What if…China intervened in Gaza?

The People’s Republic of China task force departed the huge naval base in Djibouti just as the Chinese ambassador began to speak at the UN Security Council. The People’s Republic, he said, was no longer willing to tolerate the suffering of the people of Gaza. China was going to intervene directly in the conflict.

The global response was predictable.

Those states opposed to Israel, deftly sidestepped the novelty of China taking the high moral road and endorsed the audacious action.

The United States and some of its European allies condemned the announcement, and the US Navy put the Mediterranean fleet on standby.

In Tel Aviv, the Israeli cabinet met in crisis session. The far-right elements of the cabinet called on Israel’s defense forces to attack and destroy the Chinese task force before it entered the canal. The Chief of Staff (COS) of the Israeli military was less than enthusiastic about the proposal. He pointed out that satellite images provided by their American allies showed the Chinese task force was a very significant military force, centered around the People’s Republic’s newest aircraft carrier.

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What if…Ireland elected a socialist government?

Finally. A People’s Government!

It was a combination of global events that swept so many governments from power. The global economic meltdown, the war in Eastern Europe. The invasion of Taiwan. The ruling SF/FF/FG coalition just didn’t have the ability to see beyond “business as usual” and ended up with 40% of the Dail between them as the loose Coalition Of The Left took the majority under its charismatic Marxist leader.

To the surprise of the new opposition parties, the new government moved to introduce legislation immediately.

A right to occupy unoccupied buildings that hadn’t paid their vacancy tax was rushed through in days, as was a bill to nationalise all vulture fund holdings in Ireland.

A bank run started on the night of the election result, with everything from credit union accounts to Prize Bonds to State Bonds being cashed in or transferred out of the jurisdiction of the state to the extent but by the time the new government temporarily banned money leaving the state it was already too late, with the banks and the credit unions and other institutions in serious shortage of liquid cash.

The new government also introduced legislation to nationalise all childcare facilities across the country under a new national child care service which would provide free childcare to all who needed it.

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What if…The UK elected a genuine hard right Tory government.

The Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer MP, leaving Downing Street having announced his resignation.

The Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer MP, leaving Downing Street having announced his resignation.

The exit poll turned out to be accurate when it predicted that Sir Keir Starmer was going to be a one-term prime minister. The Labour vote had collapsed to the late twenties, with the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats hoovering up the disgruntled voters of the “Keirslide” of 2024. The Tories, with 36% of the vote, were back with a 60 seat majority, wiping out among others the 150 Labour MPs who had five years previously wiped out 150 Tory MPs.

The new Conservative leader had come out of nowhere, sweeping aside the Bravermans and Mordaunts with his telegenic looks and a set of policies that would have gotten one expelled from the party 15 years previously. He was Marmite from the word go, his posh diction carrying positions once unacceptable in polite company. Almost immediate a third of the country adored him, and a third hated him with a passion. Jude Law with Nigel Farage’s beliefs.

He moved quickly, bringing not just one but two former PMs back into the cabinet, as Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary specifically. He also immediately announced the UK’s withdrawal from the Treaty of Dublin which had been the cornerstone of the Starmer administration re-engagement with Europe. Rejoining the customs union in all but name, and quietly rejoining many EU programmes was now, once again, suspended with the stroke of a pen. “They need us more than we need them, etc, etc”.

There was no doddering around. A stack of ready to go bills were on the order paper in days.

The Deep State Expulsion Act allowed ministers to appoint their own Permanent Secretaries from outside the civil service.

The Fairness in Broadcasting Act guaranteed freedom of speech to all broadcasters within libel constraints, and abolished OFCOM. It also permitted paid political advertising on all forms of broadcasting. All restrictions on political donations were abolished, and all taxpayer funding of political parties and campaigning organisations was scrapped.

A judicial reform bill allowed for the appointment by the Home Secretary of hundreds of new judges “more in tune with modern thinking” and a very generous but time-limited retirement package was offered to existing judges. Many took it up.

