Rise Like Lions (A British HPM AAR) Part 3: The Commonwealth (1898-1902)

Published: 2017-07-09

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Rise Like Lions (A British HPM AAR)

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Game: Victoria 2

Rise Like Lions (A British HPM AAR) Part 2: The British Civil War (1894-1898)

Images: 41, author: CargoShortsSensei, published: 2017-06-27

After half a decade of instability, civil war, and provisional government, peace came to England and Wales in the spring of 1898.
After a long revolution that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians and militiamen alike, the Commonwealth of Great Britain was declared on April 7th, 1898. The National Architecture - a collection of British laws that more or less allowed the Westminster System to continue - was ratified as the new nation's constitution. Elections would be held in November, and a new Prime Minister would be chosen by the people of Britain.

Thanks to a general mistrust of the poor after the brief Anarcho-Communist government in Battersea, universal voting rights were not yet instated. Property requirements would be necessary to ensure order in the fall.
Charles Dilke, MP for Chelsea, was the leader of the Liberal-Republicans, who were expected to ride a wave of anti-socialist sentiment in Britain to a huge majority in Parliament.

Dilke made a name for himself in the 1870s as a radical Liberal politician, arguing that the British monarchy should be abolished in favor of a republic. Before the introduction of the Labour Party in the 1880s, he was one of the first Liberals to argue for legalizing labor unions, improving working conditions, limiting working hours, and universal schooling for children.

Despite his more controversial views (his belief in the continuation of the empire being chief among them), he was seen as a "unity" candidate between liberals and socialists, at least during the 1898 campaign.
The Labour Party, led by Richard Bell, MP for Derby, was the only serious challenge to the Liberal-Republicans. Labour candidates struggled to truly distinguish themselves from their radical competitions, but the party still managed to put forward candidates for all 491 seats.
As the Charles Dilke-led standing government took power, the overseas territories of Britain were either in rebellion or had stopped paying attention to London long ago. The remaining colonies of British Columbia, Newfoundland, and Rupert's Land still technically fell under British jurisdiction even after the Dominion of Canada gained independence, and a strong movement was alive in both Britain and Canada to merely cede these colonies to Canada and be done with it.

Dilke, however, decided on his own plan. Newfoundland had revolted under Anarcho-Communist rule, so he and the Liberal-Republicans decided to give it greater autonomy. The Republic of Newfoundland was created just a few days later - and along with it, the Commonwealth's policy of "Associate Republicanism." Newfoundland became the first of these Associate Republics, with legislation soon being passed including all of the Indian republicans that had been created under the Provisional Government. While these states were sovereign nations on official account, the Commonwealth handled their international diplomatic ventures.
Back in Europe, the fledgling Commonwealth received an offer of military alliance with Norway. With the new government sorely needing friends, an agreement was soon drawn up.
While Britain maintained a tenuous hold over Ghana, Nigeria, and Somalia, Egypt and Sudan had long since been taken from her grasp. The House of Saud in Arabia and the Sultan of Oman, both propped up by the UK, found their support withdrawn by the Commonwealth.
In South Africa, Namibia and colonies further in the African heartland were trapped between the orbit of the Commonwealth and of South Africa, who continued to push northward. South Africa refused to recognize the republican government as legitimate, so Dilke had diplomats sent to Cape Town in an attempt to re-integrate the South Africans.
And lastly, India. The British stranglehold on the subcontinent had diminished in the years following the Great War, the Associate Republics still sprawled across most of the land, while fast-growing states like Rajputana began to dominate their smaller neighbors.
In the months leading up to the election, the once strong base for socialists in Britain began to evaporate. The Liberal-Republicans positioned themselves as the heroes of the revolution, and the people responded.
After the creation of the Commonwealth, more and more intellectuals began to write essays and spread the concept of female suffrage. During the Great War, women had taken to the workplace to replace the men who had been conscripted to fight and had gained more autonomy as a result. In the aftermath of the war, female suffrage had been passed in Germany and France. With the overthrow of monarchy and oppression in Britain, the general opinion of the country was swaying towards universal suffrage without regard to gender or income.

