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What would a 1980s Tony Benn premiership look like?

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#41
I can't find any specific reference to how he actually felt about it, especially after the Handover
I've found a reprint of a Catholic Herald interview in 1989, where he briefly mentions it in this context:

On Ireland, Benn is uncompromising. Set a date and withdraw, he says. It’s as simple as that. Indeed, he can see it all happening. “Mrs Thatcher pulled out of Hong Kong, she’s obviously pulling out of Gibraltar, she will eventually pull out of the Falklands. The process is a very common one. When I was born, 20 per cent of the world was governed from the House of Commons. When I was a child I went to the Coronation in 1937, and I sat on a stand and watched all these soldiers march by — they were from everywhere, and it was just normal. Everyone who fought „agaiost us was a ‘terrorist’, and then the ‘terrorists’ always end up having tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, because they became heads of Commonwealth countries.”

“Yes, I see Gerry Adams ending up having tea with the Queen, as easily as anything. Look at the number who have done it before. Don’t misunderstand me — I want problems to be solved by peaceful means. But I can never recall Mrs Thatcher describing the people in Afghanistan fighting to get rid of the Russians as terrorists.”
(He wasn't wrong about the Queen and Sinn Fein, in the end!)

So he probably would try to handover Hong Kong quicker, and I think you're right that it wouldn't be a great legacy for him in the long run. Also sounds like he'd have been willing to hand back the Falklands and Gibraltar. The last one he'd probably get talked out of, the Falklands could be a big one - and previous governmetn we were hoping to come to a deal w/ Argentina about them before 1982 anyway, so this is a semi-mainstream view.

Though possible crisis point: Argentina will still be a junta at the time, negotiations might break down between them and the very leftie government who'll likely want some protections for the islanders. What will Benn do if they break down and there's sabre-rattling, or an invasion attempt? OTL he wanted the United Nations called in to arbitrate, I assume he'd still do that if there's sabre-rattling, but could he remain as pacifistic if he's the Prime Minister, and would he if he's been trying to negotiate in (to him) good faith and Argentina tries violence/threat of violence anyway? I think he'd still go to the UN as first option if there was an attack.

Outcomes I can see are:

a) Benn gets a deal done with Argentina. This is a bigger deal in Argentina (and the Falklands) than the UK. In the long run, Anglo-Argentine relations are good.

b) Benn cannot get a deal done, it gets into argy-bargy (ho ho), the UN may be asked in. A big deal in both countries and it looks good for Benn, he's standing his ground with a foreign government and a dodgy one, at that. This might lead to a deal later, proving ITTL that UN work is the way to go

c) Sabre-rattling - Benn is pressured to respond to it. 50/50 on whether this will work, but he'll likely still want to negotiate and have the UN involved even if he's rattling. He may get a 'rally around the flag' reaction in the UK

d) As in OTL, Argentina invades. Benn will not go to war over it. Big political issue in the UK, possibly a fatal wound to his government
 

Jape

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
#42
I've found a reprint of a Catholic Herald interview in 1989, where he briefly mentions it in this context:



(He wasn't wrong about the Queen and Sinn Fein, in the end!)

So he probably would try to handover Hong Kong quicker, and I think you're right that it wouldn't be a great legacy for him in the long run. Also sounds like he'd have been willing to hand back the Falklands and Gibraltar. The last one he'd probably get talked out of, the Falklands could be a big one - and previous governmetn we were hoping to come to a deal w/ Argentina about them before 1982 anyway, so this is a semi-mainstream view.

Though possible crisis point: Argentina will still be a junta at the time, negotiations might break down between them and the very leftie government who'll likely want some protections for the islanders. What will Benn do if they break down and there's sabre-rattling, or an invasion attempt? OTL he wanted the United Nations called in to arbitrate, I assume he'd still do that if there's sabre-rattling, but could he remain as pacifistic if he's the Prime Minister, and would he if he's been trying to negotiate in (to him) good faith and Argentina tries violence/threat of violence anyway? I think he'd still go to the UN as first option if there was an attack.