A bill to hold a referendum on the restoration of the death penalty was rushed through, as was a Parliament Act to remove the ability of the House of Lords to do anything but hiss at legislation passed by the Commons. Owen Jones MP, the new Green MP for Bristol, was quick to point out that the upper house was now simply a members club for big party donors that just happened to be attached to parliament.

The new PM announced that all local and regional elections would be held on a single “Mid-Term” election day and that all forms of proportional representation would be scrapped. When this was pointed out that it would lead to a massive SNP landslide in Scotland, he shrugged.

But the most controversial bill was the NHS Reform Act which moved every single NHS trust and asset into a public company, the shares of which were then shared out to every adult in the country.

Over a million people marched against the bill, and polls showed 70% of voters were against the proposal, but the prime minister was adamant. He was not “privatising” the NHS. Yes, the shares would be listed on the London Stock Exchange, but they’d only be available to trade if the ordinary British citizens who now held the share certificates chose to sell them. He had made it a a truly public-owned health service. “I shall be keeping my shares. But if ordinary Brits choose to sell theirs, it’s them privatising the NHS, not me.”

As soon as members of the public used the handy phone app to offer their shares for sale, there was a stampede, and by close of business on the first day 80% of the shares had been sold. The protests started to peter out.

Keir Starmer the former prime minister, who had specifically blocked any electoral reform that would required a British government to win the support of at least 50% of the electorate, was physically attacked so many times that he had to withdraw from public appearances. The new PM offered publicly to give Sir Keir bodyguards to protect him from “his former supporters”.

The Mid-Term elections were dominated by the Death Penalty referendum which saw a huge Brexit-style increase in turnout in traditional low-vote areas, and boosted the Conservative vote share to 40% and a landslide win against the splintered opposition’s 60% share of the vote. The referendum passed 52%- 48%.

The new PM, along with his blonde principle-flexible foreign minister then surprised everyone by flying to Moscow to meet the elderly Russian tyrant, and announced that it was time for Europe to reintegrate the Russia of the Bolshoi, Tolstoy and traditional Christian values back into the continent, and that the now low intensity war in Ukraine be brought to a negotiated end.

The prime minister told Steve Bannon’s Patriot News Network in an exclusive interview that he would be withdrawing the UK from the Treaty of Warsaw negotiated by Starmer which had created an Anglo-Polish led defence alliance in Eastern Europe, and confirmed that it was his belief that the maintaining of UK forces near the Russian frontier did little to “contribute to trust” and that he’d be withdrawing them.

“Pouring more weapons into this conflict is not the way to go,” the new foreign secretary said without a glimmer of shame.

The Russian dictator smiled on approvingly.

Ireland 2035: Gardai protest growth of Private Police.

Galway 2035.

Garda unions have lodged a formal protest with the Mayor of Galway following the decision of the City Council to outsource public order duties to National Police Service of Ireland Ltd. Under the decision of the council, the Garda Siochana will no longer be responsible for non-national security policy in the boundaries of Galway city. This has followed a three-year trial period where the NPSI policed the city alongside the Gardai, as they were entitled to do under the 2014 Private Security Act.

Addressing a press conference, the mayor stoutly defended his policy: “The reality is that, after three years patrolling public areas, dealing with tourist crime, public order and safety issues, our polling has shown that the people of Galway overwhelmingly preferred dealing with the NPSI over the Gardai. They found them more responsive, more courteous, more professional, and the fact is, they are better at solving crimes than the Gardai.” The Garda unions complained that NPSI have more resources than the Gardai, a claim disputed by the mayor. “Since the government devolved policing budgets to the county councils, we found that the cost of putting a single Garda on patrol, when you weigh in salary costs, pension and early retirement, is the same as two and a half PSNI officers. NPSI officers tend to be younger, fitter, better trained and have more modern equipment than the Gardai, because their budget is not overwhelmingly spent on pay. Galway just cannot afford the Gardai anymore.”

