Labour General Secretary election to play for as many NEC members hold out for third candidate

Analysis by The Red Roar shows that while Unite’s Jennie Formby has over three times as much support as her rival Jon Lansman in the race to become Labour’s general secretary, an equal number of NEC members remain undecided.

Analysis by The Red Roar shows that while Unite’s Jennie Formby has over three times as much support as her rival Jon Lansman in the race to become Labour’s general secretary, an equal number of NEC members remain undecided.

No one can claim to know how NEC members will vote, of course. This is not an exercise in mind-reading but an honest attempt to give as clear a picture as possible as to how the two main candidates for the job are likely to fare.

Backing Formby: 17
Backing Lansman: 5
Undecided: 17
Total: 39


Jeremy Corbyn MP
Jennie Formby
Corbyn is expected to vote for Jennie Formby. The Leader’s Office are said to have pushed departing general secretary Iain McNicol to resign, and it has since been reported that Jeremy twice urged Momentum founder Jon Lansman not to stand.

Deputy Leader

Tom Watson MP
Watson has long-standing union links and once described Momentum as “a bit of a rabble”, but his backing for Formby is in doubt after he fell out with her boss Len McCluskey. He might be hoping that a credible third candidate emerges.


Diana Holland (Unite)
Jennie Formby
Unite’s Assistant General Secretary for Transport, Food and Agriculture, Diane Holland took over the Treasurer role from Jack Dromey in 2010. Leading Unite figures have been unanimous in their support for Jennie Formby, including the union’s Political Director Anneliese Midgley who was previously touted as a possible candidate.

Shadow Cabinet

Jon Trickett MP
Jennie Formby
Jon Trickett is Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, Jon Trickett served under Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband before joining 35 other MPs to nominate Jeremy Corbyn in the 2015 leadership contest. Now in an attack dog role as Corbyn’s Shadow Minister for Cabinet Office, he sticks close to the party line. His loyalty to Corbyn together with his longstanding relations with Formby backers Unite and the CWU make him likely to back their candidate.

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP
Jennie Formby
Long-Bailey is from Labour’s new generation of left-wing, Corbyn-supporting MPs and works closely Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell who has already publicly declared his support for Jennie Formby. She has received regular donations from Unite.

Kate Osamor MP
Jennie Formby
Kate Osamor is the daughter of Martha Osamor, a fierce critic of Neil Kinnock. She is another new Labour MP that has risen through the ranks under Jeremy Corbyn, and while her links to the leader’s office and to Unite are not as strong as Long-Bailey’s, she is highly likely to give Jenni Formby her backing. She has also received regular donations from the union.


Richard Leonard MSP
Jennie Formby
Scottish Labour’s (relatively) new leader Richard Leonard ran a Corbyn-style campaign against rival Anas Sarwar, complete with the backing of Unite’s General Secretary Len McCluskey. Leonard can be expected to back Jennie Formby.


Alun Davies AM
Alun Davies was appointed by beleagured Welsh Labour Leader Carwyn Jones and servers as his representative on the NEC. Davies himself is said to be a moderate as well as a fierce remainer. In the absence of a moderate candidate he is likely to vote on Brexit, with Formby said to be the stronger Remainer.

EPLP Leader

Richard Corbett MEP
Richard Corbett is a lifelong champion of the European Union, and is said to have represented Western Europe at the 1978 World Festival of Youth in Havana alongside a young Peter Mandelson. Like Alun Davies, Corbett could be forced to back Formby as the strongest remain candidate if no alternative comes forward.

Young Labour

Jasmin Beckett
Jasmin Beckett narrowly won her place on the NEC as Young Labour’s representative following a bruising campaign against Momentum’s favoured candidate. She has since struck a conciliatory tone, but branded the decision to fast-track the general secretary recruitment process as “irresponsible”. She is likely to vote for a moderate candidate if one emerges.

BAME Labour

Keith Vaz MP
Jennie Formby
Keith Vaz has been on Labour’s NEC since 2010, surviving a sex scandal and suspicions over his loyalties to Jeremy Corbyn. Vaz will be open to negotiation over his backing, but will want to be seen to back the winner to secure his own place on the NEC. At the moment that means backing favourite Jennie Formby.

Div. I – Trade Unions

Keith Birch (Unison)
Keith Birch runs Unison Labour Link, effectively acting as a political operator in his union for the Labour Party. Public sector union Unison is one of the country’s big three, and politically currently sits between left-wing Unite and the more moderate GMB, Unison is expected to vote with the GMB. Jennie Formby stands to get Unison’s vote despite her poor relationship with the union, but this could change if she fails to cut a deal with them.

