DensleyBlair

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Excellent stuff DB, so much depth in the world and I think Mosley's troubled legacy is very interesting. Looking forward to more on Bevan.

Cheers Jape, glad to see you back! It's certainly nice to be able to take Mosley down a bit now that we've moved past his 'man of the hour' phase. Even in an alt-history like this, there's only so much positive portrayal of the man I can take. Meanwhile, Bevan has been underplayed so far. I'm looking forward to bringing him into the spotlight more as the Fifties roll on. With any luck we'll be into his time in high office before the summer is out.

_______________

Some housekeeping, for anyone interested. Depending on how exactly you care to count, I've officially entered the final week of my degree, so things are heating up a little as far as lockdown university is concerned. In all honestly, I had completely forgotten that it is currently the weekend, never mind that I would usually put out an update around this time in the week. Assuming I can get a moment spare, I'll aim to have the next chapter out tomorrow. This is the look at economics and industry I had promised last time before realising I'd made a scheduling error. Do keep your eyes peeled for that when it comes!

The happy reverse of all this is that by Monday 8th I will have completely finished, and will hopefully have a load of time to get back into writing. This may or may not be accompanied by an increase in the pace of updates; I'll see how people are feeling at the time.

On a more general note, it's been really great to see a few old familiar faces back around the forums lately – and the Vicky forum in particular! Glad to have you all along for the ride, and I hope you enjoy what's still to come. :)

TL;DR – Update likely tomorrow!

DB
 
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Le Jones

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Well @DensleyBlair you've written a superlative AAR, a real feast for 'what if' fans. And now I have caught up, I am of course eager for more.

Reading much of it last Monday, I happened to catch Andrew Marr's A History of Modern Britain and much of the ails of your 30s UK seemed chillingly present in his depiction of Ted Heath's woes in the early 70s. It was just an odd coincidence that it was on in the background as I read your sumptuous feast of an AAR.

If I may, I think that you've balanced Mosley's portrayal as best that you can - and I think your acknowledgment of his failings and rather objectionable character is sensitively done.

My only gripe is that Tony Benn features; to this centre-lefty I was hoping that a bedford truck accidentally reversed over him, alas it wasn't to be. My distaste for him made the CBC panel discussion the only bit of this that I didn't warm to. You should take that as a compliment as it means you've nailed the character!
 

stnylan

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Some housekeeping, for anyone interested. Depending on how exactly you care to count, I've officially entered the final week of my degree, so things are heating up a little as far as lockdown university is concerned. In all honestly, I had completely forgotten that it is currently the weekend, never mind that I would usually put out an update around this time in the week. Assuming I can get a moment spare, I'll aim to have the next chapter out tomorrow. This is the look at economics and industry I had promised last time before realising I'd made a scheduling error. Do keep your eyes peeled for that when it comes!

The happy reverse of all this is that by Monday 8th I will have completely finished, and will hopefully have a load of time to get back into writing. This may or may not be accompanied by an increase in the pace of updates; I'll see how people are feeling at the time.

DB
Well don't worry about missing the update if you have other stuff to do. Good luck in that final week.
 

DensleyBlair

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Well @DensleyBlair you've written a superlative AAR, a real feast for 'what if' fans. And now I have caught up, I am of course eager for more.

Reading much of it last Monday, I happened to catch Andrew Marr's A History of Modern Britain and much of the ails of your 30s UK seemed chillingly present in his depiction of Ted Heath's woes in the early 70s. It was just an odd coincidence that it was on in the background as I read your sumptuous feast of an AAR.

If I may, I think that you've balanced Mosley's portrayal as best that you can - and I think your acknowledgment of his failings and rather objectionable character is sensitively done.

My only gripe is that Tony Benn features; to this centre-lefty I was hoping that a bedford truck accidentally reversed over him, alas it wasn't to be. My distaste for him made the CBC panel discussion the only bit of this that I didn't warm to. You should take that as a compliment as it means you've nailed the character!

Well thank you my friend! I am equal parts glad that you have caught up, and that you enjoyed your time catching up. :)

I think an equivalence between the Thirties in this imagining and the Seventies in our own history is not an inapt observation. Both, as you say, a time of great turmoil and political instability – bookended by revolutionary agitation at one end (in the case of our 1970s UK, if not at home then very close by) and the emergence of dominant political hegemonies at the other. I mentioned to @Tommy4ever the other day that I sort of (sort of) see an analogy between Mosley's time in power in this timeline, and Thatcher (and her successors) in ours. With this in mind, the Thirties–Seventies link only becomes the more compelling.

Disappointed though I may be that you found your enjoyment of the first Talking Point episode damped by the presence of one Mr Wedgie Benn, I will happily accept your explanation that this means I am doing something right! :D

Well don't worry about missing the update if you have other stuff to do. Good luck in that final week.

