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TheButterflyComposer

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Interestingly, the rural agricultural South in the US suffered more slowly from the Depression than the industrialized North, but the effects eventually hit just as hard and lingered longer. Programs like the Tennessee Valley electrification were very helpful.
You'd expect that however, because people still need to eat and the state needs to buy. Plus labourers can migrate around easily enough to harvest your farm, then clear out. Enough to keep the system running, but only just. Whereas in the north, industry, banking and insurance was gone, and so there wasn't much left to do.

Instead I was thinking of a steadier, higher rate of expenditures aimed at keeping plants open and jobs available as well as preserving capacity for things like Italian adventurism.
I think the only thing that they could have done to help in this way and keep the armed forces supplied in a meaningful capacity would probably be slowly ditching all the grear war and prewar ships for newer models, starring with the smallest and working their way up to the big boys.

This would keep the system of industries needed for the navu running, modernise the navy incrementally a little better than OTL (though they did do this in actual too) and keep experience and funding around in order to build and push through the important 30s designs.

It also means brittania doesn't look like an emaciated wreck all the way through the 20s and 30s if they're constantly improving their fleet every year and use it as they always did, sticking it to other powers where it hurts. Ethiopia is always the big one but they had a ton of mishaps they could have done better with a more modern and more confident force...
 

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The real reason the South suffered less was that people could turn to subsistence farming and buy much less in the way of manufactured goods, in some ways a return to a barter economy. I didn't live through it but my parents did, so I have some of their stories. Labor didn't migrate - either you farmed your own or you were a 'sharecropper', which meant you worked like a slave, got paid a little, and the man who paid you ran the books on your debt so you never, ever got it paid off. My father did a lot of pro-bono legal work for sharecroppers and I'm proud of him for that.

In the US, one of the big factors in lengthening and deepening the Depression seems to have been Prohibition. People drank a lot more alcohol back then (less good clean water than now?) and alcohol production was a sizable chunk of GNP. It is interesting that the Depression began easing when Prohibition was repealed, but with so much else going on in the economic model I think we shouldn't read in a strict cause-and-effect.

I do understand that we in the US do not appreciate the emotional effect of WW1 casualties - our own were high for the short time we were engaged, but we pushed WW1 'out of sight and out of mind' and Americans have never thought about it much since. The closest I can come to understanding is to listen to Alford's 'Vanished Army' - mournful, glorious, yearning. So I do know it is presumptuous for me to talk about preserving defense industries in the 20's and 30's - it was probably impossible to do simply because of the public's revulsion against war, but economically it would have made good sense. Other measures, like government grants for modernizing industrial plant, could also have worked economically but were not politically feasible.

Much is made of British and French pacifism, but it is worth remembering that the German public was not happy to renew hostilities in 1939 either.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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People drank a lot more alcohol back then (less good clean water than now?)
Ooo...citation needed? I only ask because people say the same of medieval Europe and it certainly isn't true. Most people had clean water most of the time (unless they were in a really big city or siege/drought) for obvious reasons (humans die without it).

So whilst I know the industrial cities of the 19th century (everywhere) suffered with sanitation and dirty water, was this really the case in the 30s? Across enough of the US to make water difficult to get at?

A lot of alcholic propaganda and problems talked about in prohibition amercia though, so wonder how much was real and not. Was the nation genuinely drinking itself to death? If so, why? If not, where was all the booze going?

Much is made of British and French pacifism, but it is worth remembering that the German public was not happy to renew hostilities in 1939 either.
As the Allies said, 'They sowed the seeds, now they must reap the whirlwind.' A significant portion of the country voted in a ravenously expansionist and war-hungry party who were not shy about their short and mid-term goals to make war against a large portion of Europe at one time or all together. The UK in comparison did have significant blocs on both sides of the issue, whilst France was so gutted by war that they really did struggle with the national psyche...though that did not stop them invading the Ruhr and making a fuss over the Rhineland...
 

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Estimates of consumption of alcohol before and after Prohibition are easily available. Studies vary, largely depending on whether you measure alcohol produced (commercially and/or privately) versus consumed, as Prohibition made production illegal, not consumption, and as there were many loopholes in the law. It seems per-capita consumption fell by around 1/3, grew back to about 2/3 and took until 1960 for it to rise to 1900 levels. Then it began a slow decline that has continued to the present day.

My speculation about water quality goes all the way back to the invention of beer, which was safer and cleaner to drink because alcohol (and boiling) reduced its bacterial content. Even in the lightly-peopled American West it is difficult to find a place in the US where rivers, streams or lakes are safe to drink without boiling or filtering. Being able to survive it doesn't make it good for you. And as we now know, things can seep a long way into a water supply.

I don't know of my own knowledge that Hitler's party went about telling people they were going to 'gin up a new Great War in Europe or even if they thought that among themselves. Repudiate Versailles, rebuild the armed forces, restore their standing among nations - Yes. Vote for us and we'll start a war? Nope. The Party line was always that other nations would back down before Germany's 'just' demands, not, "Hey, let's get into a war again!" And please remember that Hitler kept telling his generals that war wouldn't happen - even over Poland. I do think he pushed too hard too often, I do think he read the signs correctly and knew a war would happen and either was happy or indifferent at the prospect. I do not think he told the public that war was certain.

I can't remember which parade it was, but with war apparently looming and the Party parading through the streets, it was noted that the people were solemn and quiet, not celebrating as they had in 1914. That is not the behavior of people who want fervently to go to war but rather like crowds in Paris and London. Hitler's government certainly sowed the seeds, and to the degree that the German people supported, passively accepted, or did not actively try to stop such actions they are indeed responsible. I do caution that accepting that means we are also responsible for the actions of our armed forces and government, even those things we did or do not have knowledge of.
 

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My speculation about water quality goes all the way back to the invention of beer, which was safer and cleaner to drink because alcohol (and boiling) reduced its bacterial content.
Even in the lightly-peopled American West it is difficult to find a place in the US where rivers, streams or lakes are safe to drink without boiling or filtering. Being able to survive it doesn't make it good for you.
The history of water is actually pretty interesting in relation to humanity, since for the first few hundred thousand years we were nomadic and drank from the same places everything else did (that is, straight from the river, water hole, stream, whatever). After settlements started (usually at a delta or river for obvious reasons), it was the simplest thing to have the drinking side of the river (upstream) and the waste side (downstream). Wells are also not terrible methods of water storage, so long as nothing died down there.

