McFadden catalogued Mayfest‘s growth - from the skinny 30 events and £70,000 turnover of 1983 to its current ample-bodied ‘city-wide spectacular with a turnover of £1 million’ - while William Burdett-Coutts introduced this year‘s highlights. The key-word to the event-planning. he said, was ‘populism‘. To that end, the conclusions of the audience survey conducted last year have been brought into play: there are now as many popular music events as there are theatrical ones. There is a heavy emphasis on community events, and some of Mayfest‘s major acts, like the Chicago company, Free Street Theatre, switch between the community and the general programmes.
Theatrical highlights which have not been seen before in Scotland promise to be the Philip Glass Ensemble‘s 1000Airplanes On The Roof; the afore-mentioned Free Street Theatre (whose show Project! is about a violence-riddled Chicago housing estate and is performed by residents); The Citizens‘ Theatre‘s A Tale of Two Cities; Iain Heggie‘s American Bagpipes from the Royal Court Theatre Company; Wildcat‘s Harmony Row (a play about the poll tax); Tarragon Theatre‘s The Real World? and Argentinian Teatro Del Sur‘s Tango Varsoviano (visiting Mayfest before it goes to London‘s National Theatre).
On the dance front, Pauline Daniels (from the Netherlands), Frenchman Philippe Decouﬂe and the Stephen Petronio Company (from the USA) are all British premiere scoops for Mayfest.
Maya Angelou, a sell-out in Edinburgh in the past, makes her Glasgow debut and ‘dub‘ poets Jean ‘Binta‘ Breeze and Benjamin Zephaniah appear together to perform their people‘s poetry.
An abundance ofvisual art shows (generally organised by the galleries themselves under Mayfest‘s umbrella), large music programmes, a substantial range ofcabaret performers, plenty of children‘s shows and a season of new films at Glasgow Film Theatre combine with community performances and workshops to make a fat package for all tastes. Some shows (like the Georgian Film Actors‘ Studio‘s Don Juan, Peta Lily in Wendy Darling and The Fairer Sax) we‘ve seen somewhere before, but that will not impair enjoyment.
But the event that is bound to get most attention is the launch of the inimitable George Wyllie‘s paper boat. Having blessed the hearts of his sponsors, the sculptor introduced a model of his forthcoming 100 foot by 40 foot creation: ‘It‘s a piece of high tech design. It will be the greatest thing launched on the Clyde since the Queen Mary. This Glasgow statement will go on to Liverpool and London. It‘s causing the Clyde Port Authorities a lot ofsleepless nights.’
Glasgow Mayfest will run from 30 April—20 May. Look out for The List‘s special preview issues, with comprehensive listings, features and news.
After many months of raging controversy, the Poll Tax is finally due to be implemented this fortnight. In an attempt to dispel confusion, Andrew Burnet outlines the arguments.
April 1 is not only All Fool‘s Day, it's the day on which domestic rates are replaced by the Community Charge, better known as the Poll Tax. To help counteract the confusion surrounding its imposition, we contacted the people with big axes to gnnd.
In his statement to The List, Ian Lang, the Minister ofState at the Scottish Office responsible for Local Government Finance, explains the Tax as follows: ‘Everyone benefits from council services but less than halfof the adult population paid domestic rates. The community charge is fairer because it spreads the burden of paying for local services across the community. Also, local democracy gains because those who will now pay will have to become more aware of the spending decisions taken on their behalf.‘
Despite the popular idea that homeowners are alone in paying towards local services, the fact is that tenants have long contributed to domestic rates. Ifyou‘ve ever filled in a Housing Benefit form you‘ll remember being asked what proportion of rent represented rates.
The Poll Tax is initially to be imposed only in Scotland. Not surprisingly, the idea of such a tax imposed by an English Tory Government has met with an adverse reaction; particularly since the councils responsible for collecting the money are mostly Labour.
The opposition parties are unanimous. In statements to The List, the P011 Tax is described by Labour Scotland as ‘unjust, unfair and unworkable‘, by the Scottish National Party as ‘illegal, undemocratic and immoral‘ and by Scottish Social And Liberal Demo— crats as ‘unjust, unfair and immoral‘.
The Tax‘s introduction in Scotland is widely seen as a political move, designed to marginalise and crush the area of most resistance first; or to use Scotland as a guinea pig, where — in the worst resort — only a small proportion of Britain‘s Tory voters would turn against the Party. It has even been seen as part ofa systematic campaign to anglicise Scotland and destroy its spirit of independence.
Lang‘s response: ‘There was demand for change to the rating system. Scotland‘s domestic ratepayers wanted to see a fairer system and as our rating base was more up-to-date than in England and Wales there was no reason for Scottish people to wait to get the benefits of our reforms.‘
Another objection is the ﬂat rate. The same annual figure (for 1989/90 it will be £306 in Glasgow; £392 in Edinburgh) will be demanded from everyone, regardless of income. For the owners of large homes, this will be much less than existing domestic rates; for most people, however, it will be a considerable burden. The
old cliché of the Tories ‘stealing from the poor to give to the rich‘ has understandably been resurrected.