Thank you. :)

_______________

I found a moment to put the update together, so here it is!
 
The Mosleyite Economy: Economic Reform in the Postwar Commonwealth, 1945–49

DensleyBlair

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ECHOES%20HEADER.jpg



THE MOSLEYITE ECONOMY
ECONOMIC REFORM IN THE POSTWAR COMMONWEALTH, 1945–49
ROBERT SKIDELSKY
1971



When London Regional Council chairman Herbert Morrison declared in 1945 that ‘socialism is what the Party of Action does’, he perhaps did not realise the elegance with which he managed to critique the economic orthodoxy that had emerged in Britain by the end of the Anti-Fascist Wars. As I have argued (cf. Skidelsky, 1965), the economic system that eventually emerged out of the revolution took, to use Mosley’s own phrase, a “mongrel” character. Its broad basis rested in non-Marxist ideas about economic planning, and even ownership, with a number of surviving elements of Communist influence enacted during the early 1930s. In the main, this system continued to be described as a form of socialism. Mosley had declared in 1928 that he sought to address the question of industrial reform in Britain without surrendering anything of his socialist faith. By the middle of the 1940s, this socialist faith had morphed into a heightened trust in governmental economic planning, a reduced role for the workers in these planning processes, and a continuing exploitation of financial controls to influence the domestic market. Little of this would be recognised by a Marxist as socialism, yet this was the socialist creed as it had taken hold in Mosley’s Commonwealth.

The theoretical foundations of what has come to be known as “Mosleyism” rest less on a Marxist footing than within the Keynesian tradition. John Maynard Keynes, a doomed prophet preaching a doctrine for the survival of capital, was in his own time never fully appreciated. A Liberal in the interventionist tradition that came up around the turn of the century, his ideas achieved currency for a time between the Great War and the Revolution before being overtaken by events. Yet within the work of this relatively obscure figure, one finds the key that unlocks the economic thinking of Oswald Mosley, and thus is equipped to understand the development of one of the key political philosophies of our age.

Between 1929 and 1945, the period during which Mosley retained direct control over the management of the British economy as Director of the Office of Economic Planning, the Commonwealth moved along a course that was at first mired within orthodox Marxism–Leninism, before deviating towards a less readily identifiable doctrine. Having cut his teeth as an economic and political thinker during the crisis period of 1925–9, Mosley was first and foremost concerned with the problem of full employment, a concern he shared with J. M. Keynes. Thus before any commitment to resolving the question of ownership, the central pillar of the capitalistic system in the minds of many socialists, Mosley was of the belief that a just and properly functioning economy required above all that all working people be employed. This commitment to full employment, maintained through a combination of financial and industrial policies aimed at keeping the Commonwealth economy buoyant, drove Mosley’s management of the British economy until his exit from office in 1961. In particular, an employment-focused economic approach is most evident during the years after 1945, with the second half of the 1940s serving as a key period in the crystallisation of the Mosleyite economic administration.



KEYNES.jpg

John Maynard Keynes, the (seldom credited) economist instrumental in the development of Mosley's thinking.


In 1945, following the death of his wife Cynthia, formerly the President of the Commonwealth since 1939, Mosley embarked upon a reshuffle within the Executive Committee. The resulting executive (Mosley’s fifth) marked a definitive break with the previous pattern of government since the Troubles of 1933–4. For the first time since the Revolution, Mosley relinquished his position at the Office of Economic Planning, appointing protégé Bob Boothby as his successor. Boothby had come up from a similar background to Mosley. A member of the old upper-middle classes, Boothby was the son of a knighted banker and received his education at Eton College, the most elite school of its day, and the University of Oxford. After university he joined a stockbrokers’ firm and later entered Parliament after winning a by-election in the Conservative interest, three years before the outbreak of the general strike. During the Baldwin government, Boothby worked in the Treasury under Winston Churchill, though disagreed with the so-called ‘Treasury view’ of economics, which held that channeling funds into public works would drain capital from private enterprise and thus aggravate unemployment. After Baldwin’s defeat in 1928, Boothby sat on the Conservative backbenches for nine months before defecting to join the Mosleyite party at the end of the year. He gradually emerged as one of Mosley’s most trusted advisors, rewarded with the directorship of the Bureau of Domestic Affairs (1939–43), and subsequently the chairmanship of Dafacom (1943–45), before receiving stewardship over the economy.

