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Peter Shore TL

Jape

Team Nandy
Location
TOWNS
#1
I've had an idea swirling around in my brain ever since participating in @Techdread's thread about a Benn Government. It led me to write a fairly extensive outline of possible policies and events but I basically handwaved Benn's rise to Labour Leader and then Prime Minister, as I see it as rather unlikely.

In reading around the subject, I read more and more about Peter Shore. As I'm sure most of you know, he was an outspoken left-wing nationalist, who was a major voice in opposition to the EEC. He was Harold Wilson's "backroom boy" for much of the 1960s, overseeing the 1966 and 1970 election manifestos. He is often seen as a man overshadowed, first by Wilson and then by Michael Foot who denied him the Soft Left vote in the 1980 leadership election.

Yet he was a gifted orator, with Enoch Powell often seen as his only equal in the 1960s and 70s. He was famously dubbed the "the only Labour politician between Wilson and Blair that Tories feared" following his death in 2001. He maintained the technocratic spirit of the first Wilson government, was fiercely Keynsian, opposed the EEC and sought ties with the Commonwealth. He advocated ties with the newly independent Bangladesh, Australia, and the West Indies. He backed EFTA and GATT, seeking ties with Norway and Olaf Palme's Sweden. He was anti-communist and outraged the Hard Left when he endorsed the 1980 boycott of the Moscow Olympics.

He was also economically nationalist, fearing privatisation would lead to industries coming under foreign control, and saw any weakening of state monopolies as a net loss to the taxpayer. He saw Benn's "siege economy" as a drastic last resort but nonetheless one he considered as an alternative to the IMF deal. He sought greater independence for Britain's nuclear deterrent, wishing to ape France - yet also sought British support for Australian and New Zealander opposition to French nuclear testing.

His positions have made him appear quixotic and idiosyncratic to modern eyes and yet he reflected the strong anti-EEC stance of the Labour Party, his stances on industrial democracy and the 'commanding heights' appealed to the Left, while his hawkish yet global stance on foreign policy attracted many on the Right. I feel, given the right circumstances, he could have reached greater heights and had a major influence (for good or ill) on the UK.

So I have begun putting together a TL (my first ever) centred around Peter Shore's rise to the Labour Leadership and then Prime Minister. This is not intended to be a socialist-wank or a hagiography of the man but an effort to look at a road not traveled. The effects of a "Shoreite" regime, both the differences and similarities to the 1970s and 1980s of OTL. I hope to cover cultural and social issues as well as the political.

I'm a novice and I intend to use this thread to go through ideas and hopefully bounce them off willing commenters.

-
My initial POD is the Conservatives remaining the largest Party at the February 1974 General Election. Some rough notes below, including a basic timeline up to and following Shore becoming Leader of the Opposition.


February 1974 General Election Results


Conservative – 306 (-19)
Labour – 293 (+6)
Liberal – 14 (+3)
SNP – 6 (+4)


After talks regarding a full-blown coalition are dropped due to Heath's refusal to consider electoral reform, Thorpe settles for confidence-and-supply, while the Liberal leadership has informal meetings with the Conservatives regarding possible bipartisan legislation.

The Tory grassroots are discontented and Harold Wilson anticipates a second election within months. However this does not come to pass.

Heath is able to pass legislation ending the closed shop. Heath is forced to back down on Sunningdale, achieving an anaemic Northern Ireland Council, an effort at bipartisan dialogue with only advisory powers. He has runs ins with the unions, some successfully.

Heath champions Europe but his growing unpopularity feeds an increasingly Eurosceptic public. The offer of a European referendum continues to be a major Labour policy. Peter Shore as European spokesman for the Party is a popular television guest and does little to hide his Euroscepticism much to the irritation of Wilson and Jenkins. His media appearances make him one of the most recognised members of the Shadow Cabinet.

1975 – Harold Wilson resigns as leader of the Labour Party. He urges Callaghan to take charge but he feels unable to lead a vigorous opposition at a time when the government's popularity is increasing.

1976 – Labour Leadership Contest: Roy Jenkins, Denis Healy, Anthony Crosland, Tony Benn and Peter Shore. Shore has the backing of Michael Foot as the more prominent figure of the soft left, Wilson loyalists and MPs conscious of their Eurosceptic CLPs. A Eurosceptic remark by Callaghan is taken as a tacit endorsement of Shore though he later denies this. Crosland, Benn and Healy are knocked out before Shore defeats Jenkins. The conference also confirmed Labour would campaign for 'Leave' at a future referendum on the Common Market.

Channel 4 is established in 1976. The channel attempts to promote investigative journalism, and shows aimed at alternative audiences. Early successes included the Billy Connolly Show and Live from the Gargoyle – Britain's first alternative comedy club.