Outcomes I can see are:

a) Benn gets a deal done with Argentina. This is a bigger deal in Argentina (and the Falklands) than the UK. In the long run, Anglo-Argentine relations are good.

b) Benn cannot get a deal done, it gets into argy-bargy (ho ho), the UN may be asked in. A big deal in both countries and it looks good for Benn, he's standing his ground with a foreign government and a dodgy one, at that. This might lead to a deal later, proving ITTL that UN work is the way to go

c) Sabre-rattling - Benn is pressured to respond to it. 50/50 on whether this will work, but he'll likely still want to negotiate and have the UN involved even if he's rattling. He may get a 'rally around the flag' reaction in the UK

d) As in OTL, Argentina invades. Benn will not go to war over it. Big political issue in the UK, possibly a fatal wound to his government

I think Britain would need to be ready to pull out of Ireland (or at least soften to a 'hands off' approach) for Benn to win an election to begin with. The logistics of this would be massive as everyone expected a blood bath if the Army just pulled out. I imagine he would get the UN involved. Plenty of the Labour Left, Benn included, believed radical Unionists aimed for a quasi-fascist independent Ulster, purified of Catholics and free of the meddling of the Fenian-lovers in Westminster. As such he would organise something to replace the British Army - Suez style, maybe a UN force?

Benn would happily hand the Falklands over diplomatically if Argentina offers some assurances on the locals. Come war, as long he hasn't packed it with yes men, the Cabinet will back war. Michael Foot IOTL enthusiastically backed Thatcher over the Falklands. If he refuses he's out frankly, despite their unilateralism the Labour Left held few true pacifists, self-defence with conventional forces was another matter and against a Fascist Junta, all the better. So Benn would go along I think but he might faff about, bother the UN, argue with his Cabinet.


Question: Benn wins, pulls Britain out of EEC. How do the Irish react? Do they follow suit because of the major trade links they have, or does Ireland stay put in Brussels?
 
#43
I think Britain would need to be ready to pull out of Ireland (or at least soften to a 'hands off' approach) for Benn to win an election to begin with. The logistics of this would be massive as everyone expected a blood bath if the Army just pulled out. I imagine he would get the UN involved. Plenty of the Labour Left, Benn included, believed radical Unionists aimed for a quasi-fascist independent Ulster, purified of Catholics and free of the meddling of the Fenian-lovers in Westminster. As such he would organise something to replace the British Army - Suez style, maybe a UN force?
Having been on the ground in the area at the time under discussion, and having experience of the Orange balaclava maniacs and the Green balaclava maniacs, I can confirm that there is no ifs, buts, or maybes about there being a bloodbath if the British Army had just pulled out. I could run through the litany of abominations that were attempted, by both sides, on those trying to live a vaguely normal life, but those are details that aren't necessary.

Getting the UN involved during the period has issues, not least that the UN Peacekeeping forces at the time weren't, to put it mildly, very good. The Rules of Engagement that UN forces operated under at the time made them not fit for purpose as Peacekeepers, and the quality of troops sent varied widely. Bangladesh and Senegal, for example, generally sent good troops keen to learn. Other nations who sent troops sent those who weren't of any use in their home country, and were just warm bodies filling a quota and were literally worse than nothing.

I can certainly see a Benn Government pulling British troops out, either before or after an agreement with the UN to send UN troops in (and one of the more reliable suppliers of UN peacekeepers during the period was the Irish Republic. I wonder how that would have gone done with the Orange faction?). How that would turn out, that's another matter.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#44
This seems a sticking point then: a majority of British voters have to be fine (or at least don;'tm consider it a dealbreaker) with withdrawing troops and Irish reunification, and in 1979. How do you get that? Something would need to happen in Heath's second term, either something to make people go "screw this" or "see, it's calmed down". (Or is actually calmer compared to OTL) What would that be?


