26/12/2014 by socialistfight
Socialist Fight Statement on Chris Ford and “drunken violent behaviour” 26/12/2014
Socialist Fight has reassessed the following passage in the article Will the real Chris Ford please stand-up? which we published in our blog in November last and make the statement on it below:
“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.”
SOCIALIST FIGHT HAS NO REASON TO BELIEVE THE ACTIONS OF CHRIS FORD IN THE PCS STRIKE IN 2001 WERE IN ANY WAY DISHONOURABLE OR THAT HE BETRAYED THE BEST TRADE UNION PRINCIPLES IN ACCEPTING A SETTLEMENT IN COMPENSATION FOR GETTING SACKED FROM HIS JOB.
THE ACCUSATION OF “DRUNKEN VIOLENT BEHAVIOUR ON THE PICKET LINE” IS TOTALLY UNSUBSTANTIATED ALSO.
DESPITE PROFOUND AND IRRECONCILABLE OPPOSITION TO HIS REACTIONARY POLITICAL STANCE ON UKRAINE AND ON MANY OTHER ISSUES WE ARE CERTAIN THAT THESE CRITICISMS OF HIS CONDUCT IN THE PCS STRIKE ARE TOTALLY UNFOUNDED AND WE APOLOGISE FOR ANY OFFENCE CAUSED.
Gerry Downing National Secretary Socialist Fight, 26/12/2014
Chris Ford in the picket for the reinstatement of Alberto Durango .Picture Copyright (C) 2010 Peter Marshall, all rights reserved
Around a hundred people took part in a noisy demonstration outside the offices of UBS Capital in Liverpool St, London at Friday lunchtime (12 Feb 2010) in support of the office cleaners and their sacked shop steward, Alberto Durango. Pictures Copyright (C) 2010 Peter Marshall, all rights reserved
This is the link for the battle to reinstate Lee Rock, Victimised PCS militant:
Clarification from Lee Rock
From: Lee Rock
Sent: Tuesday, 23 December 2014 19:48
To: GERALD DOWNING
Subject: RE: Chris Ford
Chris played a great role in the dispute over screens. He was a well-liked and well-respected Branch Secretary as far as his members were concerned. Throughout the dispute he organised with his members regular mass meetings where decisions were taken.
The allegations of ‘ violent drunken behaviour’ are false. As is the allegation that he was ‘arrested’. If either of these two things were true then I am sure I would have been aware of them, as I was the Employment Service London Regional Organiser at the time. I worked in a London Employment Service office and was on less than 40% facility time.
The financial settlement was the only offer made. In making the decision to accept the settlement Chris came to the conclusion that even if he did win his case then it was only a matter of time before the employer moved against him again.
There were criticisms from some quarters against his decision to take the money:
The right-wing hypocritically attacked him – saying that the left were not as principled as they claimed. The right-wing did not claim they would not have done the same.
Some sectarians made mild private criticisms, but in reality they were glad to see the back of him as he demonstrated a rank-file way of organising and fighting that they would not do, as they were focussed on getting elected onto the NEC.
Within Socialist Caucus, of which both Chris and I were members, there were differences as to his decision. My view was that taking everything into account, including the action of members and the likelihood of further action against Chris in the future, that only he could make the decision. I would not have made the decision Chris made, but I was not prepared to criticise Chris for his decision.
As an aside, but simply in the interests of clarity, I completely disagree with the position that Chris has taken on the present situation in Ukraine.
Sent: Wednesday, 24 December 2014, 13:01
Subject: RE: Chris Ford
1. The PFLCPSA site is run by right-wingers and Stalinists. It’s main purpose is to attack ‘trots’.
Nobody on the left of PCS would ever quote the site in defence of anything.