1977, Jenkins allows his Party membership to expire. He sits as an Independent Social Democrat. His efforts to coax others leads only to the defection of ardent Europhile Bill Rodgers. In particular David Owen, his “protege” refuses to abandon Labour, fearing a split would “end all hope of a centre-left government for a generation”. However he eventually enters Shore's Shadow Cabinet, causing a lasting resentment in Jenkins.

1978 – Exmoor Scandal: The mysterious murder of Norman Scott at a roadside on the bleak plains of Exmoor in 1975 is soon linked to Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe. A Channel 4 investigation uncovers connections to a hitman. Thorpe is forced to resign as Liberal leader and disappears before his body is found, having apparently committed suicide. The affair rocks the nation, leading to countless conspiracies and the use of -moor as suffix for political scandals, similar to the American -gate.

Exmoor leads to wild claims regarding Heath's knowledge of the affair. Soon the Liberal Party removes its support for the government and an election is called.


1978 General Election

Labour claim a 40 seat majority. The Conservatives under Heath were exhausted by eight chaotic years in power. The Liberals sought to distance themselves from Exmoor but paid in lost seats. Peter Shore on the other hand led a fiery campaign, calling for a resolution to union discontent, and a referendum on Europe. He also calls for a technological revolution and industrial democracy, championing a tripartite system based on the German model. Enoch Powell again endorsed Labour as the only anti-EEC choice.

1979 European Referendum: Labour officially campaigns on a Leave platform, although a Labour Remain group is formed by Shirley Williams. There are several complaints of government resources being used by Labour Leave. The Conservatives are primarily Remain, although with a strong Leave minority. Powell also campaigns for Leave, as do the SNP. Liberals are Remain, with Roy Jenkins officially joining the party to help lead the campaign. Leave wins by 55%.
NOTE: A Leave victory is possible due to the Government's strong Leave stance - IOTL Wilson's ambivalence and promise to renegotiate Britain's commitment saw dramatic swings toward Remain, while straight Yes or No polling on membership usually favoured No. Shore has also blamed the Common Market for much of the economic woes of the Heath Governments.

Tony Benn resurrects the Ministry of Technology. He is given a wide brief, with Shore supporting investment in new technology. Benn's claims of an IT revolution are mocked as “Bennite Cybernatics”. Efforts include taking Stafford Beers, creator of Allende's Cybersyn planned economy computer system, out of retirement in Wales. He builds something similar (being a socialist and technocrat), becoming known in the press as CyberBenn.
  • Prestel – Minitel-like system is rolled out by Post Office Telecommunications in 1979. Initially designed as a way to cut down on the cost of phone books, thousands of terminals are given out to schools, libraries, businesses and selected test customers. The network proves popular, making the Post Office a modest profit. Develops into a successful proto-internet service
  • British Electronics – state-owned electronic stores, initially established to provide Prestel machines, they become a general purpose electronic store, branching out into video and games rental. Due to the “video nasty” scare and a BE monopoly on video distribution, a large black market for videos blossoms in 1980s Britain.
  • British Electronics would promote domestic products like the BBC Micro and ZX Spectrum minicomputers over foreign competitors.




Ian Mikardo – Friend of Shore and outspoken supporter of industrial democracy is taken from the backbenches to investigate possible employee-ownership schemes – possibly oversees a commission.

Cabinet Positions

Denis Healey (Exchequer) – Big beast, holds position under Shore. No IMF means he is very much Healy Mark 1 going into government.
Roy Mason (Northern Ireland) – After even more prolonged unrest around Sunningdale, Mason's tough stance is welcomed by Shore.
Roy Hattersley (Education)
David Owen (Health)
Eric Varley (Energy) – NUM connected but considered to be on the Right
Gerald Kaufman (Environment)
Fred Mulley (Defence)
Tony Benn (Technology)

Undecided/Future Ministers

Michael Foot
Stanley Orme
Albert Booth – left-wing unilateralist
Barbara Castle
Robert Kilroy-Silk – possible Shore protege?
John Smith
Edmund Dell - free marketeer, possible defection to Liberals?




Issues

Sunningdale
Heath's economic policy
Heath's trade union policy

West Indian sugar deal
Falklands
Bangladesh
Scandinavia
EFTA & GATT
North Sea Oil
ANZUK relations & trade
Rhodesia
Grenada
British missile & rocket tech – Woomera?
 

RyanF

Abbot of Unreason
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Falkirk
#2
  • British Electronics – state-owned electronic stores, initially established to provide Prestel machines, they become a general purpose electronic store, branching out into video and games rental. Due to the “video nasty” scare and a BE monopoly on video distribution, a large black market for videos blossoms in 1980s Britain.
  • British Electronics would promote domestic products like the BBC Micro and ZX Spectrum minicomputers over foreign competitors.
A potential AH change with these might be if British Electronics adopts the VHD disc as the next step in video distribution. OTL Thorn-EMI saw them as the next step despite not being released in Japan until 1983, but they bought a factory in Swindon to press discs in 1981 before cancelling the whole thing ahead of their 1984 launch. The format would hang around in the UK for a while as an interactive learning tool, and in Japan for karaoke and video games, but on the whole never took off.

