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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Killerduck

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Given I'm not exactly fighting off readers and commenters with a stick...
We're still here! I don't always comment but I read every update with joy of a child unpacking christmas presents. Last update was classic Butterfly Effect - unknown, obscure and extremely interesting.

Can you give us some more examples of cruiser diplomacy of this period, maybe a link if it's too much to write?
 
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We're still here! I don't always comment but I read every update with joy of a child unpacking christmas presents. Last update was classic Butterfly Effect - unknown, obscure and extremely interesting.
What greater praise could a writer ask for? Glad you are still enjoying this after all this time. :)

Can you give us some more examples of cruiser diplomacy of this period, maybe a link if it's too much to write?
China Station / Far East is always the classic example of inter-war cruiser diplomacy for the RN. While the capital ships were tied up in commitments in the Med / Home Waters the best cruisers (County and Towns) did get sent East to fly the flag with the 4th and 5th Cruiser Squadrons. These ships were the 'right size' for the mission - a battleship in your harbour is a bit intimidating while a sloop a bit pathetic. A new cruiser had the big guns that impressed non-military types and had the modern kit that the professionals would be impressed by, they also had the space for all the diplomatic and party functions the British Embassies wanted to host. As a result they were all kept busy pinging around the region on port visits and highly visible exercise.

For China Station a 'typical' mid 1930s cruise could be depart Hong Kong, visit Shanghai to remind everyone that the RN existed and host a diplomatic function to help back the ambassador's words with guns, onto Manilla for an official visit (and an unofficial chat with the USN to build relations and exchange intelligence), then onto Batavia to do similar with the Dutch East Indies before returning via Singapore to chat to the governor and RN officers there. Similar runs would be made to the French colonies to reassure Allies, to Siam to convince them to be pro-British neutral (or better), that sort of thing.

The 4th and 5th also liked to run war games where the Counties were surface raiders and the rest of the squadron hunted them down. Partly for practice, but given they tended to make these very public (notice to shipping not to be alarmed by RN vessels getting up close or appearing to be training guns on them) there was also a deterrent purpose - look what we could do to your trade if Britain was your enemy, isn't it a good things we are nice and friendly?

To a lesser extent Africa Station and the West Indies forces did the same, but with no obvious big threat it was at a lower tempo than the Far East. There is a decent article on the Tsingtao Incident in 1939 which covers the sort of things the Far East forces got up to outside wartime, some of the themes from it may crop up in Butterfly in the future, depending on what Japan does.
 
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This 'eres our rock. You can 'Ave it, after you prise it off our cold, dead corpse!
 

Killerduck

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To a lesser extent Africa Station and the West Indies forces did the same, but with no obvious big threat it was at a lower tempo than the Far East. There is a decent article on the Tsingtao Incident in 1939 which covers the sort of things the Far East forces got up to outside wartime, some of the themes from it may crop up in Butterfly in the future, depending on what Japan does.
Thank you, quite interesting. I always wondered how "showing the flag" worked in practice.
 
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Thank you, quite interesting. I always wondered how "showing the flag" worked in practice.
Everything from showing people a picture of it, to ramming it down their throats on fire.

Such is diplomacy, especially in contested waters. Land is one thing, even small contestable specks, but the nebulous 'sea' is murky indeed.
 

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The photo is marvellous, I do pity the young bootnecks, who probably joined the Marines to jump out of landing craft and enjoy the foreign 'runs ashore' that make a forces career so enjoyable...

And then they're posted to Rockall. Bloody marvellous.
 
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The photo is marvellous, I do pity the young bootnecks, who probably joined the Marines to jump out of landing craft and enjoy the foreign 'runs ashore' that make a forces career so enjoyable...

And then they're posted to Rockall. Bloody marvellous.
This is the sort of thing you should be using Australians for.
 
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Thank you, quite interesting. I always wondered how "showing the flag" worked in practice.
Everything from showing people a picture of it, to ramming it down their throats on fire.

Such is diplomacy, especially in contested waters. Land is one thing, even small contestable specks, but the nebulous 'sea' is murky indeed.
The inter-war view was that showing the flag was far more important in uncontested waters. You were not going to convince an enemy to withdraw a claim just by sailing a cruiser through it regularly, though it was important to do so just to keep your claim going. What you wanted to do was reassure Allies (or potential allies) and nearby neutrals about your commitment to the area so you visited friendly and neutral ports mostly. To an extent also just cruising around the region meant something as well - running a squadron of cruisers was not cheap and everyone who had a navy knew it, so it was a tangible spending of money to demonstrate you meant it.

