Echoes of A New Tomorrow: Life after Revolution in the Commonwealth of Britain

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DensleyBlair

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I'm working up the next update ready for posting. (Don't worry, it's not another one by Mosley. I'll spare you his smarminess for a while...) I will put it up either later on tonight or tomorrow morning, depending on how successful I am in finding pictures to illustrate it.

I've also slowly been doing some work fleshing out events going forward into the Thirties and Forties, so I'm looking forward to getting onto the next phase of the AAR and being able to write about them properly. With any luck I'll have finished writing about the revolution in the next week or so and we can actually get onto the promised Life after Revolution. :D

Cheers!
 

loup99

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A new political force has emerged, and the country finds itself once more going to the polls, which will be crucial for the new party. I imagine that at the same time the CPGB is also mobilising its forces for this general election. I must say the picture you chose including both Hitler and Lloyd George does not reassure me about the Rhineland Crisis which is referred to, even if him retiring from public life at that time could be a sign of the policy pursued. On the other hand it is an interesting nod from you to have W. E. D. Allen not taking part in the new party for fascist tendencies.
 
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DensleyBlair

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A new political force has emerged, and the country finds itself once more going to the polls, which will be crucial for the new party. I imagine that at the same time the CPBG is also mobilising its forces for this general election. I must say the picture you chose including both Hitler and Lloyd George does not reassure me about the Rhineland Crisis which is referred to, even if him retiring from public life at that time could be a sign of the policy pursued. On the other hand it is an interesting nod from you to have W. E. D. Allen not taking part in the new party for fascist tendencies.

The CPGB have an uneasy relationship with Westminster elections, as we shall see, but certainly they are in a relatively strong position. As for Mosley's relationship to fascism, I see Mosley at this point as someone who is almost monomaniacally restless and has the extreme self-confidence to think that his programme should be enacted over all others. Because of this, he is constantly on the look out for the best vehicle to push his agenda forward. IOTL, Labour took him only so far and he soon went over to Mussolini-style fascism. ITTL, things obviously go a different way for him and he is never pulled towards Mussolini. Thus he sort of ends up after 1928 as this incredibly dynamic directorial figure who is nevertheless outside of Marxism-Leninism and outright hostile towards fascism in Britain and abroad.

W. E. D. Allen as I read him was one of those "eccentric" figures who sort of treat fascism as a hobby – though apparently he was a friend of Kim Philby's, which could be fun. Mosley here succeeds in getting the energetic young men of Westminster over to his cause, and thus has less use for the fringe elements. I'll do an update about British Fascism after the revolution because it has a blackly fascinating, horrifying history. There's a spectrum of commitment and organisational capacity, but without Mosley I think space opens up for it to go in a more idiosyncratic direction than OTL.

_________________

Update inbound!
 
The Ugly Death of Labour Britain, Part One

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ECHOES%20HEADER.jpg



THE UGLY DEATH OF LABOUR BRITAIN
PART ONE

1979

As part of its schedule of programming to mark the half-centenary of the Commonwealth in 1979, a special edition of the CBC 1 discussion programme Talking Point was aired at the start of February. The point of discussion concerned the degree to which the Labour government of 1928–9 was accountable for the fall of the United Kingdom. On the panel were Colonel Denis Healey (b. 1917), a civil servant who had assisted in writing the official history of British counter-fascist action in the Middle East, and Professor Roy Jenkins (b. 1920), an academic at the University of Cardiff who had written a biography of Ramsay MacDonald. In the chair was Tony Benn (b. 1925), the son of Alliance Manifesto signatory William Benn who, as a broadcaster, had since 1972 presented The Politics Programme on CBC Radio 1 (known affectionately as “Comrade One”).


CBC1%201979.jpg

Still from the CBC 1 ident, 1979. Formed in 1959 as the successor to the original CBC TV channel, CBC 1 (known affectionately as "Com One") was the flagship television channel of the Commonwealth Broadcasting Committee. It inherited CBC TV's news and current affairs output, also major showing sporting events.


Talking Point was a long-running current affairs programme which dealt predominately with topical political and cultural issues of the day. Two or more expert commentators would be invited on to discuss an issue, usually selected with a view towards generating lively debate. It aired after the ten o’ clock news and continued until the end of programming at midnight. It was chaired from its inception in 1971 by Jeremy Isaacs, until he left in 1977 to become the inaugural controller of programming at CBC 4. After this point the chair was filled by a different figure each week.


The Healey–Jenkins–Benn debate is remembered as a particularly noteworthy episode of Talking Point, referred to sometimes as the “Guilty Men Special” after an infamous remark made by Roy Jenkins. Historiographically, the debate sits largely within the tradition of “history from below” shaped twenty years before by the Marxist Historians’ Group. It is remembered for the fierceness of the debate between the commentators, Benn’s interventions from the chair, and as the start of a subsequent career in media for Healey.


***


Tony Benn: “Good evening and welcome to Talking Point. Tonight our two commentators will be discussing the election, conduct, split and fall of the Labour government of 1928–29, and the subsequent impact its time in office had on the formation of the social and political systems of the Commonwealth. On my right is Professor Roy Jenkins, an historian of economics at the University of Cardiff whose books include biographies of Ramsay MacDonald and Philip Snowden;”

Roy Jenkins: “Good evening.”

Benn: “and on my left is Colonel Denis Healey, a senior civil servant at the Foreign Office, who served as an officer in the Palestinian Campaign and later worked as a contributing author to the official history of counter-fascist action in the Middle East.”

Denis Healey: “Good evening.”

Benn: “—and I’m Tony Benn. I’d like to start by asking each of you your general thoughts on the conduct of the Labour government in office, with reference particularly towards its actions towards the workers’ movement. Roy Jenkins, as a biographer of both MacDonald and Snowden perhaps I should come to you first?”


