Jennie Formby

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Person.png Jennie Formby LinkedIn TwitterRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(trade unionist, politician)
Formby Corbyn.jpg
Supporting the "inspiring Jeremy Corbyn"
BornJennifer Louise Sandle
12 April 1960

Employment.png General Secretary of the Labour Party Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
20 March 2018 - 4 May 2020
EmployerLabour Party

Jennie Formby, formerly Unite the Union's South East Regional Secretary and vice Chair of the Labour Party's National Executive Committee (NEC),[1] was appointed General Secretary of the Labour Party on 20 March 2018.[2]

On 4 May 2020, Jennie Formby announced she is standing down as Labour's General Secretary:

"When I applied for the role in 2018 it was because I wanted to support Jeremy Corbyn, who inspired so many people to get involved in politics with his message of hope, equality and peace. Now we have a new leadership team it is the right time to step down."

A timetable to choose her successor will be decided at the next NEC meeting.[3]

Baroness Formby of Southside?

According to the Huffington Post: "Formby is not expected to be recommended for a peerage, as several previous general secretaries have been."[4]

Well, ever since Larry Whitty (1985-94) was ennobled as Baron Whitty of Camberwell it has been the rule (with two notable exceptions) for former General Secretaries to become peers:

Matt Carter (2004-05) and Peter Watt (2006-07) both resigned under a cloud ("cash for questions" and "donorgate").

So there is no reason why Jennie Formby shouldn't be elevated to the House of Lords: I suggest Baroness Formby of Southside (Labour HQ address).[5]

Israel controversies

In 2015, Jennie Formby sparked controversy when she moved a motion at the end of an NEC meeting to bar G4S from providing security for the Labour party conference because of concerns over its operations in Israel. The motion was eventually overturned following objections from NEC members pointing out Labour policy was not to boycott firms operating in Israel.

In March 2016, Ms Formby spoke out days after the appointment of Baroness Jan Royall to lead an investigation into claims of anti-Jewish conduct by some in Oxford University Labour Club, saying that Lady Royall had once taken part in a Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) delegation in 2007. Fellow NEC member Shabana Mahmood swiftly interrupted to describe Ms Formby’s remarks as “highly inappropriate”, before the chair of the meeting moved on.[6]

General Secretary

In February 2018, Jennie Formby announced she was a candidate to become General Secretary of the Labour Party,[7] shortly after the incumbent, Iain McNicol, resigned.[8] Her main rival, Jon Lansman, the chair of Momentum, dropped out of contention on 11 March, making Formby the frontrunner.[9]

On 20 March 2018, she was appointed to the role, effective from April 2018.[10][11]

Tom Watson

In July 2019, Tom Watson – technically if not in practice the deputy leader of the party – launched an unconscionable public attack on Labour general secretary Jennie Formby, who is battling cancer. The Labour parliamentary women who stood in public solidarity on social media with Ms Formby against Watson’s shameful conduct include:

Claudia Webbe called on Tom Watson to resign as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.[12]

Personal life

Jennie Formby is the mother of Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey's child, born in 1991.[13]

She married Freddie Formby in 2000 and the couple had two children and another son, who joined the family aged 14.[14]

In March 2019 Jennie Formby announced that she was to undergo treatment for breast cancer.[15]

 

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