While Dilke remained mute on the issue during the election campaign, he privately supported women's suffrage and had some of his fellow Lib-Reps begin to draft a bill.
British authority slowly began to return to Africa in the fall of 1898.
THE COMMONWEALTH OF GREAT BRITAIN'S GENERAL ELECTION, 1898

POPULAR VOTE TOTALS
Liberal-Republicans - 47%
Labour - 35%
Tories - 14%
Other - 4%

In a landslide victory, Charles Dilke and the Liberal-Republicans were swept into power on a strong popular mandate. After a largely ceremonial vote that passed through the House of Commons with just seventeen dissenters, Francis Battenberg, a hero of the revolution, was elected as the first President of the Commonwealth.

In a speech that ended up setting government precedent for Britain for nearly two decades, Charles Dilke announced his intention to hold another election within five years. He also announced that he would defer to President Battenberg on matters of military, which would continue to be the norm for relationship between Presidents and Prime Ministers under the National Architecture.
While Dilke himself held imperial ambitions, in his early days of office, he emphasized the need to move Britain forward into the Twentieth Century. While nearly all of his government's time would be dedicated to encouraging domestic stability and sorting out Commonwealth's relationship to her colonies, this was not his only intention.
In an effort to fully pacify colonial natives, the Liberal-Republicans pushed through the "Universal Bill of Rights." As the original 1689 Bill of Rights focused quite a bit on the English monarchy, a new one was drafted and extended its protection to "all subjects of the Commonwealth of Great Britain, including her colonies." While colonial peoples were not automatically granted full British citizenship, it helped to ensure that Africa remained peaceful under British occupation.
With the Treaty of Hamburg no longer affecting Britain's military, Francis Battenberg planned the creation of the "Republican Army" that would replace its Royal predecessor. Despite the stability that the new government promised, many Liberal-Republicans feared a return to revolutionary socialism and civil war; Battenberg set out to ensure that it wouldn't happen.
After months of silence, the Irish Free State sent diplomats to Westminster. While the Irish were not interested in rewriting their own constitution to omit references to the United Kingdom, they did recognize the Commonwealth as the legitimate government of Britain, and offered several trade deals and a military alliance to Dilke's government.

In a move that shocked many in the British press, Dilke and Battenberg refused to the terms of the proposed agreements. In a speech given in the House of Commons, Dilke cited reports of violence against Ulster Protestants who identified as generally "British" rather than Irish.
Under Battenberg's authority, the "Republican Navy" was officially created in January 1899. Britannia had once ruled the waves; the Liberal-Republicans decided that she would again.
As if on cue, the Germans arrived in Westminster to negotiate another revision of the Treaty of Hamburg. The British Commonwealth would cede Gibraltar to the Spanish Republic or face "retaliatory, disciplinary action" from the German Empire.

Dilke was more than a little upset about the terms of the Treaty of Hamburg, but Britain still lacked a military force of any kind. There was naught that he could do but grit his teeth and accept the offer.
The Republican Women's Association, a group devoted to spreading feminist ideas and promoting female suffrage, began to gain influence in all levels of British society. With broad popular support, the Liberal-Republicans finally unveiled their bill.
While the process of enacting the "Representation of the People Bill," which would expand franchise to every man over 21 and (eventually) every woman over 25, was a long and contentious one, Dilke was committed to expanding democracy in Britain. It laid the groundwork for the landmark Voting Reform Acts of 1917 and was a cornerstone of British liberalism.
Over in India, a small dispute arises between Afghanistan and Khalistan, the former of which was demanding the return of "rightful lands" from the latter.
After a short period of British arbitration, Afghanistan was granted the land. With Khalistan destabilized and dealing with reactionary rebels, Westminster was more confident in Afghanistan's administration.
In the summer of 1899, tensions flared in major cities across England. As Parliament dragged its feet on the Representation of the People Bill, militant socialists agitated for reforms.

