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Oxford City Council elections on 1 May – the future is up to us.

With IWCA councillors in Oxford standing for re-election in May, the following lyrics, penned by veteran singer-songwriter and political activist Christy Moore from his album ‘Smoke and Strong Whiskey’ and reproduced in his recent book ‘One Voice’, serve as a timely reminder of what can be achieved when communities stand up to drug dealers and other antisocial elements.

In the book Christy explains the story behind the song: ‘One day out walking with my three children I witnessed what is described in verse one. It seemed totally out of control. I saw this crazy guy selling smack to young teenagers and letting them use the back of his old wreck to bang up. He then drove back down through a public park and people had to jump to get out of his way. I went home and rang the police and they said there was nothing they could do. Later that week I attended the special Court in Green Street where I saw the State using heroin dealers as witnesses against concerned parents. People attending the courts were also being intimidated by police on the way in.’

When coupled with the experiences of those campaigning against Class A drug dealers in Oxford, Christy’s account of the state suppression of Dublin’s Concerned Parents Against Drugs exposes the universal nature of the establishment reaction to working class people who organise in their own interests.

Thankfully, IWCA activists who have been involved in campaigning against drug dealing in Oxford have not had to endure the same level of harassment as their counterparts in Dublin. All the same, there are parallels with the story of Concerned Parents Against Drugs: most notably the identification and exposure by the IWCA of a police policy of containment within working class areas regarding crack and heroin dealing; the resulting denunciation of the IWCA’s campaign by a high ranking police officer; a televised warning from the same quarter that the IWCA risked ‘contravening the human rights of drug dealers’ and low level police harassment of IWCA councillors while leafleting their estate to advertise public meetings on the issue of drugs.

It is also notable that early on, attempts (albeit counterproductive) were made by people linked to New Labour to blacken the name of the IWCA’s first councillor, Stuart Craft, through a doorstep whispering campaign alleging that he had served time for dealing drugs.

After much resistance from New Labour and the Police, and with the election of three more IWCA councillors, the authorities finally succumbed to the relentless community campaigning by IWCA activists to highlight Class A drug dealing. It should not be forgotten that this campaigning has resulted in the closure of a number of crack houses and heroin dens, the shutting down of a club used by a yardie drugs gang and the sweeping of open dealing from the streets. Alongside this was an increase in the police, political and media attention to the drug problem – a problem that the authorities originally tried to deny the existence of.

If we contrast the situation in Blackbird Leys with that of other areas of the country plagued by hard drugs and the parasites that deal them – areas administrated mainly by Labour councillors – it is obvious that the IWCA strategy of tackling the issues important to working class communities works and that it also has the potential to make a huge difference.

It is precisely because those who implement this strategy threaten to bring about progressive change, through exposing the bankrupt and often corrupt nature of the political establishment, that they are seen as a threat. Much has been achieved in Oxford, which is why New Labour is so desperate to get rid of the IWCA once and for all at the local elections this May.

Oxford Green councillor Matt Selwood, has publicly stated that ‘the top three priorities for New Labour in May are the three IWCA seats’, and judging by the gaggle of Oxford students tied to the arse of MP Andrew Smith currently trawling the streets of Blackbird Leys and Churchill there seems to be no doubt that, in this instance at least, Selwood has his finger firmly on the pulse.

As is customary, the Blackbird Leys New Labour canvassing team will, in the main, be made up of university students from across the country recruited to ‘get the IWCA out’.

Though the IWCA doesn’t usually rely on help from outside our communities we have 7500 households to canvassers and leaflet in Oxford and given the all-out nature of Labour’s campaign we need to make a special effort this year to make sure that our message gets across to every single household.

If you can spare a few hours over the course of the election campaign, please contact us.

Whacker Humphries

Christy Moore

One day as I was walking past the bridge in Dolphin’s Barn
By the old canal I saw some children round a car
In the back they were shooting up smack
I had a bird’s eye view
When I called for help
Told me there’s nothing we can do.

Both sides of the river clearly to be seen
Down along O’Connell Street and up to Stephen’s Green
Heroin sold openly there was no need to hide
The drug squad were outnumbered
It seemed like their hands were tied.

John Whacker Humphries is a family man
Him and his wife, they give their children everything they can
Faced with the scourge of heroin, they’d not accept defeat
They joined concerned parents
To put the dealers off the street.

They called on dealers houses and ordered them to quit
Time and time again they warned, we’ve had enough of it
Dirty needles in our doorways
Junkies hanging all about
Keep on dealing heroin and you’re going to be moved out.

From St. Theresa’s gardens to the flats in Ballymun
Concerned parents action had the dealers on the run
They swore they’d stand together until the drugs were stopped
And I will never understand why they got their knuckles rapped.

They were rounded up and charged
With crimes against the state
Brought before the Green Street court to decide their fate
Denied a trial by jury and there was no bail
The concerned parents were taken off to jail.

Sitting in the gallery among family, friends and wives
I strained to hear who told the truth and who was telling lies
Dealers, junkies and police on the prosecution side
I swear to God that’s what I saw before my very eyes.

Whacker Humphries took the dealers on
And he fought them tooth and nail
A squad of well armed soldiers brought him to the portlaoise jail
He tried to protect his children, found guilty of a crime
One man gets a pension, another man gets time.

This morning I went walking out by Dolphin’s Barn
I heard a small bird whisper; mind you don’t come to any harm.

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