negotiations, Neil was officially nominated as the coalition’s candidate for President.


    Harvie was happy to martyr himself for the cause

    Neil was mocked in the press for being RISE’s “Plan D” well behind other better known figures. Still by just one vote Neil was elected as President of Scotland. His investiture speech was consensual, saying his government would negotiate “constructively and within the confines of the law” to secure independence for Scotland and the release of “political prisoners”. However Neil also used the speech to bush boundaries, telling legislators “we will never renounce our right to self-determination, a democratic referendum is the only solution” Neil said. Whilst Neil had called for negotiation, he had refused to apologise for his role in the illegal referendum, and had used some quite fiery language, now it was up to London to accept him or not.

    In an official Palace statement King Charles welcomed Neil, this was shortly followed by Hague who promised to lift Article 219 once Neil had appointed a cabinet "able to carry out its duties in Edinburgh” - effectively warning Neil no exiles or prisoners. After eight months of direct rule, the worst of the Scottish crisis at least seemed to be over, much to the outrage of National hardliners who wanted Hague to keep crushing the Scots until they voted the right way. Now negotiations between theoretical equals could begin, the Scottish economy saw an almost instant bounce as nervous investors were finally calmed for the first time in almost a year. Neil agreed to Hague’s terms, publishing a list of ministers the next day - mostly made up of the bottom of the separatist barrel, the plan D President announced a series of plan E ministers.

    Neil Cabinet 2019-
    • President - Alex Neil (RISE)
    • Vice-President - Joanna Cherry (SNP)
    • Minister of Governance and Institutional Relations - Lorna Slater (RISE)
    • Minister of Agriculture and the Environment - Jean Urquhart (RISE)
    • Minister of Home Affairs - John Swinney (SNP)
    • Minister of Justice -Anne McLaughlin (RISE)
    • Minister of Economy and Knowledge - Chris Stephens (RISE)
    • Minister of Culture - Mike Russell (SNP)
    • Minister of Enterprise and Employment - Rosie Kane (RISE)
    • Minister of Education - Graham Campbell (RISE)
    • Minister of Health - Angus Robertson (SNP)
    • Minister of Territory and Sustainability - Laura Brennan-Whitefield (RISE)
    “Scottish President Alex Neil has appointed a Cabinet, paving the way for an end to the eight-month vacuum in the regional government. London's special controls over the region will lift once the new Cabinet is sworn in over the weekend. The respite in the Scottish crisis comes as Hague faces rumours of no-confidence vote Friday. Neil, who came to power last month promising to resume independence efforts met with the new appointments late on Tuesday. Among the new nominees is Lorna Slater, a key adviser to ousted Scottish president Patrick Harvie, who is in Dublin. Slater will also be the regional government's chief negotiator, Neil said. The spat over Scotland's future prompted the UK's worst political crisis in decades. Three of the UK's four main political parties at the national level have been united against independence so far.” - New Scottish Cabinet in line to end 7-month power vacuum, Reuters (2019)


    Scotland was back in the fold for now
    Last edited:
    Chapter 104: Survivor
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    Surviving a recession and a constitutional crisis, Hague was finally brought low

    “The issue of corruption in William Hague's National Party has returned with a vengeance to the top of Britain's political agenda. His party’s former treasurer, Rupert Harrison was sentenced to decades in prison for benefiting from a kickbacks scheme. The judges sentenced 39 other politicians, who received more than 400 years in combined prison sentences. Mr. Hague’s party is the first British political force to be convicted of operating a slush fund. A no-confidence vote against the prime minister is not yet a certainty, and will need the backing of other parties. Mr. Hague’s fate is in the hands of the Unity party, which has supported him since 2016. On Friday, Leader Alan Sugar told Hague to either resign or expect Unity to join the no-confidence motion against him.”
    - Hague Government Is Threatened by Verdicts in Corruption Case, Shawn McCreesh (2019)

    Hague was a dead man walking, he had gambled on Scotland and he had lost, the separatists still controlled the country, Harvie was out of his reach and Britain had been humiliated on the global stage. Among his own MPs the hardliners were angered that Hague hadn’t crushed the treasonous Scots when he had the chance, repealing devolution legislation whilst he had the chance. His own Deputy Jeremy Clarkson had effectively been running a shadow leadership campaign for the last three years as Hague’s authority plummeted. His only saving grace was a relatively weak opposition, with the left divided between UPA and SDP his Parliamentary opposition were unable to put up a strong fight - but even this seemed to change as the SDP continued to fall in the polls.

    Hague was a famous survivor of British politics, having survived the fall of the Junta and clawed his way to the top through National’s brutal power struggles in opposition. Poor polling and unruly Scots on their own he could survive, but then the gavel fell. For over five years Rupert Harrison, National’s former Treasurer had been making his way through the courts accused of corruption and funnelling dirty money through the National Party. The judges ruled Harrison and the National Party’s finance department had taken illegal kickbacks in return for favourable public contracts, and the party was “institutionally corrupt”. Harrison was sentenced to 47 years in prison, and the National Party was fined 350,000 euros.


    Khan had failed to impress as SDP leader

    Worse for Hague personally, the verdict ruled Hague had not been truthful in his court testimony several other leading National politicians would be officially accused of profiting including Clarkson and Chancellor Nicholas Soames. With three of National’s leading politicians caught up in the Harrison affair, Unity decided to cut itself off as quickly as possible. Emboldened by its strong result in Scotland, Alan Sugar announced Unity would be pulling its Commons support for the Hague Government, and he would support Leader of the Opposition Bell Ribeiro-Addy if she chose to table a vote of no confidence in Hague as Prime Minister. National had officially been robbed of its majority.

    “The UPA has filed a no-confidence motion against William Hague after National was found to have benefited from illegal kickbacks. Bell Ribeiro-Addy, said the verdict in the Harrison trial had “damaged the health of our democracy”. “That is why we have filed a motion of no confidence against William Hague this morning,” she said after a meeting of UPA leadership. “A motion of no confidence that aims to bring normality back to our public life. Ito do away with this corruption thriller into which National has plunged our politics. Then we can finally talk about the things that matter to our citizens.” Ribeiro-Addy said the UPAs “route map” was intended to regenerate democracy by calling snap elections. The Social Democratic Party has said it will back the UPA’s motion. Unity has also urged Hague to resign.” - UPA file no-confidence motion against William Hague, Sam Jones, The Guardian (2019)

    As well as losing Unity Hague was quickly losing control of his own party, hardliners and moderates alike looked to the third party liferafts. Both Unity for the liberals and Centrists for the radicals were in the ascendancy, a tantalising proposition for job-anxious National MPs. Not wanting to be brought down with Hague, David Davis, Michael Clapp and Graham Brady all announced their resignation from the Cabinet, with Chief Whip Michael Gove warning not a single backbench National MP would agree to take their place. Polls showed National falling to third place behind the UPA and Unity, after the Social Democrats had been Pasokified the downfall of another major party wasn’t unthinkable the way it had been ten years ago.