The Director of Public Prosecutions was criticised by Garda unions earlier in the year when an email from within her office admitted that NPSI’s in-house  unit of barristers supervising investigations had meant that NPSI files tended to be far better prepared and generally stronger cases than those submitted by Gardai. Garda unions demanded more resources. The email stated: “It should be noted that NPSI cases tend to be founded on presentation of forensic evidence, CCTV footage and corroborative statements to a much greater degree than Garda files, which rely overwhelmingly on confessions by an alleged guilty individual. There are also far more cases submitted, per head of population, by the NPSI than by the Gardai. It would seem that the NPSI seem to “see” more crimes committed than the Gardai. Having said that, the Gardai continue to lead the NPSI on road traffic violation charges, particularly during good weather.”

The decision follows six years of legal battles, where Garda unions attempted to force the DPP not to accept files prepared by the NPSI, claiming that as a private organisation it could be corrupted. Previously, the court had ruled that the DPP had to consider properly prepared documents indicating that a crime had been committed, regardless of their source. The case memorably collapsed in the High Court last year when former FBI agents, brought in as consultants by NPSI, conclusively proved that not only were investigation standards in the NPSI higher than the Gardai, but that anti-corruption measures within the NPSI were far stronger than in the Gardai. A further embarrassment was caused when the Garda Ombudsman, charged with regulating the NPSI, admitted that the NPSI cooperated with her office to a far greater degree than the Garda authorities did. Garda unions demanded more resources.

Ireland 2035: Surprise Yes vote on Wexford Nuclear Plant.

Wexford 2035.

Despite a series of opinion polls predicting defeat by a 10 point margin, Wexford County today voted by 57.1% in favour of the ESB proposal to build a nuclear power plant at Carnsore Point. Leaders of the NO campaign were quick to condemn the result, pointing out that the voters had been bribed by the Community Gain package that had been promised by the government if the proposal was ratified by the voters of the county.

Under the package, every existing home will be entitled to a a tax free lump sum of €5000 each year, as a recognition of the county’s willingness to “bear the burden” of hosting the nation’s sole nuclear power plant. It is hoped that the scheme, which will last for 20 years, and cost the ESB approximately €28 million per annum, will protect property prices in the county.

The leader of the NO campaign, Sebastian Wilcox-Smyth, speaking from his home in Dalkey, said that the people of Wexford had no right to impose nuclear power on the “ordinary people”, and would be taking the matter to the High Court. Wilcox-Smyth was involved in a controversy during the campaign when it emerged that his group, People Before Everything, had previously campaigned against the building of wind farms near anywhere “where human beings dwell.” The YES campaign suggested building them on Mars.

What if…terrorists targeted the mega wealthy?

The assassination of The Richest Man In The World™ (TRM) was the biggest story in the world. The clip of a bullet passing through his skull, caught on a bystander’s phone as he exited a building in San Francisco, instantly became one of the defining images of the 21st century. He was dead before he hit the ground. Interestingly, it was not even to be the most startling event of the day.

That came exactly two hours later, when a handsome AI generated man in a video took credit for the murder. He informed the rapidly increasing number of viewers that an email containing information about the murder had been sent directly to the FBI and would confirm his claim to be the voice of the assassins.

He then introduced himself as George, after “another great revolutionary” and said that he spoke for The 99, an organization dedicated to addressing the wealth imbalance between the mega wealthy and everyone else. He stressed that he was neither on the far right or far left, and that this was not an ideological matter. This was a simple matter of wealth transfer. The murder of TRM, he said, was a statement of intent, a proof of concept as to their seriousness. But no one else need die.

He then published a list of the world’s 200 richest individuals, and offered a deal. If they transferred 10% of their wealth to a stated list of popular banks and micro finance charities across the world, and ordered that the money be distributed equally among every account holder with less than $1000 in their account, they would be safe for one year. As would their families.

George finished by saying that they would act again soon if the individuals did not respond within 72 hours.

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Secret Hitler: Boardgame Review


“Secret Hitler” sounds like boardgame you’d see in an episode of “Family Guy” or “South Park”, calculated to cause offense. It’s not unreasonable to suspect its creators, one of whom created the equally offensive (and entertaining) “Cards Against Humanity” set out with the title to wind-up the easily offended.

