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Remembering the rebellion against the poll tax

Thirty years ago, the new municipal tax implemented by the government of Margaret Thatcher came into force, the same that marked the beginning of its fall months later. To remember the consequences of what its implementation meant, a talk will be held with an expert in this part of British history.


Photo Facebook event Freedom Bookshop‎Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay: The fight to stop the Poll Tax

Natacha Andueza Bosch


It is Simon Hannah who remembers those hectic days of resistance and tells the story of the people who beat law enforcers, rioted for their rights and challenged a government.

For Hannah, these moments are very vivid in his memories, especially since he is the author of “Can’t pay, won’t pay: the fight to stop the Poll Tax”, his new book that provides the title of his next talk.

This title corresponds to the slogan that constantly refused to recognise the tax at that time, and also formed the social movement that helped bring down one of the most powerful British prime ministers of the twentieth century.

The poll tax was first introduced in Scotland in April 1989 and in England and Wales a year later. It was intended to force all citizens to make equal financial contributions, regardless of their economic capacity.

As a result, civil disobedience campaigns and demonstrations throughout the country emerged, which soon triggered protests, violence and serious riots.

On 31st March 1990, the most important riot that central London had witnessed for a century took place in Trafalgar Square.

On that day up to 3,000 protesters rebelled against the police, attacking them with bricks, bottles and scaffolding posts, and 340 were arrested. Of the 113 people who were injured, 45 were police officers.

At the end of that same year, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was forced to resign. She was replaced by John Major, who introduced “council tax”, which replaced the “poll tax” and is still in force today.

“Can’t pay, won’t pay: the fight to stop the Poll Tax” immerses the reader in the stark history of the rebellion. Amid the drama of large-scale protests and blockaded properties, a series of key figures and groups such as Neil Kinnock and Tommy Sheridan emerge, Militant, Class War and the metropolitan police.

To assess this legacy today, Hannah demonstrates the importance of the resistance to poll tax as a key chapter in the history of British popular uprisings, the factionalism of the Labour Party, the anti-socialist agenda and the failed ideology of the Conservative party.

Date and place: Thursday 26th March from 6:30 pm to 8 pm. 84B Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX, London.

For more information about the event click here or visit the Freedom Bookshop

(Translated by Hannah Phelvin – Email: – Photos: Pixabay

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