    Bell was within touching distance of number 10

    Hague hoped to hide behind the Scottish crisis, he attacked his critics for using the “judicial process for political gain” and “shamelessly causing chaos during a constitutional crisis”. Patrick Harvie’s laughter could be heard all the way from Dublin. In another act of desperation Hague approached Sadiq Khan, asking him to keep the Government afloat until order was restored to Scotland. Whilst National and the SDP had worked closely together during the imposition of Article 219, the relative quiet in Scotland - with a new Cabinet in place - meant Hague’s warning of a collapse in the Scottish peace process didn’t really ring true.

    Seeing the writing on the wall, Hague announced he would be calling a National Party leadership election, with the hope of his successor being able to rebuild the National-Unity pact. National had recently moved away from the “Magic Circle” system to elect its leaders - where the Cabinet elected the next party leader - to a conference system, where National Party delegates would elect the party’s leader. Hague promised to lead a transitional government, keeping the lights on whilst the National Party elected a new leader to place before the House of Commons. Whilst Ribeiro-Addy demanded a snap election immediately both the SDP and Unity agreed to hold off on bringing the Government down until a new leader could be appointed - most likely in the hope such a leadership election would destroy National.

    “William Hague has announced that he will be stepping down from his role as president of the National Party and leaving politics. Since taking on the leadership Hague was won three elections, spending seven years in power. The abrupt exit of Hague from National's leadership has opened an internal battle within the conservative group. In the frame to replace him are Deputy Jeremy Clarkson, Chancellor Nicholas Soames and Foreign Secretary David Davis. However all three have been implicated to various degrees in the Harrison scandal. Some in the party have called for a younger face, names include Tom Tugendhat, Penny Morduant, Rory Stewart or Michael Gove. Deputy Leader Jeremy Clarkson was seen in a position of strength for the leadership battle but has fallen to third place on the bookies table.” - National Party begins internal battle for power, BBC News Bulletin (2019)


    Half of National's big beats had been taken out in one
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    New Statesman Article 2019 National Leadership Election
  • Who will replace William Hague? The runners and riders for National leader

    By Patrick Maguire

    William Hague has announced he will resign as National leader, firing the starting gun on a leadership race to replace him.

    These are all the runners and riders to become Britain's next prime minister.

    Deputy Prime Minister Jeremy Clarkson


    One of the early favourites. Surviving four years as Deputy has earned him the respect of colleagues. The 59-year-old is seen as one of the most active members of the cabinet, with eye-catching announcements on animal welfare and women's rights. He has also been one of Mr Hague's most loyal ministers, being sent out to face the media at difficult moments for the government. Clarkson was the favoured son but he has featured heavily in the Harrison inquiry which has strongly hurt his stock both within and without the party. But Clarkson is still an experienced media operator and a hit on the telly, don't count him out just yet

    Agriculture Secretary Tim Cross


    The hardliner’s hardliner - when you imagine a National MP you probably imagine Mr Cross, a former General and committed Anglican, in his time as Agriculture Minister he spent more time railing against the EU or abortion rather than waving the flag for British farmers. Cross allies say he is the best candidate to bring back wayward Centrist voters, but if he wins reformist MPs will start looking for the door.

    Foreign Secretary David Davis


    Davis has served in every National Shadow Cabinet since 2005, one of the few people on this list who had governing experience under the Junta - although that’s unlikely to play in his favour. Davis has moved from Juntista bruiser to libertarian ideology, calling to abolish national ID cards and relaxing regulation on housing developers. Whilst Davis’ manic politics have won him friends across the party, his advanced age and role in the Harrison affair are likely to hurt his chances.

    Industry Secretary Arlene Foster


    The bruiser from Northern Ireland, Foster is one of only two women on this list, and the only candidate from Northern Ireland. Foster has become a hate figure among trade unions and green activists for her harsh labour policies as Industry Secretary and disdain for renewable energy. Still this has won her the adoration of party loyalists, National in Northern Ireland has long been a bastion for the party, they’ve already had one Ulster leader - why not another?

    Chief Whip Michael Gove


    Hague made the move from the whips office to Downing Street, maybe his Chief Whip Michael Gove could do the same? A terminal gossiper Gove knows every MP’s dirty secret and where all the bodies are buried. He doesn’t lack ambition with friends saying he longs for the party leadership, but his reputation for gossip and treachery is unlikely to win him friends with fellow National MPs.

    Hampshire MP Penny Mordaunt


    One of National’s Young Turks - backbench MPs elected after 2009 - Morduant is the only other woman on this list and one of the few people who can say they had nothing to do with the Harrison scandal. Her political beliefs are an ideological scattergun, a eurosceptic who has called for people to “move on” from the Junta years - who is also an outspoken supporter of abortion rights and equal marriage, certainly one to watch.

    Chancellor Nicholas Soames


    At 72 years old it remains to be seen if Soames will run for another term in Parliament, let alone for leader. Yet his grandfather Winston Churchill was 78 when he re-entered Downing Street in 1951. Soames is a reformist, with a long pedigree within the National Party., and is generally seen to have been a decent Chancellor. But as the money man he can’t avoid questions around Mr Harrison’s dealings - he might want to lay low for a while.

    Cumbria MP Rory Stewart


    A former spook Stewart was in Kabul when the Junta fell. Known to be fiercely intelligent and a real adventurer, he once walked from one end of Afghanistan to another. Whilst his spy background has earned him unfavourable comparisons to Vladimir Putin, Stewart is generally seen as a liberal within the National Party and committed strongly to the EU. He is seen as Brussel’s preferred candidate for party leader. Although this is unlikely to win him friends with party hardliners.

    Kent MP Tom Tugendhat


    Another former spook, Tugendhat was a military intelligence officer and speaks fluent arabic, also spending the end of Mountbattenism in the Afghan sun. The youngest person on this list Tugendhat was just elected in 2012, before having worked for the Khan Commission working to De-Mountbattenise the military after the coup in 2009. Like Stewart, Tugendhat has the military background and the private education you’d expect from a National MP, coupled with a reformist mindset and europhilic ideals.

    North Eastern Scotland MP Ben Wallace


    The only Scot on this list, in fact the only National MP in Scotland after the pounding the party’s taken north of the wall. Wallace is a favourite of the militarists, deeply committed to the army and its role within British politics. Since moving from Scottish to federal politics Wallace has impressed through his tough language against Scottish separatists and his role as part of Hague’s negotiating team with the Scottish Government.
    Chapter 105: Dissent Amongst the Ranks
  • 1653555467867.png

    Hague had many flaws, but he had managed to hold National together - no small feat

    “William Hague was the patient man of British politics, rewarded in 2012 at his second attempt to lead the National to victory in a general election. Then, seven years later, he became the first prime minister in modern history to be forced from office by a no-confidence vote. Mr Hague's supporters had seen him as the crisis manager who averted an economic bailout. They see him as an effective leader capable of maintaining the country's unity as the separatist movement hit tense heights. Yet his critics accused him of favouring economic shock therapy, hitting the poorest the hardest. Friend and foe alike agreed that Hague was not the most charismatic of politicians but Mr Hague, in fairness, did not promise fireworks. As Mr Hague departed, he told MPs that it was "an honour to leave a better Britain than I found it"
    - William Hague - the patient man of British politics, BBC News Bulletin

    There was no obvious successor to William Hague, Jeremy Clarkson and David Davis had been shadow-boxing for the position for months now, but with both of them implicated in the Harrison case their approval ratings went into free-fall. Other leading Cabinet Members had similar faults Nicholas Soames and Michael Clapp were both too old and Jo Swinson was too liberal. Many in the party were calling for a generation shift, to bring in a new candidate from the backbenches, preferably someone who had come to power in a democratic post-Junta world, who could bring the party forward as a normal centre-right European political party.