2. My comment about an ‘arrest’ was due to the fact it was mentioned below.
3. Chris could have chosen not to have accepted the offer, continued with the ET or simply accepted the warnings.
Campaigning for the reinstatement of Alberto Durango, 12.02.2010. Picture Copyright (C) 2010 Peter Marshall, all rights reserved
Two Articles on the victimisation of Alberto Durango, whose case was strongly championed by Chris Ford, by Jim Kelly who chaired the United Left meeting that refused him speaking rights in June 2006..
unite ‘united left’ no-platforms victimised activist alberto durango
20 06 2009
by Chris Kane
There was uproar at the UNITE London ‘united left’ on Thursday night when any discussion of the Mitie workers’ dispute at Willis was blocked and the sacked UNITE cleaners rep at Schroeders, Alberto Durango, was denied the opportunity to address the meeting.
Two branch officers from the Clerkenwell and St.Pancras Branch of UNITE who have supported the sacked cleaners attended the meeting – the Secretary Monica Gort and the Organiser Chris Ford, and also some lay reps. They came with Alberto a member of the UNITE Cleaners Branch Committee. They attended expecting to secure solidarity from other UNITE activists in London in widening support for the cleaners and to back calls for Asst. General Secretary Jack Dromey to reverse his withdrawal of support for the dispute. The complete opposite occurred.
From the start there was a witch-hunting atmosphere at the meeting, peppered with red-baiting of critics. The shenanigans would have put New Labour to shame. It began with the controversial railroading of a decision to hold elections to a ‘united left’ committee. A slate had already been circulated beforehand which put the named few in their posts for two years!
When the chair outlined the agenda efforts to ensure the cleaners’ dispute was to be discussed were met with a complete refusal by the chair that did nothing to disguise his hostility to the victimised workers and their supporters.
The reasons outlined had nothing in common with what you would expect from a trade union branch, never mind a union broad left which stands for a “lay member controlled, democratic union, which is responsive to the needs and aspirations of its membership, operates in a spirit of open debate, tolerance, and fairness, and opposes authoritarian and dictatorial approaches”.
* First he said he had not been notified in advance by the required two weeks for an AOB item – Monica Gort and Chris Ford pointing out that they had emailed him and other officers: which he denied.
* Then he said there were people at the meeting who disagreed with the dispute, who clearly were given some kind of veto over other people’s opinions.
In fact very few of the six were in fact cleaners! Repeatedly the chair shouted down UNITE reps who wanted the cleaners to be able to report on their struggle, and repeatedly the chair threatened to have UNITE reps Monica Gort and Chris Ford thrown out of the meeting, though in contrast nothing was said to his supporters who levelled verbal abuse at Chris Ford: it took a Socialist Party member to intervene to halt this.
When it came to the agenda item on industrial disputes, reports on the dispute at Visteon, the Rob Williams victimisation and the situation on the London Buses were given extensive time for discussion. During this agenda item Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell MP in particular were also the subject of serious smears over the Visteon dispute by Rod Finlayson, who described “the so-called left-wing MP John McDonnell” whose friends, he noted, were at the meeting. The Chair allowed those attacks to take place without interruption.
Once again there was an effort to get the cleaners’ dispute discussed, the responded this time with renewed hostility stating this was a subject that “should be discussed by people round a table” and that there were six people form the cleaners branch who did not agree with the Willis dispute and attacked a “group of people who had never been at a meeting before who had come along”. The group concerned being a sacked member of the Cleaners Branch Committee and members of other branches. Essentially the rules imposed were if your face doesn’t fit you don’t get a say. Once again there was a threat to have people thrown out who disagreed.
Chris Ford at the picket for Alberto Durango
Jerry Hicks (left, shouting) on the dedmo for Alberto Durango 12.02.2010. Picture Copyright (C) 2010 Peter Marshall, all rights reserved
It was only thanks to the assertiveness of a shop steward of the Socialist Party that the issue of the meeting being able to discuss the subject was put to the vote. The vote was lost in what some people said was questionable counting, with 29 for a discussion and 38 against. All of the Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party comrades voted in a principled manner, one exception being Bronwen Handyside of the United Socialist Party who voted against a discussion! It would appear being a party founded by sacked Liverpool Dockers has no bearing on its membership practices.
The decision of the united left meeting in London was nothing other than a disgrace: it is difficult to see how such people can in any way be associated with the “left” at all. Essentially the broad left of UNITE in London agreed:
* Not to support migrant workers who joined UNITE to improve their working lives and have been sacked as a consequence of their activity as union members.
