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Glasgow Against the Bedroom Tax - Scots Resistance Massing

With protest marches against the 'bedroom tax' just a day away, the Glasgow campaign has gained seemingly inexorable focus and momentum.

With protest marches against the 'bedroom tax' just a day away, the Glasgow campaign has gained seemingly inexorable focus and momentum.

This surge of activity has not escaped the attention of the SNP and Scottish Labour, who are now eagerly competing to build the largest ivory tower of hypothetical opposition to the under-occupancy charges.

Meanwhile on the ground the troops are massing and the voice of protest demanding clear action against the tax is rising to fever pitch.

The grassroots campaign has stepped up yet another gear; public meetings take place almost daily in parts of Glasgow which have not yet set up a local protest movement.

Where meetings at the beginning of this campaign reportedly attracted as few as fourteen people, the attendances at latest series of gatherings tended to range from 60-100 in line with constantly rising levels of awareness and fear surrounding this latest benefit cut.

The revamped West of Scotland Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation has also realised the importance of visibility at the march, an event which is sure to capture public attention, and held a placard-making session in Govanhill, the idea being to show the government just how many different sections of society have been affected by this move.

Not satiated by these rising numbers, activists have taken to the streets to dispense leaflets and lobby the general public, with a West of Scotland-wide 'leafleting tour' only postponed due to the recent spate of mini-blizzards.

And yet it is the Westminster government who must feel as though winter is coming.

While the opposition to welfare reform in parliament still only consists of the tiny minority of socialists Labour have left, Caroline Lucas, Plaid Cymru and SNP members whose duties normally consist of twiddling their thumbs in ponderance of the West Lothian Question, opposition to the policy from north of the border is far more active.

The SNP laid down a marker at their party conference by insisting that no council under their control would allow evictions as a result of 'bedroom tax' arrears. This garnered only a lukewarm response from within the protest movement who insist that the only gauntlet the Scottish Government can lay down which will truly demonstrate opposition to the cuts will be to change Section 16 of the Housing (Scotland) Act as demanded by a Govan Law Centre petition.

While Labour have yet to make the same guarantee, Renfreshire Council has, following extended grassroots lobbying, agreed a similar 'no evictions' policy and the parliamentary party has called on the SNP to pass emergancy legislation preventing evictions.

A frequent criticism of the Scottish parliament from the protest movement remains that political party divisions on policy matters on which the SNP and Labour ostensibly agree leads to more mudslinging than decisive action - a criticism that a couple of recent SNP press releases have done little to disprove.

This can be considered mild banter compared to the boiling hatred for the coalition government, particularly the Conservative Party, among the protesters. On Wednesday the movement, in partnership with Unite the Union, migrated to Edinburgh to politely remind Welfare Minister Iain Duncan 'Ratbag' Smith that many in Scotland dispute his mandate to make sweeping welfare reforms.

Three protesters and a guide dog managed to express these feelings directly to the minister - whose status as the most hated man in Scotland was confirmed in a blazing editorial in the normally dispassionate Glasgow Herald.

Many other media outlets have since followed suit in reporting the 'heckling' but the effect the Scottish, especially Glaswegian, campaign has had on nationwide opposition to the 'bedroom tax' runs much deeper; the juddering intensity of the Facebook campaign is inspiring protest movements to pop up as far afield as the Midlands and Wales, with one commenter summing up the Scottish influence succinctly:

"The Jocks are mad on this. Why aren't we doing anything?"

Though social media remains a huge part of the expanding network of protest movements, people have been creative in finding an outlet for their defiance. Singer-songwriter Adam McNaughton has written a song parodying the lyrics of the 'Jeely Piece' in support of the movement:

Tomorrow's march will display the vast swathes of society sufficiently affected by the under-occupancy charges; charities, Trade Unions and NGOs will all speak against the tax along with the most important protesters of all: individuals who will personally struggle to survive this hit to their income.

Speaking on behalf of the WoS Federation will be Fiona Jordan, who has been an inspirational figure in the campaign since deciding to come to a public meeting earlier this month.

She spoke at that meeting of how she had "spent a year practically hiding at home out of shame" after being made redundant but gained the courage to get involved in the campaign after watching a video of march organiser Alan Wyllie speaking at another public meeting.

She finished her speech on a note which many felt summed up the protest perfectly and which has been used to rally people for tomorrow's big push ever since:

"I will stand beside you if you stand beside me."

Tomorrow, not just Glasgow, but the United Kingdom, will stand together on the front lines of a political battle which will define a generation.

The Glagsow Protest March agains the Bedroom Tax will start at Glasgow Green's McLennan Arch at 11:30.

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