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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Emma B BS: Direct Action : UK (159* d) RE: BS: Direct Action : UK 25 Oct 10

There is no doubt that the violence of the poll tax riots in central London 20 years ago when demonstrators turned on police, attacking them with bricks, bottles and scaffolding poles hit the headlines or that this battleground between police and protesters in which 113 people were badly injured, including 45 police, came to be seen by some as the fatal blow for the government's community charge.

"For a start, if there had been no riot then the demonstration would have got no more than a few lines in the papers and a brief mention on the telly…..Remember the Glasgow demonstration against the Poll Tax in April 1989? Over 20,000 people were on it, a massive display of defiance that was quietly censored."
- Danny Burns defending the high profile anarchist Class War organisation perspective

However there was countrywide opposition to the Community Charge (a tax plan which shifted the burden for local essential services from rich to poor, landing poorer people with far higher bills) especially vehement in the North of England and Scotland and mass non violent direct action went on in the form of the non-payment campaign that followed As 25 million court cases had to be held to try to collect the unjust tax it became unenforceable.
Continued organized pressure upon MPs at ground roots level made the Tories retreat and abandon it in a 'palace coup' against Thatcher.

Speaking before the annual TUC conference in Manchester, last month the TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said:

"The poll tax was defeated when MPs returned to Westminster to report that their constituencies were in revolt. The poll tax offended the British people's basic sense of what's fair. So will the spending cuts.
Every coalition MP with a small majority and every coalition MP who fought an election to oppose deep early cuts needs to feel the pressure from their constituents to change course."

Quoted in GreenFeed Adam Ramsay considers some original campaigning ideas against the coalitions proposals for the future of the entire British education system

"The Lib Dems, in particular, have been vocal about introducing a right for constituents to recall their MPs. If they abstain or vote for an increase in fees, it should be made clear that this is precisely what they face. Even though the legislation on recall rights has yet to go through, it has been suggested that a threshold of around 10% of constituents signing a petition would be a reasonable amount to trigger a by-election – and campaigners can use this as a guide by gathering signatures, even if recall rights are never enshrined in law…. would be very difficult for an MP to ignore an unprecedented groundswell of opinion in their constituency – and campaigns could certainly claim that going back on such a public pledge constitutes a breach of trust between constituents and their MP.

Local campaigns should therefore look at recall petitions as a serious option. They could then put forward one candidate to take on the Lib Dems and Tories, getting the left, Greens and even Labour to stand aside to ensure maximum unity.

This would be something for the nascent local anti-cuts networks to mobilise around, with the potential to generalise the struggle against fees into a more holistic attack on the economic vandalism of the ConDems; it also presents a mouth-watering opportunity for greater left unity.
For students, such community-orientated tactics are, in my opinion, far more important than occupations and direct actions isolated on university campuses"

btw Richard - Alex Glasgow was a talented songwriter AND a socialist who was not shy of satire!

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