They called him Sammy the Seal, the ‘seal’ in reference to his former occupation as a magistrate, when he had been Samuel Isambard Howard LL.B, back in the old days, before the trade wars.
Sammy was a bagman, a courier of the street currency, the stuff of life in Greater Britain in 2045, (R)ice, a synthetic food smuggled in from the vast Chinese Commonwealth plantations which covered much of south East Asia.
Sammy mainly went about his business untrammelled. Although he was patted down during casual conversation on the streets by smiling, high powered machine pistol toting, state police, like most city dwellers, on an almost daily basis, many of the local constabulary HQ militia, on the payroll, had his schedule committed to memory, and therefore knew when not to stop him going about his daily business.
Sammy’s business niche was supplementing the meagre daily rations of the ‘scroungers’, as the huge legions of vulnerable, sick and disabled, and ignored humankind, were now semi-officially described by the state public information broadcasting hub.
It had been 25 years since the events which had resulted in what was now known widely in Greater Britain as the Revival of our Precious Nation.
It had been a time of great chaos, The government of the day, the old Conservative and Unionist Party, embroiled in protracted bickering with the member states of the then UK’s former partners in the European Union, engaged in a conflict of accusation, claim and counter-claim, in a bitter divorce, resulting in near open conflict with France over border control, and minor skirmishes with Spain over disputed land.
No one could believe that relationships had deteriorated almost to the levels experienced in the 18th and 19th centuries, which soon afterwards resulted in the ‘returned refugee crisis’ as legions of British born immigrants, settled along the warmer coasts of Europe, were unceremoniously ejected, mainly with what they could carry, trudged in long procession north to the French ports, and a stay in a cramped tented transit camp awaiting a ferry trip to a full English breakfast.
Having achieved a massive majority at Westminster, in the absence of any real opposition, apart from in the north,before the near disastrous extrication at great economic cost from the European Union (which was one of the factors in triggering the ‘Revival) the government found itself under extreme pressure from many sides.
As the true extent of the damage to employment, trade, and workers rights became apparent there was civil unrest on a scale not seen for some years. It started almost inevitably with a food shortage in an inner city area of London, on a hot summer’s night, leading to months of looting and disobedience up and down the country as the strain on public services and restrictions on the supply of food and the availability and movement of goods and services began to take it’s toll.
Stuck in a close relationship with the increasingly erratic extremist President of the USA, who it seemed had a penchant for setting Europe and the UK against each other, favouring one against the other, then reversing his opinion on a whim, and seeing this route as a possible means to increasing world trade links, the UK became steadily more committed to ‘humanitarian intervention’ around the globe, prioritising expenditure towards a buildup of military hardware, an increased armed forces, and at home, the creation of the Homeland Patriotic Regiment.
In the north the Scots had voted again overwhelmingly for their national party, which had advocated remaining in the European Union and self-determination. The Westminster government,under pressure, had used the confidence that they had achieved in their significant majority in England, and the fact that they had managed to dislodge three of the fifty six independence supporting MP’s from Scotland from the last election from their seats, to tell the Scottish devolved Executive in Edinburgh that this was a clear sign that the people of Scotland wanted to remain in Union with London. That did not go well.
The Scottish government, determined to have some say in the future of their country, called an advisory referendum on self-determination in Scotland, without the permission of London. Around the halfway point in the eight months run up to the date of the crucial vote the news came through that there had been an incident, resulting in serious injury, at the Faslane nuclear submarine facility on the Clyde. No further news was reported on numbers of casualties, or the incident itself, information all of which immediately became subject to the Official Secrets Act. It may have been a very minor accident, we’ll never know. Historians looking back in 2045 may consider it a mistake by the authorities not to have revealed more.
However this event, in an area close to the most heavily populated area of Scotland, and the unfolding disaster of the UK’s divorce from Europe, had a galvanising impact, which seemed to neutralise the massive anti-independence propaganda scare tactic campaign co-ordinated from London, allowing the positive independence campaign to achieve a result of 58% in favour of Independence to 42% against.
Facing the potential breakup of the United Kingdom the Prime Minister was left with no choice. The referendum was not binding, had not received the consent of Westminster’s parliament and was therefore constitutionally unsound. The dispute went before the lords of the land, and the courts, the legal minds of Edinburgh and London coming up with differing opinions.
There was an uneasy silence as the Prime Minister took her place behind the podium “I speak to you today to tell you all that we are in danger, as is our precious Union. Our homeland is facing a terrible enemy. Our security forces have intercepted communications which have revealed that our enemies abroad are plotting against us. Now is not the time for division, now is not the time to go our separate ways. Now is the time to show that we are one people, a people who have emerged victorious from times of peril in our history, and we shall do so again. I call upon you all now, wherever you are in our glorious homeland, for we are a great partnership of equals, to do what you can, indeed, what you must, for our country”.
On that same day the early protocols of martial law were announced. Twenty-five years later no one was sure whether the government, now in power for many years, the Conservative Working People’s Party,had ever officially ended that regime, and few dared ask.
Sammy carried on along the busy street, stepping over near-sleeping and weary bodies, begging for what little there was to go round. In the distance he could hear a marching band coming up the wide thoroughfare playing a selection of uplifting pieces of music. As militia constables unceremoniously moved the street people off the walkway the familiar sound of “There’ll always be an England” could be heard cutting through the early afternoon breeze.