Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/759/16431
Over 5,000 march in Glasgow
Matt Dobson, Socialist Party Scotland
Over 5,000 people from across west Scotland and beyond marched in Glasgow on Saturday 30 March against the bedroom tax but also against the impact of savage austerity in all its forms.
The demonstration was led by disabled protesters. 80% of those hit by the bedroom tax have a disability.
People of all ages turned out, lots on their first ever demonstration. Many wanted to concretely discuss building a campaign to defeat the bedroom tax but also alternative ideas to the failure of capitalist-driven austerity.
Many crowded around Socialist Party Scotland stalls, queuing to sign our petitions and to discuss with us.
The turnout for the demonstration was greatly assisted by the scores of public meetings in the weeks preceding. Socialist Party Scotland helped to pioneer many of these.
The sheer size of the demonstration became clear as the march entered George Square, several hundred had already gathered there.
The rally speakers raised the memories of the poll tax struggle but also the rent strikes of the early part of the 20th century and the immortal Red Clydeside movement.
Three Socialist Party Scotland members spoke at the rally. Jim McFarlane from the Bin the Bedroom Tax campaign in Dundee set the tone of the rally: "The example of the campaign in Dundee which has forced the SNP council to concede that they will not evict for one year shows we can win.
"But one year is not good enough! Every council and housing association must commit to no evictions. The councillors and MSPs have to choose which side they are on.
"If they aren't prepared to stand with us they should stand aside and we should stand against them."
Davey Churchley from the Black Triangle Disability Rights Campaign highlighted the impact of this hated tax on disabled people.
Brian Smith, Glasgow City Unison secretary, called for councils to set needs budgets and for the government to bail out housing associations to meet the cost of the Bedroom Tax.
He called on the trade union movement to throw its full weight behind the campaign and called for a 24-hour general strike.
Over 200 people packed into the Glasgow City Unison offices for a West of Scotland federation meeting after the rally.
Tommy Sheridan spoke about the anti-poll tax struggle, in which he played a leading role, and the need to now build an all-Scotland anti-bedroom tax federation.
Reflecting the interest in Socialist Party Scotland, 250 copies of the Socialist were sold at the demo.
Twenty people filled in cards to join and for more information about Socialist Party Scotland. £300 was raised for the fighting fund, including the sale of 150 anti-bedroom tax badges.
In Edinburgh the anti-bedroom tax demonstration attracted up to 2,000 people, including disabled people, students, anti-cuts campaigners, political activists and trade unionists.
The demonstration marched from St Andrew Square to the Scottish Parliament where a number of speakers gave graphic descriptions of what the Con-Dems' austerity programme was doing to the disabled and poor of Scotland.
Countering the tax
Campaigners are looking for ideas to counter this vicious attack. One lesson of the poll tax struggle was to get organised.
Then there are a number of tactics that can be deployed, including:
Councils and councillors must refuse to implement housing benefit cuts.
Dundee council has said it won't implement the bedroom tax for a year.
Brighton council has said it won't evict.
Tenants can appeal to adjudication against the bedroom tax as a decision on their housing benefit. Thousands of people appealing at the same time will clog up the system.
Tenants can ask the council to look again at the decision, to revalue their home, for more time to write to the DWP tribunal service, and apply for discretionary housing payments.
Knowsley Housing Trust decided it would lose less money if it reclassified some housing so tenants didn't have to pay the bedroom tax.
Tenants can join some HAs by buying £1 shares and attend board meetings to push this policy.
An anti-eviction army is needed in every community to counter eviction threats.
Thirty people took part in a Lincoln bedroom tax protest organised by Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition campaigners.
In The Socialist 3 April 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party workplace news
Fighting the Bedroom Tax
Socialist Party reports and campaigns