Remembering the Poll Tax

In 2010, as the British state mercilessly imprisons people who demonstrated last year against the Zionist onslaught on Gaza or the G8 rich countries’ domination of the world, we remember the massive demonstration 20 years ago this week against the Poll Tax. On Saturday 31 March 1990, London erupted as 200,000 demonstrators defended themselves against a brutal attack by mounted police.

The Poll Tax was the brainchild of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government. A punitive local tax, it was introduced in 1989 in Scotland and 1990 in England and Wales, replacing the previous ‘rates’ system. It was designed as a political attack on left Labour local councils which charged high rates in order to provide better local services.  Unlike the rates or current council tax, the Poll Tax was not linked to income or the value of property.  Instead, each local area would set a single rate for all adults, regardless of ability to pay.

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How the campaign to stop the war was sabotaged

FRFI 173 June / July 2003

Supporting Labour’s imperialist war - How the campaign to stop the war was sabotaged

Whilst opposition to the war on Iraq saw unprecedented numbers of ‘ordinary’ people take to the streets all over the country, one thing was strikingly clear: the lack of any real opposition from within the Labour Party. Although a number of individual members and a handful of councillors left the Party in disgust, not one so-called ‘anti-war’ Labour MP resigned the ‘whip’. This was no real surprise for those with any knowledge of Labour’s bloody history and the left’s contortions in justifying their continuing support for it.

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Campaign to stop the war

FRFI 172 April / May 2003

The massive demonstration on 15 February, organised by the Stop The War Coalition (STWC), Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), was a historic occasion. Up to two million people took to the streets of London in opposition to the coming war on Iraq. Later, on 22 March, following the start of the US/British onslaught, nearly half a million marched. With the prospect of a protracted conflict, how is this movement to develop? How is its ideological level to be raised? BOB SHEPHERD examines the issues.

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Support youth uprisings against racism and poverty

FRFI 162 August / September 2001

The explosions on the streets of Oldham, Burnley, Leeds, Stoke, Accrington and Bradford were not just Asian youth defending themselves and their communities against fascists and police violence. They were revolts against racism, unemployment and poverty. The catalyst for the uprisings was the action of organised fascists in the National Front (NF) and British National Party (BNP) aided and abetted by the police. In all these towns, attacks on Asian communities by fascists and sections of white working class youth were met with resistance and ended in mass confrontations and street battles with the police.

The events in Oldham began in February with the boss of Oldham police, Chief Superintendent Eric Hewitt, issuing statistics to the media that purported to show that the majority of recorded ‘racist’ incidents in the town were Asian on white. The myth was supported by the local press with lurid stories of ‘no-go’ areas and violent attacks by Asian gangs on lone whites. This was the green light for a series of planned or rumoured fascist marches and rallies in the town. In March the BNP held a picket outside Oldham police station calling for action to defend whites from attacks by Asians. Following the street robbery of 76-year-old Walter Chamberlain, in April, the police and media branded the attack as racist and declared that there were no-go areas for whites in Oldham.

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May Day protest against capitalism

FRFI 161 June / July 2001

Capitalism lost £20m on May Day before the first protesters had even set foot in the city. One in five shops in Oxford Street had shut for the day, and the rest closed early to avoid being targeted by ‘violent anarchists’ during the predicted May Day ‘riots’. May Day 2001 saw the continuation of the strategy developed by the corporate capitalist class through its political representatives in the Labour government, its media, police and judiciary to destroy the coalition of forces in this country that see themselves as part of the growing international anti-capitalist movement. HELEN BURNES reports.

May Day revived
‘10 years after the end of the cold war and the supposed global triumph of liberal capitalist ideas, the international workers’ day has again become a focus of international protest…: rejection of neo-liberal globalisation, opposition to the eclipse of democracy by corporate power and demand for international action to tackle the ecological crisis. Even by making the slogan of anti-capitalism common currency, the movement has raised the possibility of a systemic alternative, derided as a nonsense for most of the past decade.’ (Seumas Milne, The Guardian, 2 May)

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