Jennie Formby appointed Labour general secretary in huge boost for Jeremy Corbyn
Jennie Formby has been appointed Labour's general secretary, in a move which further strengthens Jeremy Corbyn's grip on the party.
The senior Unite official beat off the challenge of former NUT boss Christine Blower to become only the second woman ever to hold the key post.
Ms Formby succeeds Iain McNicol, who dramatically quit the powerful role last month.
After being chosen by Labour's ruling national executive committee at a meeting this afternoon, Ms Formby said: "I am honoured to be appointed Labour’s new general secretary. I would like to thank my predecessor, Iain McNicol, for his tireless dedication to the party over the past seven years.
"Last year’s general election showed the strength of our movement when we are united, challenging this government’s failed and damaging policies and campaigning for real change, in the interests of communities across the UK.
"Labour is preparing for government and I look forward to working with Jeremy Corbyn, our party’s staff, members of parliament, members and affiliates to oppose the Conservatives’ destructive austerity programme inside and outside parliament, and to win elections to build a society that works for the many, not the few."
Her election is another major boost for Jeremy Corbyn, who supported her campaign from the start.
He said: "Her talent, experience and commitment to the Labour and Trade Union movement makes me confident she will play a crucial role in building on last year’s inspiring General Election advance and taking our party forward to victory.
"The Labour party is on the cusp of power and we are ready for a general election whenever it comes. We have the team, the passion and the policies to win the support of the British people, form a government and transform our society for the many, not the few."
She initially faced a challenge from Momentum boss Jon Lansman - who said he was running despite pressure from Mr Corbyn's office to stay out of the race - but he eventually withdrew, making Ms Formby's victory all-but inevitable.
A left-winger, the long-time Labour activist is seen as a highly-divisive figure by party moderates and has a reputation for having an abrasive management style.
She is currently Unite's regional officer for the south-east and has been on Labour's NEC for seven years.
One of her first jobs will be to replace a raft of senior party officials who have quit in the past week.
Emilie Oldknow, who was effectively Iain McNicol's number two and was credited with the day-to-day running of the party, announced last week that she was leaving in the summer.
And in a dramatic move, six more experienced staff members revealed yesterday that they were also leaving.