Question: Benn wins, pulls Britain out of EEC. How do the Irish react? Do they follow suit because of the major trade links they have, or does Ireland stay put in Brussels?
From the chat of a lot of the Irish in recent months, I figure Ireland stays put: being in the EEC gives Ireland a better hand in dealings with Britain, and more so if they're in and we're out.
 
#45
This seems a sticking point then: a majority of British voters have to be fine (or at least don;'tm consider it a dealbreaker) with withdrawing troops and Irish reunification, and in 1979. How do you get that? Something would need to happen in Heath's second term, either something to make people go "screw this" or "see, it's calmed down". (Or is actually calmer compared to OTL) What would that be?
OTL 1979.

Note that this is only a partial record, as it doesn't include things like the Prod-a-Prod game, where cause of death was generally put down as muder for reasons unknown. It also doesn't include the various injuries (knee-capping and six-packs). It doesn't include civilian deaths caused by fires.

The trouble is that as soon as you pull troops out, the situation gets a lot, lot worse.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#46
OTL 1979.

Note that this is only a partial record
So in order to make withdrawal seem more acceptable to a voting majority, things need to be a lot calmer (or at least look it to the mainland) which means Heath has to do... something after 1974. Or Benn promises/is convinced to promise that he'll withdraw when violence has gone down, which will punt the issue into the long grass even though he doesn't want to.
 
#47
So in order to make withdrawal seem more acceptable to a voting majority, things need to be a lot calmer (or at least look it to the mainland) which means Heath has to do... something after 1974.
God knows what. 1973 was, I can confirm, not a good year for anyone trying to calm things down. Neither was 1979 (although I saw a different locale then). We are talking about a time and place where people were murdered for treating the wounded civilians of the other side; a time and a place where people used flamethrowers when robbing places (including, surprisingly, a petrol station). We are talking about a time and place where nurses were being murdered because they treated people of the Other Team in hospital. Children of firemen were considered legitimate targets. Bombs were planted in primary schools of the Other Team. Do not look for any sane solution to Northern Ireland in the 1970s.

Or Benn promises/is convinced to promise that he'll withdraw when violence has gone down, which will punt the issue into the long grass even though he doesn't want to.
If in the late 1970s/early 1980s, the British PM said that British troops would be withdrawn when the violence has gone down, then I can guarantee that the Orange Team would assume that this indicated they were being abandoned, and they would make damned sure that the violence didn't go down. A large portion of the Green Team would assume that this meant that they had nearly won, and it just needed one more big violent heave. And both sides would retaliate, sometimes before and sometimes after the event being retaliated.

I can see it happening, but it would be seriously unpleasant.
 

Jape

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
#48
This seems a sticking point then: a majority of British voters have to be fine (or at least don;'tm consider it a dealbreaker) with withdrawing troops and Irish reunification, and in 1979. How do you get that? Something would need to happen in Heath's second term, either something to make people go "screw this" or "see, it's calmed down". (Or is actually calmer compared to OTL) What would that be?
Heath having a second term would probably provide fodder in of itself. Labour in 1974 walked into a minefield on Northern Ireland. Heath's Sunningdale Agreement had received pretty stern opposition from hard-line unionists in December 1973 but nothing prepared Harold Wilson for the UWC strike. The scale and organisation of the strike took the British totally by surprise - Wilson pondered withdrawal, he asked the Army about taking over essential services and 'clamping down' but they knew the Ulster police wouldn't play along and it would only escalate the situation. In the end he went with his gut and just tried to end the standoff, dropping Sunningdale, which was never his baby, and reimposing direct rule. After that Labour's NI policy was basically "keep the lid on".

