This time we want to put the spotlight on records documenting the campaigns against the Poll Tax in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

 

 

 

 

 

Background

Our anti-Poll tax collections primarily document local campaigns, mirroring struggles fought across Britain. Nottingham activists had learned from the experiences of the grass roots resistance in Scotland, where the government of Margaret Thatcher had piloted the ‘Community Charge’ in 1989, before also implementing the policy in England and Wales the following year. It meant a change from the old system of rates (not dissimilar to our current Council Taxes) to taxing individuals, with flat rates having to be paid by everyone, regardless of the value of the property they lived in. An occupant of a run-down terraced house suddenly faced the same bill as someone living in a lavish property within the same local authority. This caused widespread outrage. The main strategy to fight the Poll Tax was to make it unenforceable by promoting mass non-registration and non-payment, which developed into varied and sophisticated tactics, e.g. designed to hamper the judicial system.

 

Local groups formed quickly to organise people to ignore registration forms, to give strength to keep up the commitment to mass non-payment in the face of the council’s attempts to collect, and to defeat bailiffs. The anarchist input to these groups was especially influential in Nottingham, for instance in the Forest Fields & Hyson Green and Radford groups.

 

The lessons from Scotland were very beneficial in terms of how to provide mutual aid. Door-to-door leafleting was widely used to share information and tips on how to avoid the tax, covering entire postcode areas, alongside with the organisation of regular local meetings, events, fundraisers and street stalls. Experiences in Scotland also served as a warning about the tactics of local councils, politicians and Trotskyist tendencies (notably Militant), who were attempting to take the take over the campaigns across the UK for political gains. In Nottingham(shire) the actions of Militant are evident in the discussions and angry words seen in various local newssheets.

 

Nottingham had its fair share of direct action, including the invasion of the City Council Chambers by activists dressed at Robin Hood characters, which resulted in prison time and other extraordinary sentences for the outrageous ‘custard-pieing’ of councillors with paper plates topped with shaving foam while they were setting the rates for the city. Later a Nottingham Defence Campaign was formed, alongside the London-based Trafalgar Square Defence Campaign, to raise funds for those arrested locally as well as during the huge demonstration in London which became known as the ‘Poll Tax Riot’ of March 1990. Nottingham saw a number of high profile imprisonments for non-payment after a lengthy campaign to delay the courts by bringing ‘friends’ into hearings and the rehearsing of long-winded speeches to be given in the open sessions.

 

The long and protracted efforts to defeat the tax, fought with an excellent degree of solidarity, were ultimately a success, accelerating the eventual end of the Thatcher regime. Millions paid little or no Poll Tax, and the struggle marks one of the most significant mass grass roots movements in twentieth century Britain.

 

Our Poll Tax collection

The Nest’s collection includes a large number of published and unpublished documents as well as stickers, videos, photographs and assorted ephemera. We are also proud to be looking after two of the original local group banners from the time.

 

Having made a small amount of materials accessible in 2010, when we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the struggle with a very fun commemoration at the Nest, another decade later we have returned to our grown collections.

 

Please find below a list of digitised materials. Most of these records were produced locally, documenting e.g. the activities of Nottingham(shire) based community groups, but many others were collected at demonstrations, conferences etc. all over Britain.

 

Please note that a considerable amount of materials are not eligible for digitisation as they contain non published information. These materials can be made accessible to researchers upon request.  Furthermore, a number of items could not be digitised for technical reasons (size of posters etc.), but are being kept with the digitised material and are available to researchers.

 

Furthermore, please be aware that numerous other publications from the time also covered events from the start, local papers like Nottingham Anarchist News as well as non-regional publications like Organise! So if you want to dig deeper into our vaults, there is plenty more to be found (search e.g. Poll Tax and tick “Digital Library only”).

 

Jump to

Newspapers, bulletins, etc.

   3D

   All Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation Bulletin

   Axe the Tax

   Fight Back

   Nottingham Arrow

   Nottingham Defence Campaign Newsletter

   Nottingham Evening Post

   Poll Axe

   Poll Tax Prisoners News

   Refuse and Resist

   Stand Firm

   Various

Leaflets

Pamphlets

Posters and other

Newspapers, bulletins, etc.

