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Breaking: Formby steps down as Labour general secretary

Decision announced on Twitter moments ago

Jennie Formby has announced that she is standing down as general secretary of the Labour Party with immediate effect. A move to replace her has been anticipated ever since Keir Starmer won the Labour leadership election.

Jennie Formby’s tweet announcing her resignation

While undergoing chemotherapy to battle cancer, Ms Formby revolutionised Labour’s disciplinary processes after the obstructive shambles that the recently-leaked Labour internal report showed was taking place under her predecessor Iain McNicol. In spite of this, she has been frequently and shamefully attacked – for failings that occurred before her tenure and which were deliberately worsened by outgoing right-wingers – often by members and parliamentary representatives of her own party as well as by hostile media.

Keir Starmer now faces an even greater headache in the fact that one of his favourites for the role is prominent in the leaked report and another is mentioned in a complaint by an anonymous group of GMB staff calling itself MeTooGMB that coincided with the departure of that union’s general secretary.

The SKWAWKBOX wishes Ms Formby well for her future. The Labour Party is the poorer for her departure.

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40 comments

    1. a realist would argue this is why Jeremy never gained full control of the party, his collegiate style is lovely on paper but naive when one considers the actions/behaviour of the Labour right who had zero intention of supporting him

      1. Historically, the right has always moved to exterminate the left when it has won, eg Paris Commune, Weimar Germany/Freikorps, Spain, Chile etc. The right in uk is now doing the same but without the killing! The lesson is clear. The right has to be smashed decisively. This will never happen in the LP. . JCs kinder politics was an open invitation to the right to overthrow himj and it worked.

        To use a metaphor, The right is like a Terminator. It has no feelings for you and it will absolutely not stop hunting you until you have been terminated

    2. Yeah he wants his sycophants around him. I always believed that General secretaries could stay on. We were Lumbered With Mcnichols for a good two years+.
      Let’s wish Jenny well and thank her for all her hard work, whilst being ill and before the backdrop of all the nastiness she encountered.
      😥😥😥😥

    1. It seems increasingly unlikely Labour will survive to be able to contest power as it did in 2017. The mass support just wont be there. Starmer and his Gang are fairly confident of keeping their seats which is all that really matters to them although I recall Starmer isn’t exactly ‘safe’. Their main problem is policy – apart from backing Johnson they have no idea of what they’d do if govt fell into their hands. They clearly want to ditch much of the previous manifesto just as they already have with Foreign Policy. The Establishment will probably be looking to Starmer to back a new Austerity to pay for the govt handouts to business and to support police action against those at the bottom of the pile who refuse to return to work or strike in favour of pay increases.

      1. As Chris Williamson has been saying: the structure of the Labour Party meant that the Corbyn Project was always going to be defeated, one way or another and now we see the bulwarks that supported the Corbyn Project being taken away (and I am sure there are reasons why Jenny is leaving now). So from here onwards there is NO POSSIBILITY of the Left of the party ever “taking over” again, and there is no point being in the Labour Party at all. The struggle goes on, of course, and must intensify, but not by parliamentary means.

      2. Why not via Parliament? A new left party wouldn’t win power but it would offer the alternative to the Tory- Starmer new Austerity packages. And nobody knows how well it might do. It could at least stand in places like Starmer’s seat and maybe knock him off his perch. If sitting MP’s were to join in at least there would be an Opposition. Just to give in and say ‘OK, they won’ and not say or do anything for the next 10 years (except keep paying the subs) is a pathetic response.

      3. From day one Starmer has been bought and paid for by both the ruling class in the U.K. and also the right wing anti democratic billionaires in the US ( he is a member of the Trilaterals if you read Professor Antony C Sutton’s book ‘ The Trilaterals over America, he explains in great detail what the aims, objectives plus strategy of this pernicious organisation is about), plus of course the control the Zionists have over him. It was obvious from the wart on the end of someone’s nose what this satrap of them in the Labour Party is all about. With each incremental step, he plus the Progress,Labour First in conjunction with the real power behind the throne { Blair) are working towards their goal of making the party another wing of the business party, just like the US parties. Yet, many members swallowed the propaganda “ there is no alternative “ to him.

  1. Some here blamed her for everything – stuff over which she had no control. THAT was injustice.

    1. And what a generous resignation statement. Unduly generous given the circumstances.

  2. I wish Jennie Formby well – she had an impossible task given the now proven disloyalty of administrative staff.

    But she never did crack the ‘antisemitism’ problem, and saw a few good soldiers going under the bus on spurious grounds.

    1. She would have needed the power to control the NEC and the NCC to crack that nut.
      My understanding is that she had no control over either body – in terms of their decisions or their memberships.
      Am I wrong?

  3. Despite Skwawkbox praising Jennie Formby, she continued to preside over the rotten system created by the equally rotten Iain McNicol. She knew full well the make up of the disciplinary unit and that they were targeting anti-Zionists, in particular our Jewish comrades and gave the the witch hunters nothing but encouragement by signing off on the suspensions and expulsions of those such as Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker and others. The recent ‘leaked report’ was nothing more than an attempt by her and others to show that they were being ruthless in driving out the miniscule amount of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. Everything she and others did by refusing to wholeheartedly reject the A/S smears, gave impetus and support to the right wing and their backers in the media to continue and intensify their attacks, with the sole intention of destroying the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. Jennie Formby is no innocent bystander, her actions plus her inactions speak for themselves in testifying to that conclusion.

      1. Even that were true John, as General Secretary she should have been working for the good of the Party and the protection of members against malicious accusations.

  4. This was always going to happen but I thought it would take a little longer, maybe after the investigation had finished. We will see who gets the job and I’m certain it won’t be anyone on the left of the party. I think the party is in a perilous state at the moment and it will take leadership of the highest order to bring people together, I just don’t see that happening.

    RIP Labour Party 1900-2020.

  5. Although Jenny’s departure is very disappointing and she will be a great miss I don’t think we should lose sight of the fact that we can’t ask her to continue at the risk of her health. I am sure that she is well on the road to recovery but she has had a very nasty few months and the continued stress of being at the sharp end of politics just isn’t worth it.

    She was absolutely magnificent to continue as the GS when was receiving treatment and very brave to tell us about it but she has now without any doubt done her bit. I think that most people expected that she would step down when the leadership dust settled but not just because of the change of leader

  6. A woman of integrity…I wonder how many of those mouthing foul language and disgusting comments will resign…? Why don’t we make a suggestion list…

    1. Northdurhamlass The people who made the disgusting foul mouthed comments should not be allowed to resign. They should be expelled-now.

  7. I am so disappointed that Jennie is stepping down but it is understandable.She has been put through so much by the party including the despicable verbal attack by Tom Watson while she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer . However once she is no longer GS she will be free to speak her mind and I look forward to that.

  8. The resignation letter is hardly a ringing endorsement of the direction the knight is leading the party.I totally sympathise with her decision especially when she has been fighting Cancer and the right wing of the Labour party from day one.Another good one bailing out or forced out.

  9. Thank you Jenny , imo you had one hell of a job with the bastards in the PLP and those staffers who did so much damage to the socialist ideals of a socialist Labour party , imo the death sof many innocents are on their hands for enabling aiding and abetting a Tory Govt
    I wish you well and best off out of it as the high degree of stress is known to contribute to cancer and a Starmer PArty is not worth it . I’d hoped that somehow she could have gone on till post NEC elections and the Leaked report result , but not to be .

    Really every day now re-enforces the necessity for a new socialist party that can fight Labour at the ballot box , the outlook goes IMO something like this

    1.Starmer ensures his placemen of ultra right-wing Gen Sec a Zionist and maybe even someone from the BOD .
    2.,Buries the Leaked Report and ensures witch hunt against the whistle blowers , and no action re the content .
    3.Changes rules to make permanently impossible to hold MPs to account or for membership to ever vote on gaining mandatory re-selection
    4..Neuters the few remaining brave Left wing MPs with threat of Whip removal and expulsion @Diane Abbot and Bell .
    5.Reinstates collegiate selection of future MPs and removes OMOV.
    6.Relegates Conference to nothing more than a irrelevant jamboree with all policy decisions made and devolved as in Blair days by him and his cronies.
    7.Steps up purge against any and all Left Wing members using trumped up smears and charges @Chris Williamson and Marc Wardsworth.
    8.Place any ” troublesome ” CLPs into ” Management” by the new NEC Gen Sec.
    9.Continues to support the Tory Govt in all its actions , token white flag opposition. .
    10. Consolidates ties to RW Corporations/MSM and the Establishment elite helping to fund party as membership dwindles.

    That’s my 10 ” fantasy” Pledges never mind those from the BOD !

    Oh forgot the most important one …..

    11.Rejoices at Labour loosing another future GE with a few Red Wall Tory voting constituencies returning to vote Labour , having made their protest vote in 2019 over Brexit , claiming that as a victory for his policies and RW stance , but receiving a much reduced vote share than Corbyn ever got .

  10. Jenny is a good socialist and did everything to back the members dream around Corbyn and I wish her well for the future, the post she had would have been a challenge for any member.
    Perhaps Jeremy was just too nice as were his team when they were up against a ruthless Right in Labour who from the leaked report we see were prepared to stoop low.
    Perhaps the Left in Labour needed to have been ruthless too ie when the first coup 100 Right Wing Labour MPs resigned should have taken whip from them, kicked them all out and selected socialist PPCs to replace them within 3 months.
    Johnson got rid of One Nation Tories at a stroke and not a dickie bird!
    Labour should have stood up to Right Wing Jewish groups and when they say jump not say “How High?” should stand up to all Right Wing forces whatever their backgrounds.
    So as socialists in and out of Labour we are confronted by 2 potential wildernesses?
    In Labour, the Left are great, but do they face 10 years of fighting the dominang Right for little return?
    I’ve left Labour after 40 years and do we now outside face the wilderness and we face the Tiresome Bores – Trot Vanguardists who believe ONLY their programme top down can deliver socialism FOR.
    Chris Williamson’s group is interesting but is worrying it seems to
    be being built around 2 personalities?
    The Left In and the Left Out need to talk, how can we build a left wing democratic socialist society WITH Diverse working people as an example to the World?

    1. “Perhaps the Left in Labour needed to have been ruthless too”. No perhaps. Labour needs to be more ruthless.

  11. The adoption by the Labour Party of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, a deliberate project designed to protect the racist State of Israel, was one of the worst decisions it has ever made. It has put every member in danger of being expelled, more so now Starmer is Leader, if they express criticism of Israel or the Zionist plan which brought it about.

    This is what Jennie Formby wrote in the ‘Jewish News’:

    “I have been asked why we didn’t just adopt the IHRA’s examples as they are and leave it at that. The answer is that they do not go far enough for practical use by a political party. Our guidelines address all of the ground covered by the IHRA examples, clarifies those that might be open to different interpretations or be seen as conflicting with other rights, and provides additional examples of anti-Semitic language and behaviour.”

    Instead of bowing to Zionist pressure, Jennie Formby could simply have said the Oxford Dictionary definition is good enough for us. – Hostility to or prejudice against Jews.

    1. Yes – in wishing Jennie Formby well, I’m not blind enough to canonize her as some seem willing to do.

      Ultimately, she failed in this key area, being (at least nominally) in charge whilst people like Chris Williamson were victimized and thrown under the bus. She never told it as it really is when making a semi-defense of the Party.

      You are absolutely right, Jack – the only reason you would want to modify the pretty clear OED definition of ‘antisemitism’ is in order to ‘pervert the course of justice’ to use a familiar phrase.

    2. “People who profess a belief in sky fairies, or defend the right of others to profess such beliefs, must be barred from participating in government in any way – to allow such imbeciles to influence world events is ridiculous.
      They must all be disenfranchised until they learn that there are no gods, devils, heavens, hells or prophets, and that religions are antidemocratic power structures standing in the way of progress – both personal and societal.”

      Don’t blame me, I’m just quoting the magic stone I found.

  12. If Corbyn had not stayed in the party during the Blair years, he would not have been in a position to win the leadership in 2015. He can still win again if we can hold together his base of support within the party. Those leaving, or considering it, should bear this in mind. Are we really going to allow Corbyn’s base in the party to simply disintegrate because we lack the determination to fight our corner in the party, like the right did over the past 4 years?

    The Labour party is the main arena, the main battleground for working-class politics in Britain. it is brutal and bloody at times and often extremely frustrating. But it is the only game in town. As Tony Benn repeatedly pointed out, we can never take any reform for granted. They have to be defended over and over again in every generation.

    The alliance with the unions that created the Labour party at the beginning of the last century was crucial to giving working people the possibility of gaining representation in parliament. The unions gave Labour the resources it needed to take on the establishment parties for the first time.

    Prior to the alliance with the unions, Labour’s predecessor had only managed to win one or two seats. After the alliance was established, the party gained its first substantial batch of MPs in 1906 (29 MPs) and again in 1910 when it gained 42 seats. But the party finally replaced the Liberals in the post WWI period.

    Those advocating leaving Labour must answer the question: Where will the substantial resources be found to replace those provided by the unions?

    Are we really going to leave those resources and the Labour ‘brand’ in the hands of the right wing without any resistance or fight back from the left? That seems completely lame to me. We need to follow the good example of Corbyn and stay in the party to fight on.

    1. Well it’s the only game in town so long as members are prepared to put up with the RW. I agree they appear willing to do so a bit like the electorate at large put up with the Tories because they can’t be arsed to think of an alternative.

  13. Starmer will not take the Labour party forwards, he will be happy to remain on the sidelines for many years.

    Jenny however has succumbed to the pressure of it all, including her health.
    Wishing her a happy life, and free from all this xxx

    Took me many years to come back to support the Labour party, but death will come before we have any semblance of normality in this country.
    It really is upsetting to thousands of us.

  14. I’d like to offer my best wishes to Jennie Formby. She was faced with an almost impossible task and failure to face down the zionists/right wing was ultimately fatal to the socialist wing of the party, but as a functionary, it was not her that will have called the shots. I wish her every success for the future, health and happiness.

    With regard to that future, there are two distinct camps developing; the remainers and the leavers. Even sadder, there is a third, probably much bigger camp that does not speak its name – those thousands of members who are walking away from political engagement out of disillusionment.

    I think the last thing anyone should is to act hastily. There are numerous tests that should be put before any peremptory action. I think they may include.

    What would Tony Benn have done in this situation?
    What are Chris Williamson, Ken Livingstone, Laura Pidcock and George Galloway advising in this situation?
    Have we exhausted all the political and legal means to bring about justice over the leaked report?
    Is there any sign that a group of MPs are prepared to break away from PLP?
    Is there any sign that one or more significant Trade Unions are prepared to support a breakaway.
    What is the position of Jeremy Corbyn and those he chose to advise him (Steve Howell, Seamus Milne, Katy Clark, Carrie Murphy, Andrew Murray etc)?
    What will Jennie Formby and Diane Abbott reveal if Starmer pushes them too far?
    Did you/anyone ever realistically expect socialism in Britain to come via parliament?

    There are doubtless many other considerations but I would counsel against precipitate action for the moment, however much it sticks in the gullet. It may be that, like good comedy, timing is of the essence.

    Boris Johnson has taken to comparing himself to Stalin, a comparison he previously reserved for Jeremy Corbyn. I would say, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, “Bojo, you’re no Joe Stalin,” – and to Corbyn (and those who come after) “comrade, you would be wise to take a leaf out of Joe Stalin’s book.” “Keeping you enemies close” only works if you’re prepared to do away with them if it doesn’t.

  15. I’ve just been pondering the natural reaction to the state of the Labour Party after the recent Tory successes in seizing the agenda.

    I reckon that success is typified by the reaction of a good (but politically uncommitted) friend who was praisintg the ‘success’ of the Bojo & Co.’s ‘success’ in managing the Covid-19 ‘crisis’ ( ‘The Labour lot wouldn’t have been able to do it’).

    That’s the problem – there is no essential opposition to the establishment narrative; and what I often read here is a meek bowing down to what is an echo of that establishment narrative about a magnified ‘crisis’ (‘Panic! – we’ll look after you’)

    Turning away from Labour essentially fulfils the Tory/establishment objectives.

    The hard graft (and I hold up my hands in ducking that effort in recent years) is building at the grass roots rather than running away and pretending that ‘Somewhere, Over the Rainbow’ there is a viable alternative to staying and fighting.

  16. GMB and NEC up for grabs
    600,000 members and 11 million supporters, a manifesto to be proud of, Tory party who will face the backlash of Covid 19 and No Deal as country is bankrupted
    The only priority for us who stay is to be even more ruthless than C9ckwombles
    Draw up a hit list, nominate the horrible bastards who are going to carry out the hatchet job
    Never known so many soft shites giving in at precisely the wrong time
    It’s all there to be won in next 12 months

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