Guardian poll on Thatcher’s flagship policies – particularly interesting points about the poll tax

The above link to a Guardian article contains the following at the bottom. The reference to the problems councils had collecting small amounts (although with over 18 million people who hadn’t paid a penny or were in arrears at the height of the anti-poll tax campaign in the summer of 1990 meant it wasn’t just unemployed people and students, who only had to pay 20%, who were participating, and the campaign’s slogan “Pay NO Poll Tax” urged people to withhold the whole amount) and the potential with the new poll tax (where the poorest will be expected to pay up to the 30%) for building mass non-payment again is telling.

 

The poll tax, or community charge

THATCHER_POLL_POLLTAXGraphic: Guardian

Thatcher loathed Labour town halls, which she felt set big budgets because their poor voters would not pay. Rate capping was the early response, but in time she resolved to replace the whole old system of rates on house values with a flat tax on every citizen. Big families got clobbered, while old ladies living alone in big houses cleaned up. At a time when Britain was becoming mindful of the wealth gap that the Thatcher era was producing, the policy ran up against the argument that it was wrong for a duke and a dustman to pay the same. North of the border, the Tories never recovered from trialling the policy on the Scots. Riots followed when it was rolled out in the south. A personal pet project, the tax played a crucial part in Thatcher’s downfall. Coalition ministers would do well to be warned that one crucial shortcoming was an inadequate system of rebates that resulted in town halls having to chase poor families for small sums. With effect from this month, their council tax reform will have the same result.

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