TALKING%20POINT%201979.jpg

Jenkins (left), Benn (centre) and Healey (right) seen at the start of the Talking Point special, February 15 1979.


Jenkins: “Thank you, Tony. This will come as little surprise to anyone who has read my books, I am sure, but I would like to start by saying that I cannot endorse any assessment of MacDonald and his government that paints them as ideological counter-revolutionaries who were out to get the working class from the moment they were elected. We may hear this view this evening, I’m not entirely sure. But I would like to offer an alternative conception: that MacDonald and his ministers were ultimately well-meaning, but nevertheless failed when called upon to act decisively in favour of social justice. I do not believe that there is anything in the historical record, seriously, to suggest that the crimes of the Labour government were any more grave than those of indecisiveness and naïveté. It was not the fault of Ramsay MacDonald, nor indeed of Philip Snowden, nor of anyone else in the government at that time, that the political structures of the United Kingdom fell when they did, and I believe one must be careful of falling too easily for the particular view of history, coloured by ideological or partisan affiliation, which makes things altogether more simple by stating that bad people cause bad things to happen. In fact, things are much more nuanced.”

Benn: “Denis Healey, how do you respond to this view?”

Healey: “It is a curious thing, isn’t it, to set out to uncover who is in a sense at fault for the creation of the Commonwealth? I find it telling that Professor Jenkins has introduced these terms; they speak almost of a sense of regret for the Commonwealth having come about at all. The idea perhaps that it is a great shame that MacDonald and Snowden were not allowed time to continue their project of simply being nice to the workers in the hope that, gradually, they might dither long enough and accidentally solve the crisis that befell them. Professor Jenkins says that it is important to remain clear-headed when talking about these things and I agree, and in this spirit, rather than offering a grand assessment of the Labour government, I would like to start by laying out some facts about that government’s conduct. Ramsay MacDonald became prime minister at a time when around 3 million working people were on strike, and a further one and a half million were unemployed. By the time he left office, unemployment had risen by about as much as the number of workers on strike had fallen. Welfare subsidies for the unemployed remained negligible. The government demonstrated little to no energy in trying to solve either the crisis of employment or the crisis of the coal industry, and indeed soon capitulated in the face of resistance from the mine-owners. During the Labour government’s time in office, Parliament was evacuated to Cliveden, King George fled to Newfoundland and Whitehall lost effective control over much of the country north of Birmingham. MacDonald consistently showed more concern for the opinion of Middle England than he did for the working class, and having utilised the full force of the Metropolitan police force without qualm apparently refused to deploy the troops out of fear of being portrayed as a second Churchill. He made numerous attempts to arrest working class leaders on charges of mutiny and planned to oust George Hardy from the general secretaryship of the TUC. Arrest rates of workers continued to be as high as arrest rates of fascisti continued to be low. MacDonald aggravated the unions, deferred to the bosses and pandered to all interests except those of the working class. Roy Jenkins portrays Ramsay MacDonald as nothing more than a man out of his depth. I make an alternative argument: that MacDonald was not an ineffective prime minister, but rather a prime minister whose true ambitions were frustrated at every turn by the ingenuity of the workers’ movement. But for their strength, his effect could have been much, much worse.”

Jenkins: “See, this is exactly the sort of excitable characterisation of history that I warn against. Colonel Healey is no doubt a very intelligent man, but it is quite evident that his judgement is irretrievably swayed by his ideological leanings. His image of MacDonald is an image of a man pathologically set on destroying the working class, which was absolutely not the case—“

Healey: “—I did not say that.”

Jenkins: “With respect, Colonel Healey, you made the argument that the working class somehow had to save itself from MacDonald’s programme of action. The real—

Healey: “No, that’s not the argument I made at all. I said that MacDonald’s policies were frustrated by the organisation of the working class movement, which is true. The Labour government had planned a whole series of crack-downs and punitive measures on the unionist leaders, but they were rendered unable to act by the simple fact that the working class was by that point so disciplined that it was in many ways more of a government than the government. Take for example the documents drawn up in September 1928 that detailed plans to arrest specifically communist union leaders on charges of mutiny. These clearly indicate a desire by the government to neuter its rivals to the left in an effort to break the strike movement without addressing any of the root causes of the crises that birthed it. Were it not for the fact that the workers’ strength was greater than that of the Metropolitan Police, in all likelihood they would have succeeded.”

Jenkins: “And do you consider it a bad thing, Colonel Healey, that a government should take action against people who act in open rebellion to the state?”

Healey: “In this case, certainly. I think it represented a profound display of bad faith in going straight for the stick and skipping out on the carrot.”


TALKING%20POINT%20JENKINS%20CLOSE%20UP.jpg

Professor Roy Jenkins, 1979. Jenkins' father had been a prominent and militant member of the South Wales Miners' Federation during the revolution. Roy did not inherit his father's militancy and never took to the directorial socialism of the PLUA. He was asked by Popular Front leader David Lewis to stand as a candidate for the People's Assembly in 1961, though declined and remained in academia. As an academic and public commentator, he exhibited a liberal outlook on both social and economic issues.


Benn: “Professor Jenkins, you have accused MacDonald and his government of failing to act sufficiently to stem the crisis. I think in some sense this is something we can all agree on. To what extent do you agree or disagree with Colonel Healey’s characterisation of the government as having acted in bad faith?”

