This is a revision and expansion of an earlier article. I would like to thank Bryn, Scott Ash and Dan Hebditch for their comments and suggestions.
(Bryns Note: Dan Hebditch has expanded this into a 60 page article, which I shall link too when he's ready)
Originally called New Albion, Wellon is the oldest British extra Solar colony, indeed it was one of the first extra solar colonies anywhere. Established in 2167, shortly after the UK signed the Melbourne Accords, New Albion originally was the area of the ESA Tirane colony largely settled by English speaking people. The early settlers included not only adventurous immigrants from all over the UK and Ireland but also many Commonwealth nationalities such as Canadians, New Zealanders, Australians, Indians and many Azanians. Also settling this part of Tirane were immigrants from countries traditionally friendly to Britain such as the Scandinavian Union, Portugal, the Netherlands, and the English speaking countries of North America as well as from other countries without their own off-world colonies.
Although not the most populous of the ESA's Tirane colonies New Albion quickly became one of the most prosperous economies and soon began to acquire a merchant fleet and in-system holdings which rivaled those of its parent countries. The growth of prosperity soon led to a movement towards some sort of home rule, a movement encouraged and guided by the Foundation for Practical Knowledge. In this it was assisted by the general loosening of ties between the ESA's member nations as each acquired its own starfleet and colonies.
The Foundation, first established in 2009 to assist in the British recovery from the traumatic effects of the Twilight War, had relocated to New Albion two years after the initial establishment of the colony. Its efforts in the later years were widely held to be responsible for the prosperity of the colony giving its board of directors considerable influence with the fledging political elite of the colony. It was largely due to its efforts at mediation, and the considerable respect the FPK still commanded back on Earth, that the split from the ESA passed off amicably.
The tensions that led to the division of the ESA's Tirane holdings in 2241 and the granting of independence in 2277 had a number of sources. The rapid growth of the ESA colony meant that it soon acquired a population that began to rival the mother countries populations both in size and in general economic activity. Politicians on both Earth and Tirane soon recognised that the continuing status of the ESA's Tirane holdings as a colony would lead to the kind of strains that had led to the American War of Independence back in the eighteenth century.
One option considered was the granting of independence to the entire colony. This felt through however due to three factors:
1 - the resultant state would have had the population of Manchuria and economic resources virtually equivalent to the member states of the ESA. It was felt that the effects of the emergence of a 'super power' on Tirane would destabilise the entire power structure currently enjoyed by Human Space.
2 - the colony itself felt little sense of a common identity.
3 - the member states were unwilling to relinquish the extra revenue they gained from the Tirane holdings.
In the end it was decided to divide up the ESA colony between the four principal members, Britain, France, Bavaria and Azania.
The acquisition of the island continent of New Albion and its associated islands presented a series of new problems to the British government of the day. At one point it was considering the extension of parliamentary constituencies to Tirane, effectively incorporating the colony as a part of the United Kingdom. In the end the political and geographical complexities of such a solution led to the adoption of the home rule option as practiced in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
New Albion not only has the distinction of being the first extra solar colony to gain a measure of independence from its parent country, but also the distinction of being the only one of the four independent colonies to be on good terms with that country. Renamed Wellon the colony remains on good terms with Britain and still contributes substantially to the upkeep of the Royal Space Navy.
Wellon is located on an island continent located in the northern part of Tirane's eastern hemisphere that runs from the North East to the South West. The continent is divided into two by the narrow Albion Straits which separate the larger southern island called New Albion from the smaller, northerly New Scotland. To the north of New Scotland there are a number of smaller islands leading all the way to the North Polar continent and the Wellonic holdings around the mining town of Pendelton and the city of Knightsbridge.
Largest of these islands is New Highland which despite of (or perhaps because of) its cold and somewhat bleak climate has been heavily settled by a mixed population of Gaelic speaking Scots and Scandinavians.
The island of New Albion has a far more diverse fauna than its northern neighbours with the south of the island dominated by the Equatorial Rain forest. Just to the north of the rain forests there is a region of extensive Savannah which gradually becomes drier as it merges into the desert known locally as the Blight.
North of the Blight as the climate becomes gradually wetter are located the main farmlands of the country clustered around the cities of New Birmingham and Victoria.
For the past seven years the Governor General has been Princess Margaret, the current heir to the throne. The appointment of the Princess Royal came at a time when republican sentiment in Wellon was running at an all time high. The appointment was at first criticized by many elements of society due to the youth and relative inexperience of the Princess. Since then however most observers agree that what the more cynical sections of the local media call "The Charm Offensive" by the twenty nine year old charismatic and very capable Princess has succeeded in forcing a major change in attitudes.
