As far as subsequent scholars and historians were able to reconstruct the situation before the Collapse, Britain was a united kingdom with a population of between 60 and 70 million people, hard as it is for modern people to accept and understand such a vast number. Most people lived in huge cities, tightly governed and integrated into a global economy which brought food and everything else from the four corners of the world, every day, in season and out.
The Israeli nuclear strike ended that instantly. All the major cities were hit and
destroyed, with the exception of York. No-one knew why York had been spared; was it an accident? Had the missile meant for it gone astray? Had the Israelis run out of missiles or not got as far as 'Y' in their targeting? Had it gone to 'New York' instead? Whatever the reason, it left the north of England with a natural capital, when the chaos diminished and such things started to matter once more.
It was estimated that about one quarter to one third of the population had died in the strike or as an immediate consequence. Most of the rest of the population died in the next few months. Elimination of the major cities had beheaded all large scale organisations, political and economic and social.Even the monarchy, the symbol of national unity, was gone. No one was left with the authority or ability to issue orders, or to communicate a message of reassurance and re-invigoration. Television, radio and the internet were gone. The electrical and gas grids were gone, although piped water lasted much longer.There was no one to organise work beyond small scale local firms, no-one to collect taxes or dispense benefits, no-one to organise the distribution of food, in an island which had imported almost all it's food. Banks and their cash machines stopped working, and currency had been replaced by barter. The National Health Service, that sacred cow worshiped by most of the population as the magic means which would enable them to live forever, had disappeared as soon as the government payments had stopped. Any surviving doctors or nurses worked for themselves. Starvation, crime and disease had quickly killed most city dwellers. Perhaps 95% of the population died before the situation stabilised.The infamous Black Death in the 14th century had only killed a third to a half of the people.
Of course, the remnants of the old political class and it's 'statist' or socialist
bureaucracy had not given up the ghost without a struggle. Surviving bureaucrats in counties and remaining towns had tried to maintain 'business as usual', but this was no longer possible. Their numbers and functions could not be maintained in the absence of large grants from a no longer existent central government. Bluster and force could not extract enough taxes from an impoverished and resentful local population. Society had been brutally and radically simplified; it could no longer afford specialism at the previous level, people had to become 'jacks of all trades and masters of none'. Where there was no longer the ability to maintain large numbers of road-menders, firemen, policemen, jailers, judges, teachers or doctors, the public could see no need or scope for 'health and safety executives', 'equality and diversity monitors', 'Council chief executives' or any of the numerous politically correct jobsworths who had infested the old system. Thus, most people had again to concentrate on growing as much as they could of their own food, and then in bartering whatever goods, skills or services they could offer to a limited local market. Government in the old sense as the universal provider could not be maintained.
There were regions, particularly the northeast,where there had been little actual work available,so most of the population was on the government payroll, either as a 'public sector worker' or as unemployed. It had long been a scandal that in such areas corrupt doctors certified most of the unemployed as 'disabled', to get higher benefits. In these areas, which had been propped up by all sorts of 're-development' grants extracted from other areas, where everyone in a responsible position was a socialist, it was inconceivable that they could no longer sponge off the rest of the country to maintain their desires. The old leftist attitudes were 'hard-wired' into the people. It was quite natural for them to follow the Stalinist policy of sending raiding parties to strip the countryside of all food, to keep the towns going a little longer. Not surprizingly, the whole area starved. Desperate refugees had not proved popular in more civilised areas, so 'Geordies' became extinct, and the area was slowly re-settled by farmers from Yorkshire.
Naturally,'government' in the older sense as 'rulers', did not entirely disappear, or was quickly re-created. Control of food production re-asserted itself as the basis of political power. This was no longer a matter of useless 'grasshoppers' voting to steal the produce of useful 'ants'; now the mice might as well vote to bell the cat,- and the cat had become lean and hungry and bad tempered, with larger and sharper claws and teeth. The new rulers who emerged from the chaos were nearer to a traditional ruling class, ruthless men proficient in violence and with the intelligence and charm and organising ability to attract and keep the loyalty of sufficient competent followers, on what could be 'sustainably' extracted from local farmers in return for effective protection from other would-be rulers or looters. They came from a variety of backgrounds, some were successful criminals, or businessmen, or landowners, others were senior police or army officers, or ex-politicians and senior bureaucrats.They all showed the requisite abilities to inspire fear, respect and loyalty, and the competence to maintain themselves in a cut-throat environment, along with the ambition to make names for themselves,and even to feel they were serving their community.
The disappearance of a central government from which pay, supplies and orders had emanated, together with the disappearance of the monarchy to which allegiance had been pledged as symbol of the nation, had forced a radical change of attitude on the senior officers of surviving military units. They could steal whatever was available locally, as long as they could maintain the loyalty and discipline of their men, which would soon depend on their ability to keep these men fed. In the longer term they knew that their own authority would depend on having loyalty to some political authority from which they could notionally claim to have derived it. Otherwise they would just become the temporary leaders of robber bands.'Community leaders',local notables who had the respect and support of local farmers, proved keen to have the protection of military units, or other gangs. They soon became organised areas where the soldiers helped with the farming and engineering and road and bridge maintenance,and 'law and order',in the old Roman manner, in return for food and a sense of community. Luxuries were no longer available. Over a generation or so, the military became even more integrated with the local community, marrying local women, and recruiting local men. At the same time, in the absence of the old institutions and media and education, people's sense of identity became much more local.Local dialects became more marked. Few people had occasion to travel further than the nearest market town.There were no longer pilgrims, but peddlers brought a little news from further afield.