* Not to support a leading activist of the UNITE cleaners and a Branch Committee member who has been arrested at the employers’ behest and sacked on spurious grounds.
Not only will the united left do nothing to help these workers but it has decided it will not even be prepared to allow them to speak at its own meetings on the subject: it would not even allow its members to debate the dispute.
A section of the united left in London have fallen into agreement with or been duped by the smear campaign emanating from the hierarchy of UNITE against this group of migrant workers who took their union assurances to defend them in good faith.
The majority of the united left in London have forgotten one of the core principles of trade unionism – an injury to one is an injury to all. Trade unionists such as from RMT, UNISON, CWU and others have given solidarity to these cleaners, it is time activists in UNITE got organised and recognised it is these workers who represent the best traditions of our movement not those parroting a hierarchy of rogues and class traitors.
Jim Kelly, chair of London & Eastern Region, Unite the union: “Are you sure” he shouted at a wayward supporter who voted to hear the victimised cleaner speak – “no seat on the regional committee for you comrade”, he might as well have said as the power mad former rank-and-file supporter of the Building Workers Group (remember Brian Higgins, Jim, that super scourge of the bureaucrats in UCATT?) displayed his allegiance to Stalinism and the other side of his coat.
Can’t you hear the Gulag calling?
By Gerry Downing, Socialist Fight No 3 Autumn 2009
There was uproar at the Unite London ‘United Left’ on Thursday night (18th July) when any discussion of the Mitie workers’ dispute at Willis was blocked and the sacked Unite cleaners’ rep at Schroeders, Alberto Durango, was denied the opportunity to address the meeting.
Two branch officers from the Clerkenwell and St Pancras Branch of Unite who have supported the sacked cleaners attended the meeting – the Secretary Monica Gort and the Organiser Chris Ford, and also some lay reps; they came with Alberto, a member of the Unite Cleaners Branch Committee. They attended expecting to secure solidarity from other Unite activists in London in widening support for the cleaners and to back calls for Asst. General Secretary Jack Dromey to reverse his withdrawal of support for the dispute. The complete opposite occurred.” (Chris Kane, The Commune Blog; http://thecommune.wordpress.com)
What a sick bunch of class traitors who would do this to a representative of the most oppressed workers in the land. But Alberto’s method was to fight the bosses and mobilise the ranks of his membership; the actions of Unite officials was to broker a class compromise to achieve some union subs but leave the workers where they were – remember JJ Fast Foods, Brother Kelly? (Jim Kelly, the bureaucratic chair of the meeting had supported the JJ Fast Foods strike about a decade ago, making just this point about the T&G bureaucracy himself). As Alberto observed, “United Left? These people are just right-wingers”. Of course they are and Alberto’s intervention tore aside the mask of these fake leftists completely on the night. He and his supporters won the taking of a vote at the second time of asking because of the intervention of a SP steward (the No2EU rotten block surely cannot survive this ‘treachery’). The 28 to 39 vote (Jim Kelly’s count has been questioned) to silence Alberto (because there were six people in the meeting who did not agree with the conduct of the dispute by Alberto) revealed the truth – a cynical resignation to his fate would not have provided the basis for a campaign against this betrayal.
The meeting of about seventy was already highly charged as both the SWP and the CPB-dominated bureaucracy had mobilised for it. The United Left is fundamentally a nomenklatura organisation, a jobs-and-positions-allocating Woodleyite front. Every vote against Alberto was bought and paid for by that system. It combines the former TGWU Broad Left and the Amicus Gazette group. This was set up at the 21 February launch AGM as a ‘consensus’ organisation where no votes were to be taken except in extremis and even then they were to be ‘weighted’, i.e. bureaucrats would arrive at meetings with members’ votes in their pockets to ensure no rank-and-file mass movement could swamp them. And of course a ‘slate’ of leadership contenders would be agreed in advance to be ‘consensus-ised’ at the AGM. Applause was the method of testing support, you could fold your arms if you were a ‘troublemaker’ and did not approve. Both the SWP and the SP had agreed to this but events in the class struggle had ripped this consensus apart (see Socialist Fight No. 2, pp.12 -14 for an analysis of these events).