Out of all of Mosley’s younger followers, Boothby took the economic lessons of the Birmingham Proposals most readily to heart. An arch opponent of the Conservative free trader tradition, from the start Boothby had been amenable to the use of tariffs and price controls in the management of the British economy. Upon leaving the Office of Economic Planning to become the first chairman of the Executive Council of Eurosyn in 1957, a German newspaper ran a profile that said of Boothby: “He is the planner of planners. [...] Chairman Boothby seems to know better than the ordinary person what is good for the ordinary person, what he ought to buy, where he ought to buy it, where he ought to manufacture and everything else of that kind. There is the true Socialist”. His close relationship with Mosley and a forceful ideological commitment, matched by a colourful personality, ensured Boothby’s dominance over a number of executive departments for the duration of his time in high office. With views on every aspect of the economy, from manufacturing to agriculture, his directorship aspired to full control over all facets of British production, conceiving of the economy as a closed system that ran for the benefit of British workers. The extent of his control was so prevalent in the public consciousness of the Commonwealth in the years after the Anti-Fascist Wars that, when responding to criticism of his 1950 film Stage Fright, Britain’s most celebrated filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock quipped that “all bad press should be addressed to the director, Bob Boothby”.

Indeed, there is an argument to be made that the years between 1945–49 saw the realisation of Mosley’s aspiration for the construction of a streamlined state apparatus with near total control over the economy. The period 1934–45 had been dominated by Mosley, ‘the Chairman’, working in concert with the rest of the executive committee while retaining economic powers under his own management. With the separation of the executive offices from the economic office in 1945, this concert arrangement gave way more or less to a sort of duopoly in government, in which ‘the Chairman’ was backed up by his lieutenant Boothby, ‘the Director’. This arrangement was not without repercussions in government. Whereas before the other directors of major offices (Dafacom, International Relations and Domestic Affairs) had been more or less left alone to the management of their respective affairs, increasingly their operations were subject to intervention from Boothby’s desk. Perhaps the major casualty of this inter-directorial conflict was Aneurin Bevan, who directed the Bureau of International Relations in Mosley’s fourth executive (1943–45) and had been in line for a move to Domestic Affairs in 1945. Unwilling to agree to a system in which the Office of Economic Planning would retain a greater say in the management of his own Bureau, Bevan was passed over for the job in favour of his wife, Jennie Lee, who was promoted from the Education Secretariat. Meanwhile, Bevan went to Healthcare (1945–49) before being elected Chairman of the People’s Assembly (1949–53).



BOOTHBY%201949.jpg

Bob Boothby, Director of the Office for Economic Planning (1945–57), pictured in 1949.


This sort of ministerial manoeuvring reflected the confidence that Mosley had in Boothby’s direction. In the years between 1945–49, coming out of eight years at war, and with the syndicalist position in Europe not only secure but, it was widely held, vindicated, Mosley decided that the time was right to move forward with Britain’s industrial modernisation. An initial period of modernisation conducted in the aftermath of the Revolution (1929–34) had been implemented with the aim of correcting the abuses suffered by the British economy during the Great War and in its aftermath. The period between the War and the Revolution had been characterised by widespread industrial unrest and the slow collapse of the British economy, in line with many other major economies around the world. After 1918, British industry had been left unbalanced and was ill equipped to address the needs of the people in peacetime. This imbalance had persisted up until 1927, when the outbreak of the General Strike more or less put Britain’s industrial operations on hold until 1929. By this point, global Depression in the capitalist world had discredited any idea of a return to the ‘old ways’, and the period of industrial and economic growth experienced by the Commonwealth coming out of Revolution was taken, in contrast to the paralysed capitalist system, as evidence of the supremacy of syndicalist management. Under Mosley’s direction, the industry of the Commonwealth was restructured, with particular attention given to a rebalancing of the coal and steel sectors. In addition, new industries were encouraged, with the emergence of an automotive industry in the West Midlands and a consumer goods industry centred on Manchester. A market for these new industries was ensured not only through the extension of popular credit, but also thanks to the colossal expansion of Britain’s transport network and housing stock. These sorts of great public works projects assured full employment while also contributing to the ‘modernisation’ efforts so crucial to Mosley’s vision. (They also maintained a hold over the popular imagination, as evidence by the resurgence in the first half of the 1950s of a minority ‘consumer cult’, much disparaged by the Left, among those who had grown up in the immediate aftermath of the Revolution.)

Tensions between various industries had been built in from the start. In particular, the emergence of the automotive industry alarmed the transport union, who feared for the primacy of the railways and the security of the thousands employed by them. This conflict was mitigated by the decision to keep all haulage to the railways, leaving the new motorways free for personal travel. In addition, the state of the vast majority of local road networks made cars undesirable except as a novelty in many locations, and their use was at first generally restricted to long journeys which could not otherwise be made by train. During the wars, the automotive industry was supplemented by the demand for armoured cars that accompanied the mechanisation of the Workers’ Brigades, particularly for deployment in North Africa and Palestine. After the wars, the Commonwealth Motor Group developed a domestic version of the utilitarian four-wheel drive vehicle produced for the army in Africa, and in 1946 the introduction of the Land Rover to the Commonwealth market sparked something of a revival for the fortunes of automotive transport. The Land Rover model was also popular as an export to many of the former colonies transitioning into life as Autonomous Commonwealths. British automotive production primarily serviced international demand in the postwar years, indicative of a wider trend that saw a number of domestic industries stay buoyant thanks to favourable introductions into the emerging autonomous markets in Africa. After Ghana declared autonomy in 1945, Mosley realised that a British-led process of self-determination for the African states would likely result in a more favourable accommodation of existing trade arrangements. The rapid period of decolonisation in Africa between 1945–53 was as much as any other consideration motivated by basic economic and industrial concerns.

