Campaign Against Household and Water Tax public meetings held this week in Waterford (700), Carlow (400) and elsewhere clearly show a growing mood of angry opposition to the Government’s household tax.
The tax is clearly seen as both an “austerity” tax which will not improve local services one iota but will serve to pay the bill for the bank bondholder bailout and as a “gateway tax” which will lead on to property taxes on the family home (2013) and water tax (2014).
The Campaign is being seen by growing numbers of ordinary people as offering a chance to draw a line in the sand and demonstrate opposition to further austerity measures.
Clearly, the potential to build nationwide, mass, organised non-payment of the tax is opening up. This is the key to defeating the tax. Mass, organised non-payment was the key to defeating Thatcher’s poll tax in Britain in the late 80s/early 90s and to achieving the abolition of water charges in this state in the mid-1990s.
The mass meetings now taking place around the country must prioritise building powerful networks of local activists to leaflet their areas and knock on doors and spread the message of non-payment.
The Socialist Party believes that the growing mood of anger and the Government’s imminent plans to leaflet every house in the state on the issue provide another opportunity to the Campaign now.
The Government’s leaflet drop is likely to be accompanied by a propaganda offensive in the media which uses the threat of fines and the fear factor as a key weapon. While fears and concern will no doubt increase in the wake of such an offensive so too can peoples’ anger and the mood for protest can develop.
The Campaign should tap into this mood and facilitate protest. This can feed into and boost the campaign for organised, mass non-payment. This has been shown in Cork where 250 supporters of the Campaign turned out on Feb 3 to picket Enda Kenny’s dinner at City Hall with the Chamber of Commerce.
The Campaign’s National Steering Committee meets this weekend. The Socialist Party believes that the committee should name the date for a Day of Protest throughout the country, possibly (depending on the timescale of the Govternment leaflet drop) on Saturday Feb 25. This could take the form of mass binning of the Government literature and, in the cities and where big numbers assemble to do so, potentially the organising of protest marches. Given the fact that occupations and sit-ins have been put on the agenda by the global Occupy movement, the Vita Cortex workers and the La Senza workers, occupation of TDs’ clinics, council meetings etc should also be considered.
Protest should never be used as a substitute for building mass non-payment but, handled correctly, mass non-payment and protest are complementary tactics and the Campaign should embrace both as the fight against the tax is stepped up in the weeks ahead.
Since publication of this article the National Steering Committee of the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes met and has called a national day of action (stalls etc) for Saturday February 18th, a series of Public Meetings accross the country, and a Nationwide Day of Protests on February 25th.