    Several of these “young turks” had played limited or back-room roles in the Junta, many of them had been intelligence or diplomatic officers, spending the messy downfall of the regime abroad. The left-wing press would dub these young up and coming spies as “generation spook”, and unkind comparisons to the rise of Vladimir Putin were made by some. The favoured of this faction of young reformists was Tom Tugendhat, at just 44 he was a rare young man in an overwhelmingly older Parliamentary caucus. Tugendhat had an impeccable Junta pedigree with his father being a military judge and Uncle being a member of the Hill-Norton era Parliament.


    Tugendhat had been a protege of First Lord Mike Jackson

    More than that Tugendhat had reached the rank of Colonel, and in a party that respected rank above all, that brought him a lot of sway. Tugendhat was a strange mix of policies, he was unashamedly unionist, calling for stronger sanctions against the Scottish exiles, but was also strongly europhilic and socially liberal. In short there was something for everyone across the party spectrum. While Tugendhat had once been a rank outsider, with the party leadership in disarray and the People’s Alliance in ascendance, members were starting to look for a fresh start. As poll after poll showed corruption as voters’ primary issues, Tugendhat’s backers were eager to present him as this much needed head start.

    For the party establishment two candidates emerged, Deputy Prime Minister Jeremy Clarkson and Industry Secretary Arlene Foster. Despite being in rather senior roles, both were seen as relative mavericks in the party, Clarkson for his support of animal welfare and a woman’s right to choose, and Foster by virtue of being a senior woman in a patriarchal party. Still both had managed to claw their way to the top as competent media performers, and were now jostling to prove themselves as Hague’s successor. If the contest had been held a few months earlier, it would have been a straight heat between Clarkson and Davis, but the Harrison scandal has destroyed Davis and mortally wounded Clarkson.

    “Although Harrison is by far the most high-profile corruption scandal in the UK, it is far from the only case. This points to an unhealthy culture of corruption in the country. As you’d expect, opposition parties, the largest being the UPA have pledged to tackle corruption. But, it is important to note that SDP has its own corruption scandals currently before the courts. All the main political parties have been involved in alleged wrongdoing. There may be signs of a new climate of accountability, but. This week a UPA MP resigned as media reports revealed that he had withheld taxes. Politicians linked to previous scandals have been far more stubborn. At this critical juncture, Transparency International urges all parties to join forces against impunity.” - What’s Next for the UK’s Struggle with Political Corruption, Transparency International (2019)


    Clarkson had found himself as the unlikely establishment candidate

    Clarkson had also angered party grassroots through his role as acting Scottish President during the constitutional crisis. Clarkson had been relatively lenient on the separatists, at least compared to Hague and other Cabinet colleague, he had been open to negotiations with Harvie and had refused calls to send more troops over the border, much to the anger of those in National who would rather nuke Glasgow then allow Scotland to leave the union. Many party bigwigs had never fully trusted Clarkson, a civilian journalist commanding colonels and majors was something the hardliners were unlikely to come to terms with. Clarkson had one trump card and that was his relative popularity, with an approval rating of only minus 23, a good result considering all that had happened.

    Foster on the other hand tried to tread the line between party establishment and the conservative faction. Whilst she had never been an officer she had been a strong supporter of the military’s role in British politics. Foster was also the most eurosceptic of the leading candidates, having been against Britain joining the euro. Finally Foster was by far the most experienced of the candidates, having been an MP since the days of Hill-Norton. Fosters’ aides hoped if she could lock down the establishment and conservative blocs of the party, whilst Tugendhat took the liberals, she could squeeze Clarkson out of the race entirely, using Clarkson’s second preferences to squash Tugendhat.

    Whilst these three would dominate the race, three minor candidates would also have a crack at the top job, annoyingly for Foster they all came from the right of the party. These three candidates were Penny Morduant, Ben Wallace and Nadhim Zahawi. Wallace ran as the candidate for those who thought Foster was too moderate, a leader for the “nuke Glasgow” brigade. Morduant and Zahawi seemed to be running for a laugh with both holding a series of seemingly random and contradictory policies. Still with four candidates from the right, one from the left and one from the centre, things were looking difficult for Foster.

    “Patriotic, monarchist and liberal, Tom Tugendhat has reversed his role as a nobody to a likely candidate for victory. The Harrison affair has benefited him, but the duel at the top of the National Party has also helped. As Jeremy Clarkson and Arlene Foster duel it out, they free the path of the third man. The election has shown his skills as a communicator and he consolidated his pitch for novelty. He could not be blamed for cases of corruption, nor could he be identified with the generation of opulence, impunity and dictatorship - as long as you don't mention Tudgendhat’s Junta lineage. Mike Jackson is Tugendhat's godfather and his father Judge Michael Tugendhat presided over the prosecution of some of the Junta's most notable political prisoners.” - Tom Tugendhat, the puppy has fangs, Mattha Busby, The Guardian (2019)


    Tugendhat had to reconcile his change message with his Mountbattenite heritage
    Chapter 106: Captain on Deck
  • Author's correction, the wikibox should say 3-4th of February


    National faced dire polling and electoral annihilation

    “According to a YouGov poll, if elections were held today, the UPA would win with 34% of the vote. It would be followed by National and Unity tied with 15% of the votes, the SDP which would come in third place with 13% of the vote, and the Centrists on 8%. Thus, according to the pollster the UPA would improve the result in 2016 by 13 points, which gave it 103 seats in the Commons. Although it remains behind the result three years ago that National won at the polls, 36% of the vote. Despite this strong result National was a long way from the absolute majority. Unity, far from running out of political ground, sits in joint second place, two points higher than what it achieved in 2016. National, for its part, continues to lose support, in line with the exhaustion that the Hague government was already suffering.”
    - UPA Consolidates Lead in Polls, Adam Bienkov, Business Insider (2019)

    As Tugendhat surged and Foster fell in polls, the three-way battle for control of the National Party became increasingly bitter as more activists were forced to choose sides. Clarkson got the endorsement of party bigwigs including former Theresa May, Ken Clarke, Ian Blair and Nicholas Soames. Tugendhat meanwhile received the backing of Tim Collins, Mike Jackson and Nick Clegg. Tugendhat’s campaign also became more aggressive and less deferential to party leadership, he repeatedly twisted the knife around Clarkson’s corruption allegations warning Clarkson was “denying reality” by refusing to talk about his role in National’s various slush funds.