Jim Kennedy (Unite)
Jennie Formby
Jim Kennedy formerly represented construction union UCATT on the NEC, but now represents Unite after it absorbed his old union. This is just one of the ways in which Unite has increased its control over Labour’s ruling committees beyond that of the GMB and Unison. Unite figures have so far been unanimous in supporting their South East Regional Secretary Jennie Formby, making it all but certain that Kennedy will follow suit.

Andi Fox (TSSA)
Jennie Formby
As well as being a Corbyn loyalist in NEC votes, Andi Fox has been busy retweeting endorsements of Jennie Formby, seeming to confirm reports on Skwawkbox that her Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association union would be backing her.

Pauline McCarthy (Bakers)
Jennie Formby
Pauline McCarthy snatched an NEC seat from right-wing union Community last year with the blessing of Momentum’s Jon Lansman, but the unions regard the left-wing Bakers’ Union as a political extension of Len McCluskey’s Unite. McCarthy is almost certain to back Unite’s candidate Jennie Formby.

Paddy Lillis (USDAW)
Paddy Lillis only recently took up the reins as general secretary of the shopworkers’ union, but has years of experience on the NEC including a stint as chair between 2015 and 2016 where attempted to impose order on Labour’s chaotic leadership contests. Lillis will seek to back a moderate candidate, but with none stepping forward, his support will depend on assurances from Formby and Lansman.

Wendy Nichols (Unison)
Wendy Nichols became Unison’s president in 2015. Her union will be looking to cut a deal with Formby or Lansman in the absence of a moderate candidate, and is likely to act together with the GMB.

Andy Kerr (CWU)
Jennie Formby
Andy Kerr is deputy general secretary of the Communication Workers’ Union, and is now infamous for his heavy-handed intervention at Labour’s National Policy Forum to prevent NEC member Ann Black from being voted in as chair. Kerr’s union was an early backer of Jeremy Corbyn: he can be expected to back the leader’s favoured candidate Jennie Formby.

Sarah Owen (GMB)
Sarah Owen is a Political Officer for her union the GMB which has a strong industrial base in the Midlands. Her union will be looking to back a moderate candidate, but will be cut a deal with Formby or Lansman if none step forward.

Jennie Formby (Unite)
Jennie Formby
Jennie Formby was Unite’s political director, before being demoted to South East Regional Secretary following “a series of political controversies”. An endorsement from Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell shows that she has the blessing of Labour’s leadership, and as an NEC member she should be permitted to vote for herself in the coming contest.

Cath Speight (GMB)
Cath Speight is the GMB’s national political officer. A former Amicus national secretary, her old union’s historic relationship with Labour’s old right is epitomised by former general secretary Terry Duffy. Her union will be looking to back a moderate candidate, but will be cut a deal on policy issues with Formby or Lansman if none step forward.

Ian Murray (FBU)
Jennie Formby
Ian Murray is the president of the Fire Brigades Union, another early Corbyn backer that provided him with a fire engine and loud hailer with which to address crowds of supporters. He is expected to back the Labour leader’s preferred candidate Jennie Formby.

Mick Whelan (ASLEF)
Jennie Formby
Mick Whelan is the general secretary of train drivers’ union ASLEF, and has tweeted in support of Jennie Formby. The leader’s office favourite blog Skwawkbox has reported that the ASLEF union is supporting Jennie Formby, and it seems likely that’s how Mick Whelan will vote.

Joanne Cairns (USDAW)
Joanne Cairns is a senior officer at shopworkers’ union USDAW. Her union will seek to a moderate candidate they can support, but with none stepping forward, his support will depend on assurances from Formby and Lansman.

Div. II – Socialist Societies

James Asser
A former co-chair of LGBT Labour, Asser now represents Labour’s affiliated Social Societies on the party’s NEC. During Labour’s fraught leadership campaigns he stayed neutral, but is said to be a Corbynsceptic. He could back Jon Lansman if no moderate candidate steps forward.

Div. III – CLPs

Ann Black
Ann Black is a veteran of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, and was first elected to Labour’s NEC back in 2000. A recent attempt to install her as chair of the National Policy Forum was blocked after an intervention from NEC chair Andy Kerr, with both the unions and Jon Lansman’s Momentum said to be against the move. Black is ideologically opposed to stitch-ups and will be loathe to back Formby’s coronation, but her support for Jon Lansman depends on how well he can patch up their relationship.

