The campaign against the poll tax

[Taken from the first issue of Notts Indypendent.]

On March 5th 1990, Nottingham City Council, then as now Labour-led, met to set the poll tax rate for the city. Protesters burst into the council chamber dressed as Robin Hood. Several councillors were custard pied and the campaigners were removed by the police.

Disruption continued throughout the meeting with the viewing gallery packed with opponents to the tax and adorned with anti-poll tax banners.

Despite expert evidence that custard pies were not dangerous, the Magistrate failed to see the funny side and two of the campaigners involved in the invasion were sent to prison.

This action was part of a wave of protests, disruptions and riots at council meetings across the country which set the scene for the infamous protest and riot in Trafalgar Square at the end of March, the day before the tax was to come into force in England and Wales.

Nottingham was at the forefront of the campaign against the hugely unpopular poll tax and was reportedly fourth in the national league for non-payment. Official figures showed that one third of people weren’t paying.

The campaign against the poll tax would ultimately be successful, with PM Margaret Thatcher driven from office and the tax repealed.

To mark the twentieth-anniversary of the anti-poll tax struggle, Notts Radical History Group are recording interviews with people involved in the campaign so that their experiences are not lost. If you would like to get involved, please get in touch. Email: peopleshistreh [at]

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