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

Published: 2017-06-27

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Rise Like Lions (A British HPM AAR)

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Rise Like Lions (A British HPM AAR) Part 1: All is Lost (1891-1894)

Images: 83, author: CargoShortsSensei, published: 2017-06-21

On June 19th, 1894, the United Kingdom was officially declared dead in the June Revolution. Down came the old Union Jack, and up came a new provisional design: the red saltire of Ireland was replaced by the Celtic harp of Ireland. While Scotland had departed the union some months across, Saint Andrew's Cross remained; the hope of a united Great Britain persisted in the minds of the new regime.

The British Provisional Government occupied Westminster, with Thomas Burt being sworn in as "Executive Director." Charles Bradlaugh became Prime Minister of the "Provisional Assembly," consisting of 243 representatives. On June 20th, Britain was declared a republic, with the monarchy now legally illegitimate.

To maintain order, the Provisional Assembly announced its intention to draw up a framework for the new republican constitution "before the end of 1895," at which point elections would be held and a new government for Britain proclaimed.
While Burt (left) and Bradlaugh (right) were experienced politicians, the Provisional Government was largely incapable of action. Burt was well-respected, but Bradlaugh was infamous in England for his reputation as a radical and an atheist. He frequently found himself under fire from the press for his complicity in the Provisional Government's inaction.

The hottest topics of the day were indeed ignored by the assembly, most notably the status of nobility. While the general tone of Labour and the most leftward "Lib-Labs" were in favor of confiscation of noble property and the disbandment of all peerage, moderate members of the Assembly continually blocked and delayed debates on the matter.

Across the river, another group began to convene.
In Battersea, just two miles up the River Thames, a competing assembly formed. The London Worker's Council convened for the first time on June 22nd, 1894, and was a loose coalition of far-left British thinkers and representatives of unions across the city. While it had no formal power of its own, the Council commanded a significant militia force of agitated workers and was dominated by prominent men: the Irish-born playwrights Bernard Shaw (top left) and Oscar Wilde (top right), the Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin (bottom left), and the chairman of the organization, novelist, poet, and craftsmen William Morris were among the most powerful in the Council.
In the months of chaos after the end of the Great War, Britain had lost most of its international reputation that it had been building up for centuries. While still second only to Germany, British industry was stagnant, its army humiliated and broken, and the Royal Navy destroyed.

[Also, every single continental power other than Sweden has -100 or worse relations with us.]
A few days after the Provisional Government was set up, a deal was struck with the Irish Free State. In exchange for recognizing the new regime in London to be legitimate and for Ireland to remain (nominally) a client state of Britain, Northern Ireland would be ceded immediately to the IFS. Charles Stewart Parnell, leader of Ireland, agreed to the proposal.
Not even a year after the Treaty of Hamburg was signed, German envoys arrived in London to discuss their Second Revision. In response to anti-colonial revolts in Africa, the British-puppeted Egypt would release Sudan as an independent state.
While in Westminster, the German diplomats pushed the Third Revision. The British Provisional Government would cede Malta to Italy while Crete and Cyprus would be transferred to German control.

Prominent Liberal-Republican voices who supported imperialism, such as Charles Dilke, made calls for the government to resist these encroachments on British territory. With Britain so thoroughly beaten, however, resistance was practically impossible.
The topic of India was brought up to the Provisional Assembly in August. With Indian nationalists occupying large swathes of the subcontinent and no end in sight to the rebellions, Charles Bradlaugh knew that a solution needed to be found before British influence was forced out of India altogether.
On August 12th, Thomas Burt declared the "Federal Republics of India" project. Over the course of a few months, direct British control of India (outside of the island of Ceylon) would be lifted. While the remaining princely states of India would be allowed to continue on basically unhindered, the rest of India wad to be divided into "new self-determined republics" that would "govern with the consent and aid of the British government.