3D

3D - Don't pay! Don't collect! Don't implement! #01

3D - Don't pay! Don't collect! Don't implement! #02

3D - Don't pay! Don't collect! Don't implement! #03

3D - Don't pay! Don't collect! Don't implement! #04

3D - Don't pay! Don't collect! Don't implement! #05

Yorkshire 3D - Don't pay! Don't collect! Don't implement! #03

All Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation Bulletin

All Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation - Bulletin #01

All Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation - Bulletin #02

All Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation - Bulletin 1991/04-05 #??

All Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation - Bulletin May 1990…

Axe the Tax

Axe the Tax #01 (Sherwood and District Anti-Poll Tax Campaign, 1989)

Axe the Tax #02 (Sherwood and District Anti-Poll Tax Campaign, 1990)

Fight Back

Fight Back! #01 (St Ann's Anti Poll Tax Union)

Fight Back! #02 (St Ann's Anti Poll Tax Union)

Fight Back! #?? (St Ann's Anti Poll Tax Union)

Nottingham Arrow

Partial digitisation only.

Nottingham Arrow 1989/09

Nottingham Arrow 1990/02

Nottingham Arrow 1990/04

Nottingham Arrow Supplement - Getting Ready for the Poll Tax (1989)

Nottingham Defence Campaign Newsletter

Nottingham Defence Campaign Newsletter 1990/04 #01

Nottingham Defence Campaign Newsletter 1990/07 #02

Nottingham Defence Campaign Newsletter 1991/01 #??

Nottingham Defence Campaign Newsletter 1991/04-05 #??

Nottingham Evening Post

Articles and photographs, especially regarding the ‘custard pie’ protest in the Council House. Partial digitisation.

Nottingham Evening Post 1990/02/14

Nottingham Evening Post 1990/03/05

Nottingham Evening Post 1990/03/06

Nottingham Evening Post 1990/03/07

Nottingham Evening Post 1990/03/08

Nottingham Evening Post 1990/03/09

Nottingham Evening Post 1990/03/14

Nottingham Evening Post 1990/04/02

Nottingham Evening Post 1990/11/28

Poll Axe

Poll-Axe #01 Newsletter of the Forest Fields & Hyson Green Anti-Poll Tax Campaign

Poll-Axe #02 Newsletter of the Forest Fields & Hyson Green Anti-Poll Tax Campaign

Poll-Axe #03 Newsletter of the Forest Fields & Hyson Green Anti-Poll Tax Campaign

Poll-Axe #04 Newsletter of the Forest Fields & Hyson Green Anti-Poll Tax Campaign

Poll-Axe Special Issue 1990/04-05

Poll-Axe #05 Newsletter of the Forest Fields & Hyson Green Anti-Poll Tax Campaign

Poll-Axe Special Issue 1991/04

Poll-Axe #06 Newsletter of the Forest Fields & Hyson Green Anti-Poll Tax Campaign

Poll-Axe Special Issue 1991/09-10

Poll Tax Prisoners News

Poll Tax Prisoners News 1991/?? (Poll Tax Prisoners Support Network, Trafalgar Square Defendants' Campaign)

Poll Tax Prisoners News 1991/09 (Poll Tax Prisoners Support Network, Trafalgar Square Defendants' Campaign)

Poll Tax Prisoners News 1992/01-02 (Poll Tax Prisoners Support Network, Trafalgar Square Defendants' Campaign)

Refuse and Resist

Refuse and Resist #02 (1990)

Refuse and Resist #04 (1990)

Refuse and Resist #05 (1990)

Refuse and Resist #06 (1991)

Stand Firm

Stand Firm #03 (Trafalgar Square Defendants' Campaign, 1990)

Stand Firm #04 (Trafalgar Square Defendants' Campaign, 1990)

Stand Firm #05 (Trafalgar Square Defendants' Campaign, 1991)

Stand Firm #06 (Trafalgar Square Defendants' Campaign, 1991)

Various

Aspley Anti-Poll Tax Union Newsletter #??

Beeston Anti Poll Tax Union Newsletter #??