The Wellon Parliament is a single chamber institution consisting of Members who are elected to serve a five year tenure on the basis of universal suffrage. In a marked difference to the UK parliament elections occur annually for one fifth of the seats in the Chamber. Although this has resulted in seven changes of government in the past decade its supporters claim that it allows government policy to evolve gradually rather than be subject to the abrupt changes of direction common in other systems. One of the main policy platforms of some of the minority parties is the removal of this system which they say has led to the perpetual rule of ad-hoc coalitions and under the table power brokering and it's replacement by a more stable system of government.
Government structure is on the Westminster Parliamentary model with the government in the hands of the party controlling the most votes in the Chamber. Each of the main government departments (usually referred to as Ministries) is led by a senior politician of the ruling party who must have a parliamentary seat. The departments are as follows in seniority.
In Parliament the party with the next largest number of votes is called the Loyal Opposition (to the crown that is, not the ruling party) and it forms a 'Shadow Cabinet' complete with 'Shadow Ministers' appointed by the 'Leader of the Opposition'. Additionally each government department is monitored by a Parliamentary Committee consisting of eight to ten MP's nominated by the Party Leaders in the Chamber on the basis of its political make-up.
Local government is organised on a somewhat similar basis both in the rural areas (shires) and the urban areas (metropolitan districts). In the rural areas the council leader is called the Chief Executive whilst in the urban districts he/she is called the Mayor. Ceremonial duties in both shire and metropolitan district are performed by the Lord Lieutenant, usually a retired military officer appointed by the crown. This post is largely honoury although in the event of war he/she has nominal responsibility for organising the defense of their area as well as the responsibility for arming the police.
Political parties cover the full range of the spectrum from the Liberal Democrats on the right to the Social Alliance party on the left. Republican sentiments are not restricted to any one party although as a general rule they tend to be more trendy in the Social Alliance Party.
One noticeable political group is the Tirane Party which hopes one day to resurrect the original ESA holdings as the basis of a unified, independent state controlling all of Tirane. The party is of note for the fact that it has sister parties not only in all the other former ESA holdings but also in the other colonies on Tirane. Unfortunately however none of these parties are very large, at best they manage only to gain five to ten percent of the poll in elections.
At the local level Wellon is divided into sixty 'shires' in which local services are run by a Shire Council elected on the same basis as the Chamber. Cities with a population of over sixty thousand have their own municipal authorities.
Liberal Democrats - modeled on the UK Conservatives - the extreme right wing tends to come from the lower middle class whilst those at the leftist (wet) end of the spectrum tend to come from wealthier families. Put at its simplest while the left wing believe that they have a duty to the weaker members of society (noblest olique) the right wing believe every one should fend for themselves.
Social Alliance - I based this one on the UK Labour party. Like the Tories they have a right and a left wing - despite a proclaimed working class bias thhe more prominent left wing members tend to have a middle or upper class background - right wing members tend to be working class in origin and conservative (small c).
Tirane Party - minority party - wants to unite Wellon with other colonies on Tirane so as to form a unified world government - at last election gained 4.7% of the vote.
Union Party - minority party - want closer links with the Mother Country - they have a tendency to gain protest votes at the expense of the Liberal Democrats
Progressives - a far left party who want a radical overhaul of government and society - they have a tendency to gain protest votes at the expense of the Social Alliance.
It is with the American colony of Tirania that Wellon has its most complex relationship. Whilst the current Liberal Democrat government remains friendly towards the American Colonial Administration elements in the FPK and the Social Alliance opposition party are believed to be in close contact with those in the American colony who want freedom from what they see as absentee Federal government.
Many of the first American settlers on Tirane wanted to escape from the clutches of what they saw as an over powerful Federal government and return to 'Frontier Values' on a pristine planet. Although many of the inheritors of this tradition have moved on to settle other planets in the American Arm the sentiments that drove them to Tirane are still influential in a vocal minority of the colonies population. This minority are represented in municipal government by the Frontier Values Party which currently controls one third of all the local governments.
The compromise worked out allows for Wellon to continue to contribute to the naval budget in order maintain the existing strength of the RSN. This was in everybody's interests, it allowed the RSN to maintain its current force levels whilst allowing the Wellon merchant fleet (over half of all the ships registered under the Red Ensign) to call on RSN protection in time of need. This arrangement has worked so well that during the discussions over increased autonomy prior to the declaration of the British Commonwealth of Wellon the RSN was rarely mentioned.
