By Angela Haggerty
The Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation is “building an army of resistance” to fight potential evictions under the coalition government policy, chair of the federation Tommy Sheridan said at a 3,000-strong rally in Glasgow on Saturday.
The George Square protest attracted local anti-bedroom tax campaign groups from across the country ahead of a rally in Stirling next week at the Conservative party conference.
Mr Sheridan, who was unanimously elected as chair of the Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation, told Newsnet Scotland: “Already in each of all the authorities affected the level of non-payment is an average of 65-70 per cent. That will grow because people’s incomes aren’t improving, they simply can’t afford this cut in their benefit. That non-payment will grow and we’ve got to be prepared to defend anyone that is threatened by a bedroom tax eviction and that’s where we’re building a civil army of disobedience.
“The campaign is growing like a forest fire across the whole of Scotland. This is a movement of ordinary communities, the likes of which I’ve never seen since the poll tax days 24 years ago.
“I would argue this has become a line in the sand issue and that’s why this is getting bigger and bigger. We think this is the beginning of a new civil disobedience campaign that will probably mirror the anti-poll tax campaign.”
Speakers Cheryl Devlin from the PCS union and Brian Smith of the Glasgow City Unison branch called for a general strike in protest at the government’s austerity measures, while representatives from a range of Scotland’s 70 local community anti-bedroom tax groups spoke to the crowd.
Protesters staged an informal march around George Square following the rally speeches after being denied the right to march by Glasgow City Council.
Mr Sheridan called on the Labour party to commit to repealing the Bedroom Tax and said political parties should be ready for further action.
“The next move will be more and more localised meetings and more and more localised organisation because at the end of the day attempted bedroom tax evictions are going to happen in local areas and we need to be organised at a grass roots level.
“This is only one part of our campaign. Each and every one of us has to become organisers, has to become crusaders, has to become the leaders in their local area, their local community.”
The rally was one of a number of demonstrations around the country in protest at the controversial government legislation introduced in April.