Fearing an uprising, Battenberg sent in the nascent Republican Army.
In the Massacre at Manchester, the Republican Army opened fire on militants demonstrating in the city center, killing a dozen civilians. Despite pleading from prominent Labour Party MPs to stand down, the Red Rank Irregulars began to re-form in secret.
In response to the Massacre at Manchester, the Rebellions of 1899 began in the hottest days of the summer. With the Commonwealth's economy suffering from war reparations and high taxes being forced onto the poor to compensate, the suffering people took to the streets, finding inspiration in the previous Anarcho-Communist government.
The still-forming Republican Army quickly mopped up the rebel groups in the Southeast, as most of the militants found strength in industrial northern cities like Manchester and Liverpool.
Reports reached Westminster by the fall that thousands of Africans had risen up against the Commonwealth as well, mostly in the northern regions of Nigeria.
After weeks of negotiation, the Republic of Nigeria was created to ease tension in the region. While the government was white, it gave some representation to the natives. Rebels in the north laid down their arms.
The Republican Army, regrouping in London, ventured out in the last days of November in an attempt to break the largest concentration of rebels near the capital: Cambridge.
Alexander Havelock and his mostly untrained army managed to force a retreat from Cambridge after less than a week of fighting. The anarchists now found themselves on the retreat all across Britain as the Republican Army held their ground.
In an effort to ease the burden on the poor people of the Commonwealth, the Liberal-Republicans passed a series of tax cuts in the early days of 1900. Dilke approved the deficit spending, believing it to be the best way to ensure peace for Britain.
As the fighting continued, a further attempt to alleviate the rebellion was the Pension Reform Act of 1900. Charles Dilke publicly announced that he aimed to work more closely with the Labour Party in the future, declaring that "peaceful cooperation is way forward for our Commonwealth."
After months of skirmishes across England, General Havelock and the Republican Army engaged a large mob of rebels that were rioting through the streets of central London.
While about half of the Red Rank Irregulars managed to escape the city alive, no mercy was given to those who remained. The Republican Army burned its way through the industrial centers of London, with official government studies estimating that a fifth of the city was destroyed in the purge.
By July, the Rebellion of 1899 had been completely crushed. Britannia was once more at peace. For the foreseeable future, anarchists would not threaten her.
While England and Wales rebuilding following the violence back home, news reaches Westminster of a troublesome professor in Australia. The colony had, it seemed, grown a bit tired of rule from Britain in the decade of instability following the Great War.

Dilke made an effort to try and censor the worst and most militant critics of the British colonial order, but also began to entertain the possibility of giving Australia limited autonomy.
Meanwhile, India was still slowly slipping away from British control. Rajputana, the largest and most powerful of the independent republics, offered the Commonwealth a military alliance; the state would benefit from its potential rivals being neutered under British dominion.

As part of the deal, President Battenberg announced a tour to India to meet with the various leaders of the new republics, allocating particular time to treat with the enigmatic Rajput dictator.
Along with the turn of the century came a new movement towards nihilism in British intellectual thought. In a decade, Europe's balance of power had completely shifted. The English people had seen four different governmental regimes in that time, with near constant fighting throughout it all.

To say that people were disaffected with the old Victorian order was an understatement.
France, despite maintaining the Third Republic through it all, had been dealing with its own problems since the Great War. Colonial rebels were rising across Africa, with the government in Paris agreeing to the independence of Algeria.
Finally, by October, the last of the voter reform bills was passed.
In France - the nation that had failed to regain Alsace-Lorraine and lost Brittany during the Great War - a curious political movement began to grow. An ultra-conservative movement of ethnic nationists began to gain traction in France as a reaction to the failure of the French government. These extremists supported a militaristic, centralized government that would return France back to the forefront of European politics.

