Poll tax book launch

Eric Segal, author, ‘Couldn’t Pay, Wouldn’t Pay, Didn’t Pay’

Two and a half years ago, the owner of ‘The Chambers’ coffee house and bar in Folkestone agreed to host the launch of the book ‘Couldn’t Pay, Wouldn’t Pay, Didn’t Pay’ about the poll tax. But the Covid pandemic cut across the launch.

This year, industrial battles have raged in south east Kent, since illegal mass sackings of 786 workers by P&O management. On the picket lines, workers assessed the lessons of past battles, in particular the year-long miners and P&O strikes of the 1980s. And they were eager to discuss socialist ideas.

This is the reason that 20 people from Dover and Folkestone came to listen, discuss and contribute to the eventual rescheduled book launch meeting, which I introduced. It was chaired by the former local Fire Brigades Union (FBU) secretary. The meeting included striking rail and postal workers, channel tunnel workers, and university lecturers.

This book is proving to have its own history. The delayed launch meant a discussion on the relevance and lessons of the anti-poll-tax struggle to the current wave of strikes, government crisis and political turmoil.

The final copies of the book, and four copies of the Socialist, were sold. The meeting agreed that this would be the first step locally in organising a fightback against the bosses’ system.

  • ‘Couldn’t Pay, Wouldn’t Pay, Didn’t Pay’ is available from Left Books – leftbooks.co.uk