Hackney Heckler issue 6, January 1991


Labour Council leader John McCafferty sends in the bailiffs to seize the meagre possessions of the poorest people in Hackney who can’t pay the Poll Tax. “The law must be upheld” he parrots.

Alright John! What about up-holding it against all your own councillors and cronies at the Town Hall. Why was your own brother-in-law, caught red-handed with his fingers in the Town Hall till, shipped off to Scotland quick to avoid a scandal! Labour Mayor Shuka Sheijk is the biggest crook in town — having feather bedded his own nest with funds obtained for his OWN organisation from HIS OWN council! Yet this swindler represents us, the people of Hackney, because the rest of the Labour con merchants are too busy with their own snouts in the trough!

Hackney Council's latest representatives Ronnie and Reggie meet John McCafferty

Hackney Council’s latest representatives Ronnie and Reggie meet John McCafferty

Jobs for the Boys
Those few not on the fiddle are busy carving out their own careers on our backs. Deputy leader Tommy Shepherd is standing as Labour M.P. at the next election; former leader Andrew Puddephat sends in the riot police to evict the homeless from Stamford Hill yet lands a plum job as director of the National Council of Civil Liberties! McCafferty himself sucks up to his hero Kinnochio in the hope of being invited aboard his gravy train.

Councillors’ Surgery
Over the next months we will be blowing the lid off the whole gang of Mare Street crooks. Our corruption exposures will rock the Hackney Mafia back on their heels. But no need to wait till then to see McCafferty shit himselfl Everytime he tries to send in the bailiffs, poll tax rebels will be visiting him at his home at 17 Bayston Road, Stoke Newington, for a spot of genuine “councillors’ surgery” and to let him know what it feels like to be harassed. He also appreciates phone calls at home [phone number deleted] and work [phone number deleted].



Seven Hackney Police Officers have been sacked. Three years ago local lad Gary Stretch was severely beaten outside a pub in Hoxton by off-duty cops. The cops were suspended on full pay to the tune of £300,000 and were never prosecuted. Thanks to Hackney Community Defence Association the case has had widespread publicity, unlike numerous other cases of police corruption and criminality. It all goes to show it’s one rule for them and another for us. A few rotten apples? Festering barrels more like!

A secret report from Thames Magistrates Court has revealed that there is not enough time for all the Poll Tax non-payment cases. Virtually everyone who has turned up at court has had their case adjourned to some date in the future. The courts have now changed the rules (as they usually do when they’re losing) by abolishing the right to help in the dock. Just shows that we can never trust their institutions!

Problems collecting the poll tax in Hackney? Not only have up to half not paid a penny, but some have been taking out their anger against the Cherbury Court Poll Tax Office. First there was a bit of abuse, then some vandalism with the odd brick flying through their windows and the last straw was two armed robberies! The office has now closed down, adding to the council’s despair. The non-payment rate is holding steady despite all the threats of courts, bailiffs, etc. Top dog Mike Craig is talking about further cuts, but he needn’t worry as he’s on nearly £50,000 a year. He’d like to hear what you think about the Poll Tax — give him a ring at home on [phone number deleted].


So Thatch is gone. For eleven years that monstrosity has led a full frontal attack on the working class of Britain and Northern Ireland. We’ve fought back strongly all along, resisting in the workplace and on the streets. The Tories made many tax changes which benefited the wealthy few but made most of us pay more tax. The most recent of these discriminatory tax laws is the Poll Tax. In a country where 30% of the population don’t bother voting the anti-Poll Tax movement has given a voice to the widespread discontentment with the government.

By sacking Thatcher and promoting Major the Tories hope to shift some pressure off the government and to put forward a gentler image for the next election. Since moving to no. 10 Major has been waffling on about changing to a more equal, caring society but his actions in recent years tell a different story. As Social Services Minister ’85-’87 he slashed welfare payments and abolished the maternity grant. In August ’89 as Foreign Minister he backed the forced repatriation of boat people from Hong Kong to Vietnam.