This was a compromise in the purest sense: almost no one was truly happy. The pro-empire element of the Provisional Assembly was upset at the relinquishing of direct control while the virulently anti-empire leftists (including the London Worker's Council) were upset that Westminster still had any influence over the Indian people at all.
After a brief civil war, a cousin of the former sultan was placed on the throne in Cairo who was opposed to British rule. Rather than go to war over Egypt, Thomas Burt agreed to an armistice with the government and Egypt was officially cut loose, save for the Suez Canal.
As months passed, the British Provisional Government was no closer to a constitution and was proving broadly unpopular. Conservatives were upset at what they saw as an overly-radical government, while Labour often found itself making concessions with the Liberal-Republicans in an effort to keep the fragile government from falling apart.

As leftists became disillusioned with the Provisional Government, the Worker's Council steadily grew in numbers. At night, militias drilled. Plans were drawn up for a revolution.
The Christmas Revolution began on... well, Christmas Day, 1894. With the help of the London Worker's Council and similar organizations that had spread across the country, a network of anti-government fighters rose up against the British Provisional Government.

With no official standing army to speak of, the government was forced to lean on Republican militias to do their fighting for them. The Anarcho-Communist militias performed far better, however, and the Republicans found themselves on the back foot.
As the rebel militias (soon taking on the moniker "Red Rank Irregulars") began to take more and more city centers, the republican cause seemed hopeless. All of London (save for Westminster) was occupied by February, with the Republicans fortifying a small group of streets to defend against the near endless mob of Red Rank Irregulars that were marching to London.
After a few months of starving out the last Republican rebels, the Anarcho-Communist commander Zachary Cockburn ordered an assault on Westminster. Rather than a peaceful repeat of the surrender of the monarchists, the Reds were vicious in their attack. No prisoners were taken as the Palace of Westminster was stormed, looted, and then destroyed in several explosions. Big Ben barely survived the damages

While most of the members of the Provisional Assembly had discreetly fled and disappeared by May, Thomas Burt and Charles Bradlaugh surrendered to the Red Rank Irregulars. They were both summarily executed on the 15th of May in front of a raucous crowd at Piccadilly Circus.

The London Worker's Council was renamed the British Worker's Council. Chairman William Morris became the official leader of the Worker's Commonwealth of England and Wales on May 17th.
This new government, described by William Morris as "anarchist socialist," was entirely provisional in nature. While Morris was an unabashed anarchist who despised parliaments and bodies like them, he knew of the necessity of establishing a socialist order before power was devolved.

Voting was interminably suspended. Freedom of the press became a thing of the past as the Red Rank Irregulars were sent to enforce the new order on the people of England and Wales.
With the radical socialists now in power, noble privileges were officially abolished by June. While former peers were stripped of their titles and wealth, so too were the middle-class bourgeoisie; Red Rank Irregulars forcibly nationalized factories across Britain.

Former nobles and capitalists were sent to the coal mines to suffer in darkness and torment, as they had long forced the worker to do the same.
On August 1st, 1895, the Chinese Empire sent its armies into Hong Kong. The much-beleaguered British garrison in the city (that largely consisted of Republicans) quickly surrendered, and in just a few weeks the Worker's Council officially handed the land over to the Chinese once more.
On September 29th, 1895, the Worker's Council ratified a new constitution. "The Union of British Socialist Republics" was declared by William Morris in an effort to slowly democratize the world's first worker's state. In the constitution, Wales was given home rule, and local governments in England were given more autonomy.
On that same day, South Africa officially declared its independence from Battersea. The South Africans even refused to removed King Charles III as their nominal Head of State, a move that infuriated the Anarcho-Communists.
Canada, similarly, walked away from Battersea just a few weeks later. Since the general opinion of the Worker's Council was "we gotta absolutely crush imperialism," Canada and South Africa were allowed to leave peacefully.
The British position in India, meanwhile, was uncertain. While several states had taken the chaos in England as their chances to cut all ties, Much of the subcontinent remained linked to Battersea.