Jenkins: “I think it is perhaps an unfair assessment. If we are going to talk about bad faith, it is perhaps worth working out first what that means. Broadly, we might talk about it in terms of being underhand or deceitful in one’s intentions. I am not sure MacDonald was ever underhand in his intentions; he made no secret of his desire to alleviate the lot of the working class on the one hand, and of his distrust of Muscovite communism on the other. I think his programme was entirely consistent with these beliefs: trying to chart a course between correcting the injustices faced by the workers without submitting to the Leninism of Comrade Inkpin and his allies. Now,—“

Benn: “—Do you think MacDonald’s government truly did enough to correct the injustices faced by the working class?”

Jenkins: “If I might be allowed to continue, Tony, I was just about to address this point. Now, I make no quarrel with the idea that by any objective measure MacDonald failed to tackle sufficiently the problems of his day. Nevertheless, there is little that is objective about history. Therefore I think it is important, as historians have been arguing since at least 1957, that we bring a little context back into our considerations. Colonel Healey has already illustrated for us the dire situation the country found itself in by the time the Labour Party took power in winter 1928: millions were on strike and millions more out of work; the mine owners refused to countenance any kind of surrender to the unions and the unions certainly were not going to capitulate after all they had achieved; the unions wouldn’t come to the table without the backing of the pickets and the mine owners wouldn’t talk unless the pickets were called off. By summer, you had workers taking to the streets in London and a junior cabinet minister taking to the country, speaking as if he were some sort of saviour. Parliament was forced out of Westminster after the situation became too dangerous for MPs to return from summer recess, and the civil service had to up sticks from Whitehall and move to Oxford. The ability of the government to enact its policy was thus severely hampered to the point where really it governed in name only. And then of course the King left for Newfoundland on health grounds at the end of November. Thus by the end of autumn Britain had a prime minister whose powers were limited by the unions, a monarch whose power was exercised by the Prince of Wales, and an opposition who maintained relevance only by making a deal with the devil in the form of the BF [British Fascisti] and their Q Divisions. In these circumstances, what good, really, does anyone expect MacDonald to have been capable of doing? It’s like finding fault with King Canute for being unable to stop the tide.—”

Healey: “—Except, of course, Canute never thought he could control the tides and was trying to demonstrate his powerlessness in the face of God the Almighty.”

Jenkins: “Well that just proves my point.—”

Healey: “—In that case your point is flawed!—”

Jenkins and Healey talk across each other. Benn cuts in over them both.

Benn:“—If we might return to something you just said, Roy: Denis Healey, what good would you expect MacDonald to have been able to do in the circumstances?”

Healey: “I think there’s quite a simple answer to this, which is nationalisation—”

Jenkins: “—Nonsense!—”

Benn gestures for Jenkins to be quiet.

Healey: “No, it’s not nonsense. The TUC had fairly simple terms for disengagement, and these were various wage guarantees and the removal of the coal industry from private hands. Rather than display any interest in meeting these demands, MacDonald lifted tactics straight from Baldwin’s playbook and stalled for time with the Thomas Report, which was truthfully little more than a repeat of the more adventurous avenues for reform laid out by the Sankey Report of 1919. It was clear, as it had been for a decade by that point, that British coal output would not recover from the slump it hit during the Great War except by recourse to extraordinary measures, and MacDonald quite simply was too wedded to classical ideas of liberal economics and vague utopian socialism to actually commit to anything beyond what had already failed. If he had wanted to, I have little doubt he could have forced something past the mine owners – by this point they had no credibility whatsoever, and even less authority. MacDonald on the other hand had a solid majority in Parliament and the dire circumstances necessary to justify extreme action. He had been voted in thanks to the workers, of course, but one must not forget that he owed his majority also to the countless voters of Middle England absolutely terrified of revolution, and these people no doubt would have preferred coal reform to the overthrowing of the elected government. Nevertheless, the prime minister was constantly looking over his shoulder – so much so that he never saw the opportunities for action that lay right in front of him.”


TALKING%20POINT%20BENN%20CLOSE%20UP.jpg

Tony Benn, 1979. The son of William Benn, a politician who had been a Labour cabinet minister before holding office under Mosley, Tony was born in 1925 into a liberal socialist dynasty. Starting as a radio producer on the CBC Current Service in 1948, Benn became a correspondent in 1954. He was political editor of the news magazine programme The World Today from 1961, becoming its main presenter when the programme moved to the newly-formed Radio 1 in 1964. He held the position until moving to The Politics Programme in 1972.


Benn: “So you perhaps do agree to some extent with Roy Jenkins’ assessment that the Labour government was merely too weak-willed?”

Healey: “To an extent, yes. But I return to the idea of bad faith. And before Professor Jenkins starts shouting at me about objectivity, I’ve already dealt with how I think MacDonald could’ve quite reasonably addressed the coal crisis even within the circumstances of the day. But as I have stated since the start of this programme, to me the issue goes beyond being simply weak-willed. I think the issue is not that MacDonald was insufficiently active, but rather that he was active in all of the wrong areas. Again, I bring up the fact of his persistent campaign against the most radical sections of the workers’ movement. MacDonald was always more concerned with the opinions of the Conservatives and the anti-Labour press than he was with the opinions of his own constituents. To this end, not only did he neglect the working class interest by refusing to offer anything but palliatives as concerned the issue of coal, but he also adopted an aggressively anti-communist stance motivated entirely by his own prejudices. MacDonald I believe always thought that he could court the Tory interest safe in the knowledge that the working vote had nowhere else to go and thus would always be Labour’s. When the Minority Movement came along and the workers found somewhere else to go after all, I think privately MacDonald resented the fact that he had been upstaged. I think Lenin was right to some extent: the Labour leadership had been so won over by the warm reception they had had from the bourgeoisie that they genuinely forgot that for 90 per-cent of their voters reality was quite different. Thus they thought nothing of trying to win over the pensioners and the militarists instead of fulfilling the promises they had made to their own power base. And I think it is a shameful thing when people forget the debts they owe to the people who put them in power.”