The idea that everyone drunk alcoholic beverages all the time instead of water really isn't true. Not only do most places in the world have at one time or another a period of religious tee-tolling, but beer and all other alcohol requires a lot of water to produce when you don't have a reservoir system to help you out. Every settlement ever built by humanity before industrial times was close to a clean-ish and usually reliable water supply, for obvious reasons. Whilst the preparation of various drinks does involve boiling and other processes that might help kill germs, they were then mixed back in with the local water supply when it came to consumption, because of various customs (quite a lot of wine produced in the classical period was extremely acidic, quite a of of beer was either too strong or deliberatly designed to flavour water etc etc).

The problems really began when cities starting to become large (not a few thousand people, but tens, hundred or millions) and usually a lot of people died there of illness, with the population constantly fed by immigration rather than home births. That being said, the more advanced societies (which ranged everywhere in time from some Egyptian cities to Constantinople in the medieval period) had sanitation systems such as sewers (of a kind), proper waste management agents and so on. It wasn't perfect, but it kept people alive most of the time.

Then agricultural and industrial revolution meant not only were cities harbouring millions of new arrivals, but they were also poisoning their water supplies. And so, things got very bad, very quickly and stayed that way for a long time. Since the US had the fortune to start expanding and building most of its cities when it was just about possible to bisect any area of land in the country and make a city, a lot of these places were hell on earth for water consumption and disease (because they tried to build pretty much everywhere). Indeed, today the western states still have a ton of problems trying to keep enough water flowing everywhere, because they built metropolises in the desert and swampland.

I don't know much about the Americas in terms of topography, but the climate and water supply was good enough to support a few million people wandering around the northern half of the continent for thousands of years before Europeans showed up, so presumably there was clean water all over the place, just not in amounts suitable for major cities in some areas. If they didn't have enough water to drink, alcohol production wouldn't have solved the problem. If they needed clean water, it was a pretty big problem for industrial cities all over but especially in the western US.

All that being said, you can see where the drink problem and concern from the US came from, and also adds another reason atop the pile that makes Prohibition a bad idea.
 

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1.png


Chapter 27, 145 Piccadilly, 7 July 1936

The car had taken two figures from Downing Street, one a peer and the other a civil servant. Like soldiers sent on manoeuvres, they had reported to their chief (in this case the Prime Minister), acknowledged his intent, and sallied forth. For the first time, they felt as though Government was acting, rather then reacting.

The car stopped first at a plush Piccadilly address; out stepped Edward Wood, Viscount Halifax.

1594301878009.png


Halifax was, as ever, struck by the gentle, comfortable simplicity of life in the Duke of York’s residence. Welcomed by an immaculate if unshowy footman, he was relieved of his coat and hat and was escorted, correctly, to a lightly decorated parlour.

“Ah, Edward,” the Duke of York greeted him, smiling sadly. He wore a sober business suit and looked, for all the good it would do him, like a prosperous businessman. Halifax’s scrupulously correct bearing was marred, slightly, when he tilted his head in response to a slight scratching at the door. It was one of the children, Princess Margaret Rose, Halifax suspected, who was openly watching the little meeting play out. The footman discreetly removed her, and Halifax noted obvious warmth in the Duke’s smile as he looked at his second daughter.

“Your Woyal Highness,” Halifax said grandly.

1594301905488.png


“I think that Chadwick there has ensured that we will not be disturbed. Elizabeth and Lilibet will be home shortly, but we can talk for a while.” Halifax noted that ‘Bertie’s’ stammer was much less pronounced, a sure sign of his contentedness, and with a heavy heart realised that he was about to poison that idyll.

“Sir,” Halifax began heavily, “it is my tewwible, awful burden to bwief you, on behalf of the Pwime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Archbishop of Canterbuwy, some gwave developments in our governance and, er, constitution.”

The Duke, who had been quietly concentrating on Halifax’s little speech, frowned. He looked, his eyes filling with tears, at his old friend. “Is my b-brother in grave trouble?”

“He might be, Sir,” Halifax countered, “you know the nature of this twouble.”

“Mrs Simpson,” the Duke almost hissed. “What has that woman done now?”

Halifax frowned. I must ride this course carefully, there are too many fences to jump, ditches to avoid. “Before we begin, Sir,” the ‘Sir’ was judicious, Halifax being overly formal before risking lese majeste, “might I enquire how, ah, involved you are with your bwother and Mrs Simpson?”

The flash of anger was instant, his eye narrowed, his cheeks swiftly flushed, but he was sharp enough to realise that Halifax’s visit was made in a spirit of support, not gossip. “Minimal, Edward. I am loyal to His Majesty.” Halifax wondered if the ‘His Majesty’ was a rebuke to Halifax’s lack of use of the term.

“Of course,” Halifax murmured.

“But, Elizabeth and I are not in the Belvedere clique.”

“Has he,” Halifax ventured again, this time with palpable apprehension, “suggested a formalisation of the welations cuwwently informally pursued with the aforementioned party?”

The Duke just stared at Halifax, completely baffled. “Er, w-what?”

Halifax offered an apologetic smile. “Has he, er, suggested…”

The Duke’s temper erupted like a flash fire, flickering wildly. “Out with it, Edward!”

1594301956311.png


That sharpened Halifax’s resolve. “Are you aware of an intent for your bwother to mawwy Mrs Simpson?” He asked it simply, miserably.

That stunned the Duke, who sat, silently, for at least a minute. “Is this,” he almost whispered, “is something that has been expressed to you?”

Halifax nodded sadly. “Not to me, Sir, but to Baldwin. By your bwother.”

His Majesty”, the Duke said with heavy emphasis, “would, I p-presume, not have the Government’s support?”

Halifax shook his head. “The Pwime Minister and the Cabinet are still explowing options. But one of those considewations is that the Cabinet will wesign.”

‘Bertie’ closed his eyes in horror at the idea of Edward and Wallis’ romance causing a Government to fall. “A-a-and Attlee?”

Halifax shook his head. “Mr Attlee is standing with the Government.” That was tosh, Attlee hadn’t yet been formally approached, but it was inconceivable that Labour would side with the King.

