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Hackney Against the Poll Tax Federation newsletter



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The Hackney Against the Poll Tax Federation published this leaflet in 1990 in protest at the Community Charge tax, popularly known as the Poll Tax. The front cover features an unflattering photograph of Margaret Thatcher, a focus of anti-poll tax anger, and urges readers to sign up to the organised non-payment campaign. The legal rights of protesters refusing to pay the £499 Hackney charge are explained on the reverse.




height (Whole): 296mm
width (whole): 210mm

On display?




The Labour Party leadership were very keen to point out that last week's local government elections were an electoral test for Thatcher. Overall, the results were very encouraging for Labour - 300 net gains, securing 2,800 of the 5,000 seats on offer. There were three categories of local authority involved, each of them affected by different local factors, and each of them producing different results. The Tories suffered worst, with the Liberal Democrats doing little better.

In Scotland, the regional council elections produced only a small swing to Labour of around 1% - but Labour support here is already overwhelming. In the English Districts, Labour gained 10 councils out of 152 - in spite of only a third of the seats in each of these councils being on offer. The swing to Labour was best in the South at 15%, with areas like Hastings and Portsmouth in the deep Tory south showing well. Best of all, Thatcher's favourite Bradford fell to Labour. But most enigmatic were the London results. An overall swing to Labour of only 1% was recorded, with Tories making big gains in Westminster, Wandsworth, Brent, Hammersmith, Ealing, Hillingdon and Harrow. But some facts are hidden here. Press desperation to keep Wandsworth and Westminster Tory was aided by a fiddled Poll Tax in both boroughs, the government buying out voters with an effective cash handout of 117 a head. Overall in London, both Labour and Tories made gains in 11 of the 32 boroughs. Here in Hackney, Labour lost three seats to the Liberals in Shoreditch, with the Labour vote generally down. There were some exceptions: Homerton, where the local party has actively supported non-payment through its newsletters, doubled its majority. Only five Labour candidates were committed to non-payment, and only three were elected: Andy Buttress (Leabridge); Tom Silverlock (Chatham); and Paul Foley (Northwold). Nationwide, the picture is favourable to labour, whatever the papers might say. Labour was building on a very high base from 1986. It's difficult to say what effect the Poll Tax had locally on election results, since no council anywhere was committed to even non-prosecution of non-payers, let alone non-collection. Neither high Poll Tax bills not capping seem to have deterred Labour voters; nor have low Poll Tax bills necessarily helped the Tories. [image caption: Mass non-payment of the poll tax "Tories on the run".

Everyone in Hackney over 18 is now expected to find £499. The majority will be worse off. Thousands will be
Unable to pay, joining over one million Scots who haven’t paid for over a year. In Glasgow the official figure for
non-payment is 42 per cent!
By September it is likely that as many as 10 million will not be paying across Britain. The poll tax will be
stopped by non-payment on this scale.
The Tories and the mass media will be putting out lies to try and frighten people into paying up. These are
The facts about poll tax and non-payment. Please read it carefully, photocopy it and pass it on.
* I can get a rebate to reduce my bill.
The rebate system is a con. To qualify, your income has to be on
or near income support level. For example, a single person
under 25 will get no rebate if they earn more than £57.53 a
week; a couple with two children will BOTH have to pay the full
amount if their joint income is more than £135 a week.
There are no full rebates – the unemployed, pensioners and
students all have to pay at least 20 per cent of their poll tax.
* The council will just come and get it if I refuse to pay.
No it won’t! First they have to send you reminders, then you
lose the right to pay by instalments. If you still don’t you, the
council applies to the magistrates’ court for a Liability Order to
get the full poll tax due (plus small legal costs). This could take
It is up to the council, not the courts, to pursue non-payers.
* I will get a criminal record
NO you won’t! Non-payment is a civil, not a criminal, offence so
you cannot get a record.
* If I refuse to pay, they’ll take it from my wages.
Already, most employers are up in arms about the administrative nightmare of trying to dedust poll tax from wages.
Anyway, it’s a long and complicated process and there are
strict legal limits on how much they can take from your wages.
* They’ll take it from my bank account.
NO they won’t! There is no power in English law to freeze bank
accounts. This also means your mortgage repayments are
* They’ll take it from my benefit.
Poll tax cannot be deducted from pensions, invalidity benefits
and other specified benefits. The maximum they can take from
income support is £1.75 a week for single people or £2.75 for
couples – less than Hackney poll tax.
But staff in the DSS and unemployment offices would have to
make the deductions. Already there have been strikes in several
offices against registration, so it’ll not be easy.
We are actively building links with trade union members.
* They’ll send in the bailiffs.
No council will want to be seen sending in bailiffs. It is another
threat to frighten people. In Scotland the anti-poll tax unions
have driven the bailiffs away when they’ve arrived – they have
to give advance notice of their arrival and they cannot break
down the door.
Remember, if you do let them in, they cannot take goods on
HP, things you don’t own (including things ‘recently sold’ to
neighbours) or that are not there. They have to leave you £100 of
clothes and £150 worth of other goods.
Anyway, how are they going to visit millions of people, especially if they’re organised in anti-poll tax unions?
* I’ll go to prison
No council wants to create martyrs. They can only apply for
committal to person in exceptional circumstances’, for a maxi-
mum of three months. Payment would free you immediately. It is
highly unlikely anyone will be put into already overcrowded prisons- and they certainly can’t do it to ten million of us!
* If I don’t pay I’ll end up in debt with massive fines.
NO you won’t. You cannot be fined for non-payment. The only
time they can fine you is for not handing over information to the
council once they have a Liability Order.
* I could be evicted
NO you couldn’t. Non-payment does not affect your tenancy or
mortgage agreements.
* I could be sacked.
NO you couldn’t! As non-payment is not industrial misconduct it
is not grounds for dismissal.
I want to join Hackney Against the Poll Tax Federation.
Return to : The Secretary, HAPIF, The Fire Station, 61 Leswin
Road, N16. Or leave your name & address or phone number on
our 24 hour answerphone. Telephone 0426 911161.
The Tory
Doll Tax