As an example the Pacific Island Survey cruises ended up as discrete items in the Naval Estimates - the cost of the fuel used was large enough (over £10,000 as I recall, so ~2 Spitfires) that it couldn't just be rolled up into the general running costs.

The Home Fleet only spent about ~45 days properly 'at sea' (i.e. out of port for more than a couple of days) most peace time years. Because a weeks worth of half speed (12knts) cruising around on exercises would cost £40k in fuel alone. The annual Home Fleet vs Med Fleet exercise, with all the carriers joining in, could easily get through £100k in fuel. Navys were expensive to build and then expensive to run.

This 'eres our rock. You can 'Ave it, after you prise it off our cold, dead corpse!
The photo is marvellous, I do pity the young bootnecks, who probably joined the Marines to jump out of landing craft and enjoy the foreign 'runs ashore' that make a forces career so enjoyable...

And then they're posted to Rockall. Bloody marvellous.
I think that photo was taken after Operation Top Hat, when they got the REMEs to blast the top off Rockall to form some flat surfaces for the beacon. So the Booties at least got to watch a massive explosion before their couple of hours on guard duty.

This is the sort of thing you should be using Australians for.
Oddly there never were any Royal Australian Marines (or indeed any other kind of Australian Marines) which always seemed like an oversight given the topography of the Far East, or the Near North as some Australian politicians called it.
 

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Oddly there never were any Royal Australian Marines (or indeed any other kind of Australian Marines) which always seemed like an oversight given the topography of the Far East, or the Near North as some Australian politicians called it.
Makes the idea of them being a valued and useful dominion and empire member a little hollow if the british didn’t even let them garrison tiny islands in the pacific for them.

"This is an outrage! Why aren't we doing the tedious busy work in OUR stretch of the empire?"
"Pfft, we don't even trust you with New Zealand. Shoo."
 
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Makes the idea of them being a valued and useful dominion and empire member a little hollow if the british didn’t even let them garrison tiny islands in the pacific for them.

"This is an outrage! Why aren't we doing the tedious busy work in OUR stretch of the empire?"
"Pfft, we don't even trust you with New Zealand. Shoo."
Let's be honest, out of that particular pairing you would be better off asking New Zealand to look after Australia. Subtly obviously, you don't want to embarrass anyone, just a quiet word at an Imperial Conference asking if they would mind keeping an eye on the place as Australia needs a bit of help but is too proud to ask.

I imagine that's why the Pacific Island expeditions were all run out of New Zealand.
 
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Let's be honest, out of that particular pairing you would be better off asking New Zealand to look after Australia. Subtly obviously, you don't want to embarrass anyone, just a quiet word at an Imperial Conference asking if they would mind keeping an eye on the place as Australia needs a bit of help but is too proud to ask.

I imagine that's why the Pacific Island expeditions were all run out of New Zealand.
Look...yes...yeah, yeah I know you love them. We all love them. It's just...yes...yeah, ok. Look, just do it for the King ok? He's worried, we're all worried. It's only keeping an eye out, right? Yeah. Yeah, thanks mate. You were always my favourite.

Yeah, great. Thanks. Good talk, good talk. See you when the cricket starts up again.

Right then...OI, CANADA! GET AWAY FROM THAT NO-GOOD...yeah, yeah alright. Oh, Alaska again? Look, we've talked about this...
 
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Look...yes...yeah, yeah I know you love them. We all love them. It's just...yes...yeah, ok. Look, just do it for the King ok? He's worried, we're all worried. It's only keeping an eye out, right? Yeah. Yeah, thanks mate. You were always my favourite.

Yeah, great. Thanks. Good talk, good talk. See you when the cricket starts up again.

Right then...OI, CANADA! GET AWAY FROM THAT NO-GOOD...yeah, yeah alright. Oh, Alaska again? Look, we've talked about this...
South Africa, please stop hitting yourself. There is nothing wrong with you, just have another beer and think about the rugby OK?

Yes Rhodesia you can sit at the adults table, no you cannot have a drink. Not till your bigger. And that does not mean you can eat Nyasaland, we've told you before.
 