    Hague had left the party in quite a mess

    Clarkson was clearly uncomfortable as an establishment figure, he had built his political brand around a “straight-talking” blokey persona. But as the party’s Deputy Leader for nearly four years he now found himself as the man in the grey suit, facing down the next generation. Clarkson also struggled to find a base within the party, seemingly flip flopping between a liberal reformer and a party traditionalist depending on the audience he was speaking to. Clarkson was roundly mocked for telling the Guardian he supported a 15 week ban on abortion in one interview, whilst saying he supported an 11 week ban on a Express roundtable.

    With Clarkson in trouble it should have been a perfect opportunity for Foster to flourish, but she was struggling with her own right flank as Ben Wallace grew among the party’s fundamentalists. Foster had long been the Cabinet’s “attack dog” sent out to bat for the leadership on bad news days and generally be unpleasant on question time, whilst this loyalty was admirable - the airwaves were filled with embarrassing gaffes and clips from when Foster had lost it on television. Despite being associated with National’s conservative faction, she had still served under Hague, suffering from the corruption allegations and all the other issues that came with loyal service. As Foster fell from second to third place in the polls, many fundamentalists began to move to Wallace.


    Foster's plans to absorb hardline delegates was backfiring

    “Arlene Foster has focused a large part of her campaign on her political career within the party and harsh criticism of the other candidates. Although in one speech she emphasised that she is not running "against anyone " because that would be "very petty". "I have always stood up for the National Party and they have knocked me down many times. "I have always been for and for my party", she has remarked on several occasions to make it very clear that she is presenting herself "to win, to win and to win". "I know what it means to win elections", he insisted after recalling that she was the only candidate to have led National to victory in a regional election. The Industry Secretary has admitted to being "too trusting" of some within the party - but denied involvement in any slush funds.”
    - Foster: I have given everything to the National Party, Lisa O'Carroll, The Guardian (2019)

    As party delegates arrived in Bristol for the vote, talk inevitably turned to the next election, Alan Sugar had confirmed Unity would not return to Government if the party was led by anyone associated with the Harrison case - essentially ruling out Clarkson and Foster. With National slipping to second place in the polls Tugendhat’s supporters made a last minute pitch to MPs and other elected officials, warning he was the best placed person to secure their plush jobs and ministerial cars. This was rewarded as several leading MPs who had been backing Clarkson announced they would be defecting to the Tudgenhat camp. This included chief whip Michael Gove - one of the most powerful people in the party. Gove’s treason would never be forgotten by Clarkson loyalists.


    The first day of the conference was a clear victory for Tugendhat, having captured the liberal vote and most of the party’s middle en-masse. For Clarkson and Foster the results were disastrous, especially for the Industry Secretary, who fell to just 12% of the delegate count - Wallace’s last minute surge had scattered the hardliner vote. Tugendhat and Clarkson would go through to the second round the next day. Whilst Tugendhat was just 4% away from winning the leadership, securing that 4% would be a difficult challenge as most of the freed delegates came from National Associations linked to the right of the party. At the same time though, many Clarkson backers began to see ill omens - they had backed the Deputy Prime Minister as someone to bring stability and unity to the party, if he couldn’t win a first round vote, how could he take on Bell Ribeiro-Addy?


    Clarkson struggled with the ruthless back room dealing of National politics

    Clarkson’s remaining moderate backers like Ken Clarke feared even if he took the leadership, he would be trapped in the pocket of the party’s hardliners. The next day many of them jumped to team Tudgendhat to try and show a united front for the media. Tugendhat would win a commanding victory of 58% to 42%. The young Kent MP had gone from an unknown backbencher to Prime-Minister designate in just three weeks. Now he had to propose a Cabinet, get Unity back on board and prevent a snap election. The Cabinet would be the hardest of these challenges, Tugendhat had to build a top team that both appealed to Unity, without angering the hardliners or prompting any defections to the Centrists.

    “I would like to thank all the candidates, especially Jeremy because to build a new team we have to do it together. With the responsibility of belonging to the best party in the UK, one of the largest in Europe. With the satisfaction of having transformed our society as long as we have governed - at a national level, local level and regional level. And with the ambition of the future knowing that there is no time to waste and that our United Kingdom needs us more than ever. Know that it is our principles, our ideas and our values that most represent all Brits. Neither yesterday nor tomorrow is written. It depends on us, it depends on you, I need you by my side. From this Congress we will once again have in Government a Strong National Party that will continue to transform Britain for our children. Thank you very much.” - Tom Tugendhat Victory Speech (2019)


    Tugendhat promised to be a coalition builder and an election winner, now he had to walk the walk
    Last edited:
    LSE Lecture - Assessing the Premiership of William Hague
  • 1653906900278.png

    Assessing the Premiership of William Hague

    Lecture by Oliver Daddow

    Since the return of democracy, a pattern has been established in the UK about the way in which Prime Ministers arrive into Government in our country. Not after having won on their own merits, but rather as a result of the irremissible defeat of their predecessors, condemned for sins. The trail of serious scandals that weighed down the final stage of Hill-Norton had the consequence of replacing him with Alan Johnson. Seven years later, his reaction to the financial crisis caused the arrival at Downing Street of William Hague. And, once again, the enormous anger caused by how Hague dealt with the economic crisis and corruption looks likely to elevate Bell Ribeiro-Addy. History now seems to be repeating itself on a larger scale. After all, the mandate of 2016 was carried out after two elections and fraught investiture programs. MPs agreed that they had to bring down Hague immediately, but less than half of them have done so out of enthusiasm for his likely replacement, Bell Ribeiro-Addy.

    Why has this desire to kick out the Prime Minister been so overwhelming? Was his situation so dire and so untenable? Will history be very severe with its stage of government? It is early to answer these questions. Now, the first analysis underlines the elements that have led him to lose power. Above all, the recent court judgement of an "effective system of institutional corruption" in National has been the main trigger for his defeat, but far from his only weak point.

    The undisguised enthusiasm of his detractors now and the scant fervour he receives from his own supporters (36% approval rating among National voters) suggests that Hague could be remembered as an unmitigated disaster. Hague today is denigrated from the left, he is vilified by Scottish nationalists, he is repudiated by a large part of his own electoral base. Even neutral analysts despise him and caricature him as mediocre, lazy and timorous.

    There is some reason for such severe criticism. Any communication expert will conclude that William Hague is not a brilliant campaigner. Only really coming alive within the Commons Chamber. Nor does he have a proactive or much less transformational governing style. Detractors can paint a technocratic and risk-averse politician.

    However when taken through the prism of government, rather politics - supporters can show a more rosy image. Hague the experienced politician (who knows the institutions well and knows how to control his party), pragmatic, orderly, efficient, predictable. Arguably what National and the country needed in the wake of Johnson's fall. It is doubtful that "strong" leadership is inherently the most successful. Hague, who comes out unfavored in the long shot, wins when you look in detail and compare his legacy with others.

