Tag Archives: independence

The Insurrection – sample chapter


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Hello again.

Happy New Year and all that.

It’s been a while. A very long while.

Anyhoo, last year I started four novels. (Writing, that is. Not reading.)

And I finished exactly none of them.

I’ve already posted one of them last year, a Viking saga, called Gods’ Cauldron.

I thought I’d share another one with you.

It was inspired by the Brexit vote and the deep division it created across the country.

It’s a comedy-drama set in a dystopian near future where certain northern city-states are at war with the south. A sort of accidental revolution born out of protest.

The initial raison d’etre for the North was for a fairer society.

However, it soon becomes apparent that some northern leaders want full independence.

This will not stand for a salacious orange-faced president of the UK. And he will stop at nothing to exterminate the rebels’ ever-decreasing strongholds.

Will they succeed in creating their utopia? Or will globilisation prevail?

If you have the time, and inclination, have a peruse and let me know if you think it’s something worth pursuing.

I’ll be posting extracts from the other two novels in the next week or so.

Oh, and please share far and wide on the old social media, if it pleases you.

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The Insurrection.

By David Milligan-Croft

Chapter 1
Northern England, sometime in the not-too-distant future.

The country was in a state of chaos after The Insurrection. You could practically draw a line between the mouth of the River Dee in Chester to the Humber estuary in the east, to mark the boundary.

A north-south-divide if you will. With the exception of Cornwall and large swathes of Wales, who had always considered themselves Celtic and unconquered by London. Because that’s what the United Kingdom ultimately was – London. That’s where the seat of power had been for a brace of millennia. And after it had run out of land to conquer in Britain it decided to build some boats and go in search of territories overseas which to ‘liberate’ from their present rulers.

The lands south of our new ‘virtual’ border had decided to stay where the money was. They knew a good thing when they saw it. And that’s pretty much what it all boils down to – money. If you have it – you have power. If you have power – you have friends. Lots of friends. Sycophants who’ll do your bidding regardless of how questionable it is. Until the next highest bidder comes along that is.

The Insurrection wasn’t contained to the United Kingdom. Of course, it ultimately dragged the Republic of Ireland into the mix. While Belfast remained loyal to the capital, Derry and Armagh tried to slip back over the border to rejoin with the south. This brought fierce resistance both from London and the Unionists, the latter of whom had had control over the six counties since Home Rule in 1923.

Unionist atrocities in Derry had compelled militias from Donegal to come to the walled city’s aid. Which ultimately lead to Northern Ireland annexing Donegal. Outcries from Dublin brought the United Nations to the door. But, seeing as though the UK was one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council the chances of sending UN Peacekeepers into the region were zero.

‘Hellions’, as we were dubbed, also had enemies north of the border. Edinburgh had willingly stayed within the Union whilst Aberdeen and Inverness had to be coherced due to the North Sea oil and gas reserves. Glasgow too had to be subdued, presumably due to the proximity of the UK’s only nuclear submarine facility.

It’s not as though we started out wanting independence from the UK. It’s just that we were fed up of poverty. Of the unfair redistribution of wealth. The age old redistribution south. It’s not as though we had much to lose. The north of England had been economically razed to the ground for decades. Mass unemployment, decrepit infrastructure, foodbanks, clothesbanks, shoebanks, furniturebanks. In fact, the only banks we didn’t have were the ones with any money in them.

The Insurrection had largely been contained within the major urban areas of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull, Newcastle and Sunderland. Areas starved of investment since the government’s withdrawal from the European Union. You see, the reason for our protest against the government wasn’t because we were parochial northerners wanting to unburden ourselves from the shackles of our southern overlords. (In fact, a lot of Londoners who shared our beliefs came up to join our cause.) It was because we wanted to embrace multiculturalism and diversity.

It was this last aspect that gave us a lifeline, as we were supplied with medical aid and weapons by our European allies from both the east and the west. We were pretty self-sufficient on the food front, except when government forces poisoned the farm land with chemical sprays and sank our fishing fleet with their gunboats. Food and fuel became currency. Money was worthless. The only thing we didn’t lack for was weapons. There always seems to be enough weapons in the world with which to wage war.

