Saturday, 24 April 2010

A brief history of the Supreme Local Council

Previous to the events of the summer of 1989, known colloquially as ‘The Great Delusion’, the ruling body of the estate was a typical British town council. The council was relatively new having been founded in 1968. Radiant Gardens had previously been under the influence of one of the borough councils of the greater city in which it was built. However, as Radiant Gardens and three other large housing projects were nearing completion in the late sixties it had been decided that the area required a separate council as if it were a town in its own right.

The Great Delusion had a strong impact on the council in various ways. Firstly, it removed three quarters of the area of its governance. The SLC town hall situated in Radiant Gardens survived but other council buildings in other parts of the district did not. Over half the councillors and council staff of 1989 disappeared and are presumed dead. Secondly, and most strikingly, it left the local council the only remaining organ of government on the estate.

The council had, without warning, suddenly acquired all the powers and responsibilities of central government. The shock of this almost destroyed the organisation. The desperate and terrified citizenry mobbed the town hall looking for answers and the councillors cowered inside with none to give. There were suicides. The incumbent mayor resigned and was later found dead in mysterious circumstances. The fate of the council balanced on a knife edge.

The turning point came when an ex army officer, Major Arnold Stephens stepped in with full support from the remaining body of police officers and declared emergency elections. Major Stephens ran for the office of Mayor alongside a liberal candidate for deputy Mayor, Aadarshini Rai. The campaign was short and there were insufficient candidates to fill the ticket, but at the last minute Leah Fitz declared herself candidate for councillor.

The arrival of Leah Fitz in the campaign was significant, yet in the panic of the moment largely unnoticed. Fitz had not been resident in Radiant Gardens before the delusion struck; she was one of some two hundred delegates at the science and technology conference of 1989. The conference centre did not survive the delusion but the hotel in which a large majority of the delegates were sleeping at the time, did.

Unbeknownst to most people, the scientists had narrowly voted amongst themselves against declaring themselves to be the emergency government of the estate. During heated and makeshift debates in the Novotel, a faction had grown up around the hugely charismatic and brilliant scientist Dr. Leah Fitz, this faction believed in radical technocracy. This is to say that they believed that only the highest scientific minds could deal with the disturbances the estate was suffering and therefore only they were fit to rule.

The opposing faction, who included the famous Mungo Parks, argued that the scientists should form an Institute for Research and place themselves at the disposal of the Town Council. Parks’ faction won the debate and Parks made a deal with Major Stephens.

As soon as it became clear that the seat of power was going to reside with the mayoral office Leah Fitz took herself and her key loyalists into the election and swept up twelve of the twenty two positions of councillor.

The election of 1990 had a turnout of less than twenty percent of eligible citizens. Many people did not even know it was taking place. However, by that time the disturbances of the great delusion had finally abated and something resembling everyday life was emerging in Radiant Gardens again.

Stephens’ council drafted and passed a new law as the first point of business. The new law abolished elections until further notice, accorded the council supreme emergency powers on the estate and gave the council power over legislation, crime and punishment, security, commerce, trade, industry and in short: everything.

Stephen’s styled himself as a latter day Churchill but was shrewd enough to keep the liberals on side with Deputy Mayor Aadarshini Rai promising that emergency powers would be abolished as soon as the estate was safe from the menace of the nightly ‘Reality Storms’.

In order to win hearts and minds, the SLC announced its rebirth with several PR stunts in close cooperation with the Institute. Firstly, the foundation of the Institution for AMP research was announced and early findings on the phenomenon of Anti-Mathematical Pressure were trumpeted as reasons for hope. Secondly the schools were re-opened and thirdly Mungo Park announced his great exhibition into the mysterious Jungle.

With kindness came kicks, and Leah Fitz’s first great political success was the introduction of the Compulsory Curfew. Fitz also began to display a disturbing talent for Realpolitik when she planted loyal followers in Mungo’s research team, a development which later was to have huge ramifications for the citizens of Radiant Gardens.

The Supreme Local Council that we encounter in “Leo Fox: The Silent, the Sick & the Rude” is ten years old and bitterly divided. Stephen’s has gradually weakened and taken to drink. Fitz has acquired huge leverage over the mayor’s office and Stephen’s is too weak to fight her off.

Only Rai remains to lead the opposing faction. A third and somewhat lunatic faction has also emerged centred around the ‘return of the king’, a desperate fantasy gaining ground on the estate. Believers are, to varying degrees, convinced that a return to absolute monarchy is the path to redemption.

The battle lines and areas of influence that each faction possesses are detailed in the following section.

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