“Is there no compromise?”

“A compwomise, of sorts, has been pwoposed by His Majesty. A morganatic marriage, whereby…”

“I know what it means,” the Duke riposted. The sudden realisation of his predicament hit him. He closed his eyes again. “Is there no alternative?”

“If he pwiowitises Mrs Simpson over all else? Only abdication, which would make your family’s elevation even more likely.”

At that moment the Duchess of York entered with the two young princesses. “Edward!” She greeted Halifax as a long-lost friend. “I am so sorry that we disturbed you. Lillibet, Elizabeth, this is Lord Halifax, he is a very important member of the Government.”

Princess Elizabeth approached Halifax and offered her hand. Halifax struggled but bowed before her, third in line to the throne, and perhaps, if her uncle would not yield, even closer to the Crown. “Your Woyal Highness,” he said, finding nothing unusual about prostrating himself to a ten year old.

“Lord Halifax, how do you do,” the Princess said with a shy charm.

Gathering his wife and children, the Duke of York held his eldest daughter close.

1594302052141.png


“Edward, thank you for your support at this time. We will p-pray”, Princess Elizabeth held his hand in support at his stammering, “for His Majesty. Should it come to it, we know our duty. But I will need help.”

“You will have it, Sir, at any hour,” Halifax said with devotion. “But Pwime Minister Baldwin and I would have you, and your family, Sir, start to make thoughts,” he frowned, needing greater emphasis, “pwepawation, for what might be necessary. For the Realm,” he added as an afterthought. “I would like to facilitate the Archbishop of Canterbuwy,” he mangled the word, “and the Lord Chamberlain.”

The Duke looked to his wife, who nodded miserably. “Let it be done, Edward,” he said sadly.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

1594302102208.png


Not far away, in Whitehall, the other meeting was taking place. The attendees entered, took off their headwear (most of them wore military caps, but there were a couple of bowler hats as well), handed their coats to a man so forgettable that he must have been a Special Branch or Secret Service plant, and took their seats.

There were eight of them; the majority were representatives of the intelligence staffs of the Royal Navy, Army and Air Force. The Foreign Office was represented by the measured if disinterested Sir Ralph Stevenson, who took a seat at the head of the table. The Secret Intelligence and Security Services were represented by senior officials, and the Home Office had been persuaded to send a senior civil servant, Sir Alexander Maxwell. That the meeting had been so well attended was due to the figures flanking Stevenson: Sir Maurice Hankey, the Cabinet Secretary, and Major General Sir John Dill. The original plan had been for them to meet in one of the military ministries but Dill and Hankey, with Maxwell’s tacit agreement, had suggested the Whitehall Gardens address, a building in which an earlier occupant, Benjamin Disraeli, had held meetings of his Cabinet. Now the large ornate rooms, modelled in the French style similar to the interior of the Palace at Versailles, occasionally housed the Committee of Imperial Defence and meetings of the Defence Chiefs. As it was at their direction (prompted by Hankey and Dill) that they met, to share a venue lent an immediate legitimacy to the new committee.

As they settled into their chairs Stevenson turned to Hankey. “Maurice, we meet at your fiat.”

1594302160691.png


Hankey shot a withering look at his colleague from the Foreign Office and looked across him to Dill.

“Sir John, I believe that the honour of opening this meeting should belong to you.”

General Dill looked surprised but recovered his composure swiftly. Rather woodenly, he opened the inaugural meeting of the Joint Intelligence Committee. “Thank you, Sir Maurice,” he began without much emotion. “Gentlemen I began, last year, to liaise with Sir Maurice on the need to better coordinate that which we call our ‘intelligence’. The underlying problem, I assess,” Dill, warming up, now clasped his hands on the desk in front of him, “is not, strictly, one of duplication, but is instead one of sharing our awareness so as to provide the best possible intelligence for planning purposes.”

No one interrupted him, so he ploughed on. “What we mean by ‘intelligence’ has been traditionally affiliated under military authority. Each of the three services has its own dedicated intelligence staffs, and communication between them is unsystematic at best. Now alongside, but not particularly linked to the military is the civilian provision by the Security and Secret Intelligence Services, staffed at many of the key levels by former military personnel and providing information of relevance to the military.” They were letting him make his point, Hankey staring them down with a quiet, latent authority. “There is then,” he nodded towards Stevenson, “the political and economic material produced by our Foreign Office and its people. I am grateful for Sir Robert Vansittart’s support to this Committee.”

An Army Colonel of Dill’s Operations and Intelligence Directorate, supported by Major Belsay, was keeping the minutes and nodded to Dill that the all-important acknowledgement of Vansittart’s support was recorded. Dill was winding up now. “So, my observations are these. The result of these three elements is that we have so far been far more interested in assessing capabilities of our rivals than their intentions. And that there is little attempt to coordinate activities. This Committee must be the means by which those observations will be answered.” There was a general murmuring, Belsay sat fascinated as the representatives of the varying agencies tried to either conceal their boredom, or restrained themselves from making points that they were desperate to make.

Hankey, so obviously in command of the meeting, nodded his thanks to Dill and addressed the audience. “Now, you will entertain my summary of the politics. Thanks to General Dill’s perseverance I presented this issue to the Chiefs of Staff at their meeting in January. They commissioned a study, ‘Central Machinery for Coordination of Intelligence’ which concluded that,” he began to read, ‘our intelligence organisation requires some modification to cope with modern conditions’; those conditions were the overlapping mentioned by General Dill and the eventuality of war which of course would require an efficient intelligence system. The report, which was endorsed by the Chiefs and the relevant Cabinet Ministers, commanded that direct and permanent liaison between these departments represented today be established.”

“Sir Maurice,” Captain the Honourable Claude Hermon-Hodge, Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence, began. “Might I ask where this committee sits?”

“Under the Chiefs,” Hankey replied, immediately. “It gives you, Captain, the benefits of the secretariat and apparatus of the Chiefs’ Committee, and levers you into the planning and operations staffs.” Dill, not far away, nodded.

1594302277737.png


“And this is why,” Maxwell said pointedly, looking to Stevenson, “Home and Foreign Office participation, at a level not below that considered appropriate today,” he looked around the room, “is right and proper. I am grateful, Sir Maurice, for your insistence on the Home Office, for my part, being invited.”