On the surface of Tirane itself national security is guaranteed by:
The Royal Wellon Navy - split into four fleets, the Northern (based at Knightsbridge), the Western, (based at Victoria), the Eastern (based at New Camelot) and the Southern (based at Point Sterling). These fleets contain a lower proportion of aircraft carriers than the Royal Navy based on Earth, the primary role of each of the fleets is coastal defense with air support expected to come from land based aircraft. What carriers the fleet has are organised for force projection and convoy escort roles.
The Royal Wellon Aerospace Force - split into four Commands - Fighter, Bomber, Transport and Coastal. Its main role, in conjunction with ground and naval forces is to defend the mainland and other territories of the dominion from hostile attack. Secondary roles include supporting other elements of the armed forces in operations away from Wellon itself. In line with this the RWAF is in the process of forming 341 Group, a formation of three fighter, three bomber and two army co-operation squadrons available for deployment with the forming Wellon Expeditionary Force (see below)
The Royal Wellon Army - the army is comprised of thirty brigades, eight of them armored, extensively trained for home defense. With the exception of the Royal Wellon Airmobile Regiment, three battalions of light infantry trained for rapid reaction duties, and specialist units such as Engineers and the Medical Corps, each of these formations in peacetime exists only in cadre formation, at about one third full establishment. In the event of war these brigades would be brought up to full strength by the call up of reservists and the use of conscription.
The increasing tempo of the Kafer war has caused the government to approve the placing of ten of the army's brigades (including three armored) on a war footing. Shortfalls in manpower have been made good by the recall to the colours of reservists and territorial part timers. The army has also had to deal with a large number of volunteers who flood army recruitment centres every time bad news comes from the French Arm.
The army is currently in the process of forming the Wellon Expeditionary Force, an initially divisional sized formation of one armored and three infantry brigades complete with logistic and specialist support units. Ultimately Wellon hopes to be able to contribute a further division but due to low levels of training and the obsolete nature of much of its equipment this will not be fully operational for another year at least.
At this point in time the only unit of the Wellon army off world is the second battalion of the Royal Wellon Airmobile Regiment which is currently en-route for BCV 4 to reinforce the garrison forces there.
Each of these forces whilst independent from their British parents are supported by contingents from the mother country's armed forces. It was recently estimated that over twenty five percent of officers of the rank of Captain (army), Squadron Leader (air force), and Lieutenant Commander (Navy) are on secondment from the parent services back in the Mother Country. There is no Wellonese resentment at this because a similar percentage of Wellon-born officers are currently serving in the parent services on Earth and elsewhere. It has been noted that most of the senior ranks in these services on both planets are individuals with what has been called "dual planet" experience.
Wellon Law Enforcement
Local Police Forces
Each shire and metropolitan area on Wellon has its own constabulary funded by the local government and maintained to standards laid down by the national government. Senior officers are directly responsible for operational matters to the local Police Authority which consists of representatives nominated by both the local and national governments.
This system was set up in 2241 to replace the old ESA Neu Europa Militia which had policed the old ESA holdings on Tirane since the establishment of the colony over eighty years earlier. With the exception of the Mounted Militia this force, with its organisation based on French rather than English practice, was cordially disliked and distrusted by almost all the colonists due to a perception that it was both trigger happy and corrupt.
As soon as the United Kingdom took full control of Wellon it implemented a major shake-up of the existing police and legal systems modifying them so that they reflected better existing British practices.
Constables usually patrol either singly or in pairs and unarmed, although there are Armed Response Teams consisting of four trained marksmen to back them up. In metropolitan areas they are usually armed with sub machine guns and pistols, in rural areas they tend to favour a mix of semi automatic rifles and sub machine guns, plus pistols.
Chief Superintendent, - laurel wreathIn rural districts above Superintendent the senior most ranks are Chief Constable, Assistant Chief Constable. In metropolitan districts the senior most ranks are Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner. Their ranks are indicated by a laurel wreath and one or two pips respectively
Superintendent, - three pips
Chief Inspector, - two pips
Inspector, - single pip worn on shoulder
Sergeant, - three stripes on both sleeves
Constable. - plain tunic
Metropolitan constabulary's have the following specialist sections:-
Criminal Investigation Department (CID) - plain clothed detectivesThe New Camelot Metropolitan Constabulary also has a diplomatic protection section which provides armed guards for embassies and consulates (Wellon does not allow countries to post armed guards at the doors of their embassies/consulates) This consists of one or two uniformed officers armed as per the Armed Response Teams.
