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Theory & History

When Mass Campaigning Defeated the Poll Tax


A Residential School setting in West Linton in the Scottish Borders seems a weird place to start the story of the poll Tax but given the history of it’s demise it is as good a place to start as any.

by Ronnie Stevenson, secretary Mount Florida anti-poll tax union, Glasgow

At a Militant (the forerunner of the Socialist Party in England and Wales and the International Socialists in Scotland.) conference in 1987, called to discuss resistance to the Poll Tax Labour Councillor Chic Stevenson moved that we begin to organise for total defiance of the Poll Tax. The strategy involved arguing for all councillors to refuse to implement the tax and for building support for a mass non-payment campaign should it be implemented. 

The decisions which were taken shaped the campaign over the next few years. The ideas of a mass campaign against the poll tax, for building anti-poll tax unions, for mass organised non-payment and non-compliance by local authorities and council trade unions, and for industrial action to defend those victimised for non-payment or non-implementation were brought together in a Militant pamphlet in April 1988. 

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International Women’s Day – The miners’ strike changed women’s lives

This year is the 30th anniversary of the 1984-85 miners’ strike. An important feature of the strike was the involvement of tens of thousands of women in a huge support network, fundraising and picketing. To mark International Women’s Day 2014 ...

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The 1984/85 miners strike was a civil war without the guns

By Ronnie Stevenson The miner’s strike of 1984/5 has correctly been described as a civil war without guns. That description may be too kind to the ruling class as they did consider using the army, as can be seen from ...

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95 years on: Red Clydeside and The Battle of George Square

Tanks in George Square in 1919

An extract from the pamphlet Red Flag Over the Clyde written by Jim Cameron and produced by Scottish Militant Labour (forerunner of Socialist Party Scotland) in 1994 Posted 31st January 2014. 

"It is a misnomer to call the situation in Glasgow a Strike - this is a Bolshevist uprising." These were the words of the Secretary of State for Scotland to describe what was happening in Glasgow at the beginning of 1919 and in particular, what came to be known as the "Battle of George Square". (see picture opposite of tanks in George Square)

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Review – Lenin’s revolutionary Legacy

‘Lenin’ by Lars T Lih Peter Taaffe, from Socialism Today (No.175, February 2014) In an attempt to answer the description of Lenin by capitalist historians as a brutal dictator, some on the left turn to Lars T Lih. He has tried to ...

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95th anniversary of murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht


By Peter Taaffe, written to commemorate the 90th anniversary in 2009. Posted 15th January 2014

On 15 January 1919, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, the finest brains of the German working class and its most heroic figures, were brutally murdered by the bloodthirsty, defeated German military, backed to the hilt by the cowardly social-democratic leaders Noske and Scheidemann. On this important anniversary, it is vital to look at Luxemburg’s inspirational, revolutionary legacy.

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Chile: 40th anniversary of bloody overthrow of Allende government


Tony Saunois, Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI). Posted 11th September 2013 

The terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001 was not the first ’9/11’. In Chile, on 11 September 1973, a bloody coup, led by General Augusto Pinochet and backed by the US administration, overthrew the democratically-elected, Left government of President Salvador Allende. In its aftermath, thousands of trade unionists and socialists were slaughtered and thousands more imprisoned, tortured and exiled.

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World capitalist crisis leading to mass struggle


Kevin Parslow, Socialist Party (England and Wales). Posted 30th July 2013

"We stand on the eve of convulsive events, the greatest in world history, of which the mighty movements in these countries are the precursor." This was how Peter Taaffe of the CWI’s International Secretariat described the current international situation in the session at this year’s CWI summer School on the ‘Capitalist World in Turmoil – the crisis and the class struggle today’. The "mighty movements" he referred to were the huge protests in Turkey, Brazil, Egypt and South Africa over the last 12 months, which have shown the colossal power of the masses once they move into action. These have followed on from the protests against austerity in Europe of the last few years.

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Let us rise: New book on the 1913 Dublin lockout


Posted 18th July 2013

A new book commemorating the centenary of the Dublin lock-out of 1913 - the titanic struggle by the working class of the city against the employers - has just been produced by the Socialist Party Ireland. The book includes essays on role of women, the solidarity effort in Britain, the revolutionary aftershock and a response by Joe Higgins TD (MP) to Jack O'Connor's (the leader of the Irish TUC) Larkin graveside speech.

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Piper Alpha: The price of profit


By Philip Stott. Posted 27th June 2013

Twenty five years ago, on the 6th July 1988, the Piper Alpha North Sea oil platform was destroyed by a massive explosion and fire which killed 167 workers. Immediately following the catastrophe - the worst ever in the industry - oil workers and union activists inundated the press in Scotland with horror stories about the lack of safety. The OILC trade union (Offshore Industry Liaison Committee) was set-up as a direct result of Piper Alpha and the death of another worker a few weeks later on the Ocean Odyssey platform. The OILC is now part of the RMT trade union with around 2,500 members.

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