Sunday, 26 February 2017

Poll Position

It is important that Michael Heseltine cites his opposition to the Poll Tax as the precedent for his impending rebellion against Brexit.

The Poll Tax had put the Conservatives anything up to 20 points behind a Labour Party the Leader of which had offered that levy nothing more than formal Opposition.

The mass campaign of demonstration and non-payment had been organised by Neil Kinnock's archenemies, the Militant Tendency, which to this day crows that it brought down Margaret Thatcher.

In her autobiography, she bitterly endorsed that view, calling the abandonment of the Poll Tax the biggest surrender that the British State had ever made to the Far Left.

The Poll Tax was replaced with the nearest thing to the rates that Heseltine and John Major dared to introduce while hoping to retain any semblance of dignity.

Meanwhile, actual policy on Europe, rather than a single outburst in the heat of a single parliamentary moment, remained unchanged.

Thatcher then, out of office, adopted a Eurosceptical view. But it bore no resemblance to anything that she had ever done in practice as Prime Minister.

That had just been the excuse.

In truth, it had been about the Poll Tax, about domestic policy, about the money in people's monthly pay packets.

What will be Theresa May's Poll Tax? As an excuse, Brexit is ready and waiting.


  1. Those two points are very rarely made: Thatcher's Euroscepticism was only after she left office and incompatible with her record in it, and the idea that she was deposed over Europe is denied in her own memoirs where she blames the Militant campaign against the Poll Tax for bringing her down.

    1. More or less everyone does now take that second point as a given. A couple of newspaper columnists might still dispute it for effect, and their fanboys might do so in all seriousness. But that is all.

      And that does entail accepting that Thatcher was brought down by Militant on the streets. As she herself was adamant that she had been.