Scotland: Anti-bedroom tax federation launched

Over 100 people packed into the Glasgow City Unison Offices on March 13th for a public meeting to build for the Anti-Bedroom Tax demonstration on March 30th. The meeting which brought together people from across the West of Scotland took the decision to launch a West Scotland Federation of Anti Bedroom Tax campaigns.

The meeting heard from well-known Socialist and campaigner Tommy Sheridan, representatives from the Black Triangle Disability Rights Campaign Govan Law Centre. Anti Bedroom campaigners , Alan Wyllie, from the No2theBedroom Tax facebook page and blog, and Nicola Crawford a Socialist Party Scotland member and Unison activist also spoke.

Glasgow City Unison Branch Secretary, Brian Smith, chaired and opened the meeting by drawing the audience’s attention to a message of support from Bin the Bedroom Tax Dundee. The Dundee campaign, initiated by Socialist Party Scotland members have organised well attended public meetings in housing schemes across the city and a major protests of the council earlier in the week which had pressured the SNP council to declare a moratorium on evictions for Bedroom Tax arrears for one year. The message also contained an appeal for the establishment of a nationally co-ordinated campaign and democratic structures to co-ordinate action.

Nicola Crawford outlined her experience of building a campaign in Shawlands and Pollockshaws in the South of Glasgow. After a successful public meeting,street meetings of tenants have increased the spread of the campaign and given confidence to more benefit claimants to get involved. Nicola echoed the sentiment for a national campaign to build resistance to evictions on a mass basis and raised the demand for building program of council housing to meet society’s needs.

Alan Wyllie inspired those present by explaining that he had been politicised by this issue and that he and a group of friends had taken it upon themselves to set up a blog and Facebook campaign and call a demonstration that has won the support of thousands of people. He stressed the importance of the March 30th demonstration and appealed for assistance in calling on Glasgow City Council to allow demonstrators to assemble at George Square.

The speaker from Govan Law Centre gave a graphic picture of the misery that will be inflicted on working class people if this hated benefit cut in implemented. He also urged support for the Law Centre’s petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for a change to Section 16 of the Housing Act to prevent evictions.

John McArdle, from Black Triangle highlighted the divide and rule ideology behind the Con Dem’s austerity program and made a call for all working class people to fight attacks on welfare and the wider cuts.

Lessons of the battle against the poll tax

Tommy Sheridan gave a rousing account of the experience of how millions of working class people “melted the iron lady” by defeating the Poll tax through non-payment and how the lessons of that struggle can play vital role in mobilising resistance to winning the struggle against the Bedroom Tax today.

Tommy said it wasn’t enough for the SNP Scottish Government to just oppose the Bedroom Tax in words and to expect people to wait for the possibility of independence. He called on them to commit to supporting the Govan Law Centre Petition and pointing to the example of the campaigns success in Dundee, he also called for local authorities and housing associations to declare a permanent moratorium on evictions and to write off the debt.

Tommy expressed the anger of those present and in wider society when he pointed to the lifestyles of the super-rich and their politician friends who are implementing this tax on the poorest. He explained that the anger needed to be channelled into mass campaign that could protect those being attacked with “walls of solidarity” built through mass mobilisations involving political and physical resistance to evictions.

After highlighting the need to meet the Con Dem’s ferocious attacks with working class organisation. then moved a resolution calling for the formation of an interim committee to coordinate the demonstration in Glasgow on March 30th. As well as helping to build public meetings and the setting up of local campaigns, prepare a national conference later in the spring, to protest and lobby Tory Minister Iain Duncan Smith who visits Edinburgh on March 27th, to lobby the Scottish Parliament on April 16th in support of the Govan Law Centre petition and commit to defending tenants from evictions.

Abolish the Bedroom Tax!

The campaign calls for the abolition of the Bedroom Tax, the writing off of Bedroom Tax debt and a radical building program of social housing.

This resolution was passed unanimously after a wide ranging discussion from the floor where many present expressed their anger at the Bedroom Tax but also their determination to fight.

People from over twenty different areas in the West of Scotland came forward as representatives for the Steering Committee including Socialist Party Scotland members.

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March 2013