In short the SP was welcomed into the No2EU CPB-Bob Crow chauvinist Europhobic ‘platform’ whereas the SWP was excluded because it took a ‘bad’ (i.e. half-good) position on Bj4Bw. So Ted Knight got hold of a leaflet at the start of the meeting containing a slate excluding himself and the SWP. He was given short shrift by Jim Kelly, the chair, when he objected to the undemocratic nature of the slate and the breakdown of consensus. In fact the SWP did not force a vote on their exclusion because they could see that the CPB/fulltime bureaucrats had mobilised heavily against them, and their slate was duly elected.
The meeting demonstrated the rise and rise of the TU bureaucracy and the snuffing out of democracy for the ranks of the membership itself. Every vote there was bought and paid for by the nomenklatura system developed by Joe Stalin himself and operated by every union bureaucracy in the world now; if you want to advance in the union structures you must comply with the system of patronage, you must vote as required, you must betray your class to advance your own career. To some of the hard-line Stalinists present this was back to the Gulag days and so was no problem. Rod Finlayson, was confident in his Stalinism and in his attacks on MPs Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell and “their supporters here”, obviously beginning with the troublemaker Ted Knight. The MPs had supported Alberto and the Mitie cleaners, this was interfering in the internal affairs of Unite and so exposing the anti-working class ‘partnership’ methods of Unite. A TGWU RIO, Pat Mahon, made just this accusation in a letter and subsequent telephone call, on loudspeaker in the Woodberry office, from Ken Livingstone (my MP in Brent East at the time), who had just intervened to prevent my sacking in 1999 by a joint union-management effort. Your nostalgia for the good old days of the Gulag was palpable, Rod!
Jim Kelly excelled himself in his bureaucratic railroading of the meeting. “Are you sure” he shouted at a wayward supporter who voted to hear the victimised cleaner speak – “no seat on the regional committee for you comrade”, he might as well have said as the power mad former rank-and-file supporter of the Building Workers Group (remember Brian Higgins, Jim, that super scourge of the bureaucrats in UCATT?) displayed his allegiance to Stalinism and the other side of his coat.
But surely the accolade for class traitor of the night (there were many contenders!) must go to Bronwyn Handyside. This former Trotskyist, fellow WRP CC member, editor of the Workers Press and champion of the Liverpool dockers against Bill Morris’s treachery sold her soul to Stalinist bureaucracy on the TGWU Broad Left some time back when she accepted their patronage to advance in the union structures. When she voted to deny the victimised cleaners’ rep a voice she at least had the good grace to blush and afterwards say she wished it had not come to a vote. Never mind, Bronwyn, like the old German Social Democrats after the 4 August 1914 vote to supply the Kaiser with the war credits to enable the slaughter of WWI to proceed, a feeling of great freedom and liberation will quickly overcome those feelings of shame and sympathy for the oppressed. This is an account of their terrible dilemma post 1914:
Taking their cue from the SPD, trade union leaders suspended strikes and established a policy of class collaboration, known as the Burgfrieden in Germany and the union sacrée in France. The party and trade union leaders …had already travelled down the reformist road; (this) was well illustrated by a member from the left of the party, Konrad Haenisch:”
“The conflict of two souls in one breast was probably easy for none of us… This fear: will you not also betray yourself and your cause? … [Thus it was] until suddenly…the terrible tension was resolved…until¬, despite all principles and wooden theories¬ one could, for the first time in almost a quarter century, join with a full heart, a clean conscience and without a sense of treason in the sweeping, stormy song: ‘Deutschland, Deutschland, Über Alles’. Issue 76 of International Socialism, Prelude to revolution: Class consciousness and the First World War, Megan Trudell
Surely the SWP and the SP must now recognise the hopelessly undemocratic nature of this full-time officer dominated group and begin to fight within it to form a new principled, anti-bureaucratic rank-and-file opposition of class struggle fighters.