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Can't Pay, Won't Pay

Can't Pay, Won't Pay

The Fight to Stop the Poll Tax

Simon Hannah

A history of the social movement that brought down Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Thirty years ago, a social movement helped bring down one of the most powerful British Prime Ministers of the 20th Century. For the 30th anniversary of the Poll Tax rebellion, Simon Hannah looks back on those tumultuous days of resistance, telling the story of the people that beat the bailiffs, rioted for their rights and defied a government.

Starting in Scotland where the 'Community Charge' was first trialled, Can't Pay, Won't Pay immerses the reader in the gritty history of the rebellion. Amidst the drama of large scale protests and blockaded estates a number of key figures and groups emerge: Neil Kinnock and Tommy Sheridan; Militant, Class War and the Metropolitan Police.

Assessing this legacy today, Hannah demonstrates the centrality of the Poll Tax resistance as a key chapter in the history of British popular uprisings, Labour Party factionalism, the anti-socialist agenda and failed Tory ideology.

Simon Hannah is a writer and political activist. He is the author of A Party with Socialists in It (Pluto, 2018). His work has been featured in Open Democracy and New Left Project. He is an active trade unionist and a member of the Labour Party.

'Simon Hannah tells the story of a great popular upsurge that brought down a hated Tory leader. We need this history of the poll tax revolt like never before. A must-read for every activist' - Neil Faulkner, author of 'A Radical History of the World'

'Simon's book is a lucid and valuable contribution to the rich history of the anti-poll tax movement and gives a heartfelt voice to the millions of non-payers who brought Thatcher down' - Steve Nally, Former Secretary of the All Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation

'A timely reminder that if the working class is to defend itself it cannot afford to wait for Labour. It must rely on its own power and independent organisation as much as holding its leaders to account' - Red Flag magazine

1. A Brief History of Tax Resistance and Revolutions
2. Why a Poll Tax?
3. Scotland
4. Debates Over Strategy
5. The Resistance Begins
6. The Battle of Trafalgar (Square)
7. A Ragtag Army
8. Endgame
9. Social Movements, Class and Strategy
Conclusions: A System Shaken or Broken?
Published by Pluto Press in Mar 2020
Paperback ISBN: 9780745340814
Hardcover ISBN: 9780745340852
eBook ISBN: 9781786806055

192 pages

135mm x 215mm