    Many, for example, will rush to say that he has squandered the hegemony of National in the centre-right, now threatened by Unity. But it is enough to look at the immediate environment to question a too severe judgement there. The EPP was the majority force in the Parliaments of France, Italy and Portugal when Hague arrived at Downing Street. Today, Les Républicains, the Portuguese Social Democrats and Forza Italia are dragging further down in the polls than National. Nor, despite its historical dominance, does Christian democracy govern today in any of the Benelux countries. Not even Merkel's almighty CDU is currently that far ahead of National in German polls.

    Seven years later, Hague had a weakened party but in much better condition than almost all his partners . And without a strong xenophobic or eurosceptic force that eats away at him from his right. If the substance of its policies is analysed the balance is controversial but again, much less disastrous than what is derived. In economic policy, the structural reforms can be criticised for their impact on inequality. But if it is judged based on the objectives with which they were designed (clamp the deficit and create jobs), they cannot be denied success. It is enough to compare all these indicators with the other middling economies of Europe.

    Even the reputation that Hague was able to earn in Berlin and Brussels, is another area in which the former PM is better at short range. Even without playing any leading role, the UK of the last seven years has grown its influence in the EU. It has been able to maintain good bilateral relations with all its strategic partners even with Trump's USA. Despite the unfortunate collapse of development aid spending, the UK has improved its profile globally.

    Hague could again be accused of centralising tendencies or immobility in the Scottish conflict. No one will argue that he was patient with the pro-independence provocations. He inflamed nationalism and he misjudged the application of article 219. This will go down as his greatest governing failure.

    Hague has been, it is obvious, a conservative Prime Minister and for this reason he can be criticised ideologically. But, despite his grey style, he has not been a bad party leader or a bad head of government . He's not an unfriendly character either. In fact, despite the first distant and insensitive image, almost everyone close to him has hailed his ironic sense of humour and his calm. Even Patrick Harvie, wrote in his diary "everything has gone well in the personal relationship because with Hague it is impossible to get angry."

    Someone will say that, all this being possible, what cannot be denied is that Hague will always have the ballast of corruption. But, even when the opprobrium for National is clear, not even in that aspect is the condemnation of Hague himself so clear. The best comparison to Hague - a corrupt but effective politician - is Richard Nixon. I am reminded of the US electoral poster of the 70s that, under the image of the shady Richard Nixon, asked: "Would you buy a used car from this man?" It does not seem that the answer is as devastating in the case of Hague as in that of the American president. The British abhor the corruption that he sheltered in his party, but most believe that his car has passed all the inspections - after all they voted for him three times.

    Seminar Question: Critically Assess the Premiership of William Hague 2012-2019
    Chapter 107: Ground Control to Colonel Tom
  • 1653991794470.png

    Tugendhat was a fresh face with old politics

    “Merkelism lives. In the UK at least. The conservative National Party has a new leader who’s vowed to steer the party to the centre in a bid to hold onto Government. Tom Tugendhat ran for the party leadership promising to take a hard line against Scottish separatists. He promises a less confrontational political style than that of the man he’ll replace, William Hague, who was ousted as prime minister. Tugendhat's strategy worked. “We have the opportunity to enlarge the centre right and elections are won there,” Tugendhat said in a radio interview. “Our party shouldn’t go to any corner.” Aged 44, Tugendhat is not only a fresh face at the top of the scandal-hit National but also promotes an image of solid, technocratic management.”
    - British conservatism’s new face, Oliver Wiseman, Politico (2019)

    Tom Tugendhat had pitched himself as the best candidate to keep National in office, as the most palatable candidate to Alan Sugar the party believed electing a liberal leader would keep Unity’s confidence and supply deal in place. But negotiations were a lot harder than Tugendhat’s team had anticipated, with the two parties at level pegging in the polls Sugar smelled a chance to surpass National as the UK’s main party of the centre-right. Senior Unity officials were also worried National’s terminal collapse would spread to them if they refused to take a stand. Unity MPs nervously looked to the fates of other liberal parties that had gotten into bed with the right and had subsequently been crushed. The fate of Germany’s FDP - who had crashed out of the Bundestag in 2013, was at the forefront of their minds.

    In negotiations Sugar’s red lines were those he knew Tugendhat could not cross, he demanded stronger electoral reform with larger constituencies, effectively lowering the barrier to entry for third parties with the UK’s famously small multi-member constituencies. He also demanded a full coalition with Unity given both the Treasury and Foreign Office briefs, and finally he demanded Tugendhat remove the whip from any National MP suspected of involvement in corruption. Considering this included half the National caucus anyway this was effectively an impossible demand. Both sides quickly realised that Unity wasn’t negotiating in good faith, simply looking for an opportunity to storm out of negotiations and declare that Tugendhat was just as corrupt as Hague - it worked like a charm. Tugendhat’s honeymoon ended very abruptly.


    Sugar saw a chance to take the crown for himself

    With Colonel Tom unable to form a government, the baton passed to Leader of the Opposition Bell Ribeiro-Addy. The People’s Alliance was in even less of a hurry to form a government than Unity had been, with most polls showing the party with a commanding lead. Still appearances had to be kept as Ribeiro-Addy promised to speak openly with “all parties”. In reality this was a PR exercise, the UPA had moved to moderate its image as a legitimate party of government during its period in the official opposition seat. If Ribeiro-Addy could show herself to be authoritative and prime-ministerial they might be able to coax over the last dregs of the SDP to their voting block, and maybe even a few left-leaning Unity supporters.

    “Bell Ribeiro-Addy and her People's Party, who are likely to enter government for the first time, have had a bumpy ride. What lies ahead could be rough. The People's Party burst onto the British political scene in 2014 igniting dreams of overtaking the SDP as the largest left-wing party. Instead, after her meteoric rise, Ribeiro-Addy has faced internal party tensions and endured criticism of her leadership. Yet the 33 year old now looks likely to get her first chance to at least share power. Polling shows her United People Alliance ahead of all other rivals, but far from an overall majority. With sharp rivalries and policy differences, it is an uneasy alliance. The road ahead for Ribeiro-Addy could be every bit as rocky as the last few years have been.” - UK’s Leftist Outsiders Are on the Verge of Getting Inside, Raphael Minder, New York Times (2019)

    Ironically, facing a tough election the Social Democrats were eager to try and accommodate a People’s Alliance Government and prevent a disastrous snap election for the party. Among proposals the SDP made to the UPA included a 20% raise in the minimum wage and a further billion euros invested into pensions. If anything, the SDP’s move to the left under Khan showed the People’s Alliance was winning the war for ideals. The two left-leaning parties signed a pact of understanding, allowing them to present a united front when negotiating with Alan Sugar. For a while it looked like a snap election might actually be avoided.


