Jon Lansman confirms he will challenge Jennie Formby to be Labour general secretary

Posted On: 
1st March 2018

Jon Lansman has confirmed he is running to be Labour's general secretary - despite coming under huge pressure from Jeremy Corbyn not to stand.

Jon Lansman is the founder of Momentum and a long-standing ally of Jeremy Corbyn.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Momentum chief will go head-to-head with Unite official and fellow Labour national executive committee member Jennie Formby in what is likely to be a bitter race to succeed Iain McNicol in the powerful role.

Mr Lansman said he was applying "to open up the contest and ensure we have a wide range of candidates".

In an apparent swipe at the way Labour continues to be dominated by the trade unions, the veteran left-winger pointed out that Mr Corbyn had run for the Labour leadership on a pledge to end "the old machine politics".

He said that in future, all of Labour's members should get a vote in general secretary elections, rather than just those on the party's ruling national executive committee.

"History shows that we will only be able to transform Britain if our own party has the structures, culture and practices it wants to see in the rest of society," he said.

Mr Lansman added: "If chosen as Labour's next general secretary, I will stay tuned to the desires of our members and trade union affiliates, work hard to strengthen Labour's trade union link and use my decades of experience to make sure Labour really can deliver for the many, not the few."

His decision to run will infuriate those close to Mr Corbyn, including his chief of staff Karie Murphy, who are backing Ms Formby.

Several members of the Shadow Cabinet who are close to the Labour leader have already tweeted their support for her election bid.

PoliticsHome revealed on Monday night that Mr Lansman was being urged to run as the 'stop Formby' candidate.

One source said: "There are lots of unions who do not like Jennie because she is very divisive, but she is definitely the candidate to beat as it stands because she has Corbyn and McDonnell's backing. There are lkots of arguments and squabbles going on behind the scenes.

"Loads of people hate her and are trying very hard to stop her, even among those on the left of the party."

But a source close to Ms Formby dismissed Mr Lansman as a "white, privileged bloke of a certain age" who should not be given the job of running a modern political party.

Announcing her own candidacy earlier this week, Ms Formby said she wanted to help Labour "grasp the historic opportunity" to install Jeremy Corbyn in 10 Downing Street.

"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."