Who is the Scotsman who wraps himself in the yellow and blue Ukrainian flag and runs the renamed Ukrainian Solidarity Campaign after dropping any pretence of being Socialist?
Chris Ford appears to be well known amongst left-wing and trade union activists in the UK. Once a member of the Socialist Workers Party, Ford transferred his allegiance at some point to the pro-Imperialist AWL before leaving to form the Commune group, and now runs a very small union which was once affiliated to the IWW but has since split to form his own nationalistically named Independent Workers of Great Britain.
An article on the split with the IWW and the creation of the IWGB states: “We think it is a personal project of Chris Ford (CF). I think CF reckons we are not worthy of him. At a special conference we held in the spring, CF attended and failed to have his submission accepted. He misjudged the meeting. I think he hoped to be met with acclaim, but the dominant current in the membership was anarchist and he failed to allow for it. I think at that point he realised we were not going to adopt his programme.” Max Watson of the UNISON Branch Secretary described the split as, “The IWGB is either a sectarian personality cult or I’ve been blinded by a one-off bad experience.”
One of the noticeable differences between the logos of the IWW and the IWGB is Ford’s appropriation of what has become known as the anti-fascist symbol of three arrows through a circle, first used by the German SPD’s ‘Iron Front’. The arrows represented what social democracy considers the three evils; Monarchy, Nazism and Communism. Whether Ford is actually an anti-fascist is debatable; that he is an anti-Communist is certain.
Reliable information received during the course of researching this article recalls Ford’s role in the PCS union back in 2001 as secretary of the Department for Work and Pensions’ Central and West London branch:
Some years ago he was a civil servant; took part in the strike over safety screens somewhere in West London, got himself sacked for drunken violent behaviour on the picket line. The union defended him, they even had strikes to get him reinstated and then he took a bribe payment and buggered off. Needless to say his PCS supporters were not happy.
For certain they weren’t:
When CHRIS FRAUD was victimised he took his thirty pieces of silver (£50,000 plus at the current rate of exchange) and ran.
The linked article also features a comment from the AWL bewailing their exclusion from a Commune meeting by Ford.
Gerry Downing of Socialist Fight commented about Ford’s political trajectory:
It is indeed strange that Chris Ford became a Ukrainian nationalist. Has anyone got a political explanation how a Scottish Irishman developed into the foremost supporter for right wing Ukrainian nationalism in Britain via the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign? This is my shot at it:
He evolved rightwards from the time he was an SWP member in these stages:
1. From the SWP’s state capitalist half capitulation to imperialism, beginning with their failure to support North Korea and China in the Korean War etc., to
2. The more anti-communist AWL of Matgamna (a later version of the rightward evolution of Shachtman himself from ‘bureaucratic collectivism’ to supporting the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961), to
3. The Commune, a right split from the AWL with David Broder, more explicitly anti-workers organisation, more libertarian and right moving.
This is why the Left labour bureaucracy and others like Socialist Resistance find him useful; he is providing them with an ideological stance they feel they can exploit as it can have resonance in the wider arena of the labour movement and with those who serve as an ideological defence of capitalism in this crisis.
It is also clear that Ford much prefers small groups, preferably ones he runs, which could be an indication of his individualism or perhaps not wanting to be overseen. The groups that Downing mentions, or the rumps of them, are now the supporters of the USC but at some point in Ford’s political evolution, and strangely for a Glaswegian of Irish descent, he became somewhat of an expert on Ukraine and even went as far as learning the Ukrainian language. Whether this was before or after the events documented below is unknown.
The Ukrainian Peace Committee (UPC)
In 1988, after apparently leaving the SWP, Chris Ford was working full-time in the Kensington office of the UPC [“Hawks in Doves Clothing”, The New Worker, 20/5/1988]. The UPC published a quarterly newspaper, Ukrainian Peace News, with the printing done on the presses of the SWP in the east end of London. Ford explained to a reporter from the New Worker that the funding for the paper originated in Canada and that this was where the majority of the papers were distributed.
In fact the funding for the Kensington office, the UPC, and the newspaper all came from America’s Central Intelligence Agency. The UPC was in fact a part of the CIA’s Operation QRPLUMB.
It is now well known and documented that the CIA and other security services not only protected German Nazis, spiriting them out after WWII via Operation Paperclip, but also many Ukrainians who fought alongside Hitler and the Nazis in Poland and Ukraine. One of these high ranking officials and war criminals was to lead the CIA’s Operation QRPLUMB and its predecessors Operations AERODYNAMIC and QRDYNAMIC.
His name was Mykola Lebed, Stepan Bandera’s deputy and, as leader of OUN-B, responsible for the genocidal cleansing of Poles and Jews in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia. Not only did the CIA protect him from prosecution, they also gave him funds to run the Prolog Research Corporation which in turn ran the UPC.