Hankey smiled. Maxwell was a shrewd operator and had an easy but alert manner. “What we intend,” Hankey said in his best reassuring civil service tone, “is to use this forum as a way of sharing emerging concerns, for issuing requests between ourselves, and for allocating requests from Cabinet or the Chiefs. This is not a way of closing down or truncating your single service, ah, I mean agency, latitude.”

“So it’s a deconfliction forum come sorting or clearing house,” the RAF member, a mildly dishevelled Group Captain, said, instantly panicking that he’d been too glib. A sour look from Hankey, an exasperated Hermon-Hodge and an appalled Maxwell, confirmed that he judged this wrong. Dill offered a benign glance and quietly suggested to Stevenson that they move on.

Stevenson was slightly lost and sought solace in a question. “Sir Maurice, can I ask if we have received any requests from the Cabinet or Chiefs?”

Hankey made a half-shrug, “the key area of interest is in His Majesty, and so the Secret Intelligence Service ‘has the pen’, as we civil servants would say.” The MI5 and MI6 representatives exchanged knowing glances. “But I am going to drive the ministries to actually ask questions of us.”

Dill nodded. “I am surprised that Military and Air Intelligence haven’t asked for more observations from the Italian adventure in Africa.”

“It’s a second rate war fought by second rate participants,” Stevenson quipped, earning pained looks from Dill and Maxwell. “Surely we should be more focussed on Germany.”

The meeting then broke down as several small groups discussed where the collated British intelligence effort should be focussed. Hankey allowed this to run for a few minutes before the true, sepulchral, pointed cough of the senior civil servant. “Well, we have much to do,” he quipped wryly, “but this is a beginning.”

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

GAME NOTES

With a huuuuge apology for my absence, I decided to smash together the two draft updates that I was swirling around and offer, by way of apology (again) a hope that we are now where we would have been anyway. I’ve had a dreadful week, most of it my own fault for the hopelessness of my junior which meant that I have had to try and do the work of two. I am, in my sedentary, sloth-like state, barely able to do the work of one!

Back to the game, and we have one real event, and one emerging from the POD. To the real ‘meat’ of this update, the initial meeting of the JIC. And here I have given the British a helping hand, making the committee far stronger than it was in ’36 by adding for more (and weightier) members (particularly Maxwell, a senior administrator sans pareil) to get the business of coordination done much more swiftly. The genesis is interesting; in January 1936, the Committee of Imperial Defence created the Inter-Service Intelligence Committee, which by July of that year evolved into the Joint Intelligence Sub-Committee. Its creation, rationale, composition, and focus were overwhelmingly military (which is why six of the attendees, historically, were officers representing the intelligence staffs of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force), but was born out of the political anxieties over the rise of Nazi Germany (Stevenson's quip is a real one). The Foreign Office, always wary of domestic attempts to ‘clip its wings’, secured the chair and Stevenson (last seen in the FO meeting about the Rhineland) leading it.

The stimulus for its creation lay with Major General Dill, the Director of Military Operations and Intelligence, yet it would be Hankey, the establishment bureaucrat, who would turn Dill’s vision into reality. Dill had wished to create a body that would avoid the duplication of effort in the three Services’ intelligence branches, and would be charged with ensuring that the best possible intelligence was used for planning. Hankey, who is slowly being eased out of power elsewhere, nevertheless managed to create a subcommittee of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, thereby ensuring that, from the outset, intelligence and planning were closely aligned. By the start of the historical WW2, MI5 and 6 were included and, despite some blunders, it worked. I sense that its role has evolved, particularly with the Cameron Government’s establishing of a National Security Council and a National Security Advisor, but here Hankey has delivered.

Halifax, meanwhile, opens the Government’s position with ‘the heir and the spare’. As I have mentioned before, he is a complicated little character; portrayals of him always focus, seemingly, on the tragedy of the Abdication Crisis and ‘being killed by becoming King’ or the infamous stammer. While ‘noble Bertie’ was probably ‘more sinned against than sinning’ he was a grumpy, fierce when provoked and quite petulant man. That he was happiest with his wife and children (“we four”) is corroborated fact.

@stnylan: I think Baldwin needs to properly retire before he can truly ‘let go’, and as we’ll see your words are prescient.

@TheButterflyComposer: The remark ‘woof’ had me laughing for a long, long time…

@Specialist290: Oh how right you are!

@Cromwell: I’m kinda keeping the Cabinet meetings away from the story at the moment; I’ve sketched out the Cabinet meeting which will be along soonish.

@Kurt_Steiner and @TheButterflyComposer: Aye, but an immovable one…

@El Pip: I agree with you on the Baldwin front: I’m racking my brains as to whom it could be and very quickly arrive at a couple of (at this stage) virtual non-entities. The parallel with Thatcher in 1990/91 is one that niggles away, as John Major was no-one’s prediction until very late in the day.

On the commands, I think that while you make good points there is a balance here – not just ‘hindsight and all’ but that the RAF was at least organising in a vaguely professional manner.

@DensleyBlair: I can guarantee that, despite Lord H featuring here, this is not KFM Pt II. I would love to know how you find Pt I, by the way.

@Bullfilter and @El Pip: I agree with you on Cyprus, to a point; for almost everything (supply, strategic position, existing facilities, not pissing off the neighbours) better options are out there. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that there is better.

@Director: Welcome Sir! Hopefully the footman has stored your coat and hat, grab a paper, warm yourself by the fire, and enjoy the tale.

I think at this stage two KGVs (or whatever they end up being called) are laid down, despite mutterings too much has gone on for them not to be. The question is, at this stage, whether there is an improved “batch 2” or the RN pauses and commissions a new design.

@DensleyBlair, @El Pip and @TheButterflyComposer: I’m in no way a financier / economist and run as far and fast as I can away from any financial responsibility. But…

To me the Empire never really ‘got it’s groove’ on in the 30s and exploited that it was, as TBC has mentioned, a massive cartel. I agree with El Pip that the UK didn’t really have it as bad as others, but demoralised and pessimistic administrations seemed to have concluded that it did. And rearming your way out of trouble is, as El Pip has commented, slaying one dragon to create another.

@Director: I’d argue that this is what they did: instead, for example, of tons of (soon to be) obsolete Gladiators and Demons the British invested into the plant and equipment, the physical infrastructure necessary to switch into mass production at the right minute. Naval production (as HOI4 weirdly gets right) was different, as you have to plan five or so year ahead.
 
