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1946; Britain's "Year Zero"

Discussion in 'Post War 1945-1955' started by GRW, Mar 22, 2013.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    That's not the only definition of High Treason though-

    "Under the law of the United Kingdom, high treason is the crime of disloyalty to the Crown. Offences constituting high treason include plotting the murder of the sovereign; committing adultery with the sovereign's consort, with the sovereign's eldest unmarried daughter, or with the wife of the heir to the throne; levying war against the sovereign and adhering to the sovereign's enemies, giving them aid or comfort; and attempting to undermine the lawfully established line of succession. Several other crimes have historically been categorised as high treason, including counterfeiting money and being a Catholic priest."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_treason_in_the_United_Kingdom

    The problem traditionally was that treason could only be proven with two eye-witness testimonies to the act.
    During wartime the Treachery Act 1940 created the new felony of treachery to make it easier to prosecute suspects, since it was subject to the same rules of evidence as other common offences, but this was suspended in February 1946-
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treachery_Act_1940

    This was replaced by the Treason Act 1945 which abolished the special status of treason, and allowed it to be tried under normal rules of evidence.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treason_Act_1945

    It also used the Treason Act of 1800 to redefine treason as:
    "The Act provided that in all cases of high treason which consisted of compassing or imagining the death of the King, or of misprision of that species of high treason, where the overt act (or acts) of that species of high treason alleged in the indictment for that offence was the assassination or killing of the King, or a direct attempt against his life, or a direct attempt against his person whereby his life might be endangered or his person might suffer bodily harm, the accused could be, and was to be, indicted, arraigned, tried and attainted, in same manner, and under the same procedure ("course and order of trial") and on the same evidence, as if he was charged with murder."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treason_Act_1800

    Since treason had been given a specific new definition by 1945, that probably explains why spy cases were tried under other legislation.
     
  2. Coder

    Coder Member

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    I am well aware of the long and diverse history of treason, into which I purposely did not enter in my earlier post, as it is irrelevant to my point that (a) since the mid-19th century at the latest the only actiual prosecutions for treason have been on the effective grounds of giving aid and comfort to the Sovereign's enemies in time of war and that none of the other, effectively defunct, grounds cover the passing of official secrets to unauthorised persons.

    As you now acknowledge that the legitimate and effective sanction against the unauthorised passing of official secrets is and has been since 1911 prosecution under the Official Secrets Acts, I remain puzzled as to why the civil servants mentioned earler were made to look so ridiculously stupid and foolish by even mentioning treason in that context, let alone the capital penalty for it.

    If one wanted to make an issue of the stretching of treason to morally unsustainable lengths in the post-war period, then mention could be made of the case of William Joyce, who was effectively hanged for making a false declaration on an application for a British passport.
     
  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    What was the time frame in which this discussion took place?
     
  4. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    If it is the new series, then late war I think.
     
  5. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The reason I asked was this:

    While this may be true litteraly the USSR was widely viewed as supporting and/or using as proxies several nations or groups that the British were at war with in the post war period.

    Examples would be Korea and the Malay insurgency.
     
  6. Coder

    Coder Member

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    The period of the episode, and hence the discussion, was 1945. post-VJ day, to 1946,.

    With regard to "proxy" wars, it would have been a novel and extraordinary procedure to extend the defintion of the Sovereign's "enemies" in this way for the purpose of a treason charge, and certainly there was nothing in the brief discussion to suggest that there were any thoughts in that direction,

    At the time of the discussion the UK shared with the USSR responsibility for the four-power Allied Control Commission for Germany - again an odd context in which formally to find the Sovereign's legal "enemies".

    The Malayan emergency was a civil insurgency, never a "war" in the legal sense, and was at least two years later than the episode.

    Korea was four-five years later than the episode, and therefore irrelevant to the point at issue.
     
  7. arminiuss

    arminiuss New Member

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    Were the English aware of the extreme anti colonial attitude the US had? I think the US desire to see the empire destroyed was somewhat of a surprise to them.
     
  8. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    I doubt if it was all that much of a surprise; quite sure the Americans of Irish descent would have been vocal about it, at least.
     
  9. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Do colonials, do the old base your forces in foreign countries around the world and controll access to trade lines and links etc....Or is that just the Brits...
     
  10. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    The American attitude was well known in Whitehall, but it was a much more complex, and at times schizophrenic, foreign policy practiced by the US.

    America had to balance its desire to see an end to the empire system (of all powers, not just Britain's), which the US saw as the primary motivator in both world war's, against its need to have strong allies in Britain and France to hold the Soviet empire at bay without resulting in the use of Atomic bombs.

