"This is bullying and intimidation of the poorest people in our country by those who are doing the bidding of the richest people in our country"
Hundreds of people from all over Greater Manchester, including Salford, gathered outside Bolton Town Hall for a rally and, later, a march organised by Bolton Against Bedroom Tax.
Speaking to the crowds, Bolton North East MP, David Crausby, along with Bolton's two other MPs who were present, Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East) and Julie Hilling (Bolton West), pledged to oppose Ed Miliband if he didn't abolish the Bedroom Tax once in power…
"The next Labour Government must abolish the Bedroom Tax, and I have no doubt that the next Labour Government will abolish the Bedroom Tax" he said to cheers "And in the unlikely event that it doesn't, there will be numerous MPs like me, Julie and Yasmin who will vote against the leadership of the Labour party and the Whips Office."
Speaking on the Tax, Crausby added that the United Nations special investigator Raquel Rolnik was right to draw her conclusion that the Tax should be abolished…
"Raquel was invited by this Government to comment on the Bedroom Tax and it was only when she didn't deliver the right message that Grant Shapps, the Conservative Party Chairman, called her `disgraceful'; yet it is Grant Shapps, his Conservative Party and LibDem collaborators who are disgraceful for introducing this Tax in the first place.
"Mrs Rolnik was right when she said this Tax was an attack on human rights because she saw what we see, that this is a completely unfair and unjust Tax" he explained "They won't save any money because all it will lead to is more and more people in arrears, the local authorities spending more and more trying to collect those arrears, and more and more people being forced into private sub standard accommodation that is often more expensive than Council housing."
Also speaking out against the Tax on the platform was Mark Krantz, of the Anti Bedroom Tax Federation for Greater Manchester, who attended the United Nations hearings in Manchester last week. He confessed that he was in tears hearing the horror stories that were set before the special investigator…
"The reason people told their stories in full was because they felt that the first time somebody would be listening" he said "And it took the UN investigator to come from Brazil for people to feel that they were being listened to...She listened across the country and came to her conclusion that housing in this country has gone backwards. This Tax is a disaster and it's wrong."
Speaking of the fear being instilled into social housing tenants, he explained…
"Nobody in this country has been evicted as a result of the Bedroom Tax but they're being threatened every day with letters. This is bullying and intimidation of the poorest people in our country by those who are doing the bidding of the richest people in our country."
His point was underlined by Andrew Peacock, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, has a son who stays with him and is being hounded to pay the Bedroom Tax.
"I'm sick of this Government taking the mick out of me" he said "My wife and I split up a year ago and my boy stays with me, yet I've still got to pay the Tax. It can't be legal to charge for a room that's being used but it is – I've been charged while my son's staying with me.
"I'm not going to pay it" he added defiantly "And I'm not moving because I'm too ill to move. They are ripping off the poor and disabled for the rich man's mess. We didn't cause this. I'm standing up for myself. I'm not going anywhere."
After the rally there was a march through Bolton city centre which ironically passed by the pay day loan shops, pawnbrokers and cash shops that are springing up like a plague on every high street in the town. The fear is that people are going to resort to such huge interest loans to pay off Bedroom Tax arrears, leaving more people in even more poverty.
"We've got people here from Salford, Manchester, Wigan and other places, all showing solidarity and supporting each other" said Linda Charnock of Bolton Against Bedroom Tax "We would have had even more, except there are so many who are disabled we couldn't give them all lifts to get here."
See also previous Salford Star article - United Nations Comes To Salford To See Bedroom Tax Horror - click here