Poem Commemorates Poll Tax Resistance Campaign

, Margaret Thatcher’s government instituted the dreaded “poll tax” in England. It was widely-loathed and widely-resisted, in a campaign that not only ended the tax but probably Thatcher’s government as well.

The folks at kindandgenerous productions bring us a poem by Adrian Johnson (billed as the poet laureate of Birmingham) composed to commemorate the tax resistance struggle:

Still, no poll tax, eh?

Wat Tyler lost his head for it
a prime minister lost her job for it
thousands went to court against it
Trafalgar Square heaved with life and love and protest to stop it
civil courts got right shirty, filled with anger, ideas and spirit
for what’s right and fair and will power — to just not pay it
bailiff’s got over time, short shrift and rarely could collect it
MP’s sniffed the air and mumbled — far too late — ‘Now we’ve done it.”
Leaflets, banners and street protest said what they could do with it
friendships made and courage raised, together we could fix it,
stuff it, beat it, sod it
that flagship idea that spawned a mutinous flotilla
got scuttled by anger and laughter — stood together
mother, son and daughter
they knew what was right, wanted something better
Twenty years later, you’d hardly believe it
those passionate millions that stood against it
wouldn’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t’ave’ad paid it
the tax that came in just one size for the duke in his mansion
and dustman in his terrace
that shook us into action and life — and though overlooked by history
we can remember…
now and then, our story
remember, the laughter, friendship and life
standing up for something better
and still, no poll tax, here.

Many war tax resisters take the money the government wants from them and they give it instead to “alternative funds.” Sometimes these funds donate the money they receive from resisters to groups doing good. Other times these funds hold the money in escrow until such time as the government seizes assets from the resister or (don’t laugh) gives up its evil ways — meanwhile, donating any interest or returns on investments from the funds to charity.

Some of these charity give-aways are coming up. For example: The Oregon Community of War Tax Resistance is having their redirection ceremony on , while the People’s Life Fund of Northern California is awarding their grants as part of the upcoming National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee national gathering coming up in Berkeley and Oakland in .