    In a perfect world, both the British and French colonial empires would quickly and painlessly transition into "Commonwealth" status as had Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Or so American Ivory tower thinkers hoped. This of course had little basis in logic considering France had no such system and much of Britain's empire would accept nothing less than total independence.

    When the Anglo-French could frame its attempts to hold onto its empires in a greater struggle against Communism, they could get some measure of US help (or at least no direct resistance), but when they could not, they encountered US friction.
     
  11. green slime

    green slime Member

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    I get the feeling sometimes, that America's desire to see the end of Empires had more to do with gaining unrestricted access to economic markets, than a desire for wider justice and representation.

    Of course, the representatives of British Empire could be pretty lecherous in their dealings with other peoples, The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the British government's support of the abuse perpetrated by that company being a case in point.

    History could've been very different had those bludgers at AIOC actually given the Persians a fair deal.

    Compare the Arabian American Oil Company's dealings with the Saudis, a 50/50 profit share.
     
  12. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

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    If you really want to examine the UK & US's relationship re. 'Post-Colonialism', the true date of significance is late 1956.
    Suez.
     
  13. green slime

    green slime Member

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    That date put the final nail in the coffin of the illusion that was "UK as a Great Power."

    But you'd never know if you looked at a British tabloid.
     
  14. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    In fairness though, the Daily Mail tends to be one of the very few papers which still thinks England and Britain are interchangeable, and that they only apply to the Home Counties anyway.
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    It may be more accurate to say they viewed them as different sides of the same coin.
     
  16. Hairog

    Hairog Member

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    Very good discussion. I've been having a hell of a time convincing the readers of my blog and book that Britain was indeed on it's knees in May 1946. Totally broke with war material was being scrapped in amazing amounts. Whole bombers being cut up and shoved down mine shafts or being dumped off the coast of Scotland or thrown off aircraft carriers near Australia so the they wouldn't have to pay Lend Lease fees. Then there was a cabal of US Southern Senators who did not want to give Britain anymore money and held up crucial loans at crucial times. Then of course you had India, Indonesia, the Mau Maus,and Palestine.You even had a minor rebellion of British troops who felt they weren't getting sent home soon enough. The Soviets were reading your mail and knew about "Operation Unthinkable". The Cambridge Five was at it's height, coal miners on strike, the Soviets were pushing all your buttons in Turkey, Greece...

    Quite the unsettling times for what was left of the British Empire.
     
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  17. LG'96

    LG'96 New Member

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    And yet the best thing was this, If Britain as a world power ended during the war, then it ended on the Highest note possible. Rome and Greece were conquered. Britain, sacrificed herself. The Empire and Commonwealth-From Canada to India, South Africa to Australia and New Zealand. They fought valiantly to reclaim a world without war.

    Of course there are times, as an american, i wish to see Britain become more powerful-economically and military wise. It would bring a sense of relief to the already bankrupt and overstretched American Empire that has outdone the british empire. I think that Britain made some mistakes post war, those crucial years saw the rise of West Germany, Italy and Japan. But i also think, since thatcher, it has regained a lot of economic strength.

    Still, with the referendum on scottish independence, its clear how The world wars have changed so many nations.
     
  18. green slime

    green slime Member

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    The UK today spends almost 61 billion USD on defence. Just beating Japan into 5th place

    Just under 9% of what the US spends. Both the US and the UK invest 2.5% of their respective GDP.

    The US has roughly 1.4 million in active service, including the marines and coast guard.
    The UK has around 180,000 on active service.

    One gets the distinct feeling that the US gains utilities of scale that are unavailable to smaller economies.

    So all the UK needs to do is increase defence expenditure... 11 times.
     
  19. scipio

    scipio Member

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    [​IMG]


    You have put your finger on one of the reasons for British Decline - disproportionate spending on Defence compared to GDP in an ailing Economy. Only France spends as much (today but not in 1946). Almost all of our European partners took a ride on the back of US defence spending in the 1950 and 60s and still do.

    The answer to extreme riches is easy - spend 0.8% GDP max, on Defence, get others to fight your battles and settle back to criticising warmongers from a high moral standpoint.
     
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  20. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Interesting graph, Scipio.

    It would be interesting as well, to see total GDP in pounds during that time, as well as the national deficit. Even showing population growth.

    Found info, couldn't link the graph for UK National debt for 1900-2014.
    See http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/spending_chart_1900_2015UKp_13c1li011lcn_G0t

    Anyhow, while currently high, (when compared to post 1970), the UK National debt can be seen as low when compared to 1916 until 1969, as a percent of total GDP.

    I suggest anyone trying to convince others of the dire Economical straits of the UK in 1946, show exactly this.
     

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