Unite official Jennie Formby set to become Labour's new general secretary

Posted On: 
14th March 2018

A senior Unite official and ally of Jeremy Corbyn is set to become Labour's new general secretary.

Jennie Formby is a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn.
PA Images

Jennie Formby will be formally appointed to the powerful role at a meeting of the party's national executive committee next week.

The decision became a formality after her only serious challenger for the post, Momentum boss Jon Lansman, pulled out of the race at the weekend.

Fresh blow for Labour as senior official dubbed 'brains of the party' quits

EXCL Jennie Formby condemns 'anti-Semitic' attacks on Labour rival Jon Lansman

Jennie Formby confirms she is running to become Labour general secretary

Jon Lansman being lined up as 'stop Formby' candidate in race for key Labour post

That came after days of Labour bickering over his decision to throw his hat into the ring, with Mr Corbyn among those urging him not to stand.

In another boost for Ms Formby, the GMB union last night gave her their backing.

General secretary Tim Roache said: "This isn’t a small decision, we’ve taken time as a union to discuss it, to think about where Labour needs to be.

"GMB members first and foremost need a Labour government, and we need our party to understand us. Jennie has been a trade unionist for decades. I have no doubt she understands the challenges and issues working people face and that she’ll do everything she can to put them at the heart of Labour’s campaign for government."

The vacancy for Labour general secretary opened up following the shock resignation of Iain McNicol, who had been in the role for seven years.

Left-winger Ms Formby, who is Unite's organiser in the south-east of England, is a long-standing member of Labour's NEC, but is seen as a divisive figure by many in the party.

Announcing her decision to stand two weeks ago, she said she wanted to help the party "grasp the historic opportunity" to install Jeremy Corbyn in 10 Downing Street.

"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," she said.

One of her first jobs will be to appoint a new Executive Director - effectively her number two - after Emilie Oldknow announced yesterday that she was standing down in the summer after 15 years working for the party.

One senior Labour figure told PoliticsHome: "This is clearly a huge loss to the Labour party and much more significant for the organisation than Iain McNicol’s resignation. 

"Emilie is the de facto chief executive of the Labour party. She manages a complex and large team and makes all the significant strategic decisions relating to the party’s long-term future.

"Iain McNicol was totally reliant on Emilie each day to make decisions and to have all the difficult conversations - and that is a massive loss."