It’s not a new figurehead we need, the whole system is rotten. What use will another election be — Labour, Tories, or Liberals — WHOEVER YOU VOTE FOR THE GOVERNMENT ALWAYS GETS IN. Politicians live off us, we don’t need them.


Last year anti-semitic attacks on the ultra orthodox Jews of Stamford Hill became a media story. What some orthodox rabbis called “the normal level of harassment” had turned temporarily to regular attacks. Anti-semitism didn’t stop with the war against Hitler. Returning servicemen found Mosley’s fascists organising in Hackney in Ridley Road. Those of us who have grown up in more secular Jewish working class families in Hackney since the ’40s, mostly the children of low paid garment workers, have grown up with some form of Jew-baiting and stereotyping (usually about being rich).

Last year saw an event in Stoke Newington which was an important day for the Jewish Socialist Movement. Between 700 and 1,000 people, mostly Jewish but also non-Jewish young and old, attended a day of “culture and resistance” in Stoke Newington. It celebrated a day of Jewish Socialism and opposition to anti-semitism and was a chance for Jewish activists to talk to each other across generations. As well as beigels and pickled cucumbers, there were exhibitions, plays and songs in Yiddish, meetings and discussions, photos, paintings, children’s events, music and dancing.

Hackney Jewish Socialist Group is here to fight prejudice and organised fascism. Remember that the 1905 Aliens Act, the start of Britain’s racist immigration laws, was passed to keep Jews out.

HJSG can be contacted at Box 11, Centreprise Bookshop, 136 Kingsland Road.


Being unemployed in Hackney is grim. Where we sign on is a dump. The dole are inefficient and always “lose your file”. The DSS keep us waiting hours in a prison with no toilets, play area for kids, or coffee machines. They don’t answer the phone. They only tell us what we’re not entitled to and not what is ours to claim. We don’t blame the workers at the offices but the welfare system.

Fun On the Dole?
Income support is calculated at a level of basic survival. Nothing is allowed for entertainment, cigarettes or alcohol. Unemployed people are expected not to need the pleasures of life of other citizens.

Unemployment is high in Hackney. Poor transport links mean that new work is not encouraged to arrive here. The present rate of unemployment is one in ten and rising. This is the result of government policies in the early 1980s.

Talking Out of Turn
The Gulf Crisis has diverted attention from the current recession and is used as an excuse to put up prices. Anyone who complains will be labelled dangerous because after all it’s our interests they’re protecting in the Gulf. Are they ****.


If Hackney Council think they can use bailiffs against non-payers of the Poll Tax, they’re in for a nasty surprise.

Last November saw the bailiffs turn up to deliver warnings to a handful of non-payers and they were met with fierce resistance. On one estate in Haggerston a group of around 50 locals saw off the bailiffs; but not before bricking their windscreen and damaging the bodywork of their car. They’d only come to deliver a letter, imagine when they try to take peoples belongings!

We have to remember the most effective opposition is organised resistance. This has already started with anti-Poll Tax unions setting up contact lists of those willing to come out and oppose the bailiffs, producing thousands of leaflets and posters on dealing with them and being out on the streets spreading the message “No Bailiffs in Hackney”. We’ve got to ensure the moment the bailiffs arrive, people are out on the street using any means necessary to see them off.

Obviously it won’t just be a matter of dealing with the bailiffs as they will probably get protection from the police. For this reason we should act quickly before the cops arrive or have sufficient numbers to deal with them as well. It’s also important not to always be on the defensive. We could get together and visit councillors, as has already happened with council leader John McCafferty. A group of around 60 people paid him a visit late one night. He almost opened the door thinking they were carol singers, until he heard the dreaded refrain booming out “No Poll Tax, No Poll Tax”. The commotion could be heard all the way up and down his street with people coming out wondering what was happening and, on finding out, joining in the fun. If it happens often enough maybe locals could try getting together to have him evicted on the grounds of “noise pollution”!

Bailiffs are only being used to intimidate and scare us into paying. For most, it’s a matter of “Can’t pay, won’t pay”. And with 54,000 non-payers in Hackney and no more than 15 bailiffs, we have the ability to make Hackney a bailiff free zone.


