I read with interest Janine Booth's letter on the International Working Class Association (IWCA) in Solidarity 3/54, and I think she is basically right. However, I would make a couple of points.
The IWCA's success in Oxford has been both unexpected and spectacular. I wonder if the reason they are less electorally successful (although more visible in the community, and probably a lot more popular) in London is that in London their political approach is more honest and consistent.
Here in Oxford the IWCA have capitalised on the government's refusal to give money to refurbish council housing, which has obviously caused a lot of discontent. However, they do not mention the responsibility of the Blair government in any of their literature: just "vote IWCA and it'll be OK".
Real working-class problems, no working-class solutions; no big picture. This seems to fit in with Janine's analysis.
The second thing is just hearsay, but pretty convincing hearsay. A single woman with several kids in Blackbird Leys said she was told that if she voted IWCA they would somehow 'get' her a council house. Obviously she hasn't got one as there aren't any and she is now apparently rather upset.
This is the reductio ad absurdum of reformism. Obviously consistent work on council estates is harder for socialists, as we can't actually try to pull the wool over the eyes of the working class by pretending to have magic powers.
There is something more fundamental here than the lack of a big picture, viz where is the appeal to collective action? "Your councillor will do it for you" would be no better than Labour even if it were true. Seeing as it is not true it is considerably worse.
Mike Rowley, Oxford