Benn: “Do you have anything to say to this, Professor Jenkins?”

Jenkins: “Well yes, I suppose first of all I ought to say that I do not dispute that it is shameful when politicians neglect the mandates upon which they were elected to power. But by the same measure I think it is important not to be too narrow in ones focus. By all means, a government should be mindful of the desires of those who put it into office, but in taking office one becomes not just a servant of one’s electors but a servant also of the entire population. Which is to say that one cannot afford to act just with regard to the wishes of 8 million people, but must act instead with regard to the national interest.—”

Healey: “Do you think that we should be lenient on governments that ignore their manifesto promises?”

Jenkins: “Well no, I don’t. But if it’s quite alright with you—”

Healey: “Then how are we supposed to forgive the failure of the Labour government to nationalise the coal industry as it somehow working in the national interest?”

Benn asks Healey to let Jenkins speak.

Healey: “As you well know, Professor Jenkins, Labour promised to nationalise the coal industry in their 1928 election manifesto. Therefore when the Thomas Report came back and argued against the possibility of nationalisation, it was in direct contradiction to the expressed wished of a majority of the voting population. Now what, given this fact, are we meant to find MacDonald guilty of: ineffectiveness, cravenness or outright malice?”

Jenkins: “Colonel Healey, we are not here to find MacDonald guilty of anything! This is not some grand tribunal to root out the guilty men of the last days of the United Kingdom, this is a televised debate on a simple issue of historiography: what impact did the conduct of the Labour government have on the formation of the Commonwealth. Now, I have made the argument that MacDonald acted about as well as could be reasonably expected of him in exceptionally trying circumstances. You have made all sorts of claims about his malicious intentions towards the working class. I maintain that the historical record reveals no such campaign, beyond some relatively run-of-the-mill attempts to deal with groups acting in flagrant opposition to the state. This is not to excuse his actions – I don’t feel particularly that they need excusing – rather, to try to go some way towards accounting for them. And what’s more I would like to attempt this without any judgement being clouded by excessive prejudice. This being said, I would sum up the Labour government as a deeply flawed ministry, which acted ineffectively and indecisively on many key issues, but which nevertheless attempted as far as possible to act in the national interest. And for this I cannot condemn it.”

Benn: “Just to clarify for the viewers at home, I’ll read a section of Labour’s manifesto from the 1928 general election. It says this: ‘The state of the coal mining industry is so tragic that measures would be immediately undertaken to alleviate the distress in the coal fields, organise the industry from top to bottom both on its productive and marketing sides, and shorten the hours of labour. A Labour majority would nationalise the mines and minerals as the only condition for satisfactory working.’”


TALKING%20POINT%20HEALEY%20CLOSEUP.jpg

Colonel Denis Healey, 1979. Healey became involved with far-left politics as a student during the Spanish War, and after university served in the Middle Eastern Campaign as an artillery gunner. He was eventually commissioned as an officer and left active service in 1945 having led troops in Iraq and Malaya. Staying on in the army
with the rank of Lieutenant colonel as part of its historical research team, Healey left the department in 1954 after the publication of the first volume of the Middle Eastern history, following which he became a civil servant in the Bureau of International Relations.


Healey: “Thank you, Tony. And in answer to your summation, Professor Jenkins, I’d just like to say this: perhaps it is overly emotional to accuse the MacDonald government of malice and all the rest. But I maintain that it is a privilege to be able to view politics without emotion; for millions, the reality of political decision-making is intensely emotional. Yes, a great deal is dictated by economics and international relations, which until recent decades it was fashionable to consider to be above human fallibility, but the fact is that even economics is experienced by millions every day on an emotional scale. It is all well and good striking because of a pay cut, but that is never the whole story: you go on strike because you can no longer put food on the table, or afford to stay fit and healthy, or put a roof over your head – and, yes, because the rich never seem to be affected even half as much as you do. And perhaps one could think of hunger, of sickness, of discomfort as economic considerations, but this would be ludicrous. The fact of the matter is that the poor resent the rich because they don’t realise their own stupidity, their blindness to their own good fortune, and of course because the rich in turn resent the poor for being so lazy and ungrateful. These are not rational responses. Just as people did not turn against the Labour government because Philip Snowden allowed £38 million towards this or that scheme in particular, but because they felt that they had been betrayed more generally. And, later, MacDonald lost all credibility not because of the specifics of his criminal justice policy – which may by some measure have been justified, or even-handed – but because it led ultimately to the force-feeding of political prisoners and the death of Adelaide Knight. When Donald Brown Knight stood in front of a crowd of half a million at Hyde Park on Christmas Eve, he did not weigh up the ethics of force-feeding and come to some balanced conclusion. No! He got up on stage and denounced the government as his wife’s killers. This is an entirely emotional argument, but would you begrudge him for making it? When the party you voted for, thinking quite sensibly that they might make some good of things, nine months later is accountable for the death of your wife and the misery of your friends and comrades, are you meant to process all the facts and come to some rational conclusion about the state of affairs? Only a desiccated calculating-machine would be capable of such a response. And if Professor Jenkins thinks this is the correct response in this situation, then that is his prerogative. But he should recognise that he is able to come to this conclusion only thanks to his good fortune. There have been millions throughout history who have had no such luxury.”

Benn: “Thank you, Denis. We are now a quarter of the way through tonight’s show and I think it’s fair to say we have all the makings of a classic discussion on our hands. Professor Jenkins, we will come back to you for a response shortly. In the mean time, here is a short film taking a closer look at the events of Operation Exodus, the Workers’ Brigades’ campaign against the Metropolitan Police in January 1929, narrated by Vanessa Redgrave.”

 
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Is there a particular reason that the British choose to call the Fascists "fasciti"? Or is it similar to referring to Hitler as "Herr Hitler" before the war?
 

