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March 31, 2013

Thousands take to streets protesting \’ratbag\’s Bedroom Tax

Thousands take to streets protesting ‘ratbag’s Bedroom Tax

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Protester at Edinburgh’s anti ‘bedroom-tax’ demonstration.

Protesters assembling around the modern art in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh with Jenners department store in the background.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Demonstrations took place across the UK over the holiday weekend, echoing the message personally delivered to Iain Duncan Smith at a Capita-sponsored talk last week. Chants of “Axe, axe, axe the bedroom tax” could be clearly heard throughout Edinburgh’s demonstration. At the end of his minute-long tirade at the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Willie Black labelled Duncan Smith a “ratbag”; several people turned up with this printed on their tee shirts.

Wikinews photographed the march from Edinburgh’s St. Andrew’s Square to the Scottish Parliament. Various estimates put the number in-attendance between 1,200 and 1,600.

Other protests took place in London, with an estimated 1,000 at Trafalgar Square and Downing street. Glasgow saw around 2,500 take to the streets. Those demonstrating equated the package of changes that see benefit rises at a below-inflation 1%, and housing benefit cut by 14% for those with one spare room, 25% if they have two or more spare rooms, with the ‘poll tax’ which saw riots in England during Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister.

Head of the UK’s National Housing Federation David Orr commented: “It’s bad policy, it’s bad economics, it’s bad for hundreds of thousands of ordinary people whose lives will be made difficult for no benefit — and I think it’s about to become profoundly bad politics.”

With the policy coming into effect now, protesters are intent on a “can’t pay, won’t pay” civil disobedience campaign.

Images from the Edinburgh protest

Panoramic shot of the protesters gathering outside the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

There was a widespread belief amonst the protesters that the cuts being imposed by Westminster are the upper-class attempting to reassert themselves.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Protesters gathering in Edinburgh’s St. Andrew’s Square.
Image: Brian McNeil.

One protester’s hand-made signs demands rent controls.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The ‘Yes’ campaign for Scottish independence attended.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Some Edinburgh members of the UNISON union joined the march.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The Grim Reaper puts in an appearance at parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The Scottish Green Party‘s banner arriving at Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Protesters setting off from St. Andrew’s Square, marching to the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Police, who gave an on-the-spot estimate of 1,200 at Parliament, prepare to close streets for the march.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Protesters walking out of St. Andrew’s Square, with wheelchair user’s sign reading “Do you want my carer to sleep in my bed?”
Image: Brian McNeil.

Marchers line up whilst press talk to police in-attendance.
Image: Brian McNeil.

“Axe the Tax”, a popular slogan and chant during the march.
Image: Brian McNeil.

St John’s Episcopal Church, at Edinburgh’s West-End, has a mural skewering the tax with a religious theme.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Many disabled people face benefit cuts over a spare bedroom a carer may sleep in a few nights each week.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The march heads down towards Princes Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Princes Street, with the Scott Monument in the background.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The head of the march passing the £310-a-night Balmoral Hotel
Image: Brian McNeil.

The march waits as the last people join from St. Andrew’s Square.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Press, foreground, photographing protesters sitting in the road.
Image: Brian McNeil.

More join the sit-down protest.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The march moves up onto Regent Road, which skirts the city’s Calton Hill.
Image: Brian McNeil.

View of the march from the foot of the steps to the City Observatory.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The march towards the Scottish Parliament with the city skyline as a backdrop.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The march around Calton Hill passes the Dugald Stewart Monument.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Slogans and visuals on placards equate David Cameron with Margaret Thatcher.
Image: Brian McNeil.

There is genuine anger behind some of the messages aimed at Westminster, by people who feel they are being penalised to enrich bankers and the country’s richest.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pro-Scottish independence supporters arriving at parliament; many feel the current UK government does not represent Scotland, which returned only on Tory MP at the last election.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The lead marchers stopped several times to allow people to catch up, but some gaps between groups were noticeable when arriving at the Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Passing the gates to Holyrood Palace.
Amongst the chants during the march were “They say cutback, we say fight back.”, “Tory, tory tory, scum, scum, scum!” and “We won’t pay your bedroom tax!”
Image: Brian McNeil.

All ages took part in the march to the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Many see the bedroom tax as a policy which would not be in-place were the country independent.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Edinburgh’s James Connolly society arriving at the Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A small section of the crowd assembled at the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Occupy protesters rub shoulders with ‘Yes’ campaign supporters, observed by part of the contingent of Lothian and Borders Police in attendance.
Image: Brian McNeil.



Sources

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April 17, 2006

British National Party to tempt voters in May local elections

British National Party to tempt voters in May local elections

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Monday, April 17, 2006

In the run up to the UK’s May local elections, attention has again been drawn to the British National Party (BNP). Party spokesman and councillor candidate for the Fulham Broadway area of London Steven Tyler stated “Now we are a party with sensible policies which have made us much more electable than in the past,”

The BNP local election manifesto of April 14 outlined the party’s commitment to environmental and tax reforms, with a focus on a zero-tolerance campaign against anti-social behaviour and the removal of what the BNP sees as preferential treatment of asylum seekers.

The party has said it will field a total of 365 candidates for local authority seats in the May 4 elections. Currently the BNP has 15 councillors across England and stated at its campaign launch that it intends to add “another 15 or 20” seats.

Research undertaken on behalf of The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust has indicated that up to 25% of people have said that “they might” vote for the BNP. MPs from mainstream parties have admitted that they need to face the challenge presented by the BNP in the May 4 election.

Conservative and Liberal Democrat members have suggested that disillusionment with the government is to blame for the current findings of the report.

Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith told BBC radio 4’s Today program that the BNPs message was gaining headway in disadvantaged areas and identified that “What we have picked up in these very difficult communities is the collapse in the quality of life for so many people”. Duncan Smith went on to say, “The whole sense of the quality of life in these communities has become a rich feeding ground for people who want to stigmatise others as being the cause of this.”

“If voters are unhappy with conventional parties, one of the key reasons is because successive Tory and Labour governments have failed to provide enough affordable housing where families wish to live,” commented Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes. He added that voters should not be taken in by the “simplistic promises” of the BNP.


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