Meanwhile, under Boothby’s direction domestic industrial output was modernised between 1945–49. By 1945, what remained of the capitalist world had more or less recovered from the devastating shock of the 1929 Depression. The United States, whose recovery had been overseen by the Keynesian President Roosevelt, an old friend of Mosley’s, had received a monumental boost to its domestic economy during the Pacific War (1941–44). President Roosevelt mobilised the United States industrial output in total service of defeating the Japanese Empire, vindicating Keynes’s counter-cyclical theory on a massive scale. In a convenient historical association, the military power that allowed for the triumph of American liberalism over Japanese imperialism laid much of the foundation on which American postwar economic power was built. This economic power was later used as the basis of American intervention in the Cold War, which had been ongoing in Europe since about 1940, and in which the fortunes of the capitalist world were, by 1945, rapidly declining. German economic recovery had been complicated by the brief civil war accompanying the restoration of the monarchy in the winter of 1938–9. By 1945, economic growth had more or less stabilised, though did not truly take off until the arrival of American money after 1949. Nevertheless, the combined effect was the aggravation of one of the central rifts in the global ideological battle. In the United States, the German Reich and, soon after, Japan (in a grim twist of irony opened up to American capital after the devastation of Operation Downfall), economies were growing. Meanwhile, even buoyed by the formation of the Italian Commune in 1945, the syndicalist bloc was making little economic progress.




COMAERO%20COMET%201952.jpg

The Comaero Comet, photographed under development in Hatfield in 1950.


At this point, one may be tempted to make the observation that syndicalism, tout court, does not hold the necessity of economic growth as one of its central tenets. This is indeed the case, but as has been established “Mosleyite” syndicalism was, in many ways, a contradiction in terms. Thus the central importance of a healthy economy was maintained for the purposes of satisfying the needs, or at least the projected needs, of the British worker.

With these immediate needs largely satisfied, irrespective of the macroeconomic climate, by OEP controls, Mosley and Boothby became convinced that the most effective way to demonstrate the supremacy of the Commonwealth economy would be to promote cutting edge scientific and industrial development. Thus Boothby set about after 1945 encouraging the development of new industries in Britain. In the North, the existing consumer goods sector was supplemented by a radical new ‘computing’ industry after 1948, with state money poured into an experimental laboratory at the University of Manchester. The development of the first commercially-available computer, the Manchester Mark 1, was a major coup for British science and engineering in 1951. In the Home Counties, the Commonwealth Aerospace facility at Hatfield was expanded in 1946 to include laboratories for the development of a new jet engine, with Mosley setting Comaero engineers the grand task of developing the fastest civil airliner ever produced. This eventually led to the development of the Comaero Comet in 1952, which was a source of great national pride though plagued by engineering problems in its early years.

In assessing the development of the British economy in the latter half of the 1940s, what emerges overall is a picture of increased state control, and the growing influence of geopolitical considerations in the management of British industry. From a traditional manufacturing base, built up since 1929 to meet the needs of the working classes of the Commonwealth, after 1945 Mosley became preoccupied by a number of ‘great projects’ intended to bring national prestige and demonstrate the power of British industrial ingenuity. While this focus brought a number of astonishing successes on the cutting edge of manufacturing as Britain entered the 1950s, at the same time the question of worker satisfaction was often overlooked. The reemergence of industrial disputes after 1947 points to the degree to which the Commonwealth had begun to deviate from its original, revolutionary character, towards the aspirational role of a global engineering power. It was no longer enough just to satisfy the needs of the British working classes. Their ingenuity now had to become the envy of the world.
 
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Wraith11B

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I've mentioned before that I don't know sufficient amounts of British history to really have a frame of reference, and you write so well that the game mechanics of what's going on behind the scenes is completely obscured. I daresay that your work approaches an almost @El Pip -level of terrifying detail that boggles those of us who have only passingly vague understanding of some certain events (and for sure at a much more blinding pace than our esteemed collegue).

Would it be possible to work in (perhaps as a spoiler) what I assume are the game events driving the narrative? Since this is a Victoria II mod, I'd assume that there would be some level of interest in seeing what the mod is doing.
 

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I read till the Mosely family chapter. Looks like the Mosleys are in for days of great glory now!
The Mosely dynasty has started!
 

