Jennie Formby confirms she is running to become Labour general secretary

Posted On: 
27th February 2018

A senior trade union official has confirmed she is running to be the new general secretary of the Labour party.

Jennie Formby is a stalwart of the Unite union.
PA Images

Jennie Formby said she wanted to help the party "grasp the historic opportunity" to install Jeremy Corbyn in 10 Downing Street.

Her announcement piles pressure on Momentum boss Jon Lansman - who PoliticsHome revealed last night was being urged to stand as the "stop Formby" candidate - to declare his intentions.

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Ms Formby, who is Unite's organiser in the south-east of England, said Labour "is now united as it has not been for years" thanks to Mr Corbyn's leadership.

She added: "The general secretary of the party needs to be someone who can build on that unity to mobilise and organise the entire party and the wider labour movement behind a Labour victory at the next general election whenever this callous and crumbling government decides to call it."

The union stalwart, who is also a member of Labour's ruling national executive council and has Mr Corbyn and John McDonnell's support in her campaign to be general secretary, said she stood for "a tolerant and welcoming party, with no place for anti-Semitism, racism and misogyny or any form of abuse or intimidation".

"I would be proud to be the first woman to serve as Labour party general secretary in a generation and only the second ever," she said. "I have fought for gender equality – often the hard way – throughout my lifetime in the labour movement.

"Labour has only one objective – to bring to Britain the socialist change it desperately needs.  And it has only one means of delivering that – electoral victory at all levels, and above all in a eeneral Election.  As general secretary, I will devote all my time and energy to ensuring that we grasp the historic opportunity before us."

Mr Lansman could announce he is running later this afternoon, but Labour insiders said he was coming under huge pressure from the leader's office not to challenge Ms Formby.

One said: "The reason she's come out the blocks now is to try to put more pressure on Jon Lansman not to enter the race. But all the signals I'm hearing are that he is determined to stand.

"Staff at Labour HQ can't stand Jennie because she is so divisive and unpleasant to deal with. And the idea that she knows how to run a general election campaign is just a joke. There would be a mass walkout if she becomes general secretary."

PoliticsHome has learned that Momentum co-founder Christine Shawcroft, who is also on Labour's NEC, is supporting Mr Lansman.

But one Unite source said: "Jon Lansman is a white, privileged bloke of a certain age - him becoming general secretary would not be a good look for a modern party."

The new general secretary will replace Iain McNicol, who dramatically quit on Friday night. The successful candidate, who will be chosen by Labour's will be NEC, will be announced on 20 March.