Organise! magazine anti-Poll Tax articles scanned in Issues 14-27 from 1988-1992
The articles can be found via links below or from here: http://www.afed.org.uk/org/polltax/
More anti-polltax material: http://thesparrowsnest.org.uk/scans/polltax/
Retrospective: http://www.afed.org.uk/org/issue42/orgonwrd.html (a new retrospective forthcoming in Organise! 74).
We have also scanned in the first of our two pamphlets about the revolt: The Poll Tax and How to Fight It published in 1988, supplementing Beating the Poll Tax the text of which we put online sometime ago along with its original cartoons. These can be found in the pamphlets area of our website.
ANTI-POLL TAX ARTICLES FROM ORGANISE! MAGAZINE
Scanned articles about the anti-Poll Tax struggle 1988-1991 from Issues 14 to 23 inclusive
Note: all links are to single page image files in the GIF format which are all around 0.5MB each so they will be readable online but at the same time not too big. Click image or use zoom facility on browser to read online, or download and print. Some articles are over multiple pages.
Issue 14 – Feb-April 1989
Issue 15 – May-July 1989
Issue 16 – Aug-Oct 1989
Issue 17 – Nov-Jan 1989/90
The Left and the poll tax, “Militant and other parasites on the poll tax struggle”, Ft, #17, p7
The Left and the poll tax, “Militant and other parasites on the poll tax struggle (continued)”, Ft, #17, p10
The Left and the poll tax, “Militant and other parasites on the poll tax struggle (continued)”, Ft, #17, p11
Issue 18 – Feb-April 1990
Issue 19 – May-July 1990
Cover image: AN ERUPTION OF CLASS ANGER
Anti-poll tax demos in England and the Left’s response, “Poll Tax fury” , N&A, #19, p3
Trafalger Square anti-poll tax riot account, “A rioter’s account sent anonymously to Organise”, Ft, #19, p6
March 31st 1990 Trafalger Square riot analysis, “The Poll Tax: The Peasants Revolt”, Ft, #19, p10
March 31st 1990 Trafalger Square riot analysis, “The Poll Tax: The Peasants Revolt (continued)”, Ft, #19, p11
March 31st 1990 Trafalger Square riot analysis, “The Poll Tax: The Peasants Revolt (continued)”, Ft, #19, p12
Issue 20 – Aug-Nov 1990
Poll tax riot arrests; press and Left response; defence campaign, “The State goes on the offensive”, N&A, #20, p3
Poll tax non-payment in UK, “The poll tax flagship heads for the rocks”, Ft, #20, p12
Poll tax non-payment in UK, “The poll tax flagship heads for the rocks (continued)”, Ft, #20, p13
Issue 21 – Dec-Feb 1991
Oct 20th 1990 poll tax demo and riot, “Fighting on the poll tax front”, N&A, #21, p3
Poll tax resistance in courts and against bailiffs, “Poll Tax fury” , N&A, #21, p16
Poll tax resistance in courts and against bailiffs, “Poll Tax fury” (continued) , N&A, #21, p13
Issue 22 – March-May 1991
Poll tax local struggle, “Fight the Poll Tax: News from Leeds”, Ft, #22, p8
Poll tax local struggle, “Fight the Poll Tax: News from Leeds” (continued), Ft, #22, p9
Poll tax local struggle, “Fight the Poll Tax: News from Leeds” (continued), Ft, #22, p10
Issue 23 – June-August 1991
Defeat of Poll Tax & rise in VAT, “A Fairer Tax?”, N&A, #23, p3
Defeat of Poll Tax & Thatcher, “Lessons of the Poll Tax victory”, N&A, #23, p4
Defeat of Poll Tax & Thatcher, “Lessons of the Poll Tax victory”, N&A, #23, p5
Issue 25 – Jan-Mar 1992
Issue 26 – April-June 1992
Issue 27 – July-Sept 1992
All articles, except letters, written by the Anarchist Communist Federation, now AF http://www.afed.org.uk/
- Ft – Feature
- N/A – News and Analysis
- Rev – Book review
- Let – Letter
Another article from Resistance 111 (April 2009):
TWO DECADES ON- THE GREAT POLL TAX REVOLT
If you’ve been following media reports on the 25th Miners’ Strike anniversary closely enough, you may have heard mention of how the state had, since the mid1970s, carefully planned for working class revolt in the steel and coal industries. They did this by stock-piling coal and increasing reliance on nuclear energy and oil as fuel, attacking trade unions and hiring nonunion labour, and introducing a “mobile squad of police equipped and prepared to uphold the law against violent picketing” -also known as the riot police! All these things were used against the miners during the 1984 strike. This is a prime example of state forward-planning against the political threat of ‘communism’ and working class resistance.