If Heath is in power when the UWC strike happens, it could be something very different. It's his baby on the line and he liked his decisive action. Some people did suggest plowing through the Unionist roadblocks and arresting the strike leaders straight away before the strike expanded and entrenched itself but again the Army weren't keen - during the strike soldiers at roadblocks were often little more than fifty yards away from armed paramilitaries on patrol. Also Heath despite his actions often being swift, he wasn't very good at timing and would probably be as confused as Wilson for the first crucial days.

Then the power goes out, the water stops running. Heath would want to intervene. Probably send some engineers to ensure the electricity, they'd be rejected by the strikers, then the engineers would come back with armed soldiers. Stand-off. Would he use force? Probably not, at least at first. The Army would be very loud by this point that they're not cool with all of this. A violent confrontation with the strikers will trigger attacks from the Unionist paramilitaries. The Ulster police will either join the strikes or 'return to barracks'. This would leave the British Army with a genuine occupation.

So what if Heath stays at stand-off and claims these extremists won't dictate the future of Northern Ireland? Then, the strike drags on for a long time. Despite the UWC having a fairly impressive organisation in terms of ensuring essentials for the local Protestants, there was plenty of shortages, seizures and worse. Sympathy will decline for the strikes if left alone but the political core would not be unbowed. I can see minor confrontations, soldiers removing roadblocks etc. definitely blood.

The need for supplies for the strikers would get worse. Probably raids to seize food stores and livestock from other areas (there were incidents of cattle rustling IOTL I believe). This is were 'containment' would probably lead to the most blood but also make the strike lose momentum. Again, the likes of Ian Paisley are not accepting Sunningdale in any form.

So either:

1) Drop Sunningdale, reimpose direct rule
2) Get stuck in, escalating things extremely
3) Talks

Heath would totally ignore 1, dabble in 2 until the RUC makes rumbles and then finally organise 3, which would probably lead to 1 with an empty agreement to continue discussions further. Regardless Heath isn't walking away like Wilson did even if he might have to eventually, leading probably to a few more weeks of striking at least, some blood and eventually a step down or muddled compromise that changes nothing.

Whether Heath goes for confrontation or containment with eventual talks, you'll probably see increased Unionist bombings outside of Ulster. In the Republic but also, depending on Wesminster's approach, possibly attacks on the mainland. Shooting the NI Secretary might seem crazy but if the Government is playing bolshy and insisting Sunningdale will go through, it is far from impossible.

If unionists and soldiers are fighting on the streets, British ministers are dying and Protestant leaders are unrepentant, staying in Northern Ireland becomes a lot less attractive. Despite all the talk of the province being a legal part of the UK, if both communities don't want you, why bother? This is where Benn could waltz in to cut the Gordian Knot.

From the chat of a lot of the Irish in recent months, I figure Ireland stays put: being in the EEC gives Ireland a better hand in dealings with Britain, and more so if they're in and we're out.
But is this in relation to the situation in 2019 or 1975? Back then the EEC was the CAP to Ireland and pretty much nothing else. There's a reason Ireland withdrew their EEC application after De Gaulle vetoed Britain's entry in the 1960s. Here you have much closer direct connections to the UK and weaker ones to the EEC. If things like the Sunningdale Mutiny happen as above, I can totally see Ireland sticking with the EEC but I've been trying to find info on Irish opinion of Britain's 1975 Referendum but have come up with nowt.
 
#49
If unionists and soldiers are fighting on the streets, British ministers are dying and Protestant leaders are unrepentant, staying in Northern Ireland becomes a lot less attractive. Despite all the talk of the province being a legal part of the UK, if both communities don't want you, why bother? This is where Benn could waltz in to cut the Gordian Knot.
FWIW, the Orange Factions and the British forces were fighting. They were quite happy to murder troops stopping them from murdering Catholics. Protestant leaders were unrepentant about it.

I don't think anyone could cut the Gordian Knot. Pulling troops out, unless there was an effective immediate replacement (and the UN Peacekeeping structure was - in the period - totally inadequate for the job) would result in a bloodbath. The trouble with assuming both communities not wanting the troops is that those people who were trying to live a normal life desperately wanted someone to keep Orange maniacs and Green maniacs from murdering at will. Pull the troops out, and you're condemning 80% of the population to unconstrained sectarian warfare.

