Now, Tory MP Malcolm Rifkind has put the record straight in a letter to The Scotsman -although a well-known anti-English bigot himself, and therefore agreeing with the majority of David Cameron's bile, Mr Rifkind does not let the Poll Tax myth pass unchallenged. Will David Cameron now have the good grace to apologise for his disgraceful outburst, for misinforming the Scots, and fuelling further anti-English hatred in Scotland?
Or will it take further incidents of seven-year-old kids being thumped or disabled people being dragged from their cars before Mr Cameron realises that inciting hatred against the English in Scotland is simply not on?
Mr Rifkind's letter from The Scotsman (22/9/2006)...
I have read your report (16 September) of David Cameron’s remarks, and I very much agree with his general observations. But you report him as saying, on the community charge or poll tax, that “the decision to treat Scotland as a laboratory for experimentation in new methods of local government finance was clumsy and unjust”.
It has sometimes been suggested that the decision to introduce the poll tax in Scotland a year earlier than in England was to enable it to be tested. This is untrue, as those active in Scottish politics at the time will confirm.
The background is well known. Scotland, which had suffered a rates revaluation, was in uproar about the unfairness of the domestic rates system. Rates were also unpopular in England and the government decided to abolish them and replace them with the community charge or poll tax throughout Britain.
For various technical reasons it was going to take much longer for the legislation to be prepared in England than in Scotland. George Younger, who was then Scottish secretary, persuaded the Cabinet that the legislation should be introduced as soon as possible in Scotland and should not have to wait until the English were ready. His Cabinet colleagues accepted this request.
At no time was its timing pressed on Scottish Office ministers by Margaret Thatcher or English colleagues.
I, and my colleagues, have long recognised that the introduction of the poll tax throughout Britain was a serious political mistake. Introducing it a year earlier in Scotland was also a mistake, as we should have anticipated the damaging claim, however incorrect, that the government was using Scotland to test the new reform.
That does not alter the historical reality that the earlier introduction in Scotland, wise or foolish, was decided by Scottish Office ministers because of the unpopularity of domestic rates and not because of any pressure from Mrs Thatcher or other colleagues.
(SIR) MALCOLM RIFKIND, MP
House of Commons
Cameron should apologise to everybody in England.
And then resign. His raging Anglophobia makes him unfit to be Conservative party leader. Perhaps he could join New Labour?
More on the Poll Tax history here.
Hat tip to the England Project.
Greg from Cumbria - howdy!
I hate the way English MPs and England were blamed for "forcing" the Poll Tax onto Scotland early. I remember that smug Australian Clive James stating on TV that the current situation was "Scotland's revenge for the Poll Tax". Stupid man.
Now at last the truth is being publicised - and, by the way, Cameron is not the only one guilty of blackening the reputation of English MPs in Scotland over the Poll Tax. A few years ago, Tony Blair was up there, going on about the West Lothian Question and saying that it was "not the same as English MPs railroading the Poll Tax through in Scotland". I think it was quoted on the CEP site or News Blog
It's not just David Cameron who should be apologising!
Thanks, Greg. Anybody got a copy of the Blair comment?
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