Having said that, it is a very enjoyable boardgame. It’s a social deduction game, which means that it’s most about lying. Set in the Weimar Republic in the early 1930s, no knowledge of German politics is needed. Indeed, the game could easily be retooled as “Secret Voldemort” or “Secret Trump”.

One player becomes (secretly) Hitler, and with another (secret) fascist henchman/woman, both with the objective of getting Hitler into the position of chancellor. The other players, who make up the majority of players (you need a five player minimum), are all liberals battling to keep Hitler out.

Each player takes a turn as the rotating president of the republic, selecting which laws (liberal or fascist) to pass and appointing a chancellor at each turn, whilst trying to deduce which player is not really a declared liberal but actually a secret fascist.

It sounds complicated, but once up and running it’s actually quite straightforward. As it progresses players get access to more tools to identify members of the fascist party (or definitely rule non-fascists out), and even attempt to assassinate Hitler before he gets to power (or accidentally kill a fellow liberal). The real devilment is when the fascists, if they’re smart, start making false accusations about others, or even riskily voting for liberal policies to throw others off the scent. I was assassinated by a fascist who pretended I was a fascist. I wasn’t.

Playing it, I was reminded of something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, and then it dawned on me. It was like the John Le Carré thriller “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, an investigation gradually building up the evidence but still having to make a guess based on probability as to who the baddy is. Once you’re familiar with the gameplay, it becomes possible to spot the clues and determine to a certain degree who the filthy Austrian corporal bastard is.

The packaging, board and game pieces are also very tastefully put together.

I heartily recommend it.

What if…Ireland abolished the Dole?

USSR Soviet Russia Vintage Poster In the name of peace Classic Canvas ...

It was Ireland’s first left-led government that carried out the dirty deed.

To be fair to them, they hadn’t exactly abolished Employment Assistance as much as suspended it during a time of near full employment, and it had been the heretofore socialist minister for housing who had first concluded there was no alternative.
“Here’s the reality,” he told his cabinet colleagues.
“We are in a national housing emergency. We desperately need to boost housing supply. We have the funds, we have the land on which to build. What we don’t have are physical builders. Plumbers, bricklayers, plasters, electricians. Nor can we import them from the rest of Europe because there is nowhere for those workers to live. On top of that, we are losing existing indigenous construction skills to the Von Der Leyen Plan and the rebuilding of Ukraine. In short, we must create more construction skilled people from the existing population. We have successfully recruited from immigrants and we have created large apprenticeships and training programs to meet our needs. What we don’t have are willing bodies. We do, however, have 116,000 on the live register who say they are available for work.”

“You’re suggesting we force people to build houses?” another minister asked incredulously.

The housing minister shrugged.

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Star Trek Picard: Aftermath.

President Chekov liked working on paper. Well, paper substitute, as they hardly ever manufactured paper by the old methods these days. The report on his desk had been replicated, and when he had finished reading it, his staff would scan any notes he had written on it with his father’s pen, and it would then be recycled. But it looked and felt like paper. His non-human advisors joked at the human love of paper, and the fact that humans still insisted that treaties be formally printed and signed, but even they get a frisson when they viewed the original Coalition of Planets declaration on view in the Pompidou Centre. Jonathan Archer himself once signed that.

The report was slim, the way he liked his reports. Straight facts, short sentences, clear conclusions. Another thing the staff knew to generate. This particular report was very stark. 6124 Starfleet officers had died on Frontier Day. Sol Station had permanently damaged or destroyed 37 ships, including the flagship.

The long-term psychological effects on Starfleet’s young officers continues to be felt, with just over 25% of them resigning or needing intense counselling, as all remember their actions vividly. Starfleet medical noted that whilst it would be possible to wipe the memories of those hours, it was a drastic move, and they couldn’t guarantee it would stay. The last thing you needed was Starfleet officers suddenly having flashbacks to themselves murdering their crewmates. The Troi report had been adamant about that: our young would have to be helped work through their pain.

The Troi report. He chuckled to himself. His dad would have been so proud that it had been the Enterprise that had turned the tide. What was it about that ship, the myth that hung about it? Names mean so much, and Enterprise keeps saving the Federation.