Yasmin Dar
Jon Lansman
Despite backing Andy Burnham in Labour’s 2015 leadership contest, Yasmin Dar has since enthusiastically embraced Corbynism and was elected to the NEC on Momentum’s slate last year. Jon Lansman will be hoping to count on her support.

Rachel Garnham
Jon Lansman
Garnham is supporting Jennie Formby according to the leader’s office favourite left-wing blog Skwawkbox. However, Garnham’s position on the NEC is owed in large part to her place on Momentum’s slate of candidates, meaning that Jon Lansman hopes to be able to persuade her to repay the favour.

Jon Lansman
Jon Lansman
Like Formby, Jon Lansman will be able to vote for himself as a member of the NEC. A veteran of factional politics, Lansman is not averse to cutting deals with other NEC members, and could offer others Momentum’s support in return for their vote.

Christine Shawcroft
Jon Lansman
Christine Shawcroft is a director of Momentum and an NEC veteran, first joining the body in 2002. In January she replaced Ann Black as chair of Labour’s disputes panel in what was regarded as a punishment for Black’s decisions against members accused of antisemitism and other breaches. Shawcroft caused controversy this week by tweeting not only that the unions would not get her support in the general secretary contest, but that they should be disaffiliated from the Labour Party completely. Her later apology following condemnation from Unite’s Len McCluskey does not change the fact that she will be supporting fellow director of Momentum Jon Lansman.

Claudia Webbe
Jon Lansman
Claudia Webbe is a second Islington councillor on Labour’s NEC, but joins the CLP section elected by members. She was an advisor to Ken Livingstone during his time as London mayor and has been on Momentum’s NEC slate since 2017. Will lean towards Jon Lansman but could be strong-armed into voting for Formby.

Darren Williams
Jennie Formby
Williams is a Cardiff councillor and officer with the civil service union PCS. He joined the NEC last July, and voted against proposals for a Welsh seat on the NEC which saw Corbyn lose a majority on the committee when moderate Alun Davies took up his place. Williams is a Corbyn loyalist and a leading figure in Momentum whose relationship with Jon Lansman is said to be strained.

Pete Willsman
Jennie Formby
Once a comrade of Jon Lansman at the helm of vintage hard-left group the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, Willsman is rumoured to have fallen out with his old friend over struggles against Lansman’s Momentum for positions at the top of the party. Willsman’s CLPD recently passed a motion calling for no candidate to stand against Jennie Formby, guaranteeing that he will back her.

Rhea Wolfson
Jennie Formby
Rhea Wolfson rode on to Labour’s NEC last year as part of Momentum’s slate of candidates, but has since announced that she has “chosen to step down”. Wolfson is another name that appears on a list of Formby supporters compiled by the Skwawkbox blog, and now that she is off the Momentum slate it seems she has little reason to back Jon Lansman.

Div. IV – Labour Councillors

Nick Forbes
Nick Forbes is the Labour leader of Newcastle City Council and took the place of Coventry’s Ann Lucas on the NEC in 2016. Forbes first became a councillor in the Blair years and is considered a moderate voice on Labour’s NEC. He will be open to backing a moderate candidate but will otherwise face a tough decision between Jennie Formby and Jon Lansman.

Alice Perry
Alice Perry was elected to Islington Council in 2011, and joined the NEC just a few years later in 2014. Perry has voiced concerns about the “intimidation, abuse and vitriol within the Labour Party” and criticised a “thuggish minority” that forced the NEC to suspend local party meetings in the middle of 2016’s leadership contest. Perry will find it difficult to support either Formby or Lansman, and will be hoping that a moderate candidate steps forward.


George Howarth MP
Howarth is a veteran Labour MP first elected to represent the Merseyside seaty of Knowsley in 1986. After backing the no confidence motion in Jeremy Corbyn which triggered Labour’s 2016 leadership contest, Howarth was the target of an online campaign to resign his seat. He will be looking to back a moderate candidate but could be persuaded to back Lansman if offered Momentum’s support in his seat.

Margaret Beckett MP
Beckett is another veteran Labour MP, having represented Derby South since 1983, and a former minister from the Blair years. She is another of the 36 MPs that nominated Jeremy Corbyn in 2015’s leadership contest, later saying that she was a “moron” to have done so. She will be looking to back a third moderate candidate.

Shabana Mahmood MP
Shabana Mahmood is regarded as a moderate in the PLP, and resigned from the Shadow Cabinet in 2015 when Jeremy Corbyn became leader. She will hope that a moderate candidate steps forward, but may otherwise heed calls for Labour’s next general secretary to be a woman and back Jenny Formby.

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