We didn’t have tanks, fighter jets or helicopter gunships like the government, but we did have something they didn’t have – an idea. An idea of a fairer society. An idea that all the country’s wealth should not be held by the top 1% of the population. And that idea was growing like an interminable cancer south of the border as well. Rebellions and protests sprang up in the Midlands – Birmingham, Stoke, Derby and Leicester all had to be brought to heel.

We didn’t want to fight. We wanted to talk. To come to some accord. But, like William the Conqueror’s ‘Harrying of the North’ in the 11th century, London didn’t. It wanted to subdue and subjugate. Because of The Insurrection, Marshall Law was declared, so all elections were suspended until order had been restored, which effectively made the United Kingdom a right wing dictatorship.

The North’s problem was that it was too fragmented. There was no central leadership. No common goal. The Insurrection had almost happened organically in several cities at the same time. Each with their own agendas and mistrust of each other. And the government wanted to keep it that way so that they didn’t have to talk to anyone. We were just little bands of hellions, anarchists, terrorists, that needed irradicating from the good people of the United Kingdom. But we weren’t terrorists, we were accountants and builders, factory workers and farmers.

We knew that to make the government listen we had to unite. Unite with the idea of the fairer society. And that was what the meeting of the Five Regions was about today. It was being held in secret in Cumbria. If London spies knew that all five regions’ leaders were in one place, The Insurrection could be put to rest in a heartbeat. Or, lack, thereof.
The Five Regions comprised of: the North East; Yorkshire; Greater Manchester; Liverpool, Wirral and Chester and finally; Lancashire and Cumbria.

I am military commander of Greater Manchester, and my name is General Alexander Jefferson Carmichael. But people usually just call me Jeff. I’m not a general in the proper sense of the word as I have no military training, unless you count a spell in the army cadets and several games of paintball in my youth. I am lecturer by trade. If lecturing can be defined as a trade. I taught history of art at Manchester Metropolitan University before The Insurrection. Before I swapped a paintbrush for a Kalashnikov. Before I swapped Guernica for Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

I am accompanying our political leader, Christina Gambretti, a second generation Anglo-Italian, former human rights lawyer. Of all the regional leaders, I admire her the most. She has the most international experience, having previously worked for the UN, Amnesty International and the Refugee Council. If anyone can galvanise the Five Regions to get behind our one goal it is her.

We are travelling at night, by road as all commercial aircraft have been grounded by London. Any private planes or helicopters detected by radar over the no-fly-zone will be intercepted and shot down by RAF interceptors. However, this doesn’t make travelling by road risk free, as the skies are continually patrolled by Apache helicopter gunships bristling with rockets and machine guns and aided by night-vision. So we are travelling by ‘tour bus’. If stopped by enemy forces, we are tourists on our way to the Lake District.

Whilst we do control the large areas from Hadrian’s Wall in the north to the southern border, it is not unheard of for London to land Special Forces units by chopper to intercept any vehicles they deem suspicious. Or, indeed, to carry out covert strikes on valuable assets, such as reservoirs and energy facilities. Or even kidnappings. SK4 security services, a private company that took over from the police force, are believed to be responsible for abductions of prominent politicians, activists and dissidents who are never seen or heard from again.

Our areas of influence are dwindling by the week. Only yesterday, Crewe defected back over the Cheshire border to rejoin the UK. The government makes a song and dance about it on the media, but you never see what has become of the political leaders or the Hellion Militia. Just lots of images of the public with shiny happy faces being embraced by our orange-faced El Presidente.

The rendezvous was arranged in the Lake District because of in-fighting between the various regions. Manchester would not meet in Liverpool, Newcastle would not go to Sunderland, Leeds wouldn’t entertain the idea of going to Manchester. And, Yorkshire as a whole, would tend not to want to go anywhere outside of its borders. Most of these objections originated from old sporting rivalries rather than political differences, which made it all the more frustrating getting all the factions to be taken seriously.

We had booked a conference room in a Kendal hotel under the pretext of a sales conference. We were on pretty safe ground up there with a partisan crowd. Though we would have to sweep for listening devices and the like. And my security detail would have to keep a low profile. I had deliberately chosen three men and three women so that they could easily pass as couples wandering the grounds.

Each of the Five Regions was bringing two delegates, one political, one military. In the hope of us thrashing out a cohesive and unified plan militarily and politically.

