Distributed in Cambridge, England, in late 1988 - this was an anti-Poll Tax campaign leaflet. It reveals that the Tax was very much a definite for England from the beginning. Public campaign meetings began on January 2, 1989.
Canon Kenyon Wright is a Scotsman and the Campaign for an English Parliament have huddled around him in recent years because he was first Chairman of the Executive Council of the Scottish Constitutional Convention. All very good, but when the man starts spouting the usual nonsense about why Scotland became quite so disaffected with the old Union, it makes my stomach turn.
No Tory me, quite the reverse, but this sort of nonsense from Canon Kenyon Wright still annoys me intensely:
We in our turn, pointed out that, while the votes of Scottish MPs would have made a difference only for two or three years since the war, the votes of English MPs imposed policies on Scotland for some 50 years. This came to a head when the Thatcher Government not only made us guinea pigs for the Poll Tax, but imposed on us measure after measure which the Scottish people and their Representatives had manifestly and massively rejected.
The Scots had a Secretary of State and it was this Secretary of State, George Younger, who in 1989 requested Scotland have the Poll Tax a year early. And no, Scotland was not a "guinea pig". The Tax was an absolute definite in England as early as 1988. I was part of a campaign (please click on illustration at top of post) which was formed to try and prevent the implementation of the Tax in Cambridge, England. We laid our plans in late 1988 and began meeting in January 1989.
Here's Malcolm Rifkind (in a letter to the Scotsman (22/9/2006),on the subject:
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.
Canon Kenyon Wright speaks a great deal of sense and I urge you to read his speech (here) but this constant nonsense from Scots about the Poll Tax really hacks me off.
Whatever the justification for setting up a Scottish Constitutional Convention, Scotland being used as a "guinea pig" for the Poll Tax is one that holds water with only the most deluded of people.
I find Canon Kenyon Wright's lie downright offensive. There are many of us in England who were beginning the fight back against the Poll Tax in 1988 - and those of us that were there KNOW that it was a definite for England. It's not our fault that George Younger, Scottish Secretary of State, requested it a year early for Scotland.
And in this case, Maggie T, who was as popular with me as rabies, was not to blame.
For more on the Poll Tax, please click on the label below.