SibCDC

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Is there a particular reason that the British choose to call the Fascists "fasciti"? Or is it similar to referring to Hitler as "Herr Hitler" before the war?
Perhaps a reference to the Italian origin of fascism?
 

Wraith11B

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I figured it was from the Soviets (who use the term as well) when I thought about it for a bit.
 

DensleyBlair

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Is there a particular reason that the British choose to call the Fascists "fasciti"? Or is it similar to referring to Hitler as "Herr Hitler" before the war?

Perhaps a reference to the Italian origin of fascism?

Rotha Lintorn-Orman, the young heiress who ploughed what portions of her inheritance didn't go towards substance abuse into founding and supporting the British Fascisti, idolised Mussolini so completely that she just lifted the Italian wholesale. The BFs sort of attempted to graft Italian fascism onto Baden-Powell style Middle-England chauvinism IOTL they realised the irony of going around with an Italian name spouting conspiracy theories about foreign takeover plots and changed the the "British Fascists" in 1924. But I quite liked the small difference in terminology and honestly just butterflied the correction away.

I'll do a proper update about the broader Fascisti/counter-revolutionary movement once we get into the Commonwealth. It's a complex network of often very bitter rivalries between groups all trying to outdo each other with their violent racism, anti-Communist and anti-Semitism. And – I don't know whether I should say "thankfully" – this playthrough isn't done with them quite yet.

I figured it was from the Soviets (who use the term as well) when I thought about it for a bit.

I was not aware of this link! Did the Soviets use the Italian with any sort of pejorative meaning, or was it simply their preferred term?
 

Wraith11B

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I think it's just a coincidence that the Soviets used it that way... I can't cite my sources right now because I've read it so much that I can't place where I've seen it used but I want to say that the writings of Clancy or Forczyk had the Russians using it that way.
 

Pieter Bruegel

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I was not aware of this link! Did the Soviets use the Italian with any sort of pejorative meaning, or was it simply their preferred term?
Nothing of the sort. Words ending with "i" just signifies a plural. фашисты is a literal translation of fascists.

As an example, sobaki or собаки translates to 'dogs'.
 

loup99

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Now the question we are obviously all asking ourselves after this update is whether or not @LordTempest did write Roy Jenkins' part? :p

Also with this update I think it is safe to say that the Commonwealth did not become some dark dystopia by the 70s and that a plurality of views remain present, to the opposite of what one might be tempted to compare it with.
 

stnylan

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Benn needs more pipe! :D
 

DensleyBlair

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I think it's just a coincidence that the Soviets used it that way... I can't cite my sources right now because I've read it so much that I can't place where I've seen it used but I want to say that the writings of Clancy or Forczyk had the Russians using it that way.

Nothing of the sort. Words ending with "i" just signifies a plural. фашисты is a literal translation of fascists.

As an example, sobaki or собаки translates to 'dogs'.

Ah, so it’s more of a coincidence of transliteration. Gotcha.

Now the question we are obviously all asking ourselves after this update is whether or not @LordTempest did write Roy Jenkins' part? :p

I haven’t seen the comrade formerly known as Tanzhang for a little while, thus I am wholly to blame for Jenkins’ opinions. :p

Also with this update I think it is safe to say that the Commonwealth did not become some dark dystopia by the 70s and that a plurality of views remain present, to the opposite of what one might be tempted to compare it with.

Without wishing to invoke the obvious parallels, there is a sort of revisionist turn towards openness in the Seventies that leads to a widening of publicly acceptable opinion. But Jenkins probably sits at the right edge of the spectrum of what is permissible for state broadcast.

Benn needs more pipe! :D

*sets pipe factor to max on the alt-Benn generation algorithm* :D

_____________________

Exciting news: I’ve finished the write up of the revolution! Three more updates and then it’s Commonwealth from there on out.

Next update will probably appear on Monday.
 

Wraith11B

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Also with this update I think it is safe to say that the Commonwealth did not become some dark dystopia by the 70s and that a plurality of views remain present, to the opposite of what one might be tempted to compare it with.

Without wishing to invoke the obvious parallels, there is a sort of revisionist turn towards openness in the Seventies that leads to a widening of publicly acceptable opinion. But Jenkins probably sits at the right edge of the spectrum of what is permissible for state broadcast.

I'm assuming the 1984 parallel?
 

DensleyBlair

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I'm assuming the 1984 parallel?

I was more thinking glasnost, even if the timeframe is about a decade out.

Truthfully my image of the Commonwealth after the end of the Sixties is still fairly hazy. I’ve been avoiding extrapolating too many details beyond about 1973 just because I don’t think I have a solid enough base to launch from yet. In time, as things become more concrete, I’m anticipating that this will change.
 

LordTempest

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Enjoyable update, even if, infuriatingly, you did let Denis have the last word. One hopes we'll be hearing back from Roy shortly.

I wouldn't mind if Benn's Talking Point became a semi-regular feature, not just on historical events but on what's happening elsewhere in Commonwealth and indeed the world too.
Bearing in mind your Glasnost comments, will we have an episode devoted to "Demosleyfication", so to speak? What are the panel's thoughts on Berlinguer in Italy or Mitterrand in France? What do they think about Fry and Laurie's radical new reinterpretation of life in early Revolutionary Britain? That sort of thing.

Now the question we are obviously all asking ourselves after this update is whether or not @LordTempest did write Roy Jenkins' part? :p

I can confirm that I have not. For some reason the forum alerts haven't been working as well as they should, and so I actually had no idea that there had been any AAR updates until you tagged me! Serves me right for not regularly manually checking the thread, I suppose.

