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...is Gnome's "What If Gordon Banks Had Played?", currently coming to a conclusion of its run on Usenet. Alternately horrifying and enthralling, it's the story of Britain's descent into facism and anarchy under a Powell government in the 1970s. Whoever Gnome is, his writing style is superb, and his take on British politics is excellent.

Serialised in soc.history.what-if and collected on his web site, his mix of reports, interviews and book-excerpts is a snapshot of a history we narrowly escaped.

A satisfying reminder that perhaps this is the best of all possible worlds.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 19th, 2003 03:36 am (UTC)
It's certainly the best one we've got.
Feb. 19th, 2003 02:44 pm (UTC)
Certainly not easy reading, but ace. Please keep us informed when more chapters are released. It's only the fact that the excerpts are quoted as having purportedly come from the 1990s that makes me convinced that the nation lasts that long. :-)

(Funnily enough, I had a quick Google Groups and it turns out that I know a few other people from the group from other places...)
Feb. 20th, 2003 03:10 am (UTC)
One can play "what-if" with various points of recent British political history. For example, if the Callaghan government had sought re-election in October 1978 (as it was urged to) rather than hanging on until the end, it would probably have secured another term of office (perhaps in formal coalition with the Liberals) and have ridden out the Winter of Discontent -- meaning that we might never have been heard of Thatcherism.

For another example, if the Thatcher government had not withdrawn the navy from Antarctica in 1982, the Argentine junta might not have invaded the Falklands -- and without that war, Thatcher might not have been re-elected in 1983 or 1984. (It tends to be forgotten now, but the Thatcher government had become quite unpopular by the mid-point of its first term, because of the high unemployment its policies had caused. Privatisation, which had barely featured in the 1979 manifesto, was only given a big boost in the 1983 manifesto to make it appear that she had something other than Falklands victory to capitalise on.)

A third example could be the election of a Labour government under Neil Kinnock in 1992. (The opinion polls of the time suggested this would be the result.) It would have been destroyed later that year by Black Wednesday (as Black Wednesday fatally undermined the traditional Conservative reputation for economic soundness) and thrown into the wilderness in 1997; in that case, we would now be in Prime Minister William Hague's second term of government, in a UK which had frozen relations with the EU and was negotiating to join NAFTA instead. Now that would be a scary outcome!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )