Formby’s first-day email to all Labour members

New Labour Party General Secretary Jennie Formby

Labour’s new General Secretary Jennie Formby had her first day in the new job today. Given events of the last week, it can hardly have been the easiest introduction.

She marked the day with the following email to every Labour member:

I am honoured — and thrilled — to be today taking over as the Labour Party General Secretary. I take particular pride in being only the second woman to hold this post.

My overriding priority is to unite our whole party — members, trade unions, MPs and other elected representatives — in working for the election of a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn at the earliest opportunity. The crisis in our NHS, collapsing local government finances and falling living standards all underline the urgency for change.

Only Labour, campaigning together as a united team, taking our message to every community in the country, can deliver that change. I look forward to working with you and all our activists across Britain in building a dynamic, 21st century campaigning force, mobilising a movement behind the message that took us so close to victory last June.

Creating that unity requires recognising and tackling problems in our own Party, above all in relation to antisemitism. This week I will be moving to ensure the full implementation of the Chakrabarti report and introducing new procedures to deal with complaints and disciplinary cases. The stain of antisemitic attitudes must be completely eradicated within the Labour Party — we are the party for people of all races and faiths, the party of full equality for all, or we are nothing. Likewise, I will tackle any manifestation of misogyny, bullying or abuse of anyone, as Jeremy Corbyn has pledged.

I inherit a tremendous staff team at Labour HQ and in the regions and nations. Working with the largest membership of any democratic socialist political party in Europe we can build on our great electoral advances of last year. I look forward to playing my part in winning the Labour government, Labour local authorities and Labour representatives our people need.

Jennie Formby
General Secretary
The Labour Party

As a statement of intent it inspires optimism – and as a political message, it’s also finely judged.

Ms Formby’s introductory message gives due weight to the importance of dealing with antisemitic, racist or sexist  attitudes where they exist in the party and ensuring all members are treated properly.

But it gives the most up-front weight to the imperative of ousting the Tories for the sake of the whole country and its most vulnerable people.

Which is just as it should be.

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  1. Really good and constructive message from our new General Secretary.

    It will make a nice change to see Jennie’s name at the bottom of the emails instead of Iain McNicol’s.

    I don’t know about everyone else but it used to make me want to throw up when I got emails from the Witchfinder General asking for money.

    When Jennie asks for donations I will happily contribute.

  2. Shame there was nothing in there about false accusations being equally damaging and needing rooting out. I’m all for the lady but you cannot want to be equil without looking at the false narratives and accusations especially from Labour MP’s ect and members.

  3. I wish Jennie every success and I am sure she will be a brilliant General Secretary.
    I wonder if we could also draw upon the expertise of socialist academics (who a well as legal minds) who could perhaps also give feedback on cases?
    Labour members I belive are being held to high academic standards.
    But we need a well organised system, fair to all parties and the process should be well planned over time; cases should be dealt with asap (it is not fair to leave people in limbo).
    So perhaps with an academic pool in pairs they could look at the evidence (when you submit articles to academic journals they are usually reviewed by two of your peers who give you feedback) which could help Labour members.
    When Labour started out it even had its own Colleges but I would suggest with the Right in Labour Political Education for members has perhaps been the last thing on their mind?
    Ideally I try back up my points with evidence and I ideally try to look at more than one source of information plus try not to appear too certain and try to be careful about making sweeping statements and jumping to conclusions.
    So you never know perhaps some good could come out of this testing situation for us all?
    None of us are perfect, we all make mistakes and can get things wrong from time to time when we share our opinions; for example by simply saying “many people” when it should perhaps have been “some people.”
    Evidence I would suggest can be enriching and reading those who you disagree with can often stimulate your thinking and help to develop your arguments.
    When I did my degree as a mature student (the first in my working class family) one of the best sessions I ever attended was by an old Marxist tutor in the Urban Studies Module; he gave us a task and I was the only one in the group who got it.
    You had to come up with passionate counter arguments on something you supported a lot and I came up with Right Wing ideas in favour of privatising nationalised industries with gusto (Thatcher was in power at the time) and although this was initially disconcerting ultimately it was empowering as you got to understand some of the thinking behind your opponents arguments.
    I also thought about how to counter them but I also thought about ideas on how the old top down distant nationalised industries could perhaps become democratic public ownership with staff and communities having a say so that people would see them as theirs like the NHS).
    I still remember this session and after all these years, I still helps my thinking.
    If we are going to build a society (and World) of critical thinkers then perhaps we could start with ourselves.
    Food for thought.
    I believe with Jeremy Another UK (and World) IS possible!

  4. Bliarites must be expelled from the Labour Party, otherwise there will be no party as has happened in Scotland!

  5. Playing devil’s advocate is often a useful intellectual exercise. I always quite enjoyed it. When I did my Army selection course w had a debate session and one question was on Nuclear weapons. Everyone was in favour so the discussion was flatlining. I jumped in and made all the counter arguments and it became a barnstormer of an row. I never told the assessor my real views either when they asked. At that time I was not so sure now I am firmly anti Nuclear but that is a side issue.

    It is the same when preparing a court case, you consider your sides arguments then switch and think of all the arguments you would make if you represented the other side. Then review those to see how to counter them. I suppose it is a dialectical process and through this you can reach a better solution.

    Hopefully whatever proposals come forward for discipline reform they will be transparent and published widely for consultation. I will certainly try to get a look asap and write up a detailed response. I have offered to help but the offer appeared to be politely rebuffed.

    I hope we can get a better and faster process that maintains due process and protects the rights of all accused. In particular it is essential to protect natural justice, not just because it is of value but because a process that ignores it would likely be unsustainable if challenged in Court. If the will is there it is perfectly possible to vastly improve the process without resorting to some kind of kangaroo court process.

  6. I wish her all the best and hope she will now get on with everything she’s mentioned to us the members.
    I, also hope, that she investigates the wrongs done by the last incumbent GS, along with his cohorts for the which hunt they brought against us, the members?

  7. I wish her well and hope that this problem can be resolved quickly so that the party can concentrate on winning the next general election. I have to take the word of those comrades report incidents of antisemitism because I personally have not encountered it.
    What I have encountered is the constant attempts to undermine Jeremy’s leadership by the Blairite wing of the party. I have observed their persistent undermining of the twice elected leader and their false claims that opposition to the policies of the Israeli government is antisemitic.

    It is not. The people of this country, including many Jews need a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn so that all people whatever their ethnicity can live in peace and security.

    Thousands of people in this country are suffering under this government. I am not suggesting for one minute that we should ignore this issue in fact we have to root out any Antisemitism that exists to be seen as the party that stands for peace and justice for all people.

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