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South Africa, please stop hitting yourself. There is nothing wrong with you, just have another beer and think about the rugby OK?

Yes Rhodesia you can sit at the adults table, no you cannot have a drink. Not till your bigger. And that does not mean you can eat Nyasaland, we've told you before.
Newfoundland! You are also here. Are you a dominion this year? I forget.

Oh Jesus...who let Ireland in? Oh, they're hosting. Well I guess that's...they have booze right? OK. Just keep them drunk, alright? Thanks Scotland, knew there was a reason we kept you around.

Who's that group over there with Malysia? Who? Who? Where's that? South Georgia...ok, but where's that? Stop naming tiny islands. Closest big landmass.

...

Argentina.

Oh, good thing we're such great friends and trading partners. By the way, anyone know if the British Antarctic Territories showed up? I love confusing people when introducing them.
 
Supporting Appendix B: State of the Economic Empire, Summer 1937

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Supporting Appendix B: State of the Economic Empire, Summer 1937

The 1937 Imperial Conference, also known as the Second British Empire Economic Conference, was a complex and frank meeting, indeed at times in bordered on direct. To avoid over-loading the discussion of the conference with background material, this Appendix presents a series of snapshots of various sectors of the British and wider Imperial economy. It is hoped that these summaries will provide context on the many contradictory issues facing the Empire, help to explain why the British government adopted the positions it did at the conference and outline the domestic and economic policies of the main political parties on the subject. This section also provides a useful 'baseline' for the state of the Imperial Economy before the seismic events of the Autumn.
 
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Appendix B1: Dundee! City of Empire.

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Appendix B1: Dundee! City of Empire.

For those unfamiliar with it's charms, Dundee is a city on the east coast of Scotland worthy of our attention due to it's close and incredibly representative relationship with the Empire and wider world. Dundee is proverbially famed for the three 'J's; Jam, Journalism and Jute, but we are concerned with only one of those in this section. The travails and triumphs of the Fourth Estate are in general beyond our scope and we shall consider Jam (or more technically marmalade) when we look at the fruit inspired nexus formed by the international citrus trade, cross-border credit financing and the Spanish Civil War. This leaves us with Jute, not perhaps the most exciting material but an important one and an industry deeply tied up with the economic complexities of Empire. Jute is a fibrous plant native to Bengal which, when processed and weaved, will produce the cheap, tough, hard-wearing and breathable material Hessian. This combination of properties made it the material of choice for transporting agricultural products (everything from wool to coffee beans to flour was shipped in Hessian sacks), backing a quality carpet and, in times of war, it proved itself an ideal material for sandbags.

Dundee thrived on Jute and soon gained the nickname Juteopolis, such was it's dominance of the product and the city's dependence on the trade. For 50 years the Dundee factories had a virtual monopoly on the market and at it's peak almost 50% of the city's population worked in the mills. However, just as Empire had enabled Dundee to build it's monopoly by stopping her continental rivals getting a supply of raw Jute out of Bengal, so it was Empire that would cripple her by creating the competition. The potential profits from opening Jute Mills in Calcutta was obvious, closer to the raw material and with much cheaper labour they would be lucrative, and after some initial setbacks by the turn of the century the Calcutta mills were well established. In an ironic detail the workers of Dundee were crucial in to the process of killing their home town's main industry; the new Calcutta mills needed supervisors and engineers familiar with modern machinery and so the Jute Wallah was born - experienced Dundee men sent to Calcutta, inducted into the local Raj hierarchy and then given a mill to manage.


The Dundee Stock Exchange, formally established in 1879, was never a busy exchange in itself and was mainly a route for local investors to more easily access the wider British and Imperial stock markets. The busiest agents on the exchange were not those from local Jute firms or even those looking to set up mills in India, but the firms selling Empire and overseas focused investment trusts, particularly those targeting the Americas. That the local mill owners and investors were looking for investment options elsewhere should have been seen as warning sign about the future fate of the industry.