Tommy4ever

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I always enjoy a dive into economic history. The parallels to the RL Soviet Block, and even RL Britain in development of the Commonwealth’s economy are clear.

Will the capitalist economies start to outstrip the Syndie Block for
growth through the coming decades? What then for Mosleyism?

I shuddered at the mention of the competition between the automotive industry and the railways. You’d better keep Beeching away from anything transport related in this TL! :p

Good luck with your last days of uni Dens. I can imagine it’s been a very surreal way to end your studies these past few months.
 

Jape

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I always enjoy a dive into economic history. The parallels to the RL Soviet Block, and even RL Britain in development of the Commonwealth’s economy are clear.

Seconded - its always interesting in good alternate history like this to see where the differences and similarities meet - part Gosplan, part New Jerusalem.

There are contradictions and possible pitfalls for Mosley's unique 'style' as you've previously alluded to. The massive power of Boothby has obvious dangers; he may be a talented technocrat but a simple plan not thought through could have major consequences for the public. The rise of younger people hungry for consumer goods is interesting - a goulash syndicalism down the road perhaps? You also have the lack of worker control despite this being at the heart of Mosley's professed ideology. I'm now even more intrigued to see how Bevan will impact the scene.

Also I hope you write more on the former Empire, the relationship between Britain and Ghana et al is fascinating; and based both on OTL's decolonisation and the problematic relationship between many Communist states IOTL, plenty of room for interesting developments.
 

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Apologies if this has been covered earlier, but what exactly is the state of mainland Europe at the end of the war? Which countries belong to the socialist sphere?

I'm also really interested to see how decolonization works in Asia. Will there be a Hong Kong Commune?
 

Le Jones

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Fascinating update @DensleyBlair - please make sure that the Comet's windows are round!

I also enjoyed, as others have commented, parallels with the real world UK and USSR. I wonder if the reemergence of striking / disputes augurs badly for the future, or if the State can meet the workers' aspirations. As ever gripping stuff.
 

DensleyBlair

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I've mentioned before that I don't know sufficient amounts of British history to really have a frame of reference, and you write so well that the game mechanics of what's going on behind the scenes is completely obscured. I daresay that your work approaches an almost @El Pip -level of terrifying detail that boggles those of us who have only passingly vague understanding of some certain events (and for sure at a much more blinding pace than our esteemed collegue).

Would it be possible to work in (perhaps as a spoiler) what I assume are the game events driving the narrative? Since this is a Victoria II mod, I'd assume that there would be some level of interest in seeing what the mod is doing.

So the bad news is that the actual gameplay ends in 1934. And not, I should admit, because of any save file catastrophe or anything like that. By that point, I'd simply got enough source material out of the playthrough that I knew how I wanted to carry on. I am a big fan of the way that @Le Jones, for instance, works game notes into his narrative pieces, and it's a technique I would be very eager to use in future projects. Unfortunately, in this case such a thing is impossible.

That said, I can say a quick word about the New Era Mod, which I used in order to get Vicky to cover the time period I wanted for this AAR. After al these years I don't know enough about the intricacies of Vicky to be able to give a massively informed answer, but generally speaking, I think the mod does a decent job of shifting fundamentals like the technology tree. That said, in my experience it doesn't do much to fix one of the problems of 20th century-era Vicky, which is the fact that after a point the war engine becomes pretty inappropriate. I've seen a few people say it gives a treatment of WWII similar in strength to HOI, so maybe I just haven't sat with it long enough. But I'd say that for the most part it doesn't fully get over the problem of putting 19th century mechanics to work in a 20th century setting.

I'd like to be able to try out the NWO Cold War mod to compare and contrast, but I've never been able to get that one to work all that well. Tempted to have another go at it once I've got a bit more time.

I hope these revelations don't do too much to sour your opinion of the AAR. As I say, if there are specific things that are unclear I am always happy to try and give further context or a quick explanation. :)

I read till the Mosely family chapter. Looks like the Mosleys are in for days of great glory now!
The Mosely dynasty has started!

The Chairman is certainly very canny when it comes to putting friends and family in high places. As for how the dynasty will fare going forward, you'll just have to wait and see. :p

I always enjoy a dive into economic history. The parallels to the RL Soviet Block, and even RL Britain in development of the Commonwealth’s economy are clear.

Will the capitalist economies start to outstrip the Syndie Block for
growth through the coming decades? What then for Mosleyism?

As you may imagine, the relative economic fortunes of the Capitalists and the Syndicalists – both in Europe and further afield – will form much of the basis of the Cold War going forward.

I shuddered at the mention of the competition between the automotive industry and the railways. You’d better keep Beeching away from anything transport related in this TL! :p

I come from a long line of train enthusiasts, and while I may not have inherited the actual spotter gene, I do retain a strong affection for public transport (and a deep resentment of the fact that I live somewhere that doesn't have any!) The railways are safe, don't worry. :p

Good luck with your last days of uni Dens. I can imagine it’s been a very surreal way to end your studies these past few months.

