The Union of Britain is a socialist state in western Europe. Lying on the north-western coast of the European mainland, it consists of the island of Britain and a great number of smaller outlying islands. The Union of Britain is completely surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to its east, the English Channel to its south, and the Celtic Sea to its south-west, and as such borders no other sovereign states. The closest neighbouring states are the Irish Republic across the Irish Sea to the west and the Commune of France south across the English Channel.
The General Strike
The origins of the Union of Britain can be traced to the unanimous vote by the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) in favour of industrial action on 28 February 1925. The main cause of what was to become the General Strike of 1925 was the tariffs introduced by the Conservative-National coalition government led by Prime Minister George Curzon, the 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston. While the policies levied against Germany and the nascent Mitteleuropa bloc initially triggered a brief revival in British manufacturing, the German Empire was quick to find ways to bypass British tariffs with various other nations servings as intermediaries for trade deals.
Germany was quick to place their own tariffs on British goods while pressuring others to adopt similar measures. British exports became limited, consumer prices in the United Kingdom soared, and foreign imports became unreasonably expensive. The coal industry was hit far harder than any other single sector in Britain, with British coal priced off the global market, replaced by cheaper exports from Germany and the United States.
The decision by the TUC to take industrial action was spurred on by a rousing speech from A.J. Cook, the General Secretary of the Miner's Federation of Great Britain, a man previously denounced by the TUC as a "raving Communist". On 6 March 1925, a general strike came into effect after all negotiations with the government had fallen through. The Conservative, National, and Liberal parties were quick to denounce the strikes as counterproductive, claiming the ringleaders were simply taking advantage of a national crisis to further their own careers. Home Secretary Winston Churchill was quick to make the decision to partially mobilise the Armed Forces to continue production and to attempt to keep the peace during the strike.
The Labour Party under Ramsay MacDonald remained uncharacteristically silent on the matter, a dividing issue for the party. While those on the left of the party including the leadership of the Independent Labour Party were ready to announce their support for the strikers and their cause, MacDonald and his cabinet remained cautious, the leader of the opposition feared that endorsing the strike would be seen as endorsing revolutionary socialism and the violence associated with the Red Clydeside period, something the Conservatives would be quick to capitalise on, while denouncing the strike would alienate much of the Labour Party's voting base. In the end, the party opted for a vague statement hoping that a compromise could be made between the government and the strikers.
First Shot of the Revolution
The definitive cause of the British Revolution, and the violent insurrection that triggered it is one shrouded in mystery and disinformation. All that is known for sure is that the primary catalyst was the series of events that took place at Tarenni Colliery in South Wales. Following the declaration of the General Strike, government forces were deployed to keep the peace, and to undertake any jobs seen to be of national importance. The deployment to Tarenni was met with open hostility from the striking miners and the local community, with protesters refusing to allow government forces access to the pits and machinery of the Colliery, as a result, a standoff developed between the local protesters and the government forces.
What followed next is a source of continuous debate, accounts from those present and other revolutionary elements suggest government forces opened fire on the protesters without any provocation, while government accounts report that warning shots were fired in self-defence following assaults from protesters, with some deliberately misinterpreting the shots as attempts to kill. Most historians are of the belief that a single shot was fired, which was enough to turn the scene into chaos.
The men deployed to keep order were a largely inexperienced division of the Territorial Army drafted from the North of Wales, totally unprepared to combat a general strike. It is believed a single shot may have accidentally been fired into the waves of agitated strikers from a rifle with an improperly used safety. No matter the cause, violence soon broke out between the two groups following the initial exchange, with impassioned and enraged strikers charging government lines.
News quickly spread across the country, with the Daily Herald picking up on rumours that the government ordered the forces present at Tarenni to open fire on the strikers, the news was to spread like wildfire throughout working-class communities, and as a result sporadic violence began to break out in other high-tension locations across the country, with the violence spreading further as more news of conflict across the country began to spread.
The Fires of Revolution Spread
On 15 March 1925, Scottish Revolutionary Socialist John Maclean was to give a speech in George Square that would change the very future of Great Britain. At first, the speech was nothing more than a denouncement of government action, but as the speech progressed the language used became more aggressive, passionate, and violent. Maclean ended his speech referencing the French Revolution of 1919, urging the workers of Britain to arise, to take arms, and to combat the tyranny of the old reactionary order which Curzon's government embodied.
