Mick | 15.04.2005 21:12 | Oxford
In the article, Bill Baker, the Labour city councillor for Iffely Fields warns: ‘These people are nothing but trouble. They make up all sorts of scare stories about what the council might be doing, and they try to hide their extremist links.’
After a local resident brought the newsletter to the attention of IWCA parliamentary candidate Maurice Leen, letters were promptly dispatched to both Bill Baker and the Oxford Labour Party demanding a public retraction and apology within 14 days. In the absence of a response, the IWCA has no option but to pursue legal action against Baker and the Labour Party.
The IWCA’s Stuart Craft spelled out the seriousness with which the IWCA take this current smear by focusing on the danger these allegations could place IWCA activists in:
‘In addition to severely damaging the reputation of IWCA representatives in the eyes of people in Oxford to whom this leaflet has been distributed, these allegations place our councillors, members and their families in possible physical danger from violent pro-loyalist organisations like Combat 18 and the National Front. The latter are known to be active in the Oxford area.’
Of course ordinary people in Blackbird Leys are well used to Labour lies by now, having been exposed to the anti-IWCA campaign almost from day one. The IWCA is now the largest political party on the Leys, which shows the contempt with which those who know us best have treated Labour smears.
However, the intention behind Labour’s Boundary Brook leaflet is clearly to unfairly damage the IWCA’s reputation in an area where we are not so well known.
The party of government’s campaign of black propaganda against us has been well documented in the Leys Independent, in the letters pages of the Oxford Mail and in a recent election leaflet distributed across Oxford East. However, with the Boundary Brook News leaflet Labour has reached a new low.
Pattern of underhand tactics a sign of desperation
Earlier this year Labour councillor John Tanner accused the IWCA of having extremist links in a letter to the Oxford Mail, in which he also suggested that the IWCA‘s stance on multiculturalism was racist. This elicted the following reply from Stuart Craft:
Since I have been on the council I have been accused, without a shred of supporting evidence, by Cllr Tanner’s party of: having served a prison sentence for drug dealing; being linked to Ulster paramilitaries; being a ‘neo Nazi’ (both NF and BNP) and more recently of being a racist and a vigilante with ‘shadowy and extremist backers’. Needless to say these accusations have been made in the full knowledge that they are untrue, presumably in the hope of damaging our reputation, with some likely to draw the conclusion that there is no smoke without fire.
Coupled with the recent leaflet believed to be attacking the IWCA’s Fight Against Council Transfers and Sell offs (FACTS) campaign (Council’s response to FACTS newsletter ‘unprecedented’)—funded with tax-payers money but sanctioned by the Council’s Chief Executive and Labour Party councillors—it appears the establishment is becoming increasingly desperate to stop the rise of a genuine working class party.
That so much time and effort is being used to try and undermine our relatively small organisation can be seen as an acknowledgement of the IWCA’s potential. There is now no escaping the fact that with increasing tensions in working class areas caused by the neo-liberal policies of first the Tories and now New Labour, only the IWCA can produce results. Middle class ‘absentee’ councillors for working class estates are being increasingly shown up and marginalised by the efforts of the IWCA.
Unlike many Labour councillors, IWCA representatives have to deal with problems on the ground as and when they occur and have repeatedly proved themselves to be up to the job. For example when an angry 25-strong teenage gang recently confronted Claire Kent on her doorstep she was able to turn the situation round within minutes. On another occasion a group of young vandals who threatened to shoot Lee Cole were also sent packing with their tails between their legs.
As these latest examples of IWCA defiance in the face of behaviour detrimental to the quality of life of everyone in the area illustrate, it is only from within communities that the problems of ‘gangster culture’ and anti-social behaviour can be tackled. As a result Labour finds itself on the outside looking in.
Labour Councillors for Woodfarm, Littlemore, Barton and Blackbird Leys, live in middle class areas of Jericho, Headington, Grandpont and Old Marston. Absenteeism may at one time have offered the desirable combination of a safe seat and a quiet life, but the Oxford Labour Party is becoming increasingly aware that unless the IWCA can be stopped, careers built on pontificating from afar will be brought to an abrupt end. It is these sentiments that seem to be the driving force behind the hysterical anti-IWCA witch-hunt.
And as much as the word ‘choice’ (usually as a euphemism for anti-working class measure such as privatization) is used in New Labour circles, the minute working class voters are presented with a genuine choice at the polls, Labour tries its hardest to ensure this choice is denied.
Instead of dealing with the day-to-day issues affecting its former constituency underhand tactics are employed to avoid having to do so. Suffice to say it is the kind of mind-set that would make an old tyrant like Robert Mugabe very proud.