Truthfully my image of the Commonwealth after the end of the Sixties is still fairly hazy. I’ve been avoiding extrapolating too many details beyond about 1973 just because I don’t think I have a solid enough base to launch from yet. In time, as things become more concrete, I’m anticipating that this will change.

At least by this you avoid the all-too-obvious Kinnock-Gorby parallels. ;)
 

loup99

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What are the panel's thoughts on Berlinguer in Italy or Mitterrand in France?
If France and the CoB ally with the Soviet Union and the Front populaire government successfully intervenes to defend Republican Spain encouraged and assisted by the CoB it is rather probable Mitterrand plays a different role, especially given his very complicated trajectory in our history. His rise depends on him being one of the main critics of the Fifth Republic, which requires De Gaulle to be a thing and so on. Otherwise even presuming France is occupied and sees a Fourth Republic, or that it isn't and Mitterrand is a minister in a continued Third, his policies in Algeria would mean he is a pariah of the PCF and would never unite the left behind him. Unless Algeria is liberated before that and/or Mitterrand never holds any government office... But given what he was ready to do and what he believed in, any vote or prominent position is likely to mean most of the left don't want to rally around him, and even if that isn't the case the left has to be weak in the first place for them to unite behind him.

All in all way too many butterflies, I guess DensleyBlair must be laughing at my futile attempts at predicting what happens across the world. :p

I can confirm that I have not. For some reason the forum alerts haven't been working as well as they should, and so I actually had no idea that there had been any AAR updates until you tagged me! Serves me right for not regularly manually checking the thread, I suppose.
Why do you not use the "Watched Threads" feature? I use it myself as opposed to alerts and always get informed, although sometimes too many threads move too quickly and I have to look through several pages worth of content to find what I'm looking for.
 

DensleyBlair

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Enjoyable update, even if, infuriatingly, you did let Denis have the last word. One hopes we'll be hearing back from Roy shortly.

"The Ugly Death of Labour Britain, Part One" ;)

I wouldn't mind if Benn's Talking Point became a semi-regular feature, not just on historical events but on what's happening elsewhere in Commonwealth and indeed the world too. Bearing in mind your Glasnost comments, will we have an episode devoted to "Demosleyfication", so to speak? What are the panel's thoughts on Berlinguer in Italy or Mitterrand in France? What do they think about Fry and Laurie's radical new reinterpretation of life in early Revolutionary Britain? That sort of thing.

Talking Point can absolutely come back semi-regularly. They're fun to write, and of course I'd always be up for suggestions of more "Richard Nixon, used car salesman" panelists to include.

I can confirm that I have not. For some reason the forum alerts haven't been working as well as they should, and so I actually had no idea that there had been any AAR updates until you tagged me! Serves me right for not regularly manually checking the thread, I suppose.

Henceforth I will tag you multiple times in every update. :p

At least by this you avoid the all-too-obvious Kinnock-Gorby parallels. ;)

Oh boy... Yeah, avoiding the hell out of that one. We can safely assume by 1979 that Kinnock is doing very nicely as a rising star lecturer teaching industrial relations to the workers of South Wales.

All in all way too many butterflies, I guess DensleyBlair must be laughing at my futile attempts at predicting what happens across the world. :p

In a sense it's quite helpful because obviously I can only keep tabs of so much without just doing things arbitrarily. I've got plans for France in the immediate term, but after that I've given little thought to what it would look like internally. I'll come to you for suggestions when I need to fill in the blanks. ;)
 
"Operation Exodus", from Talking Point

DensleyBlair

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ECHOES%20HEADER.jpg



OPERATION EXODUS

NARRATED BY
VANESSA REDGRAVE

1979


EXT. LONDON – DAY, 1928
Montage of clips of police officers battling with striking workers. Shots of men and women constructing barricades. Shots of police officers on horseback. Shots of police officers with rifles positioned in streets in West London.

Redgrave: While politicians in Westminster oversaw the downfall of the United Kingdom amidst a chorus of argument and parliamentary intrigue, for men and women on the ground the end of 1928 marked the beginning of the end of a more substantive battle: the battle for the survival of the workers’ movement.

A baker hands out bread to women and children. Workers play football in the street. A woman addresses a small crowd on a street corner.


EAST%20END%20KIDS%20FOOTBALL%201928.jpg

Children playing football on a street in the East End, c. 1928.


Redgrave: Since the outbreak of hostilities between bosses and workers in the coal industry at the end of May 1927, the united efforts of the trade unions had been working towards the formation of a British state more sympathetic to the livelihood of its working classes. By the time of the Labour budget over a year later in late October 1928, this great effort had resulted in large areas of the country falling under de facto worker control. Across the valleys of South Wales, the industrial towns of the North, and the coal-mining communities of County Durham, traditional structures of power had fallen away in the face of sustained working-class organisation. All over Britain, everything from food distribution to the management of local transport networks was being handled by committees formed from the ground up by working men and women.

Volunteer special constables police dockers on a picket. Bourgeois students drive a bus. Stock footage of fascisti paramilitaries outside a village hall. Anti-fascist guerrilla groups are shown drilling in a field in Essex.

Redgrave: As existing power structures failed and were replaced, numerous counter-revolutionary groups materialised in a bid to prevent the working class from taken full control. In the early days of the strike, this effort against the workers was led by the government-backed Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies, a paramilitary force of bourgeois strikebreakers formed under the guidance of Winston Churchill, called upon by Stanley Baldwin to maintain order. But the OMS lasted only a few months, before succumbing to widespread antipathy from the bourgeoisie brought about after a series of violent scandals. The Organisation was an easy target for infiltration by more violent counter-revolutionary groups, including splinter groups from the British Fascisti. A lack of governmental oversight combined with sheer desperation on the part of the strikebreaking effort ensured that by the end of its life the OMS was a hotbed of far-right activity. Tasked with supporting the existing policing networks through the deployment of volunteer special constables, this led to a sharp rise in the number of violent clashes between police and the workers’ movement.