Those who witnessed the speech passed on its message to all those they knew, while the TUC republished the message repeatedly through the Daily Herald. With the conduct of the government thrown into question following the events which took place at Tarenni, units of the Territorial army began to voluntarily stand down, with many turning themselves over to the side of the strikers and the revolutionaries, seizing key industry and local government in the name of the General Strike. Despite attempts from the Labour Party to avoid the issue completely, on 18 March 1925, a grouping of Labour MPs in the Commons led by James Maxton, John Wheatley, and David Kirkwood gave successive speeches in support of the uprisings taking place throughout the country, echoing calls for revolution, and the removal of the government by force. The men were promptly ejected from the House of Commons.
Although Birmingham may have been seen as a staunchly Conservative city, serving as the home territory of the Chamberlain political dynasty, that was by no means the case. The peoples of Birmingham were swiftly swayed to the revolutionary cause, overrunning a city for generations dominated by the Conservative Party. Much credit is given to the actions of the young Labour MP Sir Oswald Mosley, who captivated crowds with his oratory skills, bringing the unsure to the revolutionary cause through his own personal story of leaving the Conservative Party for the Labour Movement and his conversion to the cause and creed of Socialism. Soon many of Britain's largest cities were to fall under revolutionary control, government control was effectively limited to the City of London, cut off from much of the country by the revolutionary elements controlling the larger metropolitan area.
Prime Minister George Curzon, the 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, died on 20 March 1925, following a serve haemorrhage of the bladder. For some time, the Prime Minister had been in ill health. but had managed to successfully prevent any rumours reaching the public that may have damaged his position as Prime Minister, as a result, the death of the Prime Minister came as a shock to the nation. Many believe that the revolution engulfing Britain was simply too much for the ageing Curzon to cope with, the stress of the situation aggravating the Prime Minister's existing health issues. The Influential former Chancellor of the Exchequer Stanley Baldwin was quick to take charge of the situation following Curzon's unexpected death, there was, however, no time available to formally declare Baldwin Prime Minister in the midst of the chaos that was slowly consuming Britain.
Despite promises to restore order, the situation appeared worse with each passing day, and on 22 March 1925, Baldwin was to effectively admit defeat by taking the unprecedented action of evacuating himself and what remained of the government to Canada. Those who could quickly followed suit, making use of loyal elements of the Royal Navy to transport as many men, and as much material as possible across the Atlantic. The Royal Family had already been temporarily evacuated seven days earlier under the guise of a royal visit, the temporary arrangement, however, was soon to become a permanent one.
The Inaugural Congress
The Union of Britain was officially proclaimed on 3 June 1925. With the majority of MPs having fled the country in the chaos, the few remaining radicals of the Labour party took the unprecedented act of passing the final legislation produced by the United Kingdom, legislation that would abolish both houses of Parliament, and the United Kingdom itself. In its a place, a new government was to be established, based around the long-standing Trades Union Congress which had helped coordinate the actions of the General Strike, membership of the TUC was to be expanded to the entire adult population of Great Britain, creating a new representative government, for a new Britain.
The inaugural congress of the Union of Britain was held in a single day on 4 June 1925. Owing to the rapid establishment of the Union and the chaos still engulfing much of the country, turnout was largely limited to active members of the TUC, and longstanding members of revolutionary circles. After a brief period of ballot counting, the composition of the first National Trade Unions Congress (NTUC) was announced.
Unsurprisingly, John Maclean was voted Chairman of the Trades Union Congress with an overwhelming majority, owing to his tireless campaigning during the war and his role in bringing on the revolution which brought this new Congress into existence. The veteran Trade Unionist and Communist Tom Mann was also elected General Secretary with a sizable majority, owing to long commitment to the Trade Union movement as far back as 1884, and his expert organisational skills. Further bolstering the Trade Unionist ranks in the Congress were Walter Citrine a leading figure in International Trade Unionist circles, and Arthur James Cook - largely regarded as the architect of the General Strike, the two men were appointed as Commissary for Foreign Affairs, and Commissary for the Exchequer respectively.
