Unite National Executive Committee (NEC) representative Jennie Formby has declared her intention to apply for the position of Labour Party General Secretary.
Ms Formby, who has a long track record of unassuming work on behalf of the left, has the right combination of political nous and people skills to make an outstanding General Secretary who will work for the wishes of the members. As a union representative, she also has the background and contacts needed to work well with both of the NEC’s main constituencies.
She also has the solid backing of both Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.
Pressure is mounting on Momentum founder Jon Lansman to cancel any plans to stand. Two left-wing candidates for the position make two things almost certain that will dismay the vast majority of Labour members – and will actually work against party democracy.
To become General Secretary, Lansman would need to resign his place on the NEC – the General Secretary is an ex officio, non-voting NEC member. Labour rules state that if an elected NEC member stands aside, there is no election to replace them – their place is automatically taken by the unsuccessful candidate who received the most votes in the NEC election.
In this case, Eddie Izzard – effectively annulling the votes of the 65,000 people who voted in Lansman as part of the left ‘slate’ last month.
A Lansman application for the position would also have the almost certain consequence of opening the door for any right-wing candidate who decides to apply – saddling Labour members with “McNicol Mark II”.
The current balance of the NEC is twenty-one left vs seventeen right. If Lansman peels away just a few votes and the right-wing members remain solid, they could block Corbyn’s preferred candidate and get one of their own into the job.
This would be a disaster for Labour and a double blow for party democracy, even if Izzard would probably only be able to attend a meeting or two before this summer’s new elections for ‘CLP’ representatives on the NEC.
However, the SKWAWKBOX understands that the disaster can be avoided, as Lansman is prepared to accept a majority decision by the NEC’s left members as to who should stand.
The SKWAWKBOX is confident that he’ll do the right thing for members and ‘the project’.
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