Thousands of people in two Scottish cities took to the streets on 30th March to protest against the bedroom tax, which has now been brought in by the Tory-led government as part of a package of attacks on the welfare state and on the most vulnerable in society. Our correspondents from the Glasgow and Edinburgh Marxist societies provide reports of the demonstrations in these cities against the cuts.
Thousands of people in two Scottish cities took to the streets on 30th March to protest against the bedroom tax. Even conservative estimates put the number at 3,000 in Glasgow and 1,000 in Edinburgh. Protesters said the planned policy will affect the disabled and women the most, and could lead to homelessness and deaths.
The protest in Glasgow was very well attended, where people gathered in Glasgow Green and marched to George Square. Along the route there was vocal support from people at their windows, car drivers and pedestrians. In both Glasgow Green and George Square there were rousing speeches by speakers, including from disability charities and trade unions. Despite problems hearing some of the speakers, the large number of people generated a good vociferous atmosphere. In all, the good numbers and enthusiasm showed by those who attended demonstrated that the public are not this taking this issue lightly and will continue to show dissent.
Pamela Nash, Labour MP for Airdrie and Shotts, backed the protests, stating: “I joined Cllrs David Fagan, Alan Clinch and Michael Ross and the thousands of people who marched in Glasgow and throughout the UK today against the Bedroom Tax. This is a disgraceful, badly thought-out policy and the Tory-led government should do the right thing, admit that they got it completely wrong and abandon it immediately.
“North Lanarkshire Council, has over 5,500 tenants affected by the Bedroom Tax, but as of last month, only 26 one-bedroom houses available for rent. The government wants people to give up their ‘spare’ rooms, but they have nowhere else to go. This policy will simply cut their benefits.
“Tory policy appears to be to cut the benefits of the poorest in our society at the same time as they give tax breaks to the rich; attacking the most vulnerable when they need support.”
Nash added: “The strength of feeling shown over the last year, and culminating today in the demonstrations across the country, should be listened to by the Tories and Lib Dems. They should axe the Bedroom Tax now.”
In Edinburgh, the march got off to a poor start when protesters were directed down an empty back road to the parliament, instead of a visible march through the city centre. Once outside the Scottish parliament, there were speeches from figures within the movement. Kelly Parry, from the National Union of Students, said: “The cuts that are going to come in are going to disproportionately affect women. We need to fight back so that never again will the people of this country be robbed by Westminster.”
A large number of pro-independence supporters also attended the rally. However, the speech from a YES Scotland speaker was met a subdued response from the crowd. According to a Labour contact there were members of the party present, but in ‘civilian dress’.
For further analysis on the bedroom tax and other attacks on welfare, see here.