The democratic madness simply disappeared. Few wanted to be ruled by glib rogues who would lie and cheat and steal, rob Peter to pay Paul, enrich themselves whilst prating of public service, tax and oppress their own people to enrich and advance foreign invaders, and prove not only unable to protect their people, but to be in the pockets of those who would attack the country. Crazy fools and lefties claiming a right to 'protest' whilst interfering with the peaceful occasions of ordinary people no longer existed, and would receive very short shrift if they ever reappeared. Now people were valued for their ability to be productive,or an effective fighter, or a cunning and successful ruler. 'Those who work' and 'those who fight' were still around and still valued, but the third medieval class of society, 'those who pray', were no longer evident, and it would be some time before a religious or intellectual class re-emerged. Even before the Collapse, Christianity, particularly the Church of England, had been very weak. It's wishy-washy leftism, adopted to make it popular, had simply repelled serious people; so when adversity came it was found to be a house of straw with no foundations, and it had blown away. The intellectuals had been irredeemably urban and lefty. They were not missed.
Agriculture was again the basis of society, but the Collapse had changed it. Large scale agri-business had ceased because the oil and chemical products and the fancy machinery on which it had depended were no longer available. Labour on the other hand was again relatively plentiful, even if crop yields were lower.Slowly population regained the medieval level of five or six million, but this was just a guess because the sort of governments which were able and interested in making such intrusive enquiries no longer existed.
Over time the stronger and more prosperous local areas absorbed their neighbors, partly by conquest and partly by people wanting to join a successful group. Yorkshire was the first, and strongest, based on local pride and identity.It had absorbed Northumbria and what was left of Lancashire and Cumbria. It's example had stimulated the development of Wessex in the south and Mercia in the midlands. Yorkshire's emblems included the white rose and the Cross of St. George, the upright red cross on a white background, which had been the flag of England, and no one disputed their right to it. York was the oldest surviving city in England, able to trace it's history back to the Romans. Others wanted to vie with this prestige, so the old Saxon city of Winchester became again the capital of a renewed Wessex, with a popular flag of a golden or yellow wyvern on a red background. The midlands had revived the name of the Saxon kingdom of Mercia, with emblems of a silver double-headed eagle and a yellow diagonal cross, or saltire, on a blue background, and it's old capital of Tamworth was pressed into use again.
It was not clear what had happened to Wales and Scotland after Cardiff, Swansea, Glasgow and Edinburgh had been destroyed. In what was left of England few missed those socialist subsidy-junkies, but they were determined that no more tribute would be sent in their direction. Neither was Northern Ireland greatly missed. It seemed that the Israelis had not bombed Dublin or Belfast, so the decline of Ireland was less dramatic than what happened to Britain. Although Ireland could feed itself, it lacked the industrial resources to sustain the old level of population, especially in the new situation where the western world had been virtually destroyed and there was very little international contact - apart of course from the immense Islamic jihad which had immediately overwhelmed western and southern Europe. New 'Barbary Pirates' had become a serious nuisance raiding the coasts of Britain and Ireland for loot and slaves. This had encouraged local self defence as the weak Irish central forces could not be everywhere they were needed, and had started the political crumbling into a host of local lordships which had left the central state a mere honorific shell. This however had eased the re-absorbsion of Northern Ireland.
Surviving Moslems had attempted to join their raiding co-religionists. This had been a fatal error. The military units which underpinned Yorkshire, supported by units of volunteers, had swiftly moved to clear the north of England of all Moslems. This explained how Yorkshire had come to absorb Lancashire. There had not been many Lancastrians left, and these were oppressed by Moslems until the men of Yorkshire had extirpated the threat; so the survivors were glad to be under the protection of a strong power.Wessex had had a more difficult time. It had been much more plagued by Moslem sea raiders, who had managed to establish shore bases from which they had conducted larger raids. It had taken generations, during which time the power and identity of Wessex had slowly consolidated, to gradually gain the upper hand in the continual fighting. Finally, with the assistance of forces from Mercia and
Yorkshire, the last Moslem bases on the mainland had been stormed, and the Isle of Wight, which for so long had been a Moslem fortress, was re-captured. Finally all three English kingdoms had been cleansed of the Moslem presence. For centuries this struggle would be remembered as the re-founding of England, and there was no doubt as to who were the enemies of England, Europe and civilisation. When the Germans eventually broke the military power of Islam, this was greeted with great enthusiasm in England and Ireland, and with eagerness to assist them in driving the monster out of Europe.
It was difficult to find anything beneficial in such an almost complete disaster as the Collapse, but there was one backhanded benefit. The elimination of the cities had destroyed not only the evil, socialist,tax and blood-sucking, state structure run by the most filthy and immoral lefty degenerate traitors imaginable, but also their favorite pets, the 'multi-cultural' 'ethnic minorities' and the 'underclass' on permanent state benefits. Without government preferences, and without connections to the land, few of them had lasted long. Some had attempted to take over farming areas, but despite murdering some of the locals they had not been able to make their rule stick, and local self defence units had worn them down and eliminated them.The country had passed through a very severe ordeal and survived with it's ethnic and moral base strengthened, although it's political unity had been lost. Gold through a refiner's fire, as the Biblical phrase had it. There were now three English states, not as good as one, but an improvement on the Heptarchy. At least, they were inhabited by, and run by and for, English people.They had regained self-respect and honour. They would make and cherish their own identity and history again. Any lefties or Moslems they met would die.