    A more socially liberal generation was coming of voting age

    However once again Unity would bring any negotiations crashing down, whilst the two parties agreed on expanding the constituencies, they disagreed on pretty much everything else, most notably financial policies. The UPA had called for a renegotiation of the UK’s EU bailout package to allow for greater spending on social policies whilst inflation was low, Unity meanwhile insisted on even more stringent spending targets, with the goal of hitting a balanced budget within the next four years. Ultimately the parties were unable to come to an agreement, and once again Alan Sugar was able to dramatically walk out of negotiations to an awaiting press conference.

    The final option was a rainbow coalition government, with the UPA and SDP propped up by the dozens of smaller progressive and nationalist parties in the Commons. The biggest of these would be the two Scottish nationalist parties, RISE and the SNP - who between them held 23 seats. Both parties had one clear line in the sand, full amnesty for Patrick Harvie and the others behind the 2018 independence referendum, and for the central government to agree to a legal referendum in the next Parliamentary term. Whilst Ribeiro-Addy was open to such an agreement this wasn’t something Khan could accept - meaning a rainbow majority was not forthcoming.

    With all possible doors to a majority closed, the one month timer finally ran out. King Charles dissolved Parliament the next day. For the fourth time in its democratic history Britain faced a snap election, except this time they faced a growing far right, an angered Scottish nationalist movement and both major parties in complete free-fall. Most worryingly for those watching in Brussels, the UK had a strong chance of electing a radical left government, the second such regime in EU history, they had been able to crush but the UK’s economy was seven times larger than Greece’s - if Britain went rogue it could bring the whole Eurozone crashing down with it.

    “After everything that has been said, the UPA can be labelled as a Eurosceptic party rather than Eurocritical one. This simple distinction is important insofar as it could entail different outcomes for Europe. Parties such as Marine Le Pen’s National Front, suppose harder forms of Euroscepticism. Treating the UPA in the same way as those right-wing parties would lead to costly mistakes. Two different programmes for Europe lie behind this simple distinction: on the one hand, criticizing the current EU model or pushing for more sovereignty; on the other, advocating a full return to the nation state. Emphasising this distinction will give us the chance to rethink our notion of Euroscepticism. The latter is often used too broadly, not only in journalistic formats but sometimes even in academic articles.” - Is the UPA a Eurosceptic party?, Lecture by Sofia Vasilopoulou, University of York (2019)


    Whilst the People's Party was generally pro-EU it's allies like the Communist Party were strongly eurosceptic
    2019 UK Election, Part 1
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    Governing Britain was now someone else's problem

    “William Hague has called a snap election for 26 May after attempts to form a governing coalition failed. The country’s third general election in less than three years was seen as an inevitability following Hague’s resignation as National leader in February. The UK needs to keep advancing, progressing with tolerance, respect, moderation and common sense,” Hague said. “I have proposed to dissolve parliament and call elections for 26 May.” Hague's National Party, which holds 179 of the 497 seats in Parliament, relied on the support of the Unity party and Ulster Unionists. But all three supporting parties withdrew their support after a high-judge declared Hague had personal knowledge of a slush fund within the National Party. A general election had been due next year.”
    - PM calls snap general election for 26 May, Stephen Burgen, The Guardian (2019)

    The election date was set for the 26th of May, allowing for a slightly longer campaign in order to align with European Parliament Elections occurring at the same time. National also hoped by calling a longer campaign, they would have more time for Ribeiro-Addy to slip up and allow them to catch up in the polls. Tensions were already building within the party with rumours of a split down the line, all National had to do was wedge an issue into the UPA’s electoral coalition and pry. Now that she actually had a chance of becoming Prime Minister, Ribeiro-Addy would receive unprecedented public scrutiny, they banked that she wouldn’t be up to the task.

    The other biggest story was the rise of the Centrists, since Hague’s downfall and the Scottish crisis the radical right party went from strength to strength, polling as high as 11% in some polls. The Centrists’ platform included the deportation of over 70,000 “illegal migrants” and to roll back the rights of women and LGBT people. The party was also strongly unionist, calling for the abolition of provincial governments and the Scottish region, arguing local legislatures had become “a haven for corruption and incompetence” - a charge that wasn’t entirely untrue. On the party’s payroll included Steve Bannon, the far-right former aide to President Trump, who now earned a six-figure salary as a campaign strategist to the party’s leader James Cleverly.


    The UPA was a real threat, not just a curiosity

    The Centrists’ rise was the first time the right of Britain's spectrum had been politically divided. Whilst the left had always been divided between social democrats and the socialist left - National had done a good job at keeping conservatives, nationalists and right-leaning liberals under its umbrella. With the Centrists and Unity taking bites from both sides of National, its hegemony was no longer secure. Unlike other continental far-right parties, the Centrists’ biggest supporters came from wealthier areas like Bekshire which had been traditionally National strongholds, whilst Unity pushed them out the suburbs, the Centrists took the towns.

    “Westminster is on the brink of political chaos after opinion polls revealed the surging popularity of the Centrists. It is the first time pollsters have predicted double digits for anti-immigration Centrists. This would represent the first electoral win for a far-right party in the UK. All four surveys published since the snap general election announcement predicted the party will get at least 35 MPs elected. The four polling differed on the number of parliament seats they would win, from 39 to 63. All the polls forecast Bell Ribeiro-Addy's UPA leading the election and getting more seats than in the previous election in 2016. But the UPA is likely to fall well short of a majority in the 497-seat parliament. Pollsters are divided on which coalition is likely to emerge from this election.” - Westminster PANICS as Centrists Surge, Carly Read, The Express (2019)

    Interestingly Europe wasn’t as big an issue as it had been in neighbouring countries like the Netherlands and France. Even the Centrists spent little political capital attacking Brussels, instead focusing their anger at the enemy at home, leftists and Scottish separatists. This was a testament to the European Union’s overwhelming popularity among the British people - with many crediting the EU with the economic miracle of the mid-2000s. Parties of the centre scrapped to prove themselves as the most European with Sugar, Khan and Tugendhat all wrapping themselves in the Circle of Stars. The EU also became a stick to beat the UPA with, with rival parties warning a UPA victory would threaten the UK’s place in the European Community.


    The far-right looked likely to enter Parliament for the first time in British history

    What was a major issue was the slow resurgence of nationalist violence whilst the SNLA had kept the peace as Westminster cracked down, several dissident groups had formed themselves into a new armed group named Saoradh, Gaelic for Liberation. Intelligence agencies estimated Saordah had over 500 active militants, with hundreds more associates and supporting groups. Over the course of the election campaign nine people had been killed by Saordah, including three police officers - the greatest violence seen since 2005. Dozens of smaller acts of violence had also occurred, including bleach being thrown on Scottish SDP Leader Anas Sarwar, blinding him in one eye. The Saodrah issue would come to the forefront when one of Alan Sugar’s protective police officers - Cairan Erwin - was shot and killed by a Saordah fighter protecting his charge during a rally in Edinburgh.