A group of workers on a street corner tend to an injured man, his face bruised and bloodied. This is presumably the aftermath of an altercation between strikers and Fascisti thugs, though could just as easily be a consequence of a police raid.

Redgrave: With the election of Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour government in late February 1928, it was widely hoped that there would be a subsequent drop in the level of violence used against the workers’ movement by the state’s forces of order.

Cut to stock footage of Ramsay MacDonald entering Downing Street, the doorstep flanked by officers of the Metropolitan Police.

Redgrave: MacDonald had spoken out against the heavy-handed policing tactics of Stanley Baldwin’s Conservative government, winning a victory for the Opposition when he forced the government to admit to the presence of Fascisti columns within the OMS in late 1927. Early into his term in office, MacDonald worked to redress some of the worst injustices suffered by the workers at the hands of the police. He released hundreds of men imprisoned after the Battle of Riverside, and promised the formation of a royal commission into policing abuses.

Workers occupying Parliament Square. A young Wal Hannington giving a speech to a vast crowd. Fascisti thugs stood around by a car parked in central London.

Redgrave: Yet by the summer, the government’s good favour amongst the workers’ movement was fast running out. Millions of the men and women out on strike were unprepared to wait for the conclusion of MacDonald’s patient policy, and in a show of union strength over one-hundred thousand workers took to the streets in Westminster once the Houses of Parliament had broken for summer in July. The Metropolitan Police were unable to deal with the numbers of demonstrators, and workers occupied Parliament Square in a symbolic act of trade union power. At the start of August, 350 thousand members of the National Unemployed Workers’ Committee took control of Hyde Park in a bid to force government action on the question of unemployment.

Roadblocks in the East End. Footage of men and women smiling while building a barricade across one end of Cable Street. Footage of fighting between Q Division thugs and anti-fascists.


CABLE%20ST%20BARRICADE.jpg

An overturned van is used by antifascists as the basis of a barricade at one end of Cable Street, 1928.


Redgrave: At the same time, communists in the East End began to organise themselves into paramilitary groups in response to mounting displays of anti-left violence by the British Fascisti Q Divisions. The largest of these groups was the so-called “Stepney Column”, led by 21-year-old tradesman Phil Piratin. Piratin came to the attention of the national organisation of the CPGB as a leader in the guerrilla campaign against the Fascisti. In the aftermath of the worker occupations, Fascisti leader Rotha Lintorn-Orman declared the Metropolitan Police “unfit for purpose”, and called for an escalation in the campaign against the unionist movement. Clashes erupted across the capital, though were most concentrated in the Jewish regions of the East End where Q Divisions launched attacks on both anti-communist and anti-Semitic grounds.

Lintorn-Orman’s campaign achieved little. Violence was widespread, but the Q Divisions were neither as disciplined nor as numerous as the anti-fascist forces. In some instances, the Met turned a blind eye to Fascisti attacks. Privately, many special constables were glad of the assistance in their own battle against the workers. Ramsay MacDonald took to the BBC on August 12th to make a special broadcast condemning the violence, but it fell on deaf ears. Each for their own reasons, neither the Fascisti nor the trade unions were willing to hear out the Labour government’s calls for peace.

Workers are seen running through training exercises and drills. Footage of men and women being instructed in the use of rifles. Younger partisans are shown hurling bricks at houses and slashing tyres.

Redgrave: By the middle of August, governmental London was at a standstill. Whitehall and Westminster were both under solid worker control, forcing the civil service to evacuate a skeleton staff to the safe haven of Oxford. Ramsay MacDonald accepted an offer from heiress and Conservative MP Nancy Astor – whose anti-communism was matched only by her anti-Semitism – to reconvene Parliament at her home at Cliveden after the summer recess. In the wake of the departure of the British state, the workers’ movement established its own informal economy in London, as it had done across the country throughout the strike. In response to the dual threat of the Q Divisions and the Metropolitan Police, CPGB military spokesman Tom Wintringham was secretly tasked with overseeing the formation of an organised paramilitary force capable of defending worker control of London. By the end of summer, the first of the Workers’ Brigades had been deployed in the fight against the Fascisti. Phil Piratin became one of the Brigades most prominent commanders: at its peak, his Stepney Column numbered six thousand volunteers.

Stock footage of the Cliveden Parliament. Army guards stand around on the driveway, lifting up a roadblock to allow an MP’s car to enter the estate. MacDonald is shown speaking from the dispatch box.


CLIVEDEN%201926.jpg

View of the southern facade of Cliveden House, c. 1926.


Redgrave: After the heated summer of 1928, a period of relative normality followed in the autumn. With Parliament back in session, albeit removed to Buckinghamshire, the crisis left the streets and returned to the political stage. While Labour experienced a crisis of its own with the delivery of Snowden’s budget in late October, an uneasy ceasefire had materialised on the streets of London as the city’s inhabitants accommodated themselves to worker occupation. The Met had given up their attempts to remove the workers, and instead contented themselves with minor campaigns of harassment as levels of antipathy amongst constables rose. Much of the Fascisti core retreated to its base in the Home Counties, licking their wounds. As in Parliament, the crisis devolved into a stalemate.

Mosley gives an impassioned address from the backbenches. Annie Kenney speaks to a crowd in London. Police arrest a group of young men and women. Crowds of workers and clash with Fascisti squads.

Redgrave: The arrival of Oswald Mosley’s Provisional Labour–Unionist Alliance at the start of November shattered this impasse, both in Parliament and on the streets. MacDonald’s majority was cut down to only fifteen, and Churchill too had seen some of his most energetic young backbenchers quit the Conservative Party. The government, which had been in power for only eight months, looked closer than ever to collapse; it was unclear who would be the prime beneficiary when the time finally came.

