The election results in Oxford and London have spelt out the IWCA’s political potential with a huge capital P. Though the primary reason for standing in the Mayoral election was to increase the IWCA profile, the actual results demonstrate the numbers reached by our message-over 49,000 Londoners put their cross against IWCA candidate Lorna Reid.
In Oxford the IWCA, in winning three seats, will undoubtedly be one of the main dynamics in what is now a hung council after Labour lost overall control.
For a party which put up its first candidates in May 2002 this demonstrates fairly dramatic progress and something one might have imagined the media would have had the good grace to acknowlege. Far from it.
Papers like the Guardian, while lauding the Oxford Greens capture of four seats, insist on describing the three succesful IWCA candidates as ‘independents’. The BBC meanwhile sought to explain away the IWCA success as part of the ‘anti-war protest vote’. Even on the day after the election and six weeks of campaigning, The Independent decided their readers would benefit from knowing that Lorna Reid is a member of a party called ‘Independent Work’.
To get the full flavour of the IWCA gains it is to necessary to compare and contrast results with other parties the media regard as the radical alternative. Respect, headed up by renegade MP George Galloway, received substantial pre-election coverage as did the BNP, while the IWCA was never mentioned even once. Moreover, acccording to both Respect and the BNP each spent around £250,000 on self promotion. Even these extravagant amounts pale when set against the £2 million reportedly invested by the UKIP. Money and the media were not the only areas where the IWCA was at a disadvantage. According to some the BNP has a membership of about 5,000 while Respect is actively sponsored by various Muslim groups and the SWP. Despite this, Respect have so far emerged from the elections without a single candidate elected, while the BNP made a net gain of one councillor. In addition the BNP and Respect stood candidates in every constituency for the assembly while the IWCA only put up a candidate for Mayor.
In discussing performance and overall potential it is useful to draw a comparison between the IWCA, BNP, and Respect where the parties went head-to-head on a more level playing field. By this we mean the London constituencies where the Lorna Reid’s campaign either captured the attention of the local media, resulting in some favourable, albiet limited, publicity, or where through bashing the pavement IWCA activists carved out a profile for itself simply by going door-to-door on the working class estates.
For more details on the IWCA’s Mayoral Campaign see IWCA national site