Formby resignation as Labour GenSec is no reason to celebrate

Jennie Formby: her decision to quit may be morally right but it is strategically unfortunate for Labour’s left wing.

This Writer cannot join in any praise for Jennie Formby on her resignation as general secretary of the Labour Party.

When she came in, following the disastrous reign of Iain bloody McNicol, I thought she might restore a bit of sanity – especially to the nightmare that the party’s disciplinary process had become.

Instead she made it worse.

The default position became one in which mere accusation – especially of anti-Semitism – was proof of guilt and gossip was treated as evidence.

I have taken the party to court over the disgraceful way it treated my own (well-documented) case, and I expect to win my case.

Sadly, if I do, I think whoever becomes the new GenSec will take the blame.


I hear rumours that new party leader Keir Starmer still wants to find a way to install Emily Oldknow as the new GenSec, despite the fact that she has been heavily implicated in misconduct including attempts to sabotage Labour’s election chances, in a leaked party report.

If she manages to take the job, and if the allegations against her are accurate, then I’ll be quite happy for her to take the flak because she will deserve it.

One more note: Ms Formby has said she became GenSec to support Jeremy Corbyn, and with his departure from the party leadership it is time to leave.

Doesn’t it say everything you need to know about Iain McNicol – the hard right-winger who held the job before her – that he did not quit when Mr Corbyn was elected, despite having a clear ideological conflict when the then-new leader?

Instead, he chose to hang on in the post for three years, placing obstacles in the way of Mr Corbyn’s leadership at every opportunity.

By choosing to quit with Corbyn, Ms Formby has taken morally higher ground.

But she has also offered the party’s right-wing rump a clear field to cause more harm even than their forerunners in the Blair, Brown and Miliband years.

Source: Labour general secretary Jennie Formby announces resignation – LabourList

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  1. Neville May 5, 2020 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Another reason why the remaining left wingers in the PLP should resign en masse and form their own political party so they can put forward a long term plan to fight the Labour party and hold this and future Conservative governments to account.

  2. SteveH May 5, 2020 at 10:54 pm - Reply

    The process to replace Formby is progressing at a sprint. The whole process will be done and dusted on the 19th just 2 weeks from start to finish..

    Full details of the process and timetable can be found here.

  3. Martin Odoni May 6, 2020 at 7:56 am - Reply

    In fairness to McNicol (a fairness that is undeserved, but hey-ho), he apparently did informally offer to resign, and the rumour is that Corbyn asked him not to. And it must be said, a wide succession of Shadow Cabinet Ministers did resign when Corbyn became leader, and they got quite a lot of well-deserved criticism for doing so. So in a sense, McNicol was in a no-win situation. Stay or go, he was going to get some unfriendly feedback.

    • Mike Sivier May 7, 2020 at 11:23 am - Reply

      Strange decision by Corbyn, though.

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