Outside of Parliament, Mosley’s break with the Labour Party inspired fierce emotional response from the Fascisti, who branded the PLUA leader an “enemy of the people”. Lintorn-Orman saw herself in grand terms as the only figure capable of preventing the descent of the United Kingdom into untrammelled Bolshevism; in early November she declared the start of a renewed campaign against worker-occupied London. The most controversial episode in this campaign occurred on November 9th in Canning Town, when Q Division street-fighters attacked a crowd who had gathered to hear old suffragettes Annie Kenney and Adelaide Knight speak. Kenney and Knight themselves were arrested by police on charges of incitement and sedition, while many Fascisti fighters escaped arrest or else found themselves charged with only minor offences. MacDonald made noises of protest, but did not act. By this point, he could not afford to alienate the Met.

Stock footage of Tom Wintringham in a pub in Haggerston with men and women from one of the Workers’ Brigades. Two women are shown operating a checkpoint on a road in Hackney. Phil Piratin leads a patrol along Cable Street.


WORKERS%20BRIGADE%20FIGHTERS.jpg

Still image from footage taken of anti-fascist fighters in the East End, 1928.


Redgrave: While Parliament demurred, the workers’ movement was quick to respond. At the start of December, unemployment hit 2 million and membership of the NUWC hit 1.2 million. The occupation at Hyde Park remained quarter of a million strong, and after the arrests of Comrades Kenney and Knight hostile feeling towards the Met was at a peak. At the start of December, Phil Piratin issued a declaration on behalf of the tenants of Stepney withdrawing consent for the Metropolitan Police to operate within the boundaries of the ward. Similar statements followed in the days after, and by the start of winter much of the East End had turned into a Met no-go zone. The situation only worsened when reports emerged that Kenney and Knight were being force-fed in prison, causing a scandal for the beleaguered Labour government. MacDonald, startled into action, quietly worked to secure the women’s release, but it was too little too late. At a ceremony to welcome the women home at St George in the East, Adelaide Knight collapsed and became unconscious. She had contracted pneumonia in prison, and died only three days after her release. Her widower Donald Brown Knight, a decorated foreman at Woolwich Arsenal, gave an emotional address to the Hyde Park occupation on Christmas Eve in which he denounced both the government and the Metropolitan Police as Adelaide’s killers. The next day, on Christmas morning, the CPGB declared the start of Operation Exodus.

Firefights between workers and police constables. An injured Workers’ Brigade volunteer is shown being lifted into an improvised ambulance car. Workers with rifles survey an empty street behind a barricade.

Redgrave: Operation Exodus was the CPGB-backed campaign by the workers against the Metropolitan Police, led by Tom Wintringham. Wintringham was a former mechanic in the Royal Flying Corps who had established himself after its founding as the Communist Party’s expert on military affairs. He had an interest in street fighting and guerrilla warfare, and later in the Spanish War would prove a formidable commander. But it was in the campaign against the Metropolitan Police, and by extension the Q Divisions, that he cut his teeth. So long as MacDonald refused to call in the troops, the Met remained both outnumbered and outwitted by the tactics of Wintringham’s Workers’ Brigades. Given material backing by the TUC and its allies abroad, the Brigades were able to prosecute a fast and highly effective campaign. Spreading out from existing unionist strongholds in Westminster, Hackney and modern Tower Hamlets, by the New Year worker control had extended and secured throughout Islington and on its eastern perimeter hit the Northern Circular. A number of factors influencing both sides meant that fatality rates were low: the population of London displayed little to no resistance to the expansion of worker control, the combined unions having already taken over the de facto running of city life months before, while the Met offered only a muted response in most areas, perhaps in anticipation of the imminent deployment of the armed forces.

In Cliveden, the question of deployment had vexed Parliament. MacDonald, who had come to power in part on the back of his impassioned opposition to Stanley Baldwin’s deployment of troops at Wapping and Riverside, had little appetite for directing fire on the workers movement. Yet Churchill was unrelenting in his own opposition to Labour’s timidity, and after weeks without a resolution on deployment put forward a vote of no confidence in the ministry on January 9th. MacDonald lost, and Prince Edward dissolved Parliament the following day.

Stock footage of MacDonald leaving Downing Street. Various clips of parliamentary candidates campaigning across the country. Some events are policed by Fascisti; others are accompanied by a Workers’ Brigade presence. Life in London goes on as per usual under the occupation.


MOSLEY%20SPEECH%201931.png

Oswald Mosley campaigning in Stoke-on-Trent, February 1929.


Redgrave: Having delayed in office for as long as he could, MacDonald was thus finally ejected over the issue of the troops. By New Year 1929, Parliament had switched roles from primary mover to secondary follower: no longer was British politics dictated by matters of policy, but by the events being played out on the streets of London and elsewhere. By the end of January, as the United Kingdom went through the motions of acting out one of the most unorthodox elections in its history, Tom Wintringham and his Workers’ Brigades had all but pacified the Metropolitan Police and secured London for the workers’ movement. For perhaps the first time in British history, it felt as if the outcome of the election wouldn’t matter – not because of a lack of diversity in opinion, but because Westminster’s power was now all but ceremonial. Now more than ever before during the long arc of the strike, the conclusion seemed imminent. The success of Operation Exodus put the workers of Britain within touching distance of final victory over the forces of capital. The United Kingdom had only weeks to live.
 
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SibCDC

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A thought just occurred to me. With the Stock Market Crash approaching and the imminent fall of the British state, would some European countries that heavily depend on trade with Britain get an even worse economic crisis than in OTL?