    The attack on Sugar was the first political assassination attempt in over three years, shaking the nation to its core. Quickly the issue of counter-terrorism and political violence rose to the top of the agenda. This was particularly bad news for the UPA. The UPA had always been the most supportive of Scottish nationalism out of the major Westminster parties, and enjoyed close relationships with RISE and the SNP - with the Scottish brand of the People’s Party serving two terms supporting a RISE government. National quickly poured on the pressure, calling on Bell Ribeiro-Addy to rule out a coalition with Scottish separatists should she win the election.

    “British police arrested on Monday nine people linked to Scotland’s pro-independence movement. Prosecutors said the activists were plotting violent acts in the coming weeks of the election campaign. They detainees had been charged with terrorism and possessing explosives. Two were later released, acting Home Secretary Graham Brady told reporters, without elaborating on why. He added that “all the rights of all those under investigation are guaranteed.” Protesters rallied late on Monday in Scottish cities demanding that those detained be freed. Prosecutors said the court had ordered the arrests to prevent actions which “could have caused irreparable damage”. The head of Scotland’s government hit back, accusing Westminster of creating a “false narrative” of Scottish violence.” - UK arrests Scottish separatists suspected of plotting violence, Joan Faus, Reuters (2019)


    Scotland faced a return to the bad old days
    2019 Election Debate
  • Politicians clash over Scotland in televised debate

    BBC News Bulletin

    Monday’s debate revealed the deep divide between the left-wing and right-wing blocs ahead of the general election on May 26.

    The campaign is fought more on emotional and identity issues, such as Scotland’s botched independence bid than on the economy.

    The event, which was aired live by the BBC on Monday night, featured the leaders of the: National Party, United People Alliance, Social Democrats and Unity.

    There was one notable absence - the Centrists - the far-right party that burst onto the political scene at the Essex provisional elections. Polls say the Centrists could pick up around 10% of the vote on Sunday. Election authorities had blocked James Cleverly participating, citing legislation on minimum Commons representation. The Centrists currently have one MP.

    Bell Ribeiro-Addy faced an onslaught of criticism Monday from her right-wing rivals over Scotland's secession, while she warned them against cozying up to the far-right.

    The tone and content of the debate also underscored the idea that voters will be making a choice between the left and the right on Sunday. Polls are predicting another fragmented scenario in which alliances will be necessary for a majority.

    The candidates hardly discussed gender violence, or Junta memory - though these have all been hot-button issues during the campaign. Corruption scandals took up more air time than foreign policy or the possibility of post-election deals.

    On the centre-right, Tom Tugendhat and Alan Sugar mostly focused on attacking Bell Ribeiro-Addy. And on the centre-left, SDP chief Sadiq Khan asked Tugendhat to rule out any potential deals with the Centrists.

    While there were a few early blows, the tone was calm – even tedious at times – until the topic of Scotland came up. Alan Sugar pulled out a photograph of Ribeiro-Addy with Alex Neil, the separatist premier. He alluded that a UPA Government would be indebted to Scottish separatists.

    "I want a prime minister who doesn't kneel down in front of those who want to break the Union" added Sugar

    Tugendhat took a similar line, he said it was "shameful" to see Scottish leaders announcing their willingness to support Ribeiro-Addy “in exchange for pardons.”

    "Those who want to break up the UK have their favourite candidate in Ribeiro-Addy,"

    Sadiq Khan that there will be “no referendum and no independence” in Scotland and asked secessionist parties “to return to peace.”

    Tugendhat and Sugar both accuse Ribeiro-Addy of betraying Britain as the Scottish branch of the UPA propped up Patrick Harvie's separatist Government

    They also accuse her of cozying up to Scottish separatist lawmakers in the national parliament by voting against Article 219.

    Ribeiro-Addy insisted dialogue was the way forward to avoid a repeat of a failed secession marked by an illegal referendum.

    Exasperated, she said: "I've been putting up with all these lies for 10 months -- that I've sold the UK out."

    Also exasperated was Khan, "This debate is being watched outside the UK," he said.

    "This debate is serious enough for us not to show each other photos or throw paper at each other, and talk with a bit of seriousness."

    The SDP leader, for his part, avoided a confrontation with Ribeiro-Addy. Khan attempted to portray himself as a potential coalition partner that could pull the UPA to the centre.

    The UPA leader pivoted the conversation to the far right alluding to a unionist march in London square that yielded the only existing image of the leaders of the National, Unity and the Centrists standing together. Ribeiro-Addy has based much of her campaign on the idea that these “three rightists” could reach a governing deal.

    “They’re going to put Mr Sugar as prime minister, Mr Tugendhat as a companion in some ministry and the far right at the wheel,” Ribeiro-Addy said. “This is a very threatening reality we need to avoid.

    "I thought that Donald Trump wouldn't win and he won. I thought that Essex National and the far-right wouldn't reach an agreement and they did."

    Sugar has ruled out any governing deals with the UPA but not with the National. Despite this he aimed his attacks at both the left and the right, castigating Tugendhat's National Party for its history of corruption.

    “You’ve got the word ‘crook’ written on your forehead,” Sugar told Tugendhat in his first-round comments, referring to accused slush funds within the National Party. Prompting Tugendhat to tell him: “I am not going to reply because you are not my adversary.”

    Meanwhile, Bell Ribeiro-Addy was ready for Tugendhat, who had asserted during the campaign that the UPA has made deals with “those whose hands are stained with blood”. This was a reference to the Workers Party, who the UPA had governed with in Scotland. The Workers Party was born out of radical leftists that supported the now SNLA.

    “The Tories trick with words,” said Ribeiro-Addy, staring at Tugendhat and holding up some papers. “These are 179 motions from the Scottish Parliament that National shares signatures with the Worker's Party. So what colour are your hands, Mr Tugendhat?”

    Khan was in the most comfortable position, with few attacks coming his way. The SDP leader, who is competing for undecided voters with the People's Alliance, chose to focus on content and made constant references to social rights.

    One of the liveliest moments of the debate, when Ribeiro-Addy told Sugar: “You’ve said one thing and done another too many times. You said you would never vote Hague into office.” To which Sugar retorted: “And you are now the owner of a mansion,” reminding viewers of the London house the UPA leader purchased for €800,000 in May of last year.

    Tugendhat, meanwhile, adopted a more sober tone than Sugar, with whom he is competing for right-wing votes. His main lines of attack against Ribeiro-Addy focused on the economy, which he argued would worsen if the UPA took power.

    He also warned the British welfare state is “at risk,” saying jobs would “go out the window” under a People's Alliance government.

    He told the audience a left-wing Government would lead to a steep increase in taxes: “If Ms Ribeiro-Addy becomes PM, hold on to your wallet.”

    While Tugendhat and Sugar promised tax cuts and an end to inheritance tax, Ribeiro-Addy said that while there was an €25bn social security deficit tax cuts would be irresponsible.

    Ribeiro-Addy portrayed herself as a reasonable option in a bid to appeal to moderate left voters. She also went out of her way to address women, young climate change activists and rural voters. She also highlighted her manifesto such as a 20 percent rise in the minimum wage.

    “We can choose justice or more inequality, with cleaner governance or more corruption,” Ribeiro-Addy told the audience.