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DensleyBlair

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A feast of a double header, and more than amply covered for the absence! I hope things prove a little less stormy in your world for the foreseeable.

Halifax making good of his intimacy with the Yorks feels at least like a rare proactive move, though Bertie’s irascibility (previously unknown to me) certainly comes through! Halifax himself is of course his overly neurotic, basically well meaning self. (I have wrestled with the bitter dispute over his character in the first 50 pages of KFM, and I have to say that while for obvious reasons I can hardly sympathise with him, the flag waving exhortations to bodily harm provided an, ahem, colourful backdrop to proceedings.)

As for Hankey, again encouraging to see some action being taken by HMG. One wonders just how much Nev and Tony have to do with it all…
 

TheButterflyComposer

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“Sir,” Halifax began heavily, “it is my tewwible, awful burden to bwief you, on behalf of the Pwime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Archbishop of Canterbuwy, some gwave developments in our governance and, er, constitution.”
We've fucked it sir. Please throw yourself on your sword so we can move on?

The remark ‘woof’ had me laughing for a long, long time…
Dear fellow, you are too easily amused...

To me the Empire never really ‘got it’s groove’ on in the 30s and exploited that it was, as TBC has mentioned, a massive cartel.
As distasteful mercurial as the brits were in the 19th c. you can't help but feel sorry for the old folks watching their hard work crash and burn because the current crop of administrators and politicos are too weak to rodger the empire for all its worth while they still have it. They could have done so much better than they did, and I doubt the dominions would have done much to stop them (King might try, and Canada was always the strongest of the bunch, but I think that if the empire came knocking most of them would pick mother england over the struggling US, at least until the early 40s and by then they were at war).

There's probably a story in there somewhere. An AAR where GB gets struck by lightning and they pull out all their dirty old tricks and have a good go at imperial preference. Then having rode out the depression on a cash possitive high, safely ignore the fires in europe until the nazis regime inevitably collapses and sweep in to rebuild and meddle afterwards. Might have to do a few time skips to avoid being too dry...
 

DensleyBlair

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There's probably a story in there somewhere. An AAR where GB gets struck by lightning and they pull out all their dirty old tricks and have a good go at imperial preference. Then having rode out the depression on a cash possitive high, safely ignore the fires in europe until the nazis regime inevitably collapses and sweep in to rebuild and meddle afterwards. Might have to do a few time skips to avoid being too dry...
There are glimpses of something like this scenario in my Mosleyite Britain timeline, though it’s by no means the focus and the White Dominions are excluded. (Which of course means that the wheels sort of come off big time once the decolonisation moment begins in earnest.)

That said, doing it seriously (and within the constraints of good old fashioned Westminster democracy) would be an interesting ride. We can add it to the wish list after the fatal zeppelin fireball Nazi AAR.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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There are glimpses of something like this scenario in my Mosleyite Britain timeline, though it’s by no means the focus and the White Dominions are excluded. (Which of course means that the wheels sort of come off big time once the decolonisation moment begins in earnest.)

That said, doing it seriously (and within the constraints of good old fashioned Westminster democracy) would be an interesting ride. We can add it to the wish list after the fatal zeppelin fireball Nazi AAR.
Yeah I would prefer to do the everybody's dead dave aar first. It'll keep. Hopefully hoi4 has some better economy stuff in it by then.

I think it could be done. One of the 'benefits' of British democracy is that its really nothing of the sort. If a determined group get into office, its quite hard to stop them doing what they want. Given that the dominions copied the system and still take their marching orders from whitehall, I think you could construct a narrative where the whole empire is being ran like an extremely effective and brutal cartel (since it already is one, just increasingly ineffective) that can do a lot of damage before the inevitable explosive breakup.
 

DensleyBlair

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I think it could be done. One of the 'benefits' of British democracy is that its really nothing of the sort. If a determined group get into office, its quite hard to stop them doing what they want. Given that the dominions copied the system and still take their marching orders from whitehall, I think you could construct a narrative where the whole empire is being ran like an extremely effective and brutal cartel (since it already is one, just increasingly ineffective) that can do a lot of damage before the inevitable explosive breakup.
Now I'm imagining an Arrested Development style fiasco of an AAR... But that's probably just because if I did it it would all end up shambolically badly very very quickly.
 

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Now I'm imagining an Arrested Development style fiasco of an AAR... But that's probably just because if I did it it would all end up shambolically badly very very quickly.
HOI4 has a situation where the Kings party takes over and gives absolute power to edward with his toadies being Lloyd George, Churchill and mosely. Surely there could be a source of comedy as they screw everything ups attempting to get this to work, only for everything to end up working perfectly by accidents.
 

Cromwell

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I'm sorry to hear about your work issues Le Jones, if it makes you feel any better it certainly hasn't affected the quality of your writing, that was a cracker of a double update. The cameo by Liz was unexpected (by me at least) and you have created a discussion on possible future Britain AARs (that's future AARs about Britain not a Stellaris "future Britain" AAR). All in all a jolly good show!
 

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Well, as one work-sufferer to another, my sympathies you surely have.

One has to feel a bit sorry for Bertie, in this timeline as much as in real life. These are trying times to be the spare.

The meeting, well it seemed quite dishevilled, which is no doubt quite accurate for the time. The intelligence offices need to sharpen up, but I am not sure they yet know it.
 

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No worries :) The present unpleasantness has affected all of us in one way or another, I'm sure.

The Abdication Crisis continues its slow, juggernaut-like roll, yet the business of Empire must continue. Interservice intelligence coordination is a vital task, and one that's all too easy to ignore or muck up through infighting and a failure of imagination. The JIC is definitely a step in the right direction, though I imagine there will be a fair number of growing pains as each party adapts to the new flow of information -- there always are.
 

Kurt_Steiner

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Sir Humphrey Appleby would be proud of such an hability to create Committees to (mis) rule it all.
 

El Pip

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I recognise well the peril of unreliable minions, they can sometimes be more trouble than they are worth. That said the good ones are a treasure and delight. And depressingly rare.