Now, depending on who is at British Electronics they may have a similar opinion, and the fact the format cannot be edited like VHS may lead them to invest in it especially if there is a similar Video Nasty debacle to OTL and a black market of bootleg tapes threatens their monopoly.
 

Venocara

Britain expects that every man will do his duty...
Location
My house, in the middle of the street
Pronouns
He/him
#3
A potential AH change with these might be if British Electronics adopts the VHD disc as the next step in video distribution. OTL Thorn-EMI saw them as the next step despite not being released in Japan until 1983, but they bought a factory in Swindon to press discs in 1981 before cancelling the whole thing ahead of their 1984 launch. The format would hang around in the UK for a while as an interactive learning tool, and in Japan for karaoke and video games, but on the whole never took off.

Now, depending on who is at British Electronics they may have a similar opinion, and the fact the format cannot be edited like VHS may lead them to invest in it especially if there is a similar Video Nasty debacle to OTL and a black market of bootleg tapes threatens their monopoly.
If VHD discs become more popular in the UK, what effects would this have on the future video industry both in the UK and across the globe?
 

David Flin

A home of love and laughter.
#4
Denis Healey (Exchequer) – Big beast, holds position under Shore. No IMF means he is very much Healy Mark 1 going into government.
Roy Mason (Northern Ireland) – After even more prolonged unrest around Sunningdale, Mason's tough stance is welcomed by Shore.
Fred Mulley (Defence)
There be fireworks in that there cabinet.

Shore and Healey is an incendiary combination. Healey famously held Shore in contempt.

Roy Mason's attitude towards how to deal with the issue of Northern Ireland is going to run up against Shore's views on the matter.
Ditto Mulley.

This Cabinet doesn't need an Opposition. It is it's own Opposition. (But then, it is the Labour Party).
 

Venocara

Britain expects that every man will do his duty...
Location
My house, in the middle of the street
Pronouns
He/him
#5
Roy Mason's attitude towards how to deal with the issue of Northern Ireland is going to run up against Shore's views on the matter.
Ditto Mulley.
I know that Roy Mason was a hardliner in terms of NI policy, but what did Shore and Mulley think was the best way to deal with the Northern Ireland question?

Also, who would have been a close enough ally to Shore to achieve the Chancellor post if he became Prime Minister?
 

David Flin

A home of love and laughter.
#6
I know that Roy Mason was a hardliner in terms of NI policy, but what did Shore and Mulley think was the best way to deal with the Northern Ireland question?
Shore (and I'm oversimplifying here massively, and eliding views from various times) wanted an effective Northern Ireland Assembly (by whatever name it is known) and kind of assumed that sectarianism would just dissipate if people of goodwill sat down and talked a lot. Clearly, I'm overstating, but he didn't have a lot of faith in British Forces being professional (thank you very much), but he did have a lot of faith in the honesty of paramilitary organisations.

(Note: Check with other sources. I don't have an objective view of him).

Also, who would have been a close enough ally to Shore to achieve the Chancellor post if he became Prime Minister?
Not a clue. Every talks about his oratory and his integrity, but beyond that, it's difficult to say. In the period, there were a lot of tough decisions to be made, and we don't have any evidence one way or the other how he would have made them.

I would be inclined to suggest Callaghan, who seems to be one of the few Labour politicians of the period who got on with most people in the party.
 

RyanF

Abbot of Unreason
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Falkirk
#8
If VHD discs become more popular in the UK, what effects would this have on the future video industry both in the UK and across the globe?
Well the cat was already out of the bag as far as VHS went, and there might be a flourishing market in tape trading and bootlegs if people have gotten used to it with the video nasty debacle.

CED would already have been a failure in the states, so it might wind up this niche British thing co-existing alongside VHS maybe having an adoption level comparable to LaserDisc in Japan.
 

Nyvis

Well-known member
Location
Paris
Pronouns
She/Her
#9
Catching up to this, bear with me.

Tony Benn resurrects the Ministry of Technology. He is given a wide brief, with Shore supporting investment in new technology. Benn's claims of an IT revolution are mocked as “Bennite Cybernatics”. Efforts include taking Stafford Beers, creator of Allende's Cybersyn planned economy computer system, out of retirement in Wales. He builds something similar (being a socialist and technocrat), becoming known in the press as CyberBenn.
Damn that by itself just make the whole thing worth it.

I think you mentioned ties with Sweden too? Would the UK try to swing towards a more nonaligned position along with Olof Palme? The man was probably the last great social democrat in my mind and exploring ties with Sweden would be interesting.