Five years after the Miners’ Strike the Thatcher government was feeling confident, and wanted to change the way local government was funded. To do this they would get rid of the housing rates (paid per house with an amount depending on its value) and introduce the Community Charge, a flat rate per person – which quickly became known as the Poll Tax. The revolt against it is now legendary. Most importantly though, this is one of the best examples of our rulers finding out that their subjects can also plan ahead!
From April 1989, Poll Tax bills were to be sent out in Scotland a year before it came to England and Wales, and registration forms were to be delivered south of the border. But in the months leading up its introduction in Scotland, activists (including anarchists and socialists) had been hard at work canvassing support for a mass non-payment campaign. Instead of any real attempt to oppose the ‘Tory Tax’ the opposition Labour Party, with its many councils afraid of the damage to their funding base, had launched the non-political ‘Stop It’ campaign, which was expressly against ‘illegal’ non-payment. On the ground though, things were very different. While registration forms were being burned in the street, Eric Milligan, head of Lothian (Edinburgh) region Labour council’s Finance Department was on the attack, saying in April 1989, “As a socialist, I have no time for tax-dodgers”.
Likewise, although there was some excellent action from workers, trade union response to the Poll Tax was mealy- mouthed and out of step with the anger of residents who could not and would not pay the new tax. Benefits workers refused to act as ‘snoopers’. Manchester postal workers took unofficial action, refusing to sort registration forms for delivery. Sadly, the action later collapsed in the face of both union and management opposition. But at the same time, council officials were having doors slammed in their faces and were being chased off the streets. The popular revolt came as a huge shock to Labour, and in December 1989, Eric Milligan was forced to concede, “Such is the scale of the non-payment movement in our region that we may have to write-off large sums of outstanding poll tax.”
What had made the anti-poll tax campaign so successful was not the standard methods of the Left -trade unionism, workplace-only action and sucking up to Labour, but community self-organisation that had begun as early as 1987. The demand “Don’t Collect’”by councils had mostly fallen on deaf ears and it was the “Don’t Register” and “Don’t Pay” slogans that had found a resonance. Door-to-door leafleting and public meetings explained just how many people were not paying, and that you could join them! Anti-Poll Tax groups were being set up not just one per town, but many per neighbourhood. In October 1988, six months before the registration deadline in Scotland, there were already 23 local groups in Edinburgh and 31 in Glasgow, and in a MORI poll, 42% of people said they would support a non-payment campaign. Not only that, but Scottish groups started visiting newly formed anti- poll tax groups in England to spread confidence and tactics, and vice-versa. So by the time the bills were sent out in England and Wales, we were more than prepared to fight and win.
Our communities will need to find this kind of strength again. While councils are beginning to cut services and jobs, the threat of massive council tax increases are just around the corner. Furthermore, in Scotland, council authorities are still pursuing individuals and even partners of Poll Tax non-payers, using tactics like freezing bank accounts. The key lesson from the Poll Tax is that local councils are not our friends, especially when the going gets tough economically. So, as more and more people become unable to pay bills, at the same time as supporting and encouraging workers who are preparing to fight job cuts and wage freezes, we must plan to fight council bureaucrats, courts, snoopers and bailiffs.
Find out more:
•Poll Tax Rebellion – Book by Danny Burns, AK Press, 1992. Link to Organise! review above. Buy a copy from AK Press: http://www.akpress.org/1996/items/polltaxrebellion
•Poll Tax Riot: 10 Hours That Shook Trafalgar Square:http://www.akuk.com/index.php?_a=viewProd&productId=2300