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  • British Federation

    OK, here's a counterfactual that's not strictly military, but interesting nonetheless:

    It's 1924. The British, having barely won the Irish war and brush defeat in Iraq under the rug, call the last Imperial conference. And the British Empire as we know it ceases forever, and the British Federation is born.

    So what is the Federation? Good question! It is most of the dominions and the UK combined into one country on a federal system. Technically, it is the United Kingdoms, because George V is as much king of the Kingdom of Canada as king of England, but this isn't quite a personal union. More than any kingdom, he is the king of "Britain" which is all the kingdoms together in a Federal union that is as loose as a Federation can get without being a Confederation.

    But I don't know the particulars. I imagine this BF would have an American style Constitution, with a strong Senate designed to represent kingdom interests with a Commons to represent the people. PMs are made by consensus of both Houses with all the powers accustomed to historical British PMs. The unwritten British Constitution as we know it is largely codified at the Federal Level, the 1689 Bill of Rights almost verbatim with the right to bear arms known as the Fifth Right for example. Most of the laws (and House of Lords) are initially kept in the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales (separated to give the Isles more clout in the Senate). Church leadership nominated by the federal PM and approved by King. King of Britain automatically king of all Kingdoms.

    Initial Kingdoms:
    England
    Scotland
    Wales
    Ireland
    Canada
    Australia
    Patagonia (OTL's Argentina and Chile, annexed 1810, 65% Anglicized, 20% Spanish, 10% Creole 5% Other)

    Assuming the Federation survives, and it will, how would this union effect the British military into WWII, during WWII and into the Cold War?

    Anything I missed or should note?
    How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
    275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

  • #2
    Its a myth that Britain doesn't have a written constitution: we have several. As you mention the bill of rights is the main one and very similar to the US constitution, but we also have Magna Carta which was the first document in the world to guarantee Habeus Corpus and several parliamentary reform bills that guarantee our voting rights. Most of all we have English common law (Scotland has a different legal system) were every single judicial judgement for the past 1000 years is written up and used as precedent in future cases. You can also add in the EU law such as the human rights act which again is a written guarantee of our freedoms.

    Anyway back on thread. To be fair I don't think it would have made much difference. About the only thing that MAY have mattered is if your federation refused to back Polish independence. After that a British federation may have been even more warlike than the empire. Britain conscripted her own troops but relied on volunteers from India & africa. Australia, Canada & New Zealand fought as hard as anyone.

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    • #3
      In many ways the UK is actually "Greater England" and having had all the pain of a war with nationalist Ireland I cant see London supporting increased power for Scotland let alone Wales.

      The idea of a democratic Empire is interesting though - had there been no WW1 it is something that may may well have developed, but the gradual independence of the "Anglo" colonies was something that was never really in any doubt.

      BTY It is worth noting that America has a "British style" constitution rather than any potential reversal of that. Having visited the Capitol it is remarkably like the 18th century British parliament right down do to the cheerful bribery,short hours and the expectations of what young pages should do for their seniors.
      What would Occam say?

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      • #4
        My family are English but I was born in Scotland and lived there for 18 years so I'm more or less a neutral on this. Historically Scotland was in a position of great weakness when they signed the act of union which has never helped, but the current Scottish parliament has quite reasonable devolved powers. A couple of years ago I'd have said Scotland maybe could have made a decent go of being a truly independent country with its income mainly coming from financial services (like Luxembourg, Lichenstein etc) but with RBS now 70% state owned thats not happening anytime soon. The oil money is nice but Scotlands social care bill would eat that up quickly.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by billscottmorri View Post
          In many ways the UK is actually "Greater England" and having had all the pain of a war with nationalist Ireland I cant see London supporting increased power for Scotland let alone Wales.

          The idea of a democratic Empire is interesting though - had there been no WW1 it is something that may may well have developed, but the gradual independence of the "Anglo" colonies was something that was never really in any doubt.

          BTY It is worth noting that America has a "British style" constitution rather than any potential reversal of that. Having visited the Capitol it is remarkably like the 18th century British parliament right down do to the cheerful bribery,short hours and the expectations of what young pages should do for their seniors.
          True and is something not widely understood.