Community Resistance Against The Poll Tax

Fight the Poll Tax! #24 (London Against the Poll Tax)

Poll Tax News #?? (AK Press?, 1991)

Sneinton Anti-Poll Tax Union #01

Somerset Clarion 1991/07

Stockbridge New Town Anti Poll Tax News (Stockbridge/New Town Anti Poll Tax Group)

(Stockbridge/New Town) Anti Poll Tax News (Stockbridge/New Town Anti Poll Tax Group)

Trafalgar Square Defendants' Campaign Newsletter #02 (1990)

Woodlands Against The Poll Tax News 1989/Autumn

Woodlands Against The Poll Tax News 1990/01-02

Leaflets

Assorted leaflets and other information materials regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by Rushcliffe against the Poll Tax.

Assorted leaflets and other information materials regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by Nottinghamshire Anti Poll Tax Federation.

Assorted leaflets and other information materials regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by anti-Poll Tax groups from Basford, Bestwood, Beeston and the SDAPTC.

Assorted leaflets and other information materials regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by Sherwood and District Anti Poll Tax Campaign.

Assorted leaflets and other information materials regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by SNAPT South Notts Against The Poll Tax.

Assorted leaflets and other information materials regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by Radford Against The Poll Tax.

Assorted leaflets and other information materials regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by Nottingham Defence Fund.

Assorted leaflets and other information materials regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by St Anns Anti Poll Tax Union.

Assorted leaflets and other information materials regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by Lenton and Dunkirk Anti Poll Tax Union.

Assorted leaflets and other information materials regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by Forest Fields/Hyson Green Anti-Poll Tax Campaign.

Assorted leaflets and other information materials regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by Labour Against the Poll Tax.

Assorted leaflets and other information materials regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by assorted groups, mostly local.

Assorted leaflets and other information materials regarding the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by Nottingham City Council.

Assorted leaflets and other information materials regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by ACF/AF Anarchist Communist Federation/Anarchist Federation.

Assorted leaflets and other information materials regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by All Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation.

Assorted leaflets and other information materials regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by Trafalgar Square Defendants Campaign.

Assorted leaflets and other information materials regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by assorted, non-local, groups.

Assorted small size leaflets promoting fundraising events supporting the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by assorted groups, many local.

Assorted small size leaflets promoting events and demonstrations (etc.), regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by assorted groups, many local.

Assorted small size leaflets offering information materials regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by assorted groups, many local.

Assorted bustcards and direct action related legal briefings relating to the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, produced by assorted groups.

No Poll Tax Here (DAM)

Support the Poll Tax Prisoners (Trafalgar Square Defendants' Campaign)

Pamphlets

ACAB Press: Poll Tax Riot

AF/ACF: Beating the Poll Tax (1990)

AF/ACF: The Poll Tax and How to Fight it

Avon Defence Campaign, Trafalgar Square Defendants' Campaign: Solidarity with Poll Tax Prisoners (1991)

Child Poverty Action Group: A Tax On All The People (1987)

Department of the Environment: The Community Charge - (The So-Called 'Poll Tax'): How it will work for you (1989)

ILP: Pole-Axe The Poll Tax (1987)

LDR Labour Research Department: The Poll Tax - What it will mean for people in England and Wales (1990)

Liberty: Privacy and the Poll Tax - Your rights and the law in England and Wales (1989)

NALGO: The Truth About The Poll Tax (1989)

Poll Tax Poems from Nottingham (1992)

Scottish Anti-Poll Tax Federation, Strathclyde Anti-Poll Tax Federation: The Coming of the Poll Tax - No Poll Tax Here - This Far And No Further (1989)

Trafalgar Square Defendants' Campaign: Preliminary Report on the Policing of the Anti-Poll Tax Demonstration of October 20th

Workers' Power: The Great Poll Tax Robbery (1989)

Posters and other

All Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation Conference Agenda 1990

Assorted postcards and Xmas/Christmas cards related to the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge.

Assorted posters regarding the campaigns against the Poll Tax/Community Charge, many local.

Nottinghamshire Welfare Rights: The Community Charge (Poll Tax) - Nottinghamshire Welfare Rights Service Training Programme 1989-1990