THE poll tax was denounced as “morally wicked” and a “heinous sin” at the launch in Glasgow, on October 20, 1987, of what was described as the most substantial campaign so far to the Conservative government’s planned replacement for domestic rates

Brian Wilson, Labour MP for Cunninghame North and chairman of Stop It, the Scottish Campaign Against the Poll Tax, said the new government levy represented “a shameless transfer of wealth” away from those who had least to those who had most. It was not just politically wrong but morally wicked, he added.

The campaign aimed to provide a vehicle for the “massive public hostility” to the poll tax to be channelled into practical activity, and to demonstrate to the Thatcher Government the scale of the opposition. It was expected, Mr Wilson added, that a national day of protest would be held, involving a substantial Scottish petition and other action.

The nationwide campaign, backed by the Labour Party in Scotland, was supported by sports, literary and showbiz figures, and by academics and church people.

The launch at Transport House in Glasgow ended with the entertainer Elaine C Smith leading the singing of a medley of anti-poll tax songs.

Scottish Office Minister of State, Ian Lang, indicated that his colleagues would not be swayed by what he termed “shrill scaremongering and posturing”.

He praised the poll tax as “founded in fairness, rooted in justice and enshrined in law”, and promised that the Scottish Tories would keep faith with the hundreds of thousands of Scottish taxpayers who, he said, were suffering from the injustices of the present system. “We know their plight and we will not forget them. We will provide the help to which they are entitled.”

To the so-called winners under the new system, Mr Wilson said the question needed to be asked: “Do you want this latest tax handout so badly that you are prepared to grasp it at the expense of the disabled, the frail elderly, the fragile family, the young unemployed?”