On 31st March 1990 people took to the streets of London and fought back against Margaret Thatchers' hated poll tax, leading to running street battles with the police and total chaos in Trafalgar Square - the following has some good footage of this battle.
Thatcher Poll Tax Riots
On this day, over 250,000 people sweeped into London, for many people it was not a case of wanting to demonstrate, it was a case of having too. There was no choice, this cruel tax would have seriously impacted on peoples lives.Most people on the day of this demonstration, arrived unaligned - ordinary people, families, pensioners, the unemployed, students, black and white, all united as one to fight against this immoral tax.
The overriding opinion of the time,is that what started as a peaceful protest, with an almost carnival feel to it against an illegal tax was quickly turned into a bloody battle by uniformed thugs acting under Thatcher's orders, with aided and abetted by agent provocateurs.The use of charged mounted police also aggravated the situation, leading to many peaceful bystanders with heads streaming with blood. A very frightening experience. It would see in the heart ofLondon's West End cars being overturned and set on fire , dozens of shop windows beingsmaxhed and their contents lootes, suchwas the anger and rage unleashed.
To this day many people lay the responsibility of the violence that happened on this day, firmly on the shoulders of Thatcher and her government. Despite the demonisation of the protestors in the mass media, people still refused to pay, the campaign flourished, culminating in millions of people's non payment, bailiffs were resisted, courts unable to cope because of opposition and active resistance as more and more people said "can't pay, won't pay"
It would see the Poll Tax eventually being destroyed, also helping bring down Thatchers hated tory government.Thatcher resigned in Nooember 1990 and her successor John Major announced its replacement by the council tax, which at least took some account into peoples ability to pay.
Manny years later, the same simmering resentment towards the Conservative Government still exists. It seems that the tories have still not learnt from their past mistakes,with the introduction of the bedroom tax , universal credit and other horrors. The resistance to the Poll Tax a reminder to all people who say it is impossible to fight back. Hopefully like then we can bring the Tories down again. The lesson we can learn today is that a movement with backbone can defeat the forces of reaction.
Poll Tax Riot 1990