1 The bailiffs have no legal right of entry. They can only enter your home if they are invited in or if they can get through an open window or door.

2 Contact your local anti-Poll Tax union to go on their telephone contact tree (details below). Or set up your own alarm list on you street/block or with friends, or set one up at work.

3 If they turn up in your area go door to door to alert as many people as possible. Also try place where lots of people gather, ie launderettes, pubs, bookies, local workplaces etc.

4 Airhorns, whistles or someone with a loud voice can alert others to bailiffs arrival.

5 Vaseline smeared on bailiffs windows is like driving at 100mph on the M25 in dense fog!

6 Bailiffs jobs are hot and sweaty. Cool them down with buckets of cold water when they arrive.

7 Good to have transport on hand to follow them when they leave making sure they don’t make any other visits and to “escort them out of town”.

8 The bailiffs Hackney Council are using is Rayner, Ferrar & Co., 20/22 High Street, St Iver, Bucks. Tel. 0753 631144.

Here are just some of the anti-Poll Tax unions in Hackney:

Clapton [phone number deleted]
Hoxton [phone number deleted]
Lordship [phone number deleted]
Shacklewell [phone number deleted]
Stamford Hill [phone number deleted]
Victoria [phone number deleted]

Hackney Heckler is a bimonthly and free news-sheet which is produced by HACKNEY SOLIDARITY GROUP. We all live or work in the Borough and are sick of what we see around us. That’s the aim of the HECKLER: to encourage struggle for a decent life for all. We welcome contributions, donations, reports and help with distribution (we currently get rid of 10,000). What’s happening on your es-tate? Which councillors are cor-rupt? Who’s the worst boss in Hackney? Write to us at HACKNEY HECKLER, do 61 Leswin Road, N16 — and the next issue will be March 1991.


We work to live…. but the boss wants us to live to work. No matter where we work or what we do, this conflict of interests exists. Most of the time the bosses seem to get everything their way, they choose our workhours and rates of pay and are almost in total control of what we do, how we do it, in what conditions we do it and at what speed!

But we do have something on our side. Although the bosses may act like they’re doing us a favour by giving us a job, they need us, no matter what we do, they employ us because they need us. And they get very upset when we’re not there, they try to negotiate (i.e. tell us) when we have our holidays, and if we catch one of the many illnesses which the human body can get, they demand you go in because there’s work to be done, frequently using the ultimate threat, the sack!

Nothing Changes
At this moment in time, as the economy goes into deep recession, they try to fob us off with excuses, “we can’t afford a pay rise… we don’t know if we’re going to go bust… there’s plenty of people out there who’d be glad of your job”. To try and make us submissive and cheap workers. Times may change, the conflict doesn’t. It can only be made more bearable. To do this the boss must be confronted, and the more workers who join in, the bigger the chance of success. By fighting for what we want we regain some dignity as workers and teach the boss a lesson. We’re workers, not robots, and, hopefully, one day, the day will come when the conflict is abolished – which must mean abolishing bosses.


At work we killed the boss today
He should have paid us higher pay
We all sat down and made a plan
“Let’s get the bastard while we can
while he’s treating us like shit
We work to make him a rich git
With Persian carpets — wall to wall
While we don’t have a home at all
And only just afford to eat
Like half the people on our street”
So all together we struck back
And gave the boss a hefty whack
And with a token of class hatred
Strung him up with no time wasted
And though there’s just one solution
World wide working class revolution
That’s one rich bastard out the way
A pleasant start to any day.

PDF version available here.

3 thoughts on “Hackney Heckler issue 6, January 1991

  1. Pingback: Lib Peck, leader of Lambeth Council, member of the Co-operative Party, is EVICTING Housing Co-ops! | Lambeth the Un- Co-operative Council

  2. Pingback: Lib Peck, leader of Lambeth Council, member of the Co-operative Party, is EVICTING Housing Co-ops! | Lambeth the Un- Co-operative Council

  3. Pingback: Centerprise’s radical mail mailboxes | The Radical History of Hackney

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