As witnessed in Ukraine today, the US and CIA are more than happy to work alongside known fascists and ultra-nationalists, in fact any forces in the world that will support US Imperialism/NATO and its Capitalist neo-liberal agenda, as long as they are anti-Communist and anti-Socialist. This policy of supporting and promoting nationalism via fascists has long been nurtured and kept alive and kicking in Ukraine as this CIA review of Operation QRPLUMB details:
Interestingly, the US national, Mark Paslawsky, killed fighting for Kiev against the anti-fascists of the Donbass, was discovered to be a nephew of Mykola Lebed.
Another worker at the Kensington office, Taras Kuzio, was running the CIA funded Ukrainian Press Agency and the UPN’s sister paper Voice of Solidarity, and in 1998 was rewarded with the role of Kyiv Information Officer for NATO. Kuzio tells a distorted and dishonest account of the setting up of the UPC in an academic paper written after the release of the CIA papers. The paper does however throw some light on how ‘anti-Soviet Trotskyists’ and Scottish leftists were utilised:
Despite Kuzio’s retelling of the history of the UPC, just like his UPA, it was set up under Operation QRPLUMB:
The last president of Prolog was U.S. Military officer, Petro Sodol, who received a tidy payout from the agency in 1991. Sodol’s whitewashing of the role of the UPA in fighting alongside the Nazis was a Prolog publication and, during a Facebook discussion on fascism in Ukraine, linked to by Michael Calderbank, one of the USC’s main cheerleaders in the Labour Representation Committee (LRC, the left-wing of the Labour Party):
The LRC AGM recently voted to support a motion to affiliate to the USC (this affiliation had actually occurred in May in a bureaucratic manoeuvre by the leadership with no discussion within the membership) via the AWL dominated Noel Park Labour Party branch, despite opposition from Brent & Harrow LRC and other supporters of the Solidarity with Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine Campaign. Opposition which Ford characterises as ‘the majority of the LRC conference rejected the views of supporters of the ultra Stalinist ‘New Communist Party’ and other sectarians’, choosing to ignore, as always, the crucial anti-fascist elements of this opposition. The motion passed ignored the role of the far-right and fascists in Ukraine and the slaughter and destruction being perpetrated against the industrialised working-class of the Donbass, much to the shame of the LRC and the LP.
Ford has time and time again shown his passive approval for fascism and nationalism in various Facebook discussions. One which took place beneath a video of Svoboda deputy, Iryna Farion, infamous for her statement after the Odessa Massacre “Bravo, Odessa. .. Let the demons burn in hell”, telling five-year old kindergarten children that their Russian names were wrong and that they should “pack and go and live in Moscow” before holding up a card showing the ‘correct’ ‘Ukrainian’ version of their ‘wrong’ ‘Russian’ names met not a word of condemnation from Ford:
So, what led Chris Ford to the UPC and what knowledge did he have, if any, of his paymasters and the Banderite fascist and war criminal that was running the show? Whether he was just an unwitting ‘useful idiot’ to his CIA paymasters or not, his participation was obviously of significant political use to the CIA and by association, Mykola Lebed and other Banderite nationalists.
It is exactly this service to US Imperialism that Ford’s current metamorphosis in creating and running the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign (USC not unlike UPC) serves. Ford’s recent and absurd statement that events in Ukraine are a ‘Russo-Ukraine’ war, his demand that Russia pays reparations for the appalling devastation of homes and infrastructure by the Kiev regime, not to mention the tragic loss of life and injuries suffered, his total silence on the fascist massacre in Odessa, in fact his utter silence on the role of Banderite fascists in both the regime and the punitive battalions sent to slaughter the predominately ethnic-Russians of the industrialised working class of the Donbass. All serve the same master, a reactionary Ukrainian Nationalism and US Imperialism in Ukraine.
Ford even uses the same image the CIA employed in Afghanistan against the Soviet troops which shows a mastery in not only language but photoshop, if indeed he created this image himself (Ford deleted a whole Facebook thread when questioned about this similarity). Tellingly he calls on the Russian Army to stop this war rather than the actual aggressors against the Donbass people, the Ukrainian Army, the Pentagon military advisers and oligarch-funded fascist battalions; this is precisely the narrative of US Imperialism which Ford so obligingly and unquestioningly repeats:
When fascism was defeated by the Red Army, Ukrainian Nationalists turned to Western Imperialism as their saviour much as the ‘Euromaidan’ and its fascist supporters do now.
Only through workers internationalism, and awareness that in the last analysis Finance Capital will turn once again to its fascists forces in the current period when US$ hegemony is threatened by Russia’s lead in the BRICS development project, will another European war in the interests of the banks be averted. Ukraine will be used as the excuse for this and the ‘useful idiots’ who support the USC will be banging the drum for NATO unless the real Chris Ford finally does stand up.