Within a year, a related party formed in Britain. Initially called "The British Union of Fascists," they later rebranded themselves as the National Party.
The Republic of Malaysia was declared by Charles Dilke in the spring of 1901. Another Associate Republic to add to the growing list.
In an effort to further modernize the Republican Army, bolt-action rifles. As a result, the Lee-Enfield was adopted as the standard rifle of the army, sticking around until 1954.
As Britain finally managed some degree of peace, the topic of overseas administration would go on to dominate Dilke's Parliament. The Commonwealth was isolated from Europe; she found have to rely on her friends elsewhere.
Further agitation against British rule in Yemen results in the Yemen Arab Republic being created. While eagle-eyed map-watchers might notice that it's distinctly not all of Yemen, that's fine, don't worry about it.
The name of Newfoundland's socialist party is the FISHERMAN'S PROTECTIVE UNION

HOLY SHIT, GUYS
As the summer of 1901 dragged on, both President Battenberg and Prime Minister Dilke went on a massive visit to Canada.
In the landmark Ottawa Accords of 1901, Britain and Canada joined in a "mutual compact of cooperation." In the agreement, the Commonwealth fully recognized Canada as a co-equal sovereign nation. Canada omitting the British monarchy from its constitution was instrumental in mending the relations between the two nations.

[I used an event to change Canada to a republic. You'll see me do this more and more as we go along.]
While Dilke was on his trip to Canada, Parliament was not resting. More policy in regards to India was being drafted; chiefly, on how to administrate the region in a more efficient way.
The 1901 Act of Muslim Union declared the Republic of Pakistan, uniting Khalistan, Sindh, Kalat, Makran, and a few smaller states together into one large republic.

Despite the new relationship that the Commonwealth had developed with Rajputana, it was plain for all to see that this was a way for Britain to contain the nation and better create a balance of power in India.
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After a stand-off that lasted a decade, South Africa finally agreed to declare itself a republic on November 12th, 1901, in exchange for African lands originally claimed by Cape Town when it declared its independence. South Africa became a tentative partner of Britain, though it was never as cordial as Canada was.
Ireland suddenly declared bankruptcy on December 18th, 1901, infuriating British investors in London. As Dilke and Battenberg returned to Westminster, they began to draw up plans for a possible intervention to test the mettle of the Republican Army.
Battenberg, using the knowledge he picked up during the Great War and the British Civil War, continued to modernize the Republican Army. It could not be humiliated in its first real test.
On March 4th, 1902, the Franklin Telegram was intercepted by German intelligence. The letter was written by a clerk of Dilke's named Arthur Franklin who was in charge of encrypted a message to Canada that would warn the Canadian government of a possible invasion of Ireland.

The incident did not look good for Dilke's government, which nevertheless decided to ignore the telegram and pretend like it did not exist for a few weeks.
In an effort to take some pressure off of his government, Dilke announced that he intended to give Australia autonomy as an associate republic. The Federal Republic of Australia had a fully ratified constitution and was given independence on November 18th, 1902.
In just a few years, the old British spheres of influence in the Middle East had crumbled. Italy had annexed most of Italy and Sudan while Spain had invaded and was occupying Arabia.
In an effort to defend itself from international criticism, Dilke used his connections in the media to have fear-mongering anti-Irish propaganda published. The newspaper articles publicized reports from Ulster Brits of violent attacks against Protestants in the province,
Using British influence in the Irish government, he had German diplomats in Dublin expelled in order to ensure that they would not interfere in a possible war.
On November 11th, with war on the horizon and his popularity slightly beginning to fade, an election was called by Charles Dilke, keeping his promise to hold one within five years. In an interview given with a London newspaper, the Prime Minister said:

"This election is a referendum on intervention in Ireland, pure and simple. If the people of Britain wish to protect their countrymen in Ulster and take back the debts owed to them, they will vote Liberal-Republican come June."

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Images: 11, author: klingonadmiral, published: 2017-03-09