‘You know,’ Christina said, as we wound through the dark, winding roads. ‘I don’t think it’s enough to demand a fairer society.’

Christina was very good at this. She would go along with a particular plan or suggestion, then take people aside individually and propose something else. Perhaps an amendment or two. Or, even something completely different.

‘What? You want an unfair society instead?’

She smirked. ‘No, we have that already. I was thinking that it’s not really about us coming together to share common ground. It’s the fact we’re completely different types of peoples, with different values. We don’t like what they represent and they certainly don’t like what we represent.’

‘You’re suggesting full independence for the North of England?’

She shrugged her slender shoulders and tucked a slither of auburn hair behind her ear.

‘Why not? If Scotland can, why can’t we?’

I frowned, ‘You know I don’t need to answer that.’

‘Okay, okay,’ she whispered. ‘What about Sudan and South Sudan?’

‘Yeah?’ I raised my eyebrows. ‘’Cause that turned out brilliantly for everyone, didn’t it?’

Christina eyed me contemptuously. ‘You get my point,’ she said flatly. ‘Besides, isn’t that what we’ve really wanted all along?’

I looked out of the coach window as rain streaked diagonally. Was that what we really wanted? I wondered. When I’d worked abroad in my youth, I had often found that when I told people I was from Britain, or England, they eyed me with caution, or even suspicion. But when I told people I was from Manchester they immediately brightened and opened with, ‘Ah, Manchester United!’

Northerners were certainly treated differently in some countries. Almost as though we were as oppressed as some of Britain’s former colonies. I particularly found this in Ireland and Australia.

‘What about the NHS and the welfare state?’ I asked.

‘We’d still have those,’ she said.

‘How’d we pay for it?’

‘Same as we do now, through taxes.’

‘How’d we pay to rebuild the infrastructure?’ Our cities had become fortresses and our infrastructure had largely been pulverised by the enemy.

‘EU subsidies,’ she smiled.

‘Army and airforce bases?’

‘Negotiation.’

When we had rebelled against the appalling atrocities and brutal overuse of force by SK4 Security, the army had been called in and had disobeyed direct orders to open fire on their own citizens. Local army units were subsequently confined to barracks. Then, when national regiments were drafted in, and they also refused. The army left it up to the government and local law enforcement, which was primarily owned by members of the government anyway. The police force had been outsourced to SK4 Security Services five years previously.

You could easily see why the generals, (the proper ones, that is), wanted nothing to do with instigating a civil war. After all, they swore allegiance to the Queen, not a despotic, orange dictator with a penchant for underage girls.

Chapter 2.

EL PRESIDENTE

Please feel free to point out any typos, punctuation and grammatical errors. It’s a first draft and these things happen no matter how many times I proofread it. I won’t be offended.In fact, I’ll be pleased!

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Bonny Scotland – Things for which I am grateful #278 – 287


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Edinburgh Castle from the Grassmarket.

Edinburgh Castle from the Grassmarket.

I count myself extremely fortunate to have lived in the stunning capital of Edinburgh279 in 1991-92.

I probably would never have ended up there had I not befriended an amiable Scottish chap by the name of Richard in the queue for the Hacienda nightclub in Manchester some six years previously.

As our friendship blossomed, I went on several trips to his homeland, none of which I have any recollection of whatsoever. I’d just wake up back in Manchester feeling like my brain had been covered in batter and deep fried.

Bloke in a skirt.

Bloke in a skirt.

Anyways, after I’d been made redundant in Leeds I managed to get a job in Leith280 which is just a short jaunt down Leith Walk from Edinburgh to the docks. It was more of an up-and-coming area when I was there, with lots of great pubs and eateries.

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I stayed with my aforementioned friend’s parents in the beautiful Stockbridge colonies for the first couple of months. Then I moved to a bijou little pad on South William Street in the West End.

I was shown the ropes of Edinburgh and Leith by the fabulously talented painter, Michael McGinn. (Who also has a rather wonderful antique/retro shop called McQuirkey’s, should you be round and about with your shopping hat on.)

Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to. The architecture is staggeringly breathtaking. And the people… well, I couldn’t understand a word they said. It was six months before I realised they weren’t calling me Ken.