Cheers Tommy! Surreal is definitely one word. It's been both fascinating and infuriating to watch an architecture school of all things try to adapt to all digital teaching overnight, but there we are. And I can't complain too much. In relative terms, I have not had it that bad by any means.

Seconded - its always interesting in good alternate history like this to see where the differences and similarities meet - part Gosplan, part New Jerusalem.

Thanks Jape. The Soviet–Commonwealth relationship is a particularly tricky one, and I do find it interesting figuring out where they meet and where they diverge.

There are contradictions and possible pitfalls for Mosley's unique 'style' as you've previously alluded to. The massive power of Boothby has obvious dangers; he may be a talented technocrat but a simple plan not thought through could have major consequences for the public. The rise of younger people hungry for consumer goods is interesting - a goulash syndicalism down the road perhaps? You also have the lack of worker control despite this being at the heart of Mosley's professed ideology. I'm now even more intrigued to see how Bevan will impact the scene.

As you say, the plan and the reality are often two wildly different things. We will see very shortly what happens when the OEP's carefully crafted policy hits the messy world of real life.

Also I hope you write more on the former Empire, the relationship between Britain and Ghana et al is fascinating; and based both on OTL's decolonisation and the problematic relationship between many Communist states IOTL, plenty of room for interesting developments.

There is absolutely more stuff on Africa in the pipeline, so you can look forward to that coming in a while. In the meantime, coming up there's a general overview of the state of global geopolitics at the front end of the Cold War. This, I hope, fills in a fair number of the blanks left in the story so far.

Apologies if this has been covered earlier, but what exactly is the state of mainland Europe at the end of the war? Which countries belong to the socialist sphere?

This will be treated in more depth fairly soon, but in the meantime here's a potted summary of things as they stand in 1945:

Syndicalist International (SI) – British Commonwealth, France, Spain and Italy
Soviet bloc – USSR, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Yugoslavia
German Reich – Germany, Austria

The rest of Eastern Europe is the site of a battle for influence between the Germans and the Soviets. Benelux and Scandinavia are unaligned. Portugal is fascist but remains pretty isolated.

I'm also really interested to see how decolonization works in Asia. Will there be a Hong Kong Commune?
[/QUOTE]

As much as the Syndies might claim to continue to exercise influence over their former Asian subjects, the reality doesn't quite prove that simple. Like Europe, there'll be more on this fairly soon. Hong Kong I haven't actually thought about yet, but that's a good question. It certainly won't look like today's Hong Kong however things pan out.

Fascinating update @DensleyBlair - please make sure that the Comet's windows are round!

I will pass a note on to the engineers! :D

I also enjoyed, as others have commented, parallels with the real world UK and USSR. I wonder if the reemergence of striking / disputes augurs badly for the future, or if the State can meet the workers' aspirations. As ever gripping stuff.

Thank you. :) On the matter of strikes, we will find out very soon!
 
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April Showers, May Flowers: Consequences of the 'Coldest Winter', 1946–47

DensleyBlair

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ECHOES%20HEADER.jpg



SELLING OUT: INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS IN MOSLEY’S BRITAIN

BERT RAMELSON, 1969


April Showers, May Flowers: Consequences of the 'Coldest Winter', 1946–47



April showers bring May flowers,
And the boss wants to take our factory;
But Mosley cowers at the workers’ power,
Joined together in solidarity!
Picket song, November 1947



In December 1946, eighteen months or so after the end of the Anti-Fascist Wars, northern Europe was beset by an exceptionally cold winter. Amsterdam recorded its coldest temperatures for 150 years, while shortages relating to the climactic conditions saw rioting and looting in Copenhagen and Berlin. By late January, with the cold spell at its nadir, Britain experienced heavy snowfall, blocking roads and railways and paralysing the country’s infrastructure. Before long, this had the knock-on effect of preventing coal from reaching the power stations, and going into February the Commonwealth was on the brink of a fuel crisis.


This climactic crisis was the first big test faced by Mosley’s post-war economy. For the man who had led the Commonwealth to victory over fascism and imperialism during the wars, it was paramount that Britain show itself as a leading nation when crafting a peacetime settlement. This could not be achieved, ran the government argument, unless the workers and infrastructure of the Commonwealth were shown to be capable of dealing with any challenge thrown at it from any quarter. Thus in early February 1947, Mosley drew up plans to place the economy on a war footing for the duration of the crisis. The main group affected by this decision were the mineworkers, who would be required to work longer days in order to satisfy the increased demand for coal in order to keep the Commonwealth and its vital industries heated during the harsh winter. Elsewhere, the Workers’ Brigades would be called up in order to clear roads and railways in order to keep the country’s arterial transport routes flowing with freight.