    In her summation, Ribeiro-Addy said: “we have to choose what kind of country we want to be, if we want to move forwards or backwards” .

    Tugendhat said his party was “the alternative to a government of secessionists”.

    Bell Ribeiro-Addy emerged unscathed from the heated four-way debate.

    As poll leader, Addy was the woman to beat. But her main political rivals managed to land a few punches on Scotland but did little to damage to her electoral prospects.

    The UPA are polling in first place ahead of Sunday’s election and are projected to win 167 seats, according to a poll of polls for the BBC published Monday. But while Ribeiro-Addy appears on track for a victory, the result is likely to force her to seek allies in parliament.

    Unity, led by Alan Sugar is polling in second place at 108 seats, followed by the conservative National Party at 92 and the centre-left SDP on 74. The far-right Centrists — which were barred from participating in Monday’s debate — are projected to win 46 seats.

    An estimated 42 percent of voters are still undecided.

    If the polls are to be believed, National, which has ruled for most of the past seven years, are the big losers.

    Other polls show that 65% of voters are opposed to a right-wing pact between National, Unity and the Centrists. While 70% oppose a coalition of UPA and Scottish secessionists.
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    2019 UK Election, Part 2
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    Many saw the debates as a last chance to stop the People's Party

    “In the leaders’ debate before today’s knife-edge election, UPA leader Bell Ribeiro-Addy was seen as the winner. Yet he secured this victory by doing something rather unusual. While other leaders traded insults about Scotland, she focused on laying out her party’s ambitious social platform. Ribeiro-Addy is seeking to position her party as the only guarantee of progressive government. In the debate, she promised to impose a bank tax and overturn neoliberal labour reforms. Ribeiro-Addy emphasised that her party’s real adversaries were not other leaders but the oligarchy. Focusing on the material needs of the social majority, Ribeiro-Addy directed her anger against the billionaire class. Ribeiro-Addy's strong showing in the debate, and generally effective campaign, have boosted the UPA after a tough time in opposition.”
    - UK's Left Is Winning the Battle, Tommy Greene, Jacobin (2019)

    As the parties of the right failed to dislodge Ribeiro-Addy, the last stretch of the campaign became a mad scramble to prevent her from entering Downing Street. In fact, snap polling showed Ribeiro-Addy as the debate’s victor, with 54% of respondents saying she was the most convincing, followed by Khan on 26%, Tugendhat on 13% and Sugar on just 7%. Red lines were drawn as Britain's establishment did everything it could to prevent a socialist and separatist majority in the Commons. Alan Sugar called for a cross party “coalition of the sober” to lock the UPA, Centrists and Separatists out of power - even if this meant unusual bedfellows.

    For the parties of the right, this also became a battle for second place, with both National and Unity polling neck and neck for Official Opposition. Sugar’s disastrous debate performance had given National breathing room to catch up, and given his internal opponents time to organise. Many of those on Unity’s left believed Sugar had led the party too far to the right, figures like Jess Philips and JK Rowling had joined the party for it’s pro-European and socially liberal policies, not for Scot bashing and getting into bed with the far-right. Internal critics became increasingly vocal as accusations of Sugar running the party as his own personal fiefdom returned to the forefront.


    Khan had taken the SDP to the left, making a hypothetical grand coalition more difficult

    With the three parties of the centre establishment so close together the results were impossible to guess, Khan, Tugendhat and Sugar all claimed to be the true standard-bearers for the political centre ground, calling on supporters of other parties to unite around them. Whilst all three supported a “coalition of the sober” no-one could agree on who should lead it. If National fell into third place, like the Social Democrats had in 2016 - it would represent the death of yet another transition parties and a new era of British politics. Both the parties of Cardiff risked being swept aside by the insurgents, with attack ads and other last-minute campaign manoeuvres becoming increasingly desperate.

    “Although this is the third general election since 2016, its character shows how the country has changed. The past two were held in the shadow of austerity and corruption involving the Social Democrats, who faced extinction. Now National is fading amid internal splits. Mr Tugendhat, a politician of no fixed ideology, has hastened that process by feinting left in office, before lurching to the right. Unity and National now have to fight on two fronts. Scottish separatism is Britain's thorniest problem. But it is the Centrists, rather than the People's Party, which seems to many like the immediate threat to the system. All this suggests that Mr Sugar's bet on forming a centre-right government is a risky one.” - UK Struggling to Stay in Centre Ground, The Economist (2019)

    Whilst the UPA surged to the left, the Centrists on the far-right were equally unstoppable - having gone from no-hopers at the start of the campaign, to dozens of projected seats as they entered the final stretch. This only made the situation more volatile as the Centrist’s winning 40 seats would prevent either traditional bloc from securing a majority in the Commons. James Cleverly pledged the Centrists would accept “Downing Street or nothing”, ruling out a coalition with any party that supported “SNLA terrorism” - i.e. the devolution peace process. A massive Centrist rally at Broadlands, the Mountbatten clan’s ancestral home, further helped the new kids on the right grab media attention.


    A centre divided between three parties couldn't hold

    This mostly posed a problem for National, Tugendhat had been thrown into the deep end after his leadership election, with no time to catch his breath or form a team he trusted - which clearly showed. His Cabinet was inherited from the Hague era, most of them had backed Clarkson or Foster and distrusted Tugendhat. The Kent MP had ran for leadership as a winner, but he didn’t look like a winner. Behind Unity in the polls and hemorrhaging votes to his right, Tugendhat looked likely to be National’s shortest lived leader. Tugendhat had run for leader as a liberal, but portrayed himself as a hardliner in the general, focusing his anger on Scottish Separatists rather than the far right, even going as far to suggest a referendum on the euro if he entered Downing Street - it was a thoroughly confusing campaign.

    Ultimately as the people voted the real winner seemed to be chaos, whilst the People’s Alliance’s polling lead continued to grow in the last few days, they were nowhere near a majority, even with the help of RISE and the SNP. Both National and Unity were falling in the polls, but Unity was falling fastest, reviving hopes National could cling onto second place. Poor Sadiq Khan barely even featured in the campaign, the Social Democrats seemingly hitting their bedrock of just over 10% support. Britain’s politics was fundamentally broken, they hadn’t completed a full Parliamentary term since 2009, and all of the major parties hated each other, for the overworked civil servants and nervous EU officials - a worst case scenario looked likely.

    “Politicians and political parties are considered one of the biggest problems facing the UK, according to YouGov. The poll found that politicians rank behind only unemployment on the list of Brits' concerns. Almost a third of those interviewed – 32%, four percentage points more than last year – say they are worried about the country’s politicians. This is the highest level since the 1968 coup. Up until a decade ago, around 10% of Brits were concerned about politicians but this figure began to rise during the financial crisis. Since then, the downward trend has continued. Political discontent reached similar peaks in 2013, before the emergence of new political parties. The arrival of Unity, the UPA and the Centrists fractured the two-party political system, making it more difficult to form a government.” - Concern over state of politics at highest since 1968, BBC News Bulletin (2019)


    Corruption had destroyed public trust
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