Edinburgh is very spiky.

Edinburgh is very spiky.

Glaswegians reckon Glasgow281 is better than Edinburgh because of its people. They think Edinburghers are a bit toffee-nosed. But I reckon it’s the other way round. Glaswegians are jealous, because their city is a bag of washing in comparison. I did go to Glasgow a couple of times. It was like a cross between Manchester and Dresden circa 1945.

A recent Tourist Board flyer.

A recent Tourist Board flyer.

A couple of other notable places to visit are: Stirling Castle282, which is a bit like a miniature version of Edinburgh; you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Highlands283 with its ominous, towering mountains; or the serenity of the Lochs Lomond284 and Ness285. Venturing still further north to the Kyle of Lochalsh286 and the Isle of Skye287 you’d be forgiven for feeling like you’ve entered a Celtic nirvana.

Stirling Castle.

Stirling Castle.

Wallace monument, Stirling. (I walked up this thing with a wee baby strapped to me.)

Wallace monument, Stirling. (I walked up this thing with a wee babby strapped to me.)

The Highlands.

The Highlands.

A handsome lassy.

A handsome lassy.

Loch Lomond.

Loch Lomond.

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness.

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness.

Kyle of Lochalsh.

Kyle of Lochalsh.

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

Imagine what it’d be like if they actually owned the place!

Which brings me rather clunkily round to the question of Scottish independence. Watching the debate from south of the border I can’t help noticing that the majority of the ‘No’ campaigners focus on financial benefits of staying together whilst the ‘Yes’ campaigners talk about a fairer society.

Scott monument, Edinburgh.

Scott monument, Edinburgh.

I know Jockos don’t give a monkey’s what a Sassenach like me thinks, but for what it’s worth, I’d vote Yes.

To me, it’s nothing to do with money and all to do with self-determination. Heart over head? Probably. But isn’t that what patriotism is all about?

If I had my way, we’d have an independent North of England as well. It’s had its resources and wealth stripped and sent darn sarf for centuries.

With an independent Scotland, the downside for us Angles, is that it would probably sentence us to permanent Tory rule. (Which would be worse than living in Hades, or worse – Norn Irn!) But that isn’t Scotland’s problem – it’s ours. And, if that’s who the majority of people vote for south of the border, then so be it. It’s called democracy. Which doesn’t seem to be very evident in Scotland at the moment with only 1 out of 59 seats being Tory.

Leith.

Leith.

I love Scotland – its history, its poetry, its literature, its spectacular nature, its architecture and its people. (I’ve got some great Scottish mates. Well, I did have before this post.) If they do decide to give independence a shot – good luck to them, I say.

Though, if they vote to stay in the Union, I think we should have a  referendum in England the day after to see if we still want them.

Addendum:

To be honest, I think there should be less borders in the world, not more of them. However, I suppose my leaning toward the ‘Yes’ campaign has more to do with building a fairer society than with leaving the Union. Perhaps if the UK as a whole could do this, then I might not be in such favour of the split. Though, the chances of this happening with Conservatives running the country is nigh on impossible with benefits, NHS, education all being cut whilst their banker cronies are sucking up the big bucks and peerages in London.

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Will Scottish independence end the monarchy?


As I’m sure all of you learned people know, the only reason that the Act of Union between Scotland and England took place was because Tudor Queen, Elizabeth I (1533-1603), left no heir to the English throne.

So the English Parliament took it upon themselves to ask King James VI of Scotland (1566-1625) to become King James I of Great Britain and Ireland in 1603.

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This Scottish line was continued by his son, Charles I and then, after a brief, bloody and violent interlude courtesy of Ollie Cromwell, by Chaz 2.

My question is: In the event of Scotland achieving independence in the upcoming referendum, will it mean that the present Windsor monarchy, (which presides over the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), have no legal basis for claiming the throne of England?

After all, the last “English” dynasty died out with the death of Elizabeth I (Welsh).

Maybe the Windsors should return to their ancestral home of Scotland…

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At the very least, perhaps we should revert back to the last English dynasty before the Welsh Tudors took over the throne in 1485? Which would, of course, be the Plantagenet House of York which ended with the death of King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. Descendants of whom, are still alive today…

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