There's a reason why the Peace Marchers kicked off in 1976, and continued marching despite threats and attacks launched against them. The ordinary people there were sick and tired of people being beaten to death in pubs as entertainment for the drinkers, and all the rest of the obscenities being conducted in the name of the Orange/Green objectives. Of course, the Orange and Green guys weren't going to give up because most people wanted them to, and the Peace Marchers attempt fizzled into nothing.

you'll probably see increased Unionist bombings outside of Ulster. In the Republic but also, depending on Wesminster's approach, possibly attacks on the mainland.
Had all those as well. The mainland attacks were in places with high Irish populations. Several attacks in the Republic. Also attacks by both Green and Orange Factions in Europe as well.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#50
@Jape seems to have the solution for getting Benn in re NI: it gets nastier under Heath due to how he tries to sort things, and in the case of unionist attacks outside Ulster and on soldiers it's stuff the public notice more. Enough of the British public are happy to be out as long as Benn can promise X, Y, or Z from the UN/EEC/someone will prevent a bloodbath.

If Northern Ireland goes more to hell after Benn's in and pulls the troops out, that's going to be a thing hanging over his first (only?) term, impairing a lot of his planned domestic and economic reforms. That might also cripple the talks he might want to do with the Falklands and Hong Kong, because who'd want to do them when Northern Ireland blew up in his face?
 
#51
@Jape seems to have the solution for getting Benn in re NI: it gets nastier under Heath due to how he tries to sort things, and in the case of unionist attacks outside Ulster and on soldiers it's stuff the public notice more.
I'd suggest that when describing Unionist attacks outside Ulster and on soldiers, you need the word "more high-profile attacks" rather than just attacks. OTL, these were both pretty common. For the former, you have things like the Dublin and Monaghan bombings (1974, IIRC), where the UVF wounded about 300 civilians.

As for Unionist attacks on soldiers, that was so common as to be not noteworthy. To my absolute certain knowledge, at least one British patrol on 15 March 1973 came under a planned, coordinated attack by Green and Orange Balaclavas with the intention of driving the Marines away so that they could return to blowing each other and any nearby civilians away in peace. I can't say that I exactly enjoyed that birthday, but it helps me remember the date.

Rough rule of thumb; if the British troops get pulled out, the UVF (and other Orange Factions) will go ape-shit crazy. The RUC will, as a general rule, help them. Ditto the UDR. That's some serious level of resources, and the Unionists have just been told that, in effect, they Fight or Surrender, and we know how good they are at the idea of Surrender and Compromise. Bloodbath will be the least of it.

Enough of the British public are happy to be out as long as Benn can promise X, Y, or Z from the UN/EEC/someone will prevent a bloodbath.
I'd think that the British troops would also be pretty happy about being pulled out with that promise. Of course, the promise is nonsense, but the British public won't know that until after the event.

If Northern Ireland goes more to hell after Benn's in and pulls the troops out, that's going to be a thing hanging over his first (only?) term, impairing a lot of his planned domestic and economic reforms. That might also cripple the talks he might want to do with the Falklands and Hong Kong, because who'd want to do them when Northern Ireland blew up in his face?
Yes. The only thing I would suggest is that first word "If" can be replaced by "When".

It would make talks with Argentina (which, if we recall, is in the middle of Operation Condor just at the moment) over the Falklands more fraught. Mind you, the American attitude towards the Falklands might well be different. OTL, the pro-Argentine faction in America wasn't that organised, while Reagan and Thatcher had good relations and the pro-British faction in America was both larger and better organised. If Northern Ireland has turned into a bloodbath, and if we've got a Reagan/Benn pairing in President/PM, then I can easily envisage America backing Argentina in any dispute.