I'm coming round to the view that Halifax was just a man out of time. His judgement remains appalling and his personal faults numerous, but had he hit his prime say 25 years earlier things would have gone better for all involved. Making strenuous efforts to stay out of WW1 might have worked and certainly would have been better for Britain than actually fighting the damn thing - Imperial Germany was at least a rational(ish) country you could work with. Alas it was his fate to take that attitude against the Nazis.

There are some fun stories in the intelligence story pre-war, the one that instantly comes to mind is the battle of bluff and deception around ASDIC and U-boats, though there are others. While I concede concepts like deception and disinformation probably don't map well onto this sort of game (too much hindsight from players and the AI is too dumb to understand) it is, I think, an interesting area and one I hope Hankey's new committee can get involved in.
 

Bullfilter

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The Duke just stared at Halifax, completely baffled. “Er, w-what?”
Quite. Obscurity of the first order. Sir Humphwey Halifax! o_O
The Duke’s temper erupted like a flash fire, flickering wildly. “Out with it, Edward!”
the only legitimate response. :D
With a huuuuge apology for my absence, I decided to smash together the two draft updates that I was swirling around and offer, by way of apology (again)
None needed, of course! :)

Perhaps this watched pot finally starts to boil. Said boil will then need to be lanced! ;) But who will be the Lancelot in this case? Having tied puns and metaphors into a Gordian Knot, I’ll just beat a hasty retreat and look forward to discovering the really big D in the POD.
 

Le Jones

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1.png


Chapter 28, Buckingham Palace, 10 July 1936

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It was an eerie evening; the heat had been rising all day, with little wind to take off the bite. The heat had finally reached its climax, snapping with a thrilling thunderstorm that afternoon. The rain had fallen in torrents, overwhelming drains designed for a steady London drizzle and scattering those Londoners having no requirement to be out of doors. The storm had finally been pushed out to Berkshire and Oxfordshire by a cool breeze sweeping up from the Medway. With the brilliantly clear air that often follows a storm, the skies offered a truly beautiful evening; the weather gods’ apology to Londoners for the earlier upheaval.

In a suite of apartments some jazz music jingled not too loudly as a pile of discarded ties revealed that the King was struggling to find something fitting. His consort was less than impressed.

“David,” Wallis Simpson said, sharply but not without affection. “Try this one.”

The King immediately acquiesced. “This will be a trial,” he said, darkly as he wrestled with the knot.

Wallis flinched. Although not invited to the supper, she was nervous about being in the Palace at the same time as the guests. “Do you think you can do this? Stand up to her?”

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“I will,” he said, suavely but slightly meekly. “I will tell her everything. Everything. She will know what will happen, for us, for the future. I promise.”

Wallis’ expression suggested that she doubted the King’s ability to lead a cat to cream, never mind confront his mother. “I’ll be waiting," she said gently, encouragingly. She licked her thumb and wiped something, perhaps a speck of dirt, from the King’s cheek. “Who else will be there?”

“Mary.”

Wallis couldn’t resist a dig. “David! Which one?”

“Both, actually darling.”

“Your sister is…”

“…one of us, I’m hoping,” the King said passionately. There was a knock at the door and a footman entered, completely blanked Wallis (it seemed more of a positive act than an omission) and handed the King a note. He immediately, quite greedily, opened it.

“Ah, it’s done.”

“David!” Wallis snapped. “What’s done?” She had an intentness, an intensity to her that he found bewitching and quite terrifying.

“It’s from Dickie, he’s in Portsmouth for us. Another job done in the slow letting go of Papa’s reign.”

“What has happened?” She fired questions like bullets.

The King sighed; although his love for Wallis was all-consuming, she had the ability to irritate him when he was tired and worried; and tonight he was both. “Papa’s yacht, the Britannia, has been scuttled off the Isle of Wight.”

Wallis looked outraged. “Couldn’t we have kept it? Used it? Sold it?”

The King found a rare defiance. “I wouldn’t want to, darling. Too many ghosts on that boat. And anyway, it was in father’s will. He wanted the ship to follow him to the grave.”

Wallis looked sharply at him. “Will your mom be bothered?”

“No, Dickie assures us in his letter that the thing was done with dignity. An Admiral saluting, all that sort of stuff. A real swell,” he drawled the words, “send off. Mama will be pleased, I’ll show her Dickie’s letter at supper.”

Wallis nodded, then looked shrewdly looked at her lover. “You said that you were tired?”

Am tired, darling. That bloody ceremony this afternoon.”

“Yeah, Hamid all…"

“Hamad bin Al Khalifa,” he corrected gently, and with a little trepidation for she disliked her lack of education being advertised. “The King of Bahrain. Dull chap, though Eden and his Foreign Office cronies seemed pleased that we’d knighted him.”

“Why did we knight him?” The ‘we’ was an increasing habit; she was becoming possessive of some intriguingly trivial elements of Palace business.

“Oh, because,” the King began airily, “he is a very rich, and generally friendly Arab who we can use if we need anything in or from the Gulf, I’d imagine.” He seemed both bored and nervous. A cough from a Palace attendant signalled that the evening’s event was now to begin.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Queen Mother’s car rolled into the quadrangle. The son and daughter were both there to meet him; technically this was a breach of protocol; no one, not even the mother, outranked the Sovereign.

“Mummy,” the King said, again a breach of protocol. Queen Mary grimaced but silently took a footman’s hand and led her children to supper.

“Mary, let me see you,” Queen Mary said in bluff summons to her only daughter, Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood. There was a resemblance; Princess Mary looked like an odd blend of mother and her brother Bertie, although she was less stocky than her mother. This slender frame was noted by the Queen Mother.

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“You’re too thin,” Queen Mary said to her daughter. “It is the fashion, I suppose,” she huffed. “How are the boys,” she said in a swift change of subject.

Princess Mary, bemused and struggling to keep up with the change of subject, blinked and focussed. “George and Gerald are well, Your Majesty,” she said in a deliberate formality.

The King had hovered on the fringes of this of this mother-daughter interplay, hanging around his sister with a sheepishly nervous grin. Finally, and stiffly, Queen Mary bowed before her eldest child.

“Mummy, let’s not be at that,” he said fussily, “I still cannot bring myself to believe that the members of my own family should be expected to humble themselves before me in this way.”