There are Ofcourse rebates for those with low incomes. ‘The rebate system will take into account ability to pay.‘ continues Lang‘s statement. ‘No less than about one in three Scots will not have to pay the full charge. People on income support. pensioners on the basic state pension and full-time students will pay only 20 percent.‘
But the rebate may be inadequate. Its cut-off point for a single person under 25 is — according to figures published by Strathclyde Anti Poll Tax Federation — take-home pay of £55. The Poll Tax represents over 10.5 per cent ofsuch a person‘s net income. yet no rebate is available. Ofcourse not everyone is so badly hit. but many people face hardship.
You can pay your Poll Tax at the Post Office or by standing order. If you choose not to pay. you will be breaking the law. but you will not be alone. The political parties‘ statements to The List outline their positions. Labour ‘cannot urge people already facing financial difficulties to compound them by participating in a non payment compaign which would involve incurring further debts.
‘Labour recognises.‘ it continues. ‘there are many Scots who will want to make a personal moral stance against the tax through non payment and we support their right to do so.‘
The Democrats do not comment on non-payment. but pledge that in Government they ‘would scrap the tax and replace it with a system of local income tax which would reflect an individual‘s ability to pay.‘
The S.N.P.. however. approves non-payment. ‘Introduction ofthe Tax,‘ it states. ‘is not a valid law because it has no democratic basis. Article xvii ofthe Articles of Union 1707 is infringed by the imposition on Scotland of a tax not currently applicable throughout the UK‘.
The largest organisation designed to promote non-payment is the All Scotland Anti Poll Tax Federation. Its chairperson Tommy Sheridan bases his argument on three claims:
that Labour councils would break their election pledges by co-operating; that members of the National And Local Government Officers‘ Union (NALGO) would be acting against their own interests: and that the Councils do not have the admin to deal with non-payers.
ASAPTF‘s strategy is simple: if enough people refuse to pay. the whole system will break down. and the Government will be forced to repeal the Tax. Strathclyde NALGO has already pledged support to the non-payment campaign. So have over 100,000 individuals.
lfyou refuse to pay. you will automatically be liable for a 10 per cent surcharge. plus legal costs which ASAPI‘F estimates at £15—£20.
Your regional council — if it decides to co-operate — will be granted a Summary Warrant to collect the money. normally by wage or benefit arrestment, though there are strict limits on the weekly amount arrested. Another possibility is the poinding and sale of your possessions. Only ‘luxury‘ items could be confiscated; and in any case the Labour Party would not want to be seen to impose a Warrant Sale. It is also possible that funds in your bank or building society account would be frozen. but a separate action would be required to pay the Tax from these funds.
But the maximum you would lose — if the system survived the stresses imposed by resistance — is 110 per cent ofthe original demand. plus legal costs. Employees of local government risk their jobs, but know they have the support of NALGO.
‘Campaigns against registration for the community charge have failed dismally.‘ says Lang‘s statement. ‘and non-payment campaigns will bite the dust too. They would only cause hardship for the very people who depend most on local authorities‘ services. The organisers of these misleading campaigns know that perfectly well.‘
Naturally the Government won‘t give up easily. But nor will its opponents. To quote from Strathclyde Anti Poll Tax Federation‘s pamphlet (available from 12 Renfield Street. 50p), ‘Victory is not assured. but inaction definitely insures yet another defeat. We offer only one guarantee. We will lead from the front and go all the way to the finish.‘
Publisher Robin Hodge. Editors Nigel Billen. Sarah Hemming. Associate Editor Allan Ilunter. Editorial Assistants Stuart Bathgate. Andrew Burnet. lain Grant, Design Simon Esterson. Advertising / Circulation Jess Barrow. Rhobat Bryn. Sheila Maclean. Classified Advertising Paul Kinnes. Accounts Georgette Renwick. Typesetting Jo Kennedy.
ilewer Text Pioduction Editor Patti Keir. Production Co-ordinator Mark Fisher. Production Assistant Nikki Hoare. Art Alice Bain. Mark Fisher BooksKristina Woolnough, Classical Music Carol Main. Dance Alice Bain. Dlary Iain Grant. Film Allan Hunter. Trevor Johnston. Andrew Burnet. Folk/Jazz Norman Chalmers, Food Julie Morrice. Sally Stewart. Kids Rene Taylor. Media Nigel Billen. Music
Preview Kenny Mathieson. Nightlife Stuart Raiker. Andy (‘rabb. Colin Steven. Open Andrew Burnet. Radio Allan Brown. Rock (Edinburgh) Alastair Mabbott. Rock (Glasgow) John Williamson. Sport Stuart Bathgate. Theatre Sarah Hemming. Travel Kristina Woolnough Competitions Mark Fisher. Camera Edinburgh Make-up Services. Cover Design Nigel Billen. Paul Keir.
The List 24 March—6 April 1989 5