IWCA councillor Stuart Craft to step down after 10 years.

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Joined: 20-09-09
Mar 31 2012 21:41
IWCA councillor Stuart Craft to step down after 10 years.

Stuart Craft gives an interesting interview in the Oxford Mail explaining why the IWCA are no longer taking part in council elections.

‘Class hero’ councillor to quit
By Rhianne Pope »
SELF-styled working class hero and Oxford’s last remaining Independent Working Class Association city councillor Stuart Craft will stand down at the May election.

Stuart Craft
The Northfield Brook councillor has represented residents in Blackbird Leys for the past 10 years.

But he has decided a decade is enough, and will be stepping down to concentrate on more grassroots projects.

He is the last of four IWCA councillors to have been elected to Oxford City Council in the past decade.

Mr Craft, a bus driver with the Oxford Bus Company, said: “On a personal level I never intended to stay this long.

“I was only going to serve one term. And I wanted to leave because I’m in danger of just becoming part of the furniture.

“People start to see you as part of the system you’re trying to change.

“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.”

When he was elected in 2002, Mr Craft was the first IWCA member to gain a seat.

He was joined by Blackbird Leys councillor Lee Cole and Claire Kent in Wood Farm in 2004, shortly followed by Jane Lacey in Northfield Brook in 2006.

Mr Craft said: “We’ve been banging our heads against a brick wall for 10 years now.

“We’ve been trying to push the agenda for working class people, but nothing seems to get done in the council chambers.

“We’ve gone as far in the council as we can.”

He added: “All the hours I spend in the chambers would be much better spent on the estate doing something valuable for people living there.”

Among its achievements over the past decade, was helping remove drug dealers from Blackbird Leys.

He added: “Our biggest success was getting elected in the first place.

“We got into the Labour strongholds of Wood Farm and the Leys.

“And we demystified politics, showing that working class people can get elected.”

The IWCA now aims to concentrate on pushing its message through political comment, campaigning and other means.

The association also runs an athletics club and is working on other priorities, including a working class history week later this year.

Mr Craft added: “We are in no way giving up.

“If we continued to stand in the council and achieving nothing, all the hard work would be forgotten.

“Maybe we’ll come back to it one day. But it will never be me, I will never stand for election again.”

And he jokingly likened himself to a former boxer, adding: “I’m retiring un-defeated, like Joe Calzaghe.”

Half of the council’s 48 seats will be contested in May.

For anyone in Oxford the IWCA Blackbird Leys site seems to be back in use-

communal_pie's picture
Joined: 18-10-08
Mar 31 2012 23:31

Thanks for posting this, good to know about. I think things like this serve to perfectly illustrate all ther weak points of electoralism, which has led to this poor bloke.. who a lot of people seem to really like, being put into really bad situations with frankly, evil council bureaucrats forcing votes on 'lesser-evilism' type things. But hats off to the guy, I think he did his best.

Joined: 20-09-09
Apr 2 2012 09:14

No worries Communal pie- This might interest you if your in Oxford-

The planned programme of events for the month is set to include film shows, local working class history projects for primary school children, the launch of a working class history section on the Blackbird Leys IWCA website and other events to be confirmed.

To wrap up the celebrations we will be holding an evening's entertainment featuring an eclectic mix of public speakers and live music celebrating working class social, cultural and political history. The event will be held at The Barn, Greater Leys, on 26th May 2012, from 7.30pm - 11pm. Hot and cold drinks will be available.

The provisional agenda includes:
Blackbird Leys brothers, Des, Paul, Peter and Terry Brackett who will be chatting to the IWCA's Stuart Craft on their impressive sporting achievements which include between them, national boxing caps, Town and Gown running and boxing victories, triathlon successes and membership of the prestigious 100 Marathon Club.
Girls from the IWCA Athletics Club who will be doing a presentation on East Oxford's first Olympian, the enigmatic world record breaking hurdler Maureen Gardner, who won silver and bronze at the 1948 Olympics.
The irrepressible CAMRA Pubs Officer, Tony Goulding, who will be giving an talk on 'pubs and the working class'
Founder member of the highly significant Anti-Fascist Action, Gary O'Shea, who will discussing: 'Beating the Fascists - the untold story of Anti-Fascist Action'

Admission is only 3 pounds in advance, with all profits going towards the youth work of the IWCA Athletics Club.

To reserve tickets, email Stuart or contact him on 07733 274 324