Mosley’s diktat was significant. Not even during the Anti-Fascist Wars had the economy ever been placed on a war footing, with production largely carrying on as normal, save an increased demand for ships and munitions. But then the conflicts of the Thirties and early Forties had never called too greatly upon the British Isles, with the danger at a remove in Spain, Africa or the Far East. But a harsh winter was far less easily kept away from British shores, and so the full extent of Mosley’s controlling ambition was revealed.



1947%20WB%20CLEAR%20SNOW%20RAILWAY.jpg

Volunteers from the Workers' Brigades clear snow from a railway track in January 1947.


Immediately, Mosley’s emergency measures provoked a fierce negative response from the Miners’ Federation (MF), who voiced concerns about dangerous working conditions and the inadequacy of proposed compensation. While the Office of Economic Planning (OEP) managed the Commonwealth’s industrial and material output as a macroeconomic level, on the ground the pits and factories remained under the control of workers’ councils. These councils came together under the unions, and so the unions and the workers retained a significant voice in the management of Britain’s resources. Until 1947, conflicts between the unions and the state had been almost unknown, or else highly localised and easily resolved. But with crisis measures in place nationally, for the first time the unions found themselves at an impasse with the directors in Whitehall. In Nottinghamshire, which had been particularly hard hit by snowfall, mineworkers responded to the demand for increased production with widespread absenteeism, and later backed by the MF the workers refused to work beyond previously agreed hours until safe conditions could be guaranteed and pay rates were adjusted.


At the height of its power during the General Strike, 1927–29, the Miners’ Federation had represented about one million workers. Demographic and industrial changes in the intervening two decades had left membership at a about 750 thousand by 1947, but even this reduced figure represented a significant proportion of the British working classes, and the MF remained the prime union within the Trades Union Congress. In Nottinghamshire, about 50,000 men were employed in the mines. At the height of absenteeism in February 1947, upwards of 80 per-cent of these workers stayed home. With this being the case, it would have proven relatively easy for the MF in Nottinghamshire to declare strike action, though official declaration ever came. Instead, eager not to have his grand crisis-fighting plan felled at the first hurdle, Mosley and Director Boothby at the OEP agreed to the mineworkers’ demands, and on 9 February the pits became operational once again. By this point the majority of the snowfall had stopped, and it was easier for coal to reach the parts of the country hardest hit by the wintry conditions.


By the end of January, coal supplies had been projected to last only five weeks without an increase in production, compared to usual stockpile levels of 10–12 weeks worth of coal. In the south of England, where the coal supply was most immediately under threat, Boothby ordered the distribution of electric heaters to vulnerable members of the population, in particular focusing on schools, hospitals and the homes of the elderly. While a canny interim measure, the resulting spike in the demand for electricity from the power stations had the effect of placing even greater strain on an already stretched key part of the infrastructure, and for a fortnight at the start of February a number of areas in the Home Counties were subject to power rationing by local workers’ councils.



1947%20TRENT%20FLOODS.jpg

People in Nottingham attempt to navigate a flooded road.


With March came warmer temperatures, and for Mosley it appeared as if his reprieve had arrived. The thaw brought a new problem, however, as lingering snow and ice melted and caused widespread flooding across the country. By the middle of the month, having weathered the worst of the bitter winter, an exceptionally wet spring now threatened to send the Commonwealth back into infrastructural turmoil. Roads and railway tracks which had only been clear of snow for a fortnight or so were now submerged underwater, and once again the Workers’ Brigades had to be called in to lay sandbags and construct ad hoc flood defences. Disruption was particularly bad in the Midlands, where the Trent burst its banks at Nottingham on 17 March, causing flooding even the city’s outer suburbs – in some cases up to first-floor level. Derbyshire, the South Riding of Yorkshire and parts of Lincolnshire and Staffordshire were heavily affected, with tens of thousands of properties and industrial sites affected in some way. Across the country, over 100 thousand homes and factories saw damage. In rural Wales and Shropshire, mutual aid groups assisted by the Workers’ Brigades sent food parcels, and starting in April aid was received from the other nations of the Syndicalist International. Milk and cereals were imported from France, and meat was received from Spain. British farming was especially hard hit by the disruption, and in Wales alone farmers lost four million sheep. In all, it would take six years for livestock populations to recover, and in the interim period the Commonwealth continued to be partly reliant on staple imports from France and Spain. This sat uneasily with Mosley, who even though enthusiastic about the prospects of pan-Syndicalist collaboration found it hard to accept the loss of Britain’s autarky.