That was a controversial comment and Queen Mary, who feared that executing her duty as promised to Baldwin would be a challenge without David behaving oddly, frowned as she took his arm. She had determined to ride out his eccentricities, to assess without rancour what it was that he truly wanted.

They were led to be a small, almost cosy side chamber where a liveried footman waited to show them to their seats. The King, as he sat down, realised that he had blundered; he was sat facing his mother in an almost adversarial way, while his sister, almost as umpire, sat to the side.

The drinks were poured without acrimony, both Queen and Princess Mary noting with approval that the King’s taste for heavy spirits was more tempered this evening as he sipped on what appeared to be a very gentle wine. It was Princess Mary, of course, who made the blunder of the innocent.

“What’s this David, no heavy cocktails or scotch?” She smiled encouragingly at her brother.

“No Mary, Wallis has me drinking lighter drinks. I’ve swapped light beers and lagers for the cocktails,” he said this with a rush, yearning to have it out and done but fearing his mother’s response, “it stops me making such an ass of myself.” Queen Mary bridled at this.

Seeing their mother colour slightly, Princess Mary sallied forth to repair the damage. “Mama, you like the wine?” Queen Mary huffed assent but hesitated to speak, and as David seemed gripped by fear Princess Mary sighed as she realised that she was going to have to save the evening by prompting conversation. “David, what have you been up to?”

“Kinging,” David hissed, before guiltily looking at his sister. “I knighted some dammed foreigner today, and made sure that Dickie did his duty.” There was a slight inflection, as if in question, and Princess Mary noted it and ‘took the bait’.

“Dickie? What’s he up to?”

“Well, I wanted to honour papa’s will properly, so today we scuttled old Britannia.” He winced at ‘scuttled’; in his panic to get approval for something this evening he hadn’t thought closely on the form of words. “I mean, she was laid to rest.”

Queen Mary peered at her son. “How was it done?”

“Oh, precisely as he would have wanted. Dickie followed my orders to the letter. Full ceremonial, ensign lowered formerly, the local admiral and Dickie saluting her, an honour guard firing a salute.”

Princess Mary relaxed very obviously, knowing that her brother had scored a rare success with this tribute. Both son and daughter now waited for their mother’s response. No one had touched their second course.

The old woman was briefly overcome with emotion, her eyes clearly ‘filling up’. After a pause and a sad sigh, she looked at the King with a determined expression. “Very dignified,” she said firmly, “you have done your duty well David. And I would have you continue to do that duty.”

Well there it was, the gauntlet slapped down before him. He chose, having drank more wine than the ladies had realised, to pick it up. “Mummy, I wish to do my duty, and I will do my duty. But I wish for something, that one thing that would help me do that duty. Am I allowed that one thing?”

Queen Mary peered suspiciously at him. “But it is not a thing, David. It’s not a what, it’s a whom.” She closed her eyes. “She will not be Queen.”

David, who had personally conceded that point, realised that no one, including Wallis, really wanted it. So, like a platoon in the trenches, he scurried from his first line to defend his second. “You know that there is precedence for a left-handed marriage, Mama,” he said with hesitance but nevertheless a touch of firmness. “The marriage of your grandpa Duke Alexander of Württemberg…”

“Do not even try to…”

“But Mummy!” David finally snapped. Princess Mary, knowing that there was nothing, really, that she could offer, maintained a politic silence. “It could be made to work,” he said, half in challenge, half pleading. “Bertie and young Elizabeth will inherit come what may.”

Queen Mary looked at her son with a shrewd eye. To say no would be to end the evening, there an then; she couldn’t remain at dinner with such defiance and he, she assessed, wouldn’t bear it. “And how would this be achieved,” she said huffily.

David, awash with relief that his mother wasn’t pressing the point, seemed giddily excited. “Well, Wallis will get a divorce, it’s all arranged, her husband’s infidelity will be proven and a provincial court will hear it…”

“…where?” That was Princess Mary, instantly regretting asking.

“Dickie and I are plumping for Hampshire, we can get it done swiftly and discreetly.”

Queen Mary’s experience and knowledge didn’t, really, stretch to divorce law, but she knew that questions could and would be asked. “But what if the judge asks questions of you, of them?”

“Dickie thinks that we’ve got someone in the New Forest. An old Navy Paymaster, turned lawyer. It can be done discreetly, Mummy, I promise!” The desperate plea pregnant in the ‘I promise’.

The Queen Mother, as the latest course was taken away, huffed mightily. “And what else are you up to?” It was as ‘light’ as she could make the situation, and a sour look to Princess Mary reminded her that that was her job.

“Well we’ve a trooping the colour coming up,” David began, brightly, before Queen Mary finally seemed to break.

“And what of Bertie, huh? He has not the experience or the character for inheriting the throne from you!”

“He would be trained, Mama,” David said, wondering if the old dear was actually coming around to his view.

Queen Mary seemed torn, wondering whether to press on, or retreat. While the indecision played out, she muttered, sadly, under her breath. “Well I hope, Sir,” she said formally, “that you will make a wise decision for your future…”

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

GAME NOTES

Think of this update, dear reader, as a ‘part two’ to the meeting between Queen Mary and Baldwin just before the PM was packed off into his month-long break at Chequers. It is based, heavily, on a couple of real world meetings between our three attendees and is prefaced with two real world events. The plot is hotting up, and of course, as has been hinted, I can now reveal that out of the three options presented (actually reasonably plausibly) by the game (Abdicate, make Wally Queen, Morganatic) I have, resolutely, been clicking on ‘Morganatic’. This is, as we have already discussed, a ‘left handed’ or ‘European marriage’ (it was reasonably common on the Continent) and would have acknowledged Wallis as Consort (here we enter very unsure legal territory – by English convention the wife of the King, whatever the Hell you think she is, is kinda the Queen) but not legitimised any issue from the match. Put bluntly, it gives Wallis some status at Court, assuages the King’s worries that society would look down at her, but reassures everyone that normal service will be resumed by either Bertie or Elizabeth (or I guess even Margaret Rose, but a few people have to die for that to be a starter) when the anomaly that is David and Wally ends. This is, of course, a very naïve view and the King hasn’t yet had the dose of reality that he really needs. In reality, the Queen did keep a politic silence at dinner, and in subsequent meetings never really pressed the point. When she did, what I would call the ‘line of questioning’ was frankly badly judged; by focussing on Bertie and his daughters Queen Mary worsened the King’s perception that all that the family cared about were the Yorks, not him (and certainly not Wallis). Even though we’re starting the marriage crisis a lot earlier than OTL, and even though I have given the King (via a couple of advisors) more resolve than he really had, I still think that Queen Mary would be misused / ineffective.

