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Literature / Fight and Be Right

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Fight and be Right is a timeline/story written by EdT, the writer of A Greater Britain which can be found on

The focus of the story is the political career of Churchill. No, not that one. Instead, it focuses on his father - Lord Randolph Churchill.

Lord Randolph Churchill was the father of Winston Churchill and was a major political figure in his own right during the late 19th Century, serving as Secretary of State for India, Leader of the House of Commons and Chancellor of the Exchequer during the mid 1880's. In real history Randolph Churchill died in 1895 at the age of just 45, reputedly from syphilis but more recent theories suggest the cause of death was a brain tumour. In his lifetime he was often tipped to one day be Prime Minister, but made too many enemies and ultimately misjudged the situation when he threatened to resign, only to have the resignation accepted. This timeline explores what might have happened if Randolph and his "Tory Democracy" ideas had indeed risen to the top. The results...might not be what you expect.

The piece's title is taken from a speech Lord Randolph made in opposition to Irish Home Rule in which he said, "Ulster will fight, and Ulster will be right.", which was popularised as Fight and be Right.

It can be read here and downloaded here. A travelogue-with-interviews style companion book, set in this timeline's early 1940s, can also be downloaded here. Further overviews of the timeline can be found here.

Contains examples of:

  • Allohistorical Allusion: Many of them, including a number of alternate history 'false friends' (when a real life term is used to mean something different) - for example, the term "Robot" is used to describe a member of a Russian hybrid religious-scientific monastic order.
  • China Takes Over the World: Thanks to a less disastrous late 19th century (smaller defeat in the Sino-Japanese War, no Boxer uprising, no successful backlash against reforms), China avoids the bad first half of the 20th century. At the time of the epilogue, it is one of the world's great powers.
  • Distant Finale: The main body of the TL concludes before the end of the nineteenth century, but the epilogue is set first in 1934 and then in 1940...
  • Distant Prologue: And the prologue is set in 1936.
  • Downer Beginning: The prologue shows a meeting of the British cabinet during the alternate Great War and Britain is losing.
  • Fictional Political Party: Randolph succeeds in uniting the more radical wings of both the Conservative and Liberal Parties to form the Unionist Party. The more old-school 'whiggish' parts of the two parties eventually also team up to form the opposition Liberal-Conservative Party.
  • Footnote Fever: As usual in an EdT work, there are plenty of footnotes - most of them informing the reader that what sounds like a ridiculously unlikely turn of events is something that actually happened in real life.
  • For Want Of A Nail: The Point of Divergence is simply that a maid doesn't find a letter in a desk that exposed Randolph to a scandal which delayed his political ascendancy in our timeline.
  • In Name Only: Churchill's Tory Democracy is this regarding Toryism. It includes a wide range of progressive reforms similar to those made by Bismark in Germany along with a labour board, state controlled trade unions, fair trade, granting women the right to vote and to stand for elections, government-sponsored vacations, healthcare reform and more.
  • The Order: Rabota Boga, translated as "Work of God" is a Russian hybrid religious-scientific monastic order led by Pavel Florensky which is responsible for much of Imperial Russia's industrialization.
  • Peace Conference: The Washington Conference, which ends the War of the Dual Alliance, the last major war of the 19th century.
  • Proto-Superhero: Spring-heeled Jack, originally an urban legend adapted into Victorian era penny dreadfuls, eventually develops into an early 20th century British superhero. Funnily enough, after the overthrow of the British monarchy by the British syndicalists, both the new syndicalist government and the British loyalists in exile keep publishing comic books with their own takes on the character.
  • Putting on the Reich: Randolph Churchill's period in government includes the Boy Scouts taking on a bigger role and using a swastika as their symbol (as they did in real life at this point, but it didn't catch on) for a 'Hitler Youth' vibe, a Nazi-like focus on public fitness and public violence against Jews after they are tied to the Jack the Ripper case. However, this is all fairly superficial and doesn't say the government is at all Nazi-like. Its successors, on the other hand...
  • The Remnant: The Kingdom of Portugal is reduced to Angola after losing the Portuguese civil war, when continental Portugal becomes a republic.
  • Richard Nixon, the Used Car Salesman: Used both straight and with variations. One particular area of focus is pondering what might have happened to people who were immigrants to America in our timeline, but not in this one, or the other way around. For example, Al Capone becomes President of France, "Benny Moss" (Benito Mussolini) is an American journalist, and Eamon de Valera remains in New York where he was born and eventually becomes Vice-President of the United States. Hitler and Stalin are both members of the same criminal gang.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The maps of London under Syndicalism have several references to Nineteen Eighty-Four. Indeed, in some ways the 'point' of the timeline is to show how such a situation could plausibly have been reached.
    • The early British comic book superhero Spring-heeled Jack, a.k.a The Cowled Cavalier (originally) or The Cowled Colleague (after the syndicalist takeover), is an obvious tongue-in-cheek homage to Batman.
  • Team Switzerland: France becomes this after losing the War of the Dual Alliance.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Hansard records the blowing up of one part of the Houses of Parliament and the assassination of Queen Victoria simply as "Interruption.; Honourable Lords and Members: Oh!"
  • Vestigial Empire:
    • The Portuguese (Colonial) Empire declines even faster than in Real Life.
    • Only a few loyal dominions in the southern hemisphere and their client states are left over from the British Empire after the British Revolution.
  • Western Terrorists: The Irish Fenian terrorists who were bombing London at this time in real life. In this timeline they have a few more successes...
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace: Inverted by France and Imperial Russia, losers of the War of the Dual Alliance. The former becomes a stable, prosperous republic, the latter manages to industrialize and modernize to the point that even after losing another major war it remains a great power.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: In this timeline, they were developed by the French.note