A more moderate voice in the TUC came in the form of Sidney Webb, founder of the London School of Economics, and the leading voice of the Fabian society since its foundation in 1884, Webb was to be elected to the office of Commissary for the Home Department with the backing of the more moderate Trade Unions. Meanwhile Maclean's close associate Emanuel 'Manny' Shinwell was elected as Head of the Secret Service Bureau for his tireless work in securing the Central Belt on the outbreak of the revolution. With the majority of the United Kingdom's General Staff remaining loyal to the crown even as their forces dispersed, the young officer Tom Wintringham was quickly appointed as Chief of General Staff, and Commander-in-Chief of the Republican militias, with the positions of Commander-in-Chief of the Republican Navy and Airforce remaining temporarily vacant.
Outsiders in the New Britain
Notable absences from the Congress included any representatives from the Communist Party of Great Britain, and the so-called "Hero of Birmingham", Oswald Mosley. The leadership of the CPGB refused outright to attend the Congress owing to the presence of Sidney Webb and his Fabian allies, decrying them as members of the petit-bourgeois with nothing to offer International Socialism.
If his actions in Birmingham marked the high point of his career, then only weeks later Mosley's speech to the TUC was to mark the low point. Addressing the TUC Mosley was quick to denounce the entire structure of the new national organisation as flawed, arguing that a system of decentralisation and co-operatives had no place in a true Socialist society and that such institutions were nothing more than the relics of the old Liberal Democracy which had failed the people of Britain. Unable to sense the mood of the Congress, Mosley expressed his belief that only a strong centralised government under a TUC free to act whatever policy it sees necessary could bring Socialism to the British Isles, at the same time announcing his candidacy for Commissary for the Home Department. With his speech and aristocratic background held against him, Mosley polled last. When the position was ultimately assigned to Sidney Webb; Mosley is said to have left the building in disgust. The events of the British revolution in the end only served to push Mosley to the fringes of British politics once more.
25 April 1929 - On the 25th April 1929 John Maclean collapsed mid-speech whilst addressing the TUC, his death was largely attributed to the treatment he received during his wartime imprisonment for his pacifism. Maclean had created a platform that managed to appeal to all corners of British society at once, as a result, the makeup of the Congress remained largely unchanged, with all key ministers appointed in 1926 still holding their positions. However, the political landscape was far different from the 1926 Congress, with British politics having entered a new era of factionalism, with new political allegiances being formed; creating a diverse new Congress:
Elected Chairman of the TUC by a decent majority was the moderate and unassuming Philip Snowden, a former Liberal converted to Socialism in his early 20s, and the former Chair of the Independent Labour Party. Snowden's victory has largely been credited to his decision to avoid factional politics in the TUC, portraying himself as an unaligned unity candidate. Elected General Secretary following Tom Mann's retirement was the young Trade Unionist Arthur Horner who had emerged as the leader of the growing Federationist faction dedicated to preserving the status quo in the TUC. Clifford Allen was to become Commissary for Foreign Affairs after narrowly defeating the incumbent Walter Citrine. Allen was to become the only major representative of the Congregationalist faction in the TUC, a group not dissimilar to the Federationists, but one which placed greater importance on both pacifism and social justice, leading to the group becoming a Feminist beacon in the largely male-dominated TUC.
A.J. Cook and Sidney Webb were both re-elected to their positions with large majorities, with neither moving towards any of the newly established factions. A major upset came in the form of the defeat of Maclean's close ally Emanuel Shinwell by Fenner Brockway, an associate of Chairman Snowden, and another former member of the ILP. The Military vacancies left in the inaugural Congress were by now filled, leading military theorist Alan Brooke was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Republican Militias, while the former Labour politicians and Officers A.V. Alexander and William Wedgewood Benn were appointed as Commanders-in-Chief of the Republican Navy and Airforce respectively.
A.J. Cook passed away aged 47 on the 2 November 1931 following a brief battle with terminal throat cancer. This untimely death was to leave the key position of Commissary for the Exchequer, which had been held by Cook since 1926, wide open. Only days later Sidney Webb was to announce his own retirement as Commissary for the Home Department, citing his advanced age and desire to return to civilian life as the main reasons for his resignation.
