Letter in Hackney Gazette 10th August 2000
We read Myrna Shaw’s letter in the Gazette with interest and would agree that the way forward is to stand independent candidates in the council elections.
It is clear that the four main parties in Hackney are only interested in the middle classes, so we believe it is essential that independent candidates represent the interests of working class people (and of course this includes many pensioners).
With this in mind we are seriously considering standing candidates in the Shoreditch Neighbourhood in the 2002 elections and would welcome discussion with Mrs Shaw – and other interested individuals or tenant’s representatives – in deciding how best to serve the interests of this working class majority.
We would urge anyone who wishes to discuss it to contact us at PO Box 48, 136 Kingsland High Street, E8 2NS
Dan Carter, Hackney Independent Working Class Association
Extracts from responses to above letter
“I don’t mince my words and will never speak diplomatic, sugar pill English. I told Sedgemore the middle-class had won and that was England done. If anyone broke English working class values it was Labour. At least from the time of Brown and Wilson, if not earlier, the old streets were torn down in ‘slum clearance’ to make way for the ‘inner city.’ Labour did nothing to preserve anything that was truly and not just ‘trades union working class’, and they still don’t.”
“I read your letter Gazette letter with interest. But I do have my doubts! The campaign of course would be the thing, but what chances do you think you have of obtaining a poll tax type putsch in Shoreditch?”
“I do not mean to be negative, but it is going to be a long hard slog, with a large element of distrust of the organisers the first hurdle to overcome.”
“It’s about time someone stood up for working class interests. Labour abandoned us twenty years ago. In Hoxton we’ve tried the Liberals and even the Tories. I’m prepared to give you a go.”
“I agree with standing in the next elections, and there’s still two years to prepare for it. Couldn’t you stand in Clapton as well?”
“Standing for the working classes alone is divisive. Although I own my own home and run a business, I want my streets kept clean and a low council tax just as much as my cleaner does….”
This gem featured in the “N16 magazine”, a free mag with adverts for upmarket restaurants and various “witty” pieces:
You could rename N16 “Colonial Times” because that’s the truth of it. Or “How to turn a working class area into your local village”. Your rag makes me puke! It’s a pat on the back for how successfully the middle classes have swarmed in. And your obsession with the 73 bus! Sure, it’s big and red and maybe a little fantasy gets projected – but for chrissakes it’s just a bus! You walk around Hackney like it’s an old curiosity shop. The letter in your last issue said it all – “an interesting cultural mix of people who appear to live alongside one another harmoniously”. We’re not schoolchildren or there to entertain some fantasy.
A woman said to me in the park once that she wouldn’t let her kids watch Postman Pat because there weren’t any black people in it, and I looked around the playground and all I could see was “wellys” (people from Tunbridge Wells). You’re either squatting and calling yourselves anarchists, or just plain buying up the place. You talk as if it’s a community without acknowledging the fact that you destroyed an ailing community to get what you want. A friend was outcast from a playgroup because she wanted to send her kid to private school. One woman said “I’d rather send my little Harry to a Stokey school and rub shoulders with thieves than send him private”. You strut around like you’re street hip. You even get Ali G’s jokes, but it takes a bit more than sticking little Milo in an Arsenal shirt to be a fan.
Please excuse my lack of grammar, only I’m not pretending. Put that in your e-mail and freebase it!
Yours most angrily
PS Have a lovely Festival
IWCA reply to above letter
I agree with what D Kidmon wrote in the last edition of N16 – your magazine should be renamed “Colonial Times.” It is a magazine for people who spend holidays “up the Dordogne in a camper van” (p18) or like Sally Watson (p8), who you quote as saying that she is having such a problem finding a private nursery for Georgia and Tabatha that she “may have to move to Highgate just to find one.” The problem is that the Watsons will be replaced by more rich young people who will move in and continue to take over what pubs and cafes we have left, and show off to us about it in the pages of N16. Your coverage of the mobile phone mast issue could have been based around the magnificent resistance put up by the Tenants’ Association at Hawksley Court, but instead gives them just three lines compared to the Council’s two paragraphs, while worrying about the effect on house prices.
As a political organisation we wouldn’t put it the same way as D Kidmon, but he is talking about the effects of the “social cleansing” of Hackney. As the middle class takes over more and more of the Borough, the IWCA will continue to seek to involve and represent what is still Hackney’s working class majority.
Anyone wanting to get in touch can contact us at Box 48 136 Kingsland High St, E8 2NS, or you can look at our web site on www.hackneyiwca.fsnet.co.uk
Peter Sutton, Hackney Independent Working Class Association