Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/579/7269

From The Socialist newspaper, 13 May 2009

Comment:

Defeating the poll tax

An activist's story

The Battle to defeat the poll tax, photo Steve Gardiner

The Battle to defeat the poll tax, photo Steve Gardiner

Despite being "too young to remember the anti-poll tax battle", Bob Severn (The Socialist issue 578) rightly criticises the middle-class editors of a middle-class paper, the Independent. They seem to have some kind of fetish, seeing riots as the common expression of working-class struggle that get instant results.

Rob Windsor, Socialist councillor and former anti-poll tax federation secretary, Coventry

If this was the case, how come the abolition of the poll tax was not announced by the then Tory Government until a year after the 1990 anti-poll tax demonstration and subsequent riot and not finally implemented until 1993?

The middle-class media seem to love the idea that riots are the common expression of working-class anger. They seem 'sexy' and 'subversive' to various reporters.

But they fail to realise that the magnificent 200,000-strong anti-poll tax demonstration was a result of the painstaking work of building anti-poll tax unions in Scotland, England and Wales from 1987 onwards. Also, the continuation of this campaign beyond 31 March 1990 defeated the tax by swamping it with mass non-payment.

At the 1990 demonstration Tommy Sheridan, the then secretary of the all-Britain anti-poll tax federation, made a speech. He said that the already assembled army of a million non-payers in Scotland "salutes the army of ten million non-payers in England and Wales". Various TV reporters seemed to think this impossible, yet a year later some 18 million people in England and Wales had either paid nothing or were in serious arrears with the poll tax.

The canvas, of often quiet but ongoing drama, was painted with the halting of hundreds of poll tax court hearings on the Isle of Wight. Alongside East Midlands activists, my local federation had success in preventing bailiffs from seizing a non-payer's goods in Northampton, where bailiffs were deployed for the first time in England and Wales.

Local battles

Thanks to one Coventry non-payer and a member of Lower Stoke anti-poll tax union taking the council to court, 500,000 poll tax 'liability order' hearings were halted. There was anger and sadness when Bob Phelan, an anti-poll tax activist, died of a heart attack after he was dragged from court by police having heckled magistrates for viciously prosecuting non-payers. There were 4am alarm calls to stop bailiffs in towns across the West Midlands.

There was a feeling akin to having won a cup final when within 30 minutes we had mobilised a solicitor and 18 federation members at tea-time on a Friday to stop a non-payer being jailed.

The poll tax was defeated by a tremendous war of attrition. I have given a brief flavour of the battles in just one area, but others can, and will no doubt, give theirs.

At a time when being utterly selfish was proclaimed as the way to be, people really gave their all. This was a momentous struggle and there were no easy solutions, only painstaking work in local communities really beat the poll tax. The demonstrations were a foundation stone for this, not the finished building.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 13 May 2009:

Fight all job cuts


Thieving MPs

MPs live it up at our expense !


Socialist Party editorial

Sweep away the thieves and their system


Socialist Party news and analysis

Renationalise the railways

Sri Lanka's killing zone

Corus jobs slaughter - fight the closure

News in brief


Linamar and Visteon

Linamar sack Swansea trade union leader

A victory at Linamar would be a victory for all workers

Visteon workers discuss socialism


Socialist Party election campaign

No2EU - Yes to Democracy campaign news

No to the EU gravy train


Youth fight for jobs

Youth Fight for Jobs Launch conference


International socialist news and analysis

Gaza: the nightmare continues

Imperialism sucked deeper into Afghan quagmire


Socialist Party workplace news

Defending jobs and conditions at the Olympics site

Defending jobs and conditions at Fiddlers Ferry

Wales TUC: For trade union democracy and for trade union rights!

Socialist methods tested

Workplace news in brief

PCS conference: A fighting union that defends its members

NSSN - fight the bosses' offensive

NSSN Conference: Saturday 27 June


Marxist analysis: history

Defeating the poll tax


Education

Save our schools Weston Favell, Northampton

Lewisham Bridge primary school

Threat of academies


 

Home   |   The Socialist 13 May 2009   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Poll tax:

triangleSouth London tower block residents plan safety campaign

triangleHow Blairism sank its claws into the Labour Party

triangleLambeth Socialist Party: Marking the anti-poll tax campaign

triangleSocialist Party Congress 2017 reports

Tax:

triangleBlairite EU rebellion: no to the bosses' Single Market

triangleHow can Corbyn's programme be implemented?

triangleMay's 'dementia tax' wobble vs Corbyn's extra funds

triangleThe Socialist inbox

Wales:

triangleBron Afon workers fight 3,000 pay cut

triangleDWP announces office closures and job losses

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Is the National Question finished in Scotland & Wales?

Coventry:

triangleReports: organising to fight for safe homes after Grenfell

triangleCoventry Socialist Party: What will the new government mean for the 99%?

Historic events

Historic events

12/7/17

Russian revolution

July Days 1917: battles with counterrevolution

6/7/17

LGBT

Lessons from the Russian revolution for LGBT+ struggle today

28/6/17

Liverpool

Liverpool's 1983-87 socialist council

21/6/17

Revolution

The Pentrich uprising: revolution and counter-revolution in 19th century Britain

31/5/17

Russian revolution

June 1917: when workers in Britain first tried to form soviets

26/4/17

May Day

The real origins of May Day

26/4/17

Labour Party

How Blairism sank its claws into the Labour Party

29/3/17

Russian revolution

April 1917: how the Bolsheviks reorientated

8/3/17

Ferries

1987 Zeebrugge disaster

1/3/17

Russian revolution

Lessons of Russia 1917 for women's struggle today

22/2/17

Russian revolution

February revolution 1917 - what lessons for today?

18/1/17

Revolution

1917revolution.org website to launch

18/1/17

Revolution

Trotsky and February 1917

26/10/16

Jarrow

Jarrow March: an inspiring show of solidarity between workers and youth

19/10/16

Wales

Aberfan: a disaster that should never have happened

triangleMore Historic events articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle21 Jul Grenfell survivors tell Tories: 'Step down and resign'

triangle20 Jul Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations meeting reveals huge anger...

On the joint Junior doctors and teachers demonstration 26-4-16, photo by Paul Mattsson

triangle19 Jul Education cuts: Tories buckling under public pressure

Unite Barts NHS cleaners and porters strike demo July 15

triangle16 Jul Support Barts NHS striking cleaners and porters!

triangle14 Jul 10% pay increase accompanied by cuts and job losses

triangle12 Jul DWP announces office closures and job losses

triangle12 Jul The left unions and the Labour Party affiliation debate

More ...

triangle25 Jul Derby Socialist Party: Mother Jones - US labour pioneer

triangle26 Jul Caerphilly Socialist Party: Global socialism - Report from CWI school

triangle26 Jul Hackney Socialist Party: Racism in the US and Britain

triangle27 Jul Swansea Socialist Party: Building a Marxist International

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2