The preamble about KGV’s yacht is true, it was sunk with full military honours in the Solent in 1936. The old King had been adamant, in his will, that the ship was to go with him to the grave and I deduced that ‘David’ (aided as ever by the oily Mountbatten) would have maximised on this rare gesture of respect for his father by timing the dinner to capitalise on his mother’s love for the old King. Also true is that the King of Bahrain was knighted (on that very day, actually) by a Britain eager to maintain its position in the Middle East. It’s something that we still do, and it’s either brilliant ‘soft power’ or a blatant misuse of the Royal Prerogative (the PM had the monopoly on most awards, wielding that power on the Monarch’s behalf) by flattering an unlikeable despot.

And finally, Princess Mary. Utterly overlooked by history, a lot of people forget that she even existed, believing that the offspring of KGV were: the wastrel (King Edward VIII), the stolid stammering one (King George VI), the dull one (The Duke of Gloucester), the Bohemian (the Duke of Kent) or the sickly one who died young (Prince John). But Princess Mary existed, and appears to have been King Edward’s strongest (certainly one of the most overt) backers (I don’t think that ‘supporter’ is fair – she just didn’t overtly do much, but nor did she turn on him like the others) during the OTL crisis. I doubt that she will feature much, but gets some of the attention here performing precisely her real world role, keeping the conversation flowing and the tension within acceptable limits.

And rarely, because I normally concoct this over time, and paste it in one big moment, I will do the next bit properly...

Halifax making good of his intimacy with the Yorks feels at least like a rare proactive move, though Bertie’s irascibility (previously unknown to me) certainly comes through! Halifax himself is of course his overly neurotic, basically well meaning self.
So I think that you're bang on, I think that weirdly this is a proactive, one could almost say provocative step (it's bound to leak out, eventually).

As distasteful mercurial as the brits were in the 19th c. you can't help but feel sorry for the old folks watching their hard work crash and burn because the current crop of administrators and politicos are too weak to rodger the empire for all its worth while they still have it. They could have done so much better than they did, and I doubt the dominions would have done much to stop them (King might try, and Canada was always the strongest of the bunch, but I think that if the empire came knocking most of them would pick mother england over the struggling US, at least until the early 40s and by then they were at war).
I think that this was better understood overseas than in the UK. The number of memoirs / correspondence at the time utterly astonished by the lack of strength, of moral fibre demonstrated is striking. Whether the whole of the Establishment was suffering from some form of shock from WW1 I'm not sure (the French are also constantly described, in this period, as 'demoralised'), but something was, well, lacking.

There are glimpses of something like this scenario in my Mosleyite Britain timeline, though it’s by no means the focus and the White Dominions are excluded. (Which of course means that the wheels sort of come off big time once the decolonisation moment begins in earnest.)
An outstanding AAR, BTW...

I think it could be done. One of the 'benefits' of British democracy is that its really nothing of the sort. If a determined group get into office, its quite hard to stop them doing what they want. Given that the dominions copied the system and still take their marching orders from whitehall, I think you could construct a narrative where the whole empire is being ran like an extremely effective and brutal cartel (since it already is one, just increasingly ineffective) that can do a lot of damage before the inevitable explosive breakup.
Very funny, but also very true. By the time the Empire (and really we mean London) realises its latent strength the damage to prestige and honour etc has been done...

Now I'm imagining an Arrested Development style fiasco of an AAR... But that's probably just because if I did it it would all end up shambolically badly very very quickly.
Oh dear...
HOI4 has a situation where the Kings party takes over and gives absolute power to edward with his toadies being Lloyd George, Churchill and mosely. Surely there could be a source of comedy as they screw everything ups attempting to get this to work, only for everything to end up working perfectly by accidents.
Have you been hacking into my notes?!

The cameo by Liz was unexpected (by me at least) and you have created a discussion on possible future Britain AARs (that's future AARs about Britain not a Stellaris "future Britain" AAR). All in all a jolly good show!
Thank you, Sir, as ever!

The meeting, well it seemed quite dishevilled, which is no doubt quite accurate for the time. The intelligence offices need to sharpen up, but I am not sure they yet know it.
So I think that it's a start - remember that this is the first meeting of the JIC, so its achievement, really, is that they got together in the first place. How well they do, well that is another test altogether.

Interservice intelligence coordination is a vital task, and one that's all too easy to ignore or muck up through infighting and a failure of imagination. The JIC is definitely a step in the right direction, though I imagine there will be a fair number of growing pains as each party adapts to the new flow of information -- there always are.
Yes, and although I have given the JIC a slight 'buff', there will still be problems.

Sir Humphrey Appleby would be proud of such an hability to create Committees to (mis) rule it all.
Now now, Kurty, it wasn't that bad!

I'm coming round to the view that Halifax was just a man out of time. His judgement remains appalling and his personal faults numerous, but had he hit his prime say 25 years earlier things would have gone better for all involved. Making strenuous efforts to stay out of WW1 might have worked and certainly would have been better for Britain than actually fighting the damn thing - Imperial Germany was at least a rational(ish) country you could work with. Alas it was his fate to take that attitude against the Nazis.
That is the most positive (or rather least negative) opinion on Halifax that you've ever expressed! I think that it's very fair, actually; he was by any measure a late Victorian rather than a man of the 30s and had he risen earlier he might have found his moment then.

Perhaps this watched pot finally starts to boil. Said boil will then need to be lanced! ;) But who will be the Lancelot in this case? Having tied puns and metaphors into a Gordian Knot, I’ll just beat a hasty retreat and look forward to discovering the really big D in the POD.
It's on its way, mon brave!
 
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Specialist290

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I have a feeling that this won't be the last awkward family dinner that dear David has, especially if he truly intends on carrying on with the morganatic marriage plan...

Incidentally, I do have to wonder how such a thing would affect the line of succession in practical terms -- I know that Parliament is the ultimate arbiter of who actually is eligible for the throne, but how would they (and the British public) react to such a proposal? I guess that will be a matter for future updates, of course...