Even the aftermath had Enterprise’s crew taking such a role. Hardly surprising given how many senior officers died, but still. Picard as acting CinC until Janeway recovered from her injuries, Crusher at Medical, Tuvok (who had served under Sulu) at Starfleet Academy, LaForge and Data leading the rebuilding of Sol Station, although he had insisted at the rededication of the station that his assistant, Chief O’Brien, a retired engineer from Dublin (yet another ex-Enterprise crew), had done most of the work. Worf taking over at Section 31.

Section 31. He leaned back in his seat. Like so many in Starfleet and the Council, he was ambivalent about the organisation. Its mere existence was a stain on the ideals of the Federation, and yet in an age of the Tal Shiar and Obsidian Order every president faced the same choice, and concluded the same. To keep the Federation flag flying we needed the men in the shadows.

Not anymore, Chekov concluded. They had failed. They failed to detect Commodore Oh, an actual Romulan as head of Starfleet Intelligence. They failed to detect the first changeling invasion, nor this one. Well, correction, Ambassador Worf and Commander Mussiker had detected it, but their superiors had been compromised. Enough. He was going to bring Section 31 under the Council, and formally appoint Worf and Mussiker as director and deputy director and let them clean house. Picard had insisted that those Starfleet and Federation officials who had tortured the changelings be prosecuted, Chekov agreed. Their trial started in a month.

He found his own thoughts drifting back to the day. The horror as his many of his own bodyguards turned against him. The running battle to get to the bunker. The moment he suddenly remembered the very first thing they had told him when he had been elected by the Council, tapping his Federation lapel badge and the six Emergency Presidential Security Detail Holograms suddenly appearing and whisking him to safety in a hail of phaser fire. It was funny how little things stuck in his brain: how the EPSD all looked like Zimmermann but had the most beautiful thick lustrous hair. But boy had he programmed them well. As a cinema buff one of his favourite movies was the old 20th century classic “Heat”, with its spectacular gun battle scene as bank robbers with automatic weapons systematically fought their way up a street against superior forces. That had been what it had been like, his bodyguards, older ones and the holograms, had cut their way through the enemy (it pained him to think that) with those new phaser assault carbines. Outside he could see French police engaged in furious gun-battles with Borg Starfleet.

He remembered his transmission, when it looked like all was lost. And then the news that the Enterprise D was engaging the Borg over Jupiter. The D? Surely some mistake? Sol Station was holding out. And the Titan, whom Starfleet Command had informed him a day previously had been hijacked by possible changeling infiltrators, was engaging in a battle with the fleet. The Titan?

And then suddenly, it ended. The signal stopped, the assimilation ended as quickly as it started. He remembered his tense call to the Klingon Chancellor who was assembling a fleet to attack, and honestly wanted to know how could he tell if Chekov himself was not a changeling? Chekov agreed to a Klingon fleet coming immediately to Earth to see what was happening form themselves. Worf had helped with that too: the House of Martok was not without allies.

The raid by Starfleet special forces on the installation where the changelings had kept their prisoners. The fact that the Dominion very quietly (again through Worf!) assisted us was kept very quiet.

It had seemed churlish, the idea of a celebration. So many had died, a memorial had to be built to their memory. And yet as the days passed there was a growing demand on Earth for heroes too. The sight of the Enterprise D doing a barrel roll as it thundered down the Champs Elysee is not one Chekov would forget. And Captain Seven, of course. She was already famous as the ex-Borg drone but now, as the ex-Borg drone that had fought the invasion, those in Starfleet Command who had expressed misgivings (and were still alive) had the good sense to keep their mouths shut now, given that Starfleet was now made up of 40% ex-Borg.

The report also pointed out that it had been Starfleet’s Human Resources policy of keeping older families on Sol Station that had allowed the attempted takeover be repelled and the station hold out for so long. Indeed, the crew of Sol Station will be honoured separately, as no one had expected the station to hold out as long as it did. It later emerged that Sol’s defence upgrades had been installed by the former chief of Deep Space Nine (and the Enterprise), that same Irish engineer who helped Laforge rebuild the station. Apparently the Irish government are renaming Dublin Spaceport after him.

