News - May 2002

6th May '02

Northfield Brook ward (2 seats)
IWCA 42.4% 682
44.4% 714
Lib Dems 8% 129
Green 5.1% 82
Turnout 22.37%
Total votes 1607
(Stuart Craft elected)

Blackbird Leys ward (2 seats)
IWCA (only 1 candidate) 13% 197
Lab 71.1% 1071
Con (only 1 candidate) 7.3% 111
Lib Dem 3.5% 53
Green 2.6% 40
Soc. All. (only 1 candidate) 2.1% 33
Turnout 22.56%
Total votes 1505

Haggerston ward (3 seats)
IWCA & Ind 30.1% 1709
41.3% 2343
Con 22.2% 1259
Lib Dem (only 1 candidate) 4.7% 270
Christian (only 1 candidate) 1.5% 87
Total votes 5668
Turnout 32.15%

Gooshays ward (3 seats)
IWCA 23.1% 2469
Lab 40.2% 4299
Con 24.4% 2611
Residents Assoc. 12.1% 1301
Total votes 10680
Turnout 35.7%

Heaton ward (3 seats)
IWCA 27.8% 2865
Lab 40.7% 4189
Con 31.3% 3216
Total votes 10270
Turnout 38.3%

Clerkenwell ward (3 seats)
IWCA & Ind 26.6% 1551
Lib Dem 42% 2446
Lab 19% 1110
Con 6.3% 369
Green (only 2 candidates) 5.7% 337
Total 5813
Turnout 24.95%

5th May '02
Despite being registered as a political party for less than six months the Independent Working Class Association (IWCA) scored it’s first electoral success in the local elections, when Stuart Craft was elected Councillor for Northfield Brook in Oxford. Stuart who stood in nearby ward of Blackbird Leys as an independent last year saw his vote climb more than fourfold from 9%. When the result was announced at the count, it was greeted with stony silence by the previously jubilant New Labour ‘socialists’ who had been singing an inadvertently bastardized version of the Red Flag.
Overall, the IWCA took 42% of the vote, knocking the other Labour candidate into fourth place.
In nearby Blackbird Leys the IWCA also secured second place beating the Tories and Greens along the way. Bringing up the rear was the Socialist Alliance with 2.1% of the vote.
In the Haggerston ward of Hackney in east London, the IWCA ran Labour close with one candidate Carl Taylor, coming within 90 votes of taking a seat. In Hackney, the IWCA’s two candidates were joined by an independent on a joint platform, taking over 30% of the overall vote.
In Clerkenwell ward in Islington the IWCA stood two candidates and recommended the third vote went to an independent community activist. If Islington is widely understood by the national media to represent loft-dweller heaven, then Clerkenwell is its epitome.
For an organization with ‘working class’ in it’s title to stand there, much less come second, displacing New Labour as the official opposition in the process will send shock waves through the establishment locally. Particularly when the 26.6% of the vote was secured from approximately 60% of the population, as a tactical decision had been taken not to mount any campaign within the wealthy 40%. Among those in social housing, and on the larger estates in particular, support for the IWCA is estimated to be more than one in two of those voting. One woman told an IWCA supporter: “I have never voted for anyone in my life but I am voting for you.”
Curiously, the ‘worst’ result of the IWCA is also arguably the most impressive. In Havering, the IWCA branch, though in existence for less than 18 months, put up an ambitious 6 candidates in two wards, Gooshays and Heaton. In Gooshays they came a credible third behind the Labour and the Tories with 23% in a 35.7% turnout. Next door in Heaton the IWCA took a total of just under 28%. But that is not the whole story. Far more impressive than the placing or the percentages, is that across the two wards the IWCA secured a total of 5,334 working class votes. What this shows is that the electoral appeal of the IWCA is not determined by a low turn out, or the twist of card in an obscure by-election. The local Tory candidate admitted as much. “If you keep it up” he said “you will win it all in four years time.”
On more than one occasion last year we warned the left that ‘2002 would be a watershed’. So it has proved. We also stated that the BNP would win seats and that the IWCA would ‘do well’. We predicted these results would ‘define the political landscape’. While the national media has zeroed in on the BNP, the potential of the IWCA as a natural rival has been absolutely ignored. The Guardian in typical bumbling fashion listed Stuart Craft as an ‘independent’. ‘The Independent’ in turn, though ostensibly dealing with ‘independents’ managed to miss the Oxford result entirely. It can also be expected that the IWCA showing will be rationalised and dismissed by the conservative Left. It is richly ironic, particularly given the brouhaha in the media, that the people least likely to be dismissive are the strategists within the leadership of the BNP.