It could be a very interesting TL, although not a terribly happy one. Especially if one is a civilian in Northern Ireland.
 

Jape

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
#52
To be clear I think Benn pulling out of NI even with some 'framework' would probably be awful for civilians in the Province. He might get a boost in popularity on the mainland and get some rare praise from the Army. Northern Ireland isn't a former colony on the other side of the planet, the bloodshed will still be -literally- close to home and reported on. It won't be a good legacy for Benn, even if the British are glad they're out. God knows what horrors will just be allowed to happen by disinterested blue helmets with overly conservative orders.

This would be Benn's goal but the realities of government might make him pause, particularly when he's got Dublin on the phone saying, "for God's sake don't pull out". However, even if he negotiated with the Republic I don't think he'd lose track of his end goal.


If such a pull-out effects Argentine negotiations and the Falklands are peacefully ceded, you may see a rising market for countries with a territorial axe to grind against Britain.

An interesting one is Guatemala's claim on Belize (self-governing colony right up until 1981) which was being dealt with in the late 1970s. Guatemala had the support of most Latin Amerian countries, the NAM and a majority of the UN General Assembly in 1975. Interestingly LBJ had suggested a 'devolved' government for Belize overseen by Guatemala - none of the parties were keen on this. However by 1980 all their support had cracked and self-determination was the popular solution, which led to independence in 1981. If we have a 'soft' Labour Government willing to sign away the likes of the Falklands and walk out of Ulster, it would encourage Guatemala but they have already lost the diplomatic battle. In fact I can see Benn making a concerted effort to woo the Non-Aligned Movement which might reduce their support even further.

However this doesn't remove the possibility of military action. IOTL Britain was very concerned by the possibility of Guatemala taking advantage of the Falklands War. We might not have that ITTL but a generally reductionist military policy by Benn might be enough to chance their arm.

This would be helped immensely by Benn pulling out of NATO. As Belize is above the Equator, such an attack would fall under NATO collective defence guidelines. Although in no scenario are you going to get Danish and West German troops heading to Central America, if America is iffy (as they became) they wouldn't risk it. If Britain is no longer in NATO and Benn has pissed off Washington (not only through policy but I can't see Reagan and Benn getting on personally at all), the Yanks might insist on strict 'neutrality'.

Unlike the Falklands which is a tiny archipelago with a tiny population that's a drain on the Treasury, Belize is a full-blown country moving towards independence. Again despite his private worries, he'd probably go to war to defend Belize if push came to shove. You could end up in a strange situation were Britain is not getting covert support from the US like the Falklands but from the local anti-annexationist countries - namely Mexico and Cuba. I don't see the CIA actively working against the British, but in the murky waters of Cold War Central America, some elements on the ground might decide Guatemala's junta is a better bet than a British pinko psuedo-colony and provide some intel. It would be a very different war to the Falklands, in scale, being land rather than naval focused, the terrain, etc. and a much larger civilian population in the mix.


Speaking of Cuba - Grenada. The airfield that officially triggered the US invasion in 1983 was originally designed by British contractors. Despite its pinko government, Thatcher was pissed when the Americans invaded as it was a Commonwealth nation. Grenada's PM Maurice Bishop did attempt to make ties with the US but attending the SED Party Conference with a massive banner of your own face above the podium probably didn't help matters. Benn would be friendly (it was a democratically-elected government after all) and maybe if he hasn't burnt all of his bridges with Washington yet, he can help establish proper links.

The airfield was constructed partly by Cuban 'workers', military-trained construction units, which really helped trigger the invasion IOTL. What if ITTL, Benn gets a British contract? Even better (in terms of diplomatic 'fun') have Britain only be a partner in the project, so you end up with a media expose on British government contractors working directly with the Cubans. Benn, as long as he saw it as legitimate, would have no problem but "British Taxpayer bankrolls Castro's Airbase" is pretty bad optics.
 
