[EDIT 23/4/14: Left Unity’s internal elections are now underway. They will close at midnight on Tuesday 6 May 2014. The statement below, that also appears on the North West elections page on the LU website, is very slightly modified from the one previously on this blog (to increase the number of issues I’m campaigning on).]
The following text is my statement as a candidate for one of the four vacant seats (at least two of which have to be female due to the women’s quota rule) from the North West region of Left Unity on the National Council. I was nominated by Alison Treacher (Stockport LU) and Tom Armstrong (Manchester LU). Left Unity members can vote via the Internal Elections page (but you will only be able to vote for me if you live in the North West of England). Continue reading
Ed Miliband has finally come off the fence and announced Labour will abolish the bedroom tax if it wins the next election, the day after I spoke on Question Time about it!
I have just posted the following comment to this Guardian article:
I can’t help thinking that the timing of Ed’s announcement (inevitable as it was) was influenced by Harriet Harman’s strong arguments against this vicious measure and my question from the floor, on Thursday’s Question Time from Rochdale.
I said: “I’d like to ask Harriet Harman whether she would call on Labour councillors not to evict people from their homes, especially if they are on Jobseekers Allowance because you get a situation where people on JSA get a letter saying they are allocated the minimum amount to live on yet they are expected to pay bedroom tax and council tax. I know in this area, Rochdale council is charging people 25% on a Band A property of their council tax…” At this point, David Dimbleby interrupted me to ask if Rochdale is a Labour-controlled council, and I replied “It’s a Labour-controlled council, yes.” at which point he called Harriet Harman in to respond.
The official Labour position of expecting people to wait to see what the manifesto at the next general election says, not to mention having Labour councillors evicting non-payers (which would cost far more than it saves), that Harman unfortunately put across, was proving increasingly untenable.
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 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.
I include below the contents of a newsletter I wrote in March, mobilising for mass strikes, demonstrations and civil disobedience to bring down the ConDem government in Britain. The newsletter also contains items on the bedroom tax, new poll tax (the poorest having to pay up to 30% council tax), tax avoidance by the rich and international revolution to stop fascism.
Revolutionary Platform News
Number 4b, 30th March 2013
Newsletter of the Revolutionary Platforms of Labour, TUSC, Respect, the Scottish Socialist Party and Solidarity
Editor’s welcome: My name is Steve Wallis. This is an amended version of newsletter 4 (specific to the UK) of the Revolutionary Platform Network, which now has a forum (page) on Facebook at the address above. Visit the website (on which you can also find this newsletter in a variety of formats) or the Facebook page for information about the Network. This newsletter was written by me but feedback on it and future articles are welcome there or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organise mass strikes, demonstrations and civil disobedience to bring down the Con-Dems!
Millions in the UK can’t afford to wait until 2015!
A lot of rubbish has been said about Margaret Thatcher, such that her downfall was due to Europe or that the poll tax riot was responsible. John Major, who followed her into Downing Street, admitted that the poll tax had to be abolished because it was “uncollectable”. Thatcher wasn’t pushed until the autumn after the difficult summer when the Anti-Poll Tax Unions had to defend people who weren’t paying (from the courts, bailiffs and ultimately jail – but they couldn’t jail us all as my song says). Part of that struggle was the People’s March Against the Poll Tax, which I went on – from Liverpool to London (with other legs going from Glasgow and South Wales) – with many meetings, demonstrations and social events on the way to build support for non-payment. And non-payment actually increased during that period, from the initial figures of 14 million (following the 1 million in Scotland where the poll tax was implemented a year earlier) to over 18 million, who hadn’t paid a penny or were in arrears.
My band Fruity Frank and the Frisky Freaks recorded two versions of my new song “The New Poll Tax” on Thursday of last week. I uploaded it on Saturday and posted it to various places on Facebook on Monday suggesting people listen to it to celebrate Thatcher’s death. There is a Bollywood version and an alternative Lenny Kravitz-style version.
This song brings things up-to-date with attacks on council tax benefits (as well as the bedroom tax). As the description of the song says: ‘The ConDem (Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition) government introduced a “new poll tax” on 1 April 2013 – attacks on council tax benefits which will lead to councils making the poorest pay up to 30%, unless we refuse to pay! This song is intended to mobilise opposition to this and the hated bedroom tax, which millions literally will be unable to pay (especially combined). You don’t need to let the bailiffs in, according to the Citizens Advice Bureau: http://bit.ly/ZFgNVf‘.
There is a Facebook group to discuss opposition to the new poll tax.