1.1 The Poll Tax was controversial because
everyone would pay the same rich or poor.
1.2 Opposition quickly began and
1.3 Surveys showed that more than
70% of the population would be
1.4 People in rented accommodation lost out.
2 Protest or Resistance
2.1 The Poll Tax was first introduced in Scotland-
people had different ideas on how to protest.
The trade unions organised posters, speeches
and protest marches.
2.2 Other groups in Scotland decided to
refuse to pay tax.
2.3 Some protested legally (protest
marches etc.) but some
protested illegally (refuse to
2.4 It was estimated that £2.5 billion of the tax was
still unpaid. Around 18 million people refused
to pay the fine- some even went to prison in
2.5 The protest were more spontaneously organised than in other
protests by APTU's (anti-poll tax unions). The first of the APTUs
was set up in Maryhill, Glasgow in April 1987- by !989 it had over
3 What did the APTUs do ? (Anti-Poll Tax Union)
3.1 The ATPUs helped people who did not
pay the poll tax and produced leaflets
giving information about non-payment
and how to avoid bailiffs seizing goods.
3.2 They produced handmade
posters and spray painted
walls to publicise resistance.
3.3 They made t-shirts,
badges and mugs
with anti-poll tax
3.4 APTUs also provided legal advice
which often led to cases being
3.5 Only 120 people were
put in prison for not
paying Poll Tax
4 The Battle of Trafalgar Square. 31 March 1990.
4.1 APTUs linked up to form regional federations across
Britain called the All-Britain Anti Poll Tax Federation. This
is one example of national organisation-but most of the
protests were spontaneous.
4.2 The All British Federation
decided to hold a national
demonstration in London on
31st March 1990.
4.3 There were no major national leaders of the Poll Tax
Protest- the protests grew out of a small local organisations
representing lots of different ideas.
4.4 The demonstration in London was called for
the 31st March 1990- the organisation had no
idea that 200,000 people would turn up (they
were expecting 20,000)
4.5 The protest was peaceful with young
families, pensioners and young people.
4.6 20 pensioners began a
sit-down outside downing
street- when they were
refused permission to hand
in a petition- a small group
tried to get over the
barricades at the end of
4.7 As the day continued clashes between police and protestors became more
4.8 Mounted police with riot
batons charged at the
crowd and bottles, rocks
and sticks were thrown at
4.9 About 3,000 demonstrators remained and a major riot
broke out which spread to the West End. Cars were
damaged, shop windows smashed and shops looted
4.10 By the end of the day, 341
people were arrested and
542 police officers were
injured. There were no
records of demonstrators
being injured- but many were.
5 The end of the
5.1 Police were criticised for their methods during the riots on 31st March
1990. After the riots the campaign grew I strength and protests against
the poll tax continued across the country.
5.2 Conservative MPs were concerned about their
unpopularity and did badly in local elections in May 1990.
Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister in November 1990,
She was replaced by John Major.
5.3 In April 1991, John Major ended the
poll tax and said it would be
replaced by a new council tax.
5.4 The media in the poll tax protest tended to report the refusal of people to pay the tax
and the various local campaigns. Some newspapers criticised the Trafalgar Square
riots but were generally sympathetic towards the Poll Tax protestors.
5.5 After 31st March 1990, man
newspapers took a strong line
against those involved- they
printed photographs of
demonstrators the police wanted
5.6 TV footage was broadcasted
which showed demonstrators
being deliberately hit by police
vans or trampled by horses.