A handful of Dundee based firms succeeded in making themselves into full on Raj conglomerates, owning not only the Jute mills but also the coal mines that provided the fuel, the docks where the finished product was shipped from and even the housing the workers lived in. This was however unusual, for most investors direct investment in Indian Jute mills soon gave way to the less risky, and even more lucrative, 'managing agent' scheme. A typical scheme would see the managing agent firm identify a site, build the mill and then float the resulting company on the local Indian stock exchange, not to raise capital (the mill had already been built) but to cash-out the original investors at a handsome profit while retaining a large, essentially free, stake. The managing agent firm would have a string of long term contracts with the newly floated mill company, covering the entire process from supplying raw materials through to selling the resulting product, collecting a handsome fee every step of the way at little to no risk. Crucially, and in stark contrast to the Cotton industry in the Raj, this combination of managing contracts and a large shareholding meant the Jute industry was still very much British controlled, even if it was on paper majority owned by expat and 'native' Indian shareholders. An example of the difference this made can be found in labour costs, in the west coast Cotton industry wages skyrocketed almost 300% between 1920 and the mid 1930s, with the result that the 'cheap' Indian cotton mills found themselves undercut by Japan, just as they had once threatened to undercut the Lancashire mills. In contrast wages in Bengal's Jute mills barely went up 20% as the Bengal government allowed/encouraged massive migration from neighbouring states to keep the mills well stocked with fresh, cheap labour.

It is worth noting that this was not just a challenge to the Conservatives, both Labour and the Liberal Social Democrats (LSD) had to respond and their different reactions indicate the splits on the broader left around the issue. Traditionally Labour were anti-protectionism as they felt tariffs only increased prices of food and basic goods for the working class and entrenched domestic monopolies, increasing the bosses power over labour. But also felt the need to make clear they were anti-Free Trade as they knew that policy was also unpopular, particularly with the unions, so they had devised their own, unique solution. Diagnosing the problem as being the low wages of overseas workers their policy was for an international agreement, through the offices of the League of Nations, to agree minimum pay and conditions for factory work worldwide, on the understanding this would mean massive pay rises for Japan and India. With wages equalised UK industry would be able to compete and workers in all countries would be fairly recompensed, should any country failed to live up to it's agreement on wages then there would be a total embargo on their exports. The flaws are obvious, not least the unanswered question of why would, for instance, Japan sign a treaty that would destroy it's export trade, when Labour had made it clear they would not pre-emptively embargo any non-signatory? Roundly mocked at the time the newly 'reformed' Labour party gave in to TUC pressure, shouted down it's internationalist and idealist wings, and embraced a mild form of protectionism.



The Wellington Foundry in Leeds, owned by Fairbairn Lawson Combe Barbour Ltd (FLCB) the largest textile machinery manufacturing firm in the world in the mid-1930s. FLCB and their Scottish rivals ULRO (Urquhart, Lindsay and Robertson Orchar) were vigorous campaigners in Westminster against tariffs and quotas in the textile industry, on the reasonable basis that the inevitable counter-tariffs would affect their machinery exports. Given the machinery manufactures were profitable, could out-compete their international rivals, produced valuable export earnings and in general only wanted the status quo maintained, they tended to gain a warmer reception than the seemingly perpetually 'in crisis' textile firms. A similar split could be seen in the workforce, the textile unions being pro-tariff while the industrial unions supported Imperial Preference if not full on free trade.

In contrast the LSD had the free trade inheritance of the Liberal tradition and had made that stick in the new party, it's former Labour contingent agreeing that for most of the working class free trade was a benefit for the reasons Labour had previously espoused. This position on trade, along with their other industrial policies and the ongoing bad blood inside the union movement around the welding striker, was enough to tempt the Transport and General Worker's Union (TGWU) into backing the party. To be brutal they had basically no members in the textile industry, they could see free trade would benefit all their members and that tariffs would hurt their industrial members, and they worried about a loss of influence in the TUC and the direction of Labour policy. While TGWU was the first to jump ship, they would not be the last, particularly after the dramatic events of the autumn. This did leave the question of what to do with Dundee and the others industries that would be affected by this policy, to which the LSD answer was re-train the workers and build new industries for them to work in. The LSD were comfortable with massive state intervention, nationalisation and direct government investment/finance, they just believed it should be targeted on industries with a future not wasted in prolonging the agony of those that were doomed, though they were careful to express the sentiment more sympathetically in public.