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Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#53
As it happen re NI, there's a section like this in the new Sea Lion, "You've Always Had It This Good". There, British troops are replaced in Northern Ireland with
an American-heavy NATO peacekeeping force.
That's definitely not on the cards for a Benn government, though is there a country he could turn to for the bulk of work? (I can't see the Irish wanting to do much beyond maybe the border, if asked, because they'd be immediately petrol-bombed and shot at as Invaders by the unionist paras)

An interesting one is Guatemala's claim on Belize
Oh man. This and Grenada are good stuff. I can see Benn reluctantly sending troops to reinforce Belize and the resulting tensions with America & local CIA. (Probably not pleasing a number of people in Britain either, "you abandoned Ulster but have sent men to die in a far-off land we know nothing about!")

Northern Ireland and foreign issues like Belize - oh god, and Iran's gonna come up! - seem like they'll be a millstone around Benn's neck when he wants to focus on widespread domestic & economic reforms.
 
#54
Re the IdN peacekeepers, could it be a predominant mix of Americans and Canadians? OK, so it's well before Oka IOTL (and that famous photo of the Army guy and the Mohawk protestor) in the case of the latter, though it wouldn't be like they hadn't had experience before (cf the October crisis). Would be interesting to see.

Oh, and you want another millstone on Benn, tbere's always Xianggang - as mentioned earlier. How Britain reacts elsewhere would affect Xianggang and Deng's/Beijing's assessment of the situation.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#55
Re the IdN peacekeepers, could it be a predominant mix of Americans and Canadians?
Huh, that's a thought - if Benn was loathe to work with the Yanks, Canada (and Australia) are both friendly democracies who have Irish-descended citizens. Could they be talked into sending peacekeepers under a UN flag? (Whether this would work well afterwards, well, that's a fourth-quarter problem)
 
#56
Huh, that's a thought - if Benn was loathe to work with the Yanks, Canada (and Australia) are both friendly democracies who have Irish-descended citizens. Could they be talked into sending peacekeepers under a UN flag? (Whether this would work well afterwards, well, that's a fourth-quarter problem)
Would be even funnier if it was regiments like the Van Doos (aka the 22ème Régiment). https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_22nd_Regiment
 
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d32123

Well-known member
Location
Seattle
#57
With all due respect, I don't see why the US (yet alone Canada or Australia) would want to get involved in Ireland. Vietnam was fresh in the rear view mirror and Ireland especially at the time was an issue Americans either didn't care about or were actively sympathetic towards the nationalists on. American leadership was a different matter, but I think it would be a very hard sell to the public and there were much more important things to care about than a geopolitically insignificant post-colonial squabble where no commies are involved.
 

Jape

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
#58
I had thought to suggest Canadian UN peacekeepers but maybe their own Protestant/Catholic issues in the 1970s might stop it. It's dumb, and (VERY) very unlikely but I have this image of Quebecois peacekeepers siding with the Catholic population etc...

AOh man. This and Grenada are good stuff. I can see Benn reluctantly sending troops to reinforce Belize and the resulting tensions with America & local CIA. (Probably not pleasing a number of people in Britain either, "you abandoned Ulster but have sent men to die in a far-off land we know nothing about!")

Northern Ireland and foreign issues like Belize - oh god, and Iran's gonna come up! - seem like they'll be a millstone around Benn's neck when he wants to focus on widespread domestic & economic reforms.
Wouldn't it be great if PM Benn walks into a million crises, promising socialist reform, and due to all the international stuff is so busy he has almost zero impact on Britain but becomes a foreign policy heavyweight?
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#60
I think it would be a very hard sell to the public and there were much more important things to care about than a geopolitically insignificant post-colonial squabble where no commies are involved.
Point - the Irish lobby's only so big. A government might commit to sending peacekeeping troops there on the assumption it won't be too costly and then go "SOD THIS" if soldiers start dying & the public thinks it's not worth it.