Factions sprung up in the Worker's Council. While William Morris and his anarchists were in favor of taking a "meh" approach to India and letting the nations walk away as they pleased ("Socialism in one country"), an oppositional faction known as the Interventionists (led by Bernard Shaw) supported the installment of socialist states in India that were loyal to Battersea in an attempt to "liberate the Indian proletariat from his bourgeois masters."
[A look at the economy.]
The first major test for William Morris occursred in the spring of 1896. Maharashtra, a powerful republic with Bombay as its capital city, threatened to break free from British influence.

Morris refused to act, not willing to commit resources to India with peace in Britain so fragile.
Germany, who until this point had still refused to recognize the British Worker's Council as the legitimate government in England, marched colonial troops into Kenya and other nearby colonies, meeting no resistance.
Over the next two years, Makran and Beroda would also gain their full independence from Britain.
In October, the last British colony in South Africa is ceded to the new government under threat of invasion.
Late in 1896, two large pro-democratic protests erupt in Liverpool and Manchester. Due to the fact that public meetings were considered illegal and potentially dangerous by the government, the protestors were considered to be rebels.
The Red Rank Irregulars were quickly sent in to deal with the protesters, who stood down after just a few weeks. In the chaos, fifteen innocent people were shot dead in Liverpool, while three died in Manchester.
By the autumn, it is becoming apparent that the promised elections were still not going to be held soon. William Morris and the Worker's Council doubled-down on their position against public meetings, believing that lifting the restrictions would allow dangerous reactionaries to spread their messages.
As the debate over freedom of speech is on the verge of boiling over in Britain, little Newfoundland has decided it wants to go it alone.
By January, anti-governmental sentiment can no longer be surprised. The British Republican Guard is resurrected in 1897, with anti-socialist insurgents operating across Britain in small numbers.
The Red Rank Irregulars slowly began to beat back against the rebels,
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On February 20th, 1897, the Republic of Ireland was declared, officially severing ties with the government in Battersea. With large scale insurrection to deal with in England, the Worker's Council allowed Ireland to peacefully leave despite pleas for intervention coming from Irish socialists who feared persecution in an independent Ireland.
While the socialist government was bending, victories in the field meant that it did not break.
With the British Republican Guard taking losses in the South and East of England, new rebels rise up in Wales and the West.
While the Republican Guard under the command of the martyr Leopold Ragland were completely routed in the Battle of Bath, the fighting had crippled the Red Rank Irregulars beyond saving. With William Morris losing his authority in London and a suddenly bright outlook for the rebels, more and more people came out in support of the Republican Guard. Old Liberal-Republicans resurfaced in rebel-held land, with Charles Dilke becoming their leader.
By the end of 1897, the Union had nearly fallen as Republicans rioted in London.
At the Battle of Bristol, Francis Battenberg, a career soldier and veteran of the Great War, crushed the last remnants of the Red Rank Irregulars. From his headquarters in Chester, Charles Dilke declared "the Commonwealth of Britain," and set about drafting a constitution with his fellow Republicans.
By the end of 1897, London was retaken. Members of the Worker's Council were either jailed, pardoned after pledging loyalty to the new government, or executed; William Morris and Bernard Shaw infamously avoided judgment by committing suicide just before the Republican Guard took Battersea.
After months of debate in the temporary Parliamentary building, the Commonwealth of Britain was legally founded on April 7th, 1898, four years after the fall of the monarchy. Charles Dilke and the rest of his Republicans ratified the "National Architecture" as the official constitution of the Commonwealth on that day.

The National Architecture was a document that basically reaffirmed the Westminster System and collected all of the legislation of the last millennia of British government into one place. It, of course, confirmed the abolition of the monarchy, declaring that Parliament now ruled by the consent of the British people. The House of Lords was legally abolished (as was all noble privileges), and the House of Commons became the unicameral legislative body of Britain. In addition to this, a largely ceremonial "President" would be chosen by the Prime Minister to act as the Head of State.

After years of fighting, the British people finally had their new republic.

Next chapter:

Game: Victoria 2

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

Images: 61, author: CargoShortsSensei, published: 2017-07-09

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