Remembering the Poll Tax: lessons for contemporary political movements

Danny BurnsImage

You may be interested in a programme that I participated in, on the resistance to the Poll Tax in the UK. It was broadcast on Sunday 2nd September 2012, is repeated on Friday and is downloadable as a BBC iPlayer podcast. The program is one of the Reunion series on BBC Radio 4 where protagonists in contemporary historical events are brought together to discuss those events some decades later.

What was striking to me in recounting these events of 22 years ago is how few young people have ever heard of the Poll Tax.  Yet the anti-Poll Tax campaign was the biggest civil disobedience movement in UK history. 10 million people refused to pay the tax, there were riots across the country and a government was brought down.  This people’s movement succeeded against opposition from every major political party.

It is crucial that we don’t forget our political history. There are important lessons for the contemporary political resistance movements that are emerging across the world today, and we have a responsibility to pass on this knowledge to the generations that follow.

For those that have a deeper interest in this movement, I published a book in 1992 ‘Poll Tax Rebellion’, which is still available through Amazon.

Danny Burns is the Team Leader for the Participation, Power and Social Change research team at IDS. 

Read other recent blog posts from Danny Burns:


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