Excl: 17 more NEC members incl Momentum back Formby as candidacy nears critical mass

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No fewer than seventeen of Labour’s ruling NEC (National Executive Committee) have already backed Unite’s Jennie Formby for the position of General Secretary when incumbent Iain McNicol steps down, following the announcement of his resignation last week.

Formby’s supporters include four NEC members who ran on a Momentum-backed left slate, including Rhea Wolfson, Pete Willsman and Rachael Garnham. Other backers include Jon Trickett, Kate Osamor Rebecca Long-Bailey.

Formby also has support from the representatives of the TSSA and ASLEF unions, as well as – of course and in spite of spurious claims in some of the mainstream media to the contrary – that of Unite.

Many of the most influential grassroots online activist accounts of last year’s General Election have already backed Ms Formby, while so far fifteen Labour MPs have given their public endorsement.

In addition, Labour leader – and NEC member – Jeremy Corbyn has strongly advocated that the next General Secretary, or #JenSec according to the hashtag in support of Formby, is a woman.

A senior source from one of the smaller Labour-affiliated unions talked to Corbyn this week and told the SKWAWKBOX:

Jeremy is committed to equality and fair representation and has already stated this publicly. He has encouraged women to stand for positions from unions and the wider membership

He told me he’s unhappy at any attempt to divide CLP’s [constituency Labour party members] from the unions – we are a united party and he won’t tolerate divisions being escalated. It betrays our solidarity to pit members against unions or small unions against the larger ones.

He also doesn’t support an elected General Secretary – it’s an appointment as the role is to run an administration that supports the leadership and the democratic wishes of the members.

With Corbyn himself known to back her, it seems the support for Jennie Formby’s candidacy is rapidly approaching critical mass.

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  1. A stamp of approval from the leadership of the Labour Party is good enough for me.

    Jennie Formby it is then.

    Thank goodness we are moving on from McNicol’s destructive stewardship and will soon have a General Secretary who supports the party, membership and leadership.

    Onwards to victory comrades.

  2. My main worry is with her past membership of ‘Friends Of Israel’ group, we will have to suffer another antisemitic witch hunt instigated by the Blairites

    1. David If Labour Against the Witch-hunt support her then that’s good enough for me. Here’s what they say in their statement (which is mainly about the reasons why they don’t support John Lansman for GS):

      We believe that Unite’s Jennie Formby would be the best choice for general secretary. As a vocal supporter of, for instance, the rights of Palestinian people and genuine bottom up Labour Party democracy, we think her election would send a powerful political signal that Labour is ready for government. We hope that her tenure would mark the beginning of the end of the witch-hunt, which has caused such disunity in the party. Labour unity is the top priority and is essential in order that the party wins the next general election.

      Check out their website for the full statement.

  3. “General Secretary – it’s an appointment as the role is to run an administration that supports the leadership and the democratic wishes of the members.”
    That didn’t work out so well for the last couple of years, though, did it?

    1. Exactly. Labour had a GS acting like he had a mandate to do other than enact what he was asked to – and now some people are wanting to give someone an *actual* mandate to do likewise

  4. How would you recommend supporters counter the criticism that Jennie Formby’s past appointments were questionable because of her relationship with Len McCluskey who made the appointments? I have no idea what to say to counter this…

    Tony Grew
    21 July 2013
    The Sunday Times

    …Jennie Formby was appointed to the post last month as the union and the Labour party became ensnared in a battle with Miliband over allegations that it tried to manipulate the selection of candidates for the 2015 general election.

    Formby attacked the Labour leader’s decision to report to police the selection process in the Falkirk constituency.

    Miliband has played down accusations that the unions and powerful leaders such as McCluskey have too much influence over the party’s policy and direction. Unite has donated £11.9m to Labour since the general election in 2010.

    As the union’s political director, Formby is one of 11 trade unionists with a seat on Labour’s ruling national executive committee. She is reported to have challenged Miliband at a recent NEC meeting over his plans to loosen the unions’ relationship with Labour.

    She and McCluskey had a son together in 1991. Their relationship, three years before McCluskey divorced, was not widely known.

    Formby, under her maiden name Jennifer Sandle, and McCluskey are named as the parents of the boy on a birth certificate issued in Southampton and obtained by The Mail on Sunday.

    At the time both worked for the Transport and General Workers’ Union, which merged with another union in 2007 to form Unite. McCluskey became assistant general secretary of the new union. The former dock worker was elected general secretary in 2011.

    A Unite spokesman dismissed allegations that Formby was appointed to her new role because of her previous relationship with McCluskey. “Her appointment has been ratified by the executive council and her appointment was made on merit,” he said.

    Formby has worked for the TGWU and Unite for more than 25 years and served as both a regional and national officer before her appointment last month as political director.

    Police are investigating claims union members were signed up to constituency parties without their knowledge in an attempt to rig the selection of Unite-backed candidates.

    Miliband’s decision to call in police to investigate the selection in Falkirk led to a bitter clash between McCluskey and Miliband. The union leader complained that Labour’s selection process shut out working people in favour of “Oxbridge-educated special advisers who glide from university to think tank to the green benches without ever sniffing the air of the real world”.

    Formby led public defence of McCluskey after he was accused of trying to rig a Labour selection contest in Falkirk, Scotland, for another union ally

    She has now been given £75,000 job as Unite’s political director

    According to Land Registry documents, Leonard McCluskey became the registered owner of the £695,500 flat. Unite paid £417,300 towards the flat and signed the agreement with McCluskey.

    There does not appear to have been any mention of the flat’s purchase in recent national executive meetings… However, the union says the deal was completed with “full authority” of its executive council.

    1. I’d recommend counter them by calling them as low as they are – and pointing to the many people who testify to Ms Formby’s competence and fierce intelligence.

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