He closed the report, and opened the following file, and smiled at the heading. It was an unusual request, especially given the role the ship had played. But he’d consulted with the crew personally, and all saw it as an honour. Another glimpse at the picture of his father on his desk.

He signed it without hesitation: the Federation needed an Enterprise. Names mean everything.

What if…NATO invaded Ireland?

Here’s an awkward reality. Whatever your attitude to neutrality, it’s fair to say that the chances of Russian or Chinese boots on the ground in Ireland is pretty slim. Air incursions yes. Getting bombed? Maybe. Naval meddling with infrastructure in our sovereign seas? Almost certainly happening already.

But actual physical invasion? Very very unlikely. Geography is our greatest weapon in the same way it was the UK’s in May 1940.

Except for NATO forces. The likelihood of NATO forces engaging in an offensive landing here is actually higher.

Consider the following scenario.

The Russians have launched an invasion of Finland and the Baltics. The Third World War has begun, and the United States is mobilising large quantities of personnel and equipment by both air and sea across the Atlantic to bolster its European allies. Ireland declares its neutrality and calls for the United Nations to something something something.

Those reinforcements come under immediate attack from Russian planes and submarines in a new battle of the Atlantic, and NATO commanders announce that the use of the airports of Shannon and Knock are deemed vital to the defence of Europe. The US president speaks directly to the Taoiseach requesting permission to use the airports. It is not the usual fluffy conversation between an Irish leader and an American leader, full of bromides and winks.

The Taoiseach is asked bluntly: will she openly permit, within hours, NATO use of the airports. NATO commits as part of the arrangement to deploy US aircraft to defend Ireland from the definite Russian retaliation.

An emergency vote in the Dail fails.

Within hours, US forces are landing in large numbers in both airports, having been secured by rapidly deployed special forces seizing control of the airport towers. Due to the lack of military radar, the first the Irish government knows of the attack is clips on Twitter and TikTok of US troops on Irish soil.

The Irish army is deployed a day later, with clear instructions not to engage US troops, and leaving a wide zone around both facilities. The US general in command invites his Irish counterpart to a hearty breakfast in Shannon to agree rules of engagement and ensure there are no misunderstandings. The Irish government also agrees that the occupying forces can source food and other products from local suppliers. The US agrees to pay all Shannon and Knock employees to stay at home.

Large numbers of left wing protestors turn up, and are warned by Irish security forces that once they cross into the “control zone” they cannot be protected, and US forces may use deadly force against them. They protest the US invasion, and charge the perimeter, but are repelled by non-lethal microwave weapons which cause great discomfort. Solicitors letters fly towards the US military like HIMARS projectiles.

The Russian government condemns the Irish government for permitting the invasion under the cover of sham neutrality.

“Why did Ireland, one of the richest countries on Earth, not detect the incoming US planes with its military radar and shoot down the planes with its fighter planes? Why are Irish forces not fighting right now to liberate occupied territory from NATO forces? Why are the Irish not defending Irish neutrality? A mere 5000 US troops are occupying a country of 5 million people? Well, Russia will strike in defence of Irish neutrality if the puppet government in Dublin will not.” The Russian ambassador declares.

A number of Russian bombers attack Ireland, with a large number shot down by US and RAF fighters, but with bombs landing in both Shannon and Knock, killing 50 people, both US and Irish.

Two Irish MEPs support the Russian “liberation”.

As hostilities draw to a close in Europe following the Russian defeat and withdrawal, the US announces that NATO forces will withdraw from Ireland shortly, and that the US will fund repairs to both airports.

Local suppliers and politicians call on the Dublin government to lobby Washington to prevent withdrawal, as local businesses have become used to the US military spend.

Continuing the great Irish tradition of elected Irish politicians passionately discussing areas outside their actual area of direct responsibility, Clare County Council passes a motion for Clare to join NATO. Dublin City Council writes to Cuba seeking Cuban forces to intervene.