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          • #6
            Well, I'll level with you guys. The British political establishment has been rightly lampooned asa lot of upper-class twits for generations. I can count on one hand the number of good PMs Britain has had in the last 100 years. So the idea of independence rather than integration of lands populated by your people (British folks in this case) is offensive to me and and I won't stand for it, at least not in a world where I have a say.

            Joe Chamberlain had a plan, and it was well known and had the possibility of being accepted. Union=power, all things equal, so it was in the dominion's best interest to BECOME part of a more powerful mother country.

            Furthermore, I believe Irish bitterness, while real and founded, has stewed to epic proportions in the mind of the masses due to Irish post-independence chest puffing and the Troubles, but I have no doubt that if A. the Black and Tans had properly knocked them around and B. if they had been offered a real place at the table, the Irish would be good Britons as Southerners are good Americans today. The trick is decisive but magnanimous victory, and a ruthless willingness to preserve the peace behead the kindness and smiles, which for all the myriad of faults of the post ACW period, Washington did with the former Confederates. The Irish could be integrated. Many would not be happy about it, but with real freedom comes real contentment.

            I had few doubts little would be affected during World War II. But assuming there was a real, lasting union between the dominions (minus South Africa due to home opposition and fears of racial integration from London) the UK and Ireland, could the history of the world have been different? What would this Britain have wanted, what could it have done?
            How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
            275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

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            • #7
              I think the last reasonably upper class twit we had as PM was Alex Douglas Home - for the last 50 years it has been working class dudes (Brown, Callaghan, Major, Wilson) and middle class strivers (Thatcher, Blair, Heath) running the show. Mind you Cameron might win next time which will put the twit quota right back up there.

              Of course one of the major issues here is that England is firmly under the control of a nest of Scottish politicians. Hopefully one day the English will be ready for self government, but until then they will be ruled from a pub in Inverkeithing.
              Last edited by billscottmorri; 25 Feb 09, 08:41.
              What would Occam say?

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              • #8
                There was no real appetite for such things. Annexing land as an integral part of the mother country was a french thing and they're welcome to it.Theres a notion our imperial colonies were run like Rome or Genghis Khan or like Hitler as some marxist historians would have u believe. Apart from some notable exceptions caused by bad people this was not gov't policy. I have to say if we put down insurrections in the colonies in the way you say we should, the USA wouldnt exist. Empire was on its way out from the before the 1st world war in reality and the bankrupcies caused by the wars was the end.Empires in the end are a drain and no good. I wished we'd let them go earlier in an orderly fashion as was the attempts in many cases. We'd be better off now.

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                • #9
                  But Copenhagen, I'm not talking about Empire, I'm talking about expanding the NATION! In the paradigm thus presented, I'm basically proposing the UK expand it's NATIONHOOD to the dominions, in the same way the US expanded it's proper borders by admitting states to the union. I'm not talking about empire, I'm talking federal, equal, semi-autonomous territories under one banner like the United States. Yes, as it turned out HERE this became exclusively an American thing (maybe Australian and Canadian thing too, maybe) but it didn't HAVE to be. In Empire, England might still be first among equals at least. Here, Australia is completely equal to England in terms of being Britain in the same way Ohio is as much America as say California is America.

                  Still, the question is unanswered. If this union were pulled off, how would this (much) stronger Britain have affected the world up to the present day? Any speculation on your part, my good fellows?
                  How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
                  275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I can't really see the possibility of a global nation - it would have such a disparate range of interests and comparatively few economies of scale. Even if it had been created as a federation of nations it would have lacked the practical benefits to last. The UK nations would still have gravitated towards mainland Europe for example.

                    As was mentioned earlier, had Britain been more pro-active between 1900 and 1914 in getting rid of the empire the UK would almost certainly have been in a stronger position for most of the 20th century (assuming the Commonwealth still contributed to both world wars to the same level). Easy to be wise in hindsight of course.

                    The UK certainly never could have, and probably never will be federal - it is just a bit too much of an "off the peg" solution for the place - more tailor made structures seem to work better.
                    What would Occam say?

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                    • #11
                      One nation scattered all over the world. highly impractical. Britain still would be the centre of power. Its still empire. Territory in The US that used to have hardly anyone in it brought under the governance of Washington is empire development too. To be blunt. Its all the same.

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