Vice Squad - plain clothed detectives
Drugs Squad - plain clothed detectives
Mounted Section - uniformed constables on horse back
Dog Squad - uniformed dog handlers
Internal Affairs Department (IAD)- responsible for investigating complaints against individual officers
Rural constabulary's tend to just have a CID which also covers the Vice and Drug Squad specialties, dog handlers and IAD.
Although constables are routinely unarmed each station keeps its own armoury of small arms which can be issued if the situation warrants it. The approval of the senior rank on duty is required (usually a Superintendent or above).
Uniformed officers wear a dark blue uniform consisting of tunic and trousers plus black ankle boots. Under the tunic they can wear a dark blue sweater and/or shirt of a pale blue colour. Metropolitan constabularies sometimes allow officers of Inspector rank and above to wear white shirts.
Royal Wellon Constabulary
The RWC is somewhat like the Canadian Mounties. Originally part of the ESA's Neu Europa Mounted Militia (paramilitary police) the New Albion section was largely responsible for stamping out the lawlessness that was endemic in the 2190's before the establishment of the local constabularies. Due largely it must be admitted to manpower shortages there were a number of legendary incidents during this time of single officers capturing and disarming large gangs of armed felons.
In 2300 the RWC (Royal since 2277) handles crimes which encompass more than one region. It is also responsible for handling kidnappings and the protection of politicians.
The rank structure is as per a metropolitan constabulary.
Officers of the RWC are usually armed with Pistols. It can acquire heavier weapons if it needs to.
Although officers of the RWC usually work in plain clothes on ceremonial duties officers wear a red uniform modeled on that worn by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Customs and Excise
Responsible for the investigation of smuggling and other attempts to defraud the Wellon Inland Revenue. This organisation works directly for the Treasury and is ultimately responsible to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Ranks: Supervisor, Assistant Supervisor, Senior Investigator, Investigator.
These agents can be armed if the situation warrants it.
They always work in plain clothes.
Wellon Security Service (W.I.5)
In 2260 the Wellon branch of M. I. 5 was separated from its parent service. It is responsible for preventing espionage, terrorism and subversion. It has no powers of arrest, if it wishes to apprehend a suspect it has to use the RWC. Ultimate responsibility for its actions lies with the Prime Minister although the Parliamentary Intelligence Sub-committee can also call its officers to account.
Agents of the WSS are never armed.
Wellon Intelligence Service (W. I. 6)
Wellon branch of M. I. 6. Responsible for conducting intelligence gathering operations outside the country. Like WSS the WIS is responsible directly to the Prime Minister and has its operations monitored by the Parliamentary Intelligence Sub-committee.
Sieges :- In the event of a siege of armed criminals/terrorists the local constabulary has the responsibility to bring the incident to a conclusion by use of negotiation. If at any time they have reason to believe that hostages or members of the public's lives will be at risk they can call in the Counter Insurgency Team of 25 SAS Regiment. Once the incident is over control of the crime scene will revert back to the police.
Corruption :- After initial problems encountered during the establishment of the current constabulary system of policing the Wellon police forces have settled down to become a competent professional police force on the British model. However due to human nature been what it is a procedure has developed for investigating incidents of poor practice.
In the event of a constabulary showing evidence of organised and systematic corruption an investigation would be mounted by the RWC led by a senior police officer of Assistant Chief Constable/Commissioner rank from a non-neighbouring force. This officer would compile his/her report which would be sent for action to the Home Secretary who is ultimately responsible for the performance and standards of the Constabularies.
Magistrates Court - panel of three local worthies who hear petty charges (driving offenses, minor public order offenses, petty theft etc.) They very rarely send people to prison. For some offenses people have the right to either 'go before the Magistrates' or else opt for jury trial at the Crown Court. All criminal cases start off here with serious criminal offenses remanded to the Crown Court.(Committal Hearing).
Crown Court - for more serious criminal offenses - Judge and jury of twelve citizens.
County Court - for civil cases - judge and jury
Court of Appeal - panel of five judges - for sentences passed down by Crown or Counnty Courts. Final appeal is to the House of Lords ('Law Lords'), a panel of five senior judges who also have seats in the Lords back on Earth.