The scale of the problem facing the British government should now be clear. Fundamentally the Calcutta Jute industry had access to cheaper labour which, while nowhere near as productive, was so much cheaper it could still undercut Dundee and, importantly, everyone else in the Jute trade. Due to the unique structure of the managing agent firms, and the involvement of the City of London in the trading, shipping and financing, the bulk of the actual profits flowed back to Britain, even if the factories were in India and notionally owned by Indian capital. Crippling the Jute industry by forcing up wages, as had inadvertently happened to the Cotton industry, was certainly possible and would to an extent aid Dundee, but on a net basis would cost Britain money as the Dundee mills would be far less profitable. Tariffs could in theory assist on the British-Indian jute trade and allow Dundee to regain the domestic market, but intra-Empire barriers to trade were unpopular, difficult to square with "Empire Free Trade" as agreed at Ottawa and fiercely opposed by the City and the many investors across Britain and the Empire who were profiting from the Jute trade. Widely believed to have no acceptable solution, or at least no solution that would be acceptable to all the parties, the issue would force itself onto the agenda of the Conference regardless. Even if Jute could be ignored, it was obvious the same pattern could repeat itself as the Dominions industrialised and British interests, however they were defined, could be found on both sides of the argument.

--
Notes:
A slightly different style for this one, I've gone for the conceit of this being an Appendix to the main work just to try something new. I hoped it would result in the chapter being shorter and it is (a little bit), though it ended up growing when that political bit got dropped in the middle.

But onto the subject itself - Dundee and Jute! I'd ask you to name a more intoxicating and bewitching combination, but I don't think the server could cope with the mountain of responses. However it was a complex problem and in it's own way interesting, certainly I have sympathy with the government trying to solve it as it involved some fairly fundamental "What is the point of Empire?" and "City of London vs The Rest" type questions which I always find fascinating.

The Calcutta vs Bengal wage difference is entirely true, there is a quote from Halifax (when he was Viceroy of India) complaining that the Bengal Presidency had too much 'European influence" and wouldn't introduce the various factory acts and reforms everyone else in nida was. In contrast the Calcutta Cotton mills got 'reformed' and then got undercut by Japan which, for a time at least, helped save the Lancashire mills. I don't think the reforms were a deliberate attempt to cripple Indian industry by jacking up wages, I think it was a genuinely well intentioned reaction to the poor conditions, but Imperial politics is a murky place so I wouldn't rule out a degree of happy-side-effect in British policy.

On which note Labour trade policy in 1935 through to the war was that barking made/idealistic and everyone did mock them for it, yet they persisted. The unions were torn on the policy, the TUC tended towards the practical view that if the rest of the world had tariffs then their members might as well see the benefits, but there were large differences for reasons I hope are clear. LSD have kept Free Trade as that was always totemic for (most) of the proper Liberals and there is enough of a socialist tradition of the policy for the new Labour defectors to be happy with that, particularly given the wider changes in policy. The LSD policy for Dundee is actually pretty close to the OTL government policy (which was declare Dundee a Special Area, give it some tax/rate cuts and throw money at it) but done a great deal more enthusiastically and with some money for training thrown in as well.
 
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Cromwell

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11 days! Where is Pip and what have you done with him? Is he tied up under the desk, release him at once I say!

I like the idea of these updates, framing the various problems for the conference to solve and giving examples of how industries are effected. It will really contextualise why things gets decided/rejected when the conference rolls around.

I have to admit to bring excited to see what other industries get this forensic level of examination (Birmingham gun trade please!). You will no doubt be inundated with requests so I feel no guilt in being the first. :p
 
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Not only 11 days, but also not top of the page billing?! Have you enlisted the Pipettes already into your scheme?!
 

TheButterflyComposer

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This style of appendix looms interesting, so long as it isn't just an excuse to start going backwards in game time instead of forward!
 
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So Dundee and I have a strained relationship; I spent a very odd couple of days up there in '16, ended by a raucous dinner hosted by a wonderful organisation called the "Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee." I gave an uproarious speech in which I toasted the Queen of Scots (nope, no idea), talked a ton about the importance of Scots in the English Legal System (a lot of padding) and finally quoted Burns. It was awful.

The sole aim of the dinner, I am now convinced, was to get the English lawyer so drunk he would never venture north of Berwick again. It worked. The lowpoint of a journey home in which several of my personal 'worsts' were achieved was passing out on the flight south; when I awoke upon landing my neighbouring passengers had dispersed far and wide, such was the shambles of a human that I had become.

Anyhoo, it's a fun city if you avoid official hospitality. They wear their history well, and I had a fun hour (before the dinner) in Captain Scott's ship Discovery. Very much recommended.