Senior Unite official Jenny Formby appointed as Labour Party's General Secretary

Ms Formby is a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn and becomes the second woman to the hold position

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 20 March 2018 18:39 GMT
Jeremy Corbyn at the Labour conference with the political director of Unite, Jennie Formby
Jeremy Corbyn at the Labour conference with the political director of Unite, Jennie Formby (AFP)

A Jeremy Corbyn ally and senior Unite official has been appointed by Labour’s governing body to be the party’s next general secretary.

Jennie Formby, the south-east regional secretary of the Unite union, was chosen following a crunch meeting of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

She now becomes the second woman to be appointed to the position, following Margaret McDonagh, who served from 1998 to 2001.

The general secretary is Labour's most senior employee and oversees operations at the party's Southside headquarters in Victoria. The incumbent, Iain McNicol, stepped down last month, and had had a series of clashes with the Labour leadership.

The Independent understands that Ms Formby defeated her nearest rival in the secret ballot of NEC members by 35 votes to two.

Welcoming the decision, Mr Corbyn 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 election advance and taking out party forward to victory.”

Ms Formby said she was honoured to be appointed to the position, adding: “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,” she said.

Ms Formby was chosen by Labour’s NEC ahead of her only rival for the job – Christine Blower, former leader of the National Union of Teachers. The founder of Momentum, Jon Lansman, pulled out of the race and encouraged other members to apply for the job to ensure a debate.

Mr McNicol, who had a strained relationship with leader’s office after he insisted Mr Corbyn should be forced to re-seek nominations from MPs during the 2016 leadership contest, said he was leaving the party in a financially sound position and “handing over the reins to someone with such strong trade union experience”.

He added: I'm confident Jennie will build on our electoral gains last year, working with our talented and experienced staff to win the next general election, whenever it comes.

“As someone who has dedicated her life to fighting for workers' rights, equality and social justice, I know Jennie will put all the commitment, drive and organising talent into getting Labour into government and Jeremy into Number 10.”

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