Between December 1946 and April 1947, it is estimated that the Commonwealth lost about 12–15 per-cent of its annual industrial output, equivalent to about £1.5 billion. For Mosley and Boothby, the loss of manufacturing power resulted in a need to adjust prices and distribution for the rest of the year, leading to the announcement of an incomes policy in May, to be adopted voluntarily by workers’ councils at a local level. The incomes policy would be accompanied by a number of price controls to keep the cost of living affordable and British manufacturing economical. In addition, spurred on by the ‘inefficiencies’ of worker control in meeting the demands of the crisis, which both men felt would be better resolved by the state unencumbered, Mosley and Boothby drafted and proposed a number of industrial reforms which would see the biggest shift of productive power away from the workers since the Revolution. While since 1929 only the logistics of national production had been managed by the OEP in Whitehall, under Mosley and Boothby’s proposed reforms a new class of managers would be empowered to make decision about production on the factory floor. Whitehall would be intruding into the factories for the first time in the brief history of the Commonwealth.


Announced days before the annual general meeting of the TUC, the industrial reforms provoked a wave of hostility from the unions. The TUC viewed the move (correctly) as an attempt at sidelining their remaining influence within national politics, while workers were incensed that the government directors felt themselves better placed then them to make decisions about their own factories. Speaking at the AGM, TUC general secretary Arthur Horner described the measures as a “direct assault” on the British working classes, who would be made to “surrender their judgement and ingenuity to the dictates of the state”. Horner, who had served as chairman of the executive committee before Mosley’s takeover in 1934, and who had been president of the Commonwealth between 1936 and 1939, had previously been on amicable terms with Mosley as the sole representative of the Communist bloc in government. After being dismissed from the presidency in favour of Mosley’s wife Cynthia, he had been elected general secretary of the Miners’ Federation, in which role he had been able to exercise his opposition to ‘Mosleyism’ with a greater degree of latitude. Replacing veteran George Hardy as general secretary of the TUC in May 1946, Horner’s tenure marked a period of renewed antagonism between the workers’ movement and an increasingly directorial state. The first expressions of this relationship were the conflicts of 1947–48, themselves a prelude for the more far-reaching disputes of 1948–50. During the five years 1946–50, the relationship between workers and the state in the Commonwealth of Britain underwent significant revision. This relationship would go on to define the remainder of Mosley’s tenure in office, and its effects have outlasted him still. If we are to understand the context in which our own contemporary disputes have taken place, it is vital that first we examine the period 1948–50. What follows is an account of the actors, the stakes and the character of the dispute itself.
 
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stnylan

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The more things change ...

I remember one of my grandparents talking about the winter of 46-47. Pretty brutal, especially coming hard on the heels of WW2
 
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DensleyBlair

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The more things change ...

I remember one of my grandparents talking about the winter of 46-47. Pretty brutal, especially coming hard on the heels of WW2

I live in the Trent basin, so reading the accounts of Nottingham and Derby being flooded in the aftermath certainly struck a chord. We've had a couple of scares in the past, but nothing on that scale. Truly brutal indeed, and a timely reminder that policy alone does not an economy make.

Who Governs Britain? As old Ted would say. Looking forward to more though I'm a little concerned how this will play out for the TUC.

Also you don't see the 46/47 winter crisis get brought up often

Aye. And God only knows what poor Ted is up to in amongst all of this. Maybe once this is done I should do a little potted account of what happened go all of the prime ministers who never were...

_____________________________________________

So, a little life update: I've officially finished my degree! Three years of strikes, shaky mental health and (not unrelated) some of the best parties of my life – and I'm still not even halfway close to being legally allowed to design buildings. (But that's another story.) In the meantime, catching up with the last three episodes of Killing Eve and talking to friends on Zoom is probably, in the circumstances, as fitting a way as any to celebrate the first day of the rest of my life.

I'm going to take a little time to decompress from having finished and enjoy not having to look at planimetric drawings for a while, probably making liberal use of my MUBI subscription while I still have institutional access. After that, I'm genuinely excited to get back into writing the next few chapters of this timeline. We're getting very close to Mosley's final days in power, and I'm looking forward to that a great deal.

Looking back over my notes, it was a year ago yesterday that I actually sat down and started the (brief) playthrough that became Echoes of a New Tomorrow. If you'd've told me then that I'd still be regularly updating come the following summer, I'm not entirely sure I would have believed you. I'd probably have found it easier to believe that I'd be marking the occasion trapped inside thanks to a deadly virus, scrolling Twitter watching live videos of America burning. My track record of having the time, energy and will to keep AARs going around all my various other commitments is chequered to say the least, and it's something of a quiet source of satisfaction that I still don't feel anywhere near ready to put this one to bed. I can only hope that some of you out there feel the same way.

I didn't entirely mean for this postscript to go on so long as it has, but in a way it's nice to mark the occasion. (Or occasions, depending on how you look at it.) Thanks to everyone who's stuck around, and here's to the next 130,000 words!

Cheers! :)
 
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Wraith11B

Call Kenny Loggins, you're in the DANGER ZONE...
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We will be here!
 

stnylan

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Very many congratulations. Decompress away! :)