Candidates from all political factions and affiliations put their names forward for both positions, but perhaps the most surprising candidacy was that of Oswald Mosley for the position of Commissary of the Exchequer. Having spent the last 6 years in the political wilderness while the Union of Britain stabilised, Mosley was to finally make his next move, believing it was finally time for his vision of Britain to be realised, by successfully appealing to those who desired more radical change to British society, and to those to whom the revolution had been rather lacklustre.
Equally shocking was the announcement on 12 December 1931 that Mosley had been successfully elected Commissary for the Exchequer by a slim majority, narrowly defeating the moderate Arthur Greenwood on the final ballot. However, the Federationist Herbert Morrison was to be elected as Commissary for the Home Department, giving the Federationists a majority in the TUC, even without the support for the generally Sympathetic Philip Snowden, effectively securing the status quo for the time being.
British politics will likely soon undergo a major shift. With the upcoming 1936 Congress of Trade Unions many parties hunger for power over their enemies. As Chairman Philip Snowden intends to resign many parties intend to leap on the opportunity of securing a majority this Congress of Trade Unions. Oswald Mosley's Maximists, Niclas y Glais' Autonomists and Arthur Horner's Federationists all have radically differing opinions of how the Union of Britain should be governed. The Maximists advocate large-scale centralization whilst the Autonomists fight for the exact opposite; more autonomy and possibly full independence. The Federationists remain in the middle of this as they favour keeping the status quo.
|Conscription Law: Volunteer Only|
|Economic Law: Civilian Economy|
|Trade Law: Export Focus|
|Head of Government: Arthur Horner|
|Foreign Minister: Clifford Allen|
|Economy Minister: Oswald Mosley|
|Security Minister: Herbert Morrison|
|Intelligence Minister: Fenner Brockway|
The military doctrine of the Union of Britain puts great emphasis on naval superiority in home waters as well as providing escorts for commerce vessels which are the lifeline of the island nations. The army has a secondary role as the air force and the navy are thought to have a higher priority.
The British Army is a mix of standing army units, home defence garrisons and local militias which provide a mobile reserve for the home defence garrisons. The standing army is rather small, but the manpower pool of Britain is great and a great number of divisions can be raised in a relatively short time should the need arise.
Despite the loss of many ships of the Royal Navy as the monarchists left for Canada, the Republican Navy is still one of the greatest navies of the world and one of the few navies of the world that employ aircraft carriers. The Republican Navy is the sole navy in Europe that can hope to take on the Kaiserliche Marine at sea. The Republican Navy, which is self-governing and largely self-financing, controls not only maritime defence, customs, and the merchant marine, but also has a huge influence over shipbuilding, trade and foreign policy.
The Republican Air Force is mainly tasked to defend the British airspace and not so much on fighting an aerial war in enemy skies. Still, the RAF does employ a significant number of strategic bombers under the RAF Strategic Bomber Command should the need arise to take the war to the enemy.
The Union of Britain is mostly isolated from foreign affairs, emphasizing domestic affairs over foreign ones. While they maintain warm relations with the Commune of France, the Socialist Republic of Italy and other revolutionary countries, the Union of Britain is not a member of any military alliances, including the Internationale. The Union of Britain has poor relations with all members of the Entente, most particularly the exiled government in power in Canada.
The extent in which the Union of Britain involves itself in international politics will be a hotly contested issue in the upcoming Congress of the Trade Unions.
The Union of Britain's economy is largely civilian. The military economy has remained largely undeveloped, due to the socialist economy of the nation. For the past decade, the economy has become more and more centralized. Leading politicians such as Nicolas y Glias, and Annie Kenny have wanted to continue the status quo (At least economic wise). While Oswald Mosley and Arthur Horner desire a more centralized economy.
Many British painters and authors fled the country with the government in the revolution, although some Intelligentsia like Enid Blyton and Eric Arthur Blair worked to galvanise popular support for the revolution and later the government. Many critics complain of the rigid censorship enforced by Blair's Ministry of Truth in Art, which zealously works to "defend the glories of the Revolution, from the the ever-present dangers of nostalgia and tradition" and consequently he has seen to the destruction of many works of pre-revolutionary art, arguing that "these so-called 'masterpieces' say nothing to the Modern Unionist Man, but dark lies, art merely reinforces the power of the elites and if we are ever to throw off the shackles of their generations of oppression we need to eradicate the tools of their oppression, once and for all." Despite this, many other art forms, such as Avant Garde, have flourished under the new Union government.