Independent Working Class Association
|Independent Working Class Association|
|Slogan||Working-class rule for working-class areas|
|European Parliament group||None|
|Politics of the United Kingdom
The Independent Working Class Association (IWCA) is a minor working-class political party in the United Kingdom that aims to promote the political and economic interests of the working class, regardless of the consequences to existing political and economic structures. It has been most successful in the Blackbird Leys and Wood Farm estates of East Oxford and had a councillor on Oxford City Council until 2012.
The IWCA was formed in 1995 by several organisations but primarily Red Action and AFA  Initial sponsors included Communist Action Group, Colin Roach Centre, Open Polemic, Partisan, Red Action, the Revolutionary Communist Group and Socialist Parent The founding groups argued that the likely election of a New Labour government would entrench the legacy of Thatcherism and further diminish the political influence of the working class. The IWCA describes its ideology as stemming from the trade union collectivism of the 1970s. It has received support from some anarchists, but it criticises socialism, describing it as "hopelessly middle class - and obsessed with Identity Politics".
From 1998, the Independent Working Class Association formed groups in Birmingham, Oxford, Glasgow, the London boroughs of Islington and Hackney, and a few other areas. In 2003, the IWCA was launched as a national organisation.
The IWCA slogan is "working class power in working class areas", and its policies are based on door to door surveying of people and asking them what are the problems where they live, then trying to work out ways of resolving them. In Birmingham and Oxford this meant working with local people on issues of ASB [Anti Social Behaviour ], and in Hackney around school closures etc.
IWCA got some of the best results ever in UK politics of independent radical candidates, and several elected in Oxford. In the 2002 Oxford City Council elections the IWCA achieved the election of a local councillor, Stuart Craft, with more than 40% of the vote in Northfield Brook ward. Three more candidates received over 20% of the vote in the local elections in London, in Heaton and Gooshays wards in Havering, Clerkenwell ward in Islington and Haggerston ward in Hackney. They won 22% in Bunhill ward in London in a by-election in 2003.
The IWCA was able to raise the £20,000 required for participation in the 2004 London mayoral election and nominated Lorna Reid, a resident and advice worker on the Highbury council estate. Her campaign focused on opposing anti-social behaviour by funding youth facilities and cleaning up estates, establish community restorative justice schemes, local drugs detox centres and progressive local taxation. Reid came ninth with 9,542 (0.5%) of the first preference votes and 39,678 (2.1%) of the second preferences.
In the local elections that took place on the same day, the IWCA picked up two more seats on Oxford city council. At the 2006 local elections, they stood six candidates and gained a further seat from Labour, taking their total to four. However, they lost two of their Oxford council seats to Labour in May 2008. One of their councillors, Jane Lacey, stood down in 2010 to continue as a community campaigner, saying that she was disillusioned by the politics of the council.
In summer 2004, the Hackney branch of the IWCA split away to form Hackney Independent.  In 2006, the Oxford branch of the party won a libel action against Bill Baker, Deputy Leader of Oxford City Council, who had posted defamatory material alleging the IWCA had links to violent extremists and Irish Republican groups to homes in Donnington Brook in the run-up to the 2005 local elections. The IWCA, represented in their suit by Carter-Ruck, said it would use the £15,000 it collected in damages to fund their 2006 campaign.
In 2009 the two IWCA councillors missed a meeting at which an above-inflation rise in council tax of 4.5% was decided, due to work and family commitments. A tied vote was decided by the casting vote of the Labour Lord Mayor.
In March 2012 Stuart Craft, the last remaining IWCA local councillor in Oxford, announced to the Oxford Mail that he would not stand again in the May elections, after ten years as an IWCA councillor. He said, “I couldn’t stand on people’s doorsteps any more, telling them we were going to change things when that wasn’t going to happen.”
According to its statement of accounts to the Electoral Commission on 31 December 2006 it had 312 members, down by 7 on the previous year. It had a total income of £17,710 and an expenditure of £9,892.
The IWCA has adopted tactics of community action to tackle anti-social behaviour, which has led to it being accused of vigilantism. In contrast to many other left-wing groups, the IWCA actively campaigns on crime affecting working-class people and a lack of services. It campaigns on issues of local concern such as council housing stock transfers, muggings and inner-city regeneration, and against social harm due to drug abuse. The group has also argued that many racial issues are symptoms of the wider issue of social deprivation, and for taking a stance against what it describes as multiculturalism in the belief that it encourages segregation.
- re Stuart Croft's quote in Red Pepper in "a Class Act in Oxford"
- Independent Working Class Association - national website
- A DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, Red Action
- IWCA leaflet, 1995
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- A class act in Oxford", Red Pepper
- Introduction to Beating the Fascists 2010, by Sean Birchall. Freedom Publishers
- IWCA National Launch
- IWCA election results, May 2002
- "Leaflet slur costs £15,000", thisisoxfordshire, 5 January 2006
- "Chasing votes: two wrong approaches". Weekly Worker (CPGB). 30 January 2003. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
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- Thurrock council election results
- 'Hackney Independent' in Hoxton by-election, Workers Liberty
- "Hackney Independent". Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- Walker, Chris (20 February 2009). "'We put family and work ahead of city budget meeting'". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- Pope, Rhianne (10 February 2012). "‘Class hero’ councillor to quit". Oxford Mail. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
- Statement of Accounts for Year Ending 2006, Electoral Commission
- "Our park a no-go area after muggings". Oxford Mail. 19 August 2008. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- "Yobsmacked". SchNEWS. 24 October 2003. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- What should the Socialist Alliance say about crime?, Workers Liberty
- "Cannabis plants no more offensive than tomato plants, says judge". Oxford Times. 4 August 2006. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
- Craft, Stuart (7 February 2005). "Labour accusations shameful and untrue (letter)". Oxford Times. Retrieved 28 April 2010.