Everywhere you look in Edwardian Britain, dark, angry storm clouds are brewing. It's towns are still tormented by Victorian levels of poverty, sickness and hunger and in order for the newly elected Liberal government to finance radical welfare reforms, defense spending must be cut. But with a German invasion speculated about in the popular press, an alternative course of action has to be taken.
LLoyd George's "People's Budget" sort to impose a Super Tax on the super-rich but was seen as pure socialism, an act of negation of both monarchy and empire by the aristocracy and seemed much more like a revolution than a budget! After the budget for welfare reforms was thrown out of the House of Lords (in order for the budget to be passed, the very same Lords who would be taxed would have to approve it, a kind of 'political suicide'), the dock workers union in particular, filled with a sense of injustice, took to the streets in protest and went on strike. At the time, Edwardian Britain relied heavily on food imports and these sat at the docks in crates, rotting and beginning to smell. Armed Police and the army prepared to break the strike.
The union's leader, a man named Ben Tillett, wrote a letter to the Home Secretary Winston Churchill reading: "We shall bring about a state of war. Hunger and poverty have driven the dock and ship workers to this present resort and neither your soldiers, your police, your murder shall avert the catastrophe that is coming to this country". Ben Tillett and his comrades, inspired by the Russian Revolution of 1905, intended to take Britain down the same road and encourage unions across the country to strike. The mood soon turned ugly when the Police tried to break up a dock strike in Liverpool with violence spreading throughout the city. The Mayor claimed it was more than a strike but a revolution and if the government could not send military or naval support, then he could not guarantee the safety of life or property. Within days, the entire Aldershot garrison had been ordered North but the strikes and violence continued to spread.
Tillett, during an open-air meeting in London's Tower Hill, formed the Workers' Police to act as their militant arm and, as a result, the entire of Britain's armed forces were put on stand by for the imminent uprising. Many of the Gentry, fearing for their safety, bought themselves revolvers to defend themselves from the revolution that was about the happen...
But it never did. All the talk of revolution was lost in the build up to the First World War and it never happened. But this period in history has really intrigued me and given me an idea for a great little skirmish project, influenced by the 'Very British Civil War' hype that seems to have gripped the gaming world. What if the violence had finally reached its peak and boiled over into full scale revolt? The general idea is to play through some fictional skirmish scenarios taking place between the Workers' Police and the combined forces of the Army and the Police. It should certainly make for some interesting gaming!