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Jennie Formby (née Sandle, born 12 April 1960) is a British trade unionist and politician. She is the current General Secretary of the Labour Party, having succeeded Iain McNicol in April 2018. Previously, she was political director and south-east England regional secretary for Unite the Union.

Jennie Formby
Jennie Formby, 2016 Labour Party Conference (cropped).jpg
Formby at the Labour Party Conference in ACC Liverpool in September 2016
General Secretary of the Labour Party
Assumed office
3 April 2018
LeaderJeremy Corbyn
Preceded byIain McNicol
Personal details
Born (1960-04-12) 12 April 1960 (age 59)
London, England
Political partyLabour
Freddie Formby (m. 2000)


Early lifeEdit

Born Jennie Sandle in London, her father served in the Royal Navy in Korea, Suez and Lebanon. She grew up with an older brother and sister in Malta, Bath and Salisbury. She went to Bath High School for Girls then St Helen and St Katharine boarding school in Abingdon, paid for by the Royal Navy. Formby left school with 10 O levels and 3 A levels but chose not to go to university.[1][2]

Trade unionismEdit

Formby became a trade unionist when she began her working life in Salisbury at the bookmakers William Hill in the late 1970s, and became a branch secretary in Unite's predecessor, the Transport and General Workers' Union.[3][4] She later worked for BOC in Southampton where she became a union shop steward.[1][3]

Formby became a Transport and General Workers' Union regional officer in 1998.[3] She represented a Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust nurse in a ground-breaking employment tribunal case in 2004 where the black nurse suffered racial discrimination by being banned from caring for a sick white baby.[1][5] Formby became national officer for the food, drink and tobacco sector in 2004.[6] In 2013, she was appointed Unite's political director.[7] In March 2016, Formby moved to the post of regional secretary in south-east England.[8]

Activities in the Labour PartyEdit

Since late 2011, Formby has been a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party[9] on which she was considered to represent the thinking of Unite general secretary Len McCluskey.[10]

In February 2018, Formby announced she was a candidate to become General Secretary of the Labour Party, shortly after Iain McNicol resigned from the post.[11] Her main rival candidate, Jon Lansman, the chair of Momentum dropped out of contention on 11 March, making Formby the likely appointee.[12] On 20 March 2018, she was appointed as the General Secretary, effective from April 2018.[13][14]

Personal lifeEdit

Formby and Len McCluskey had a son in 1991.[15] She married Freddie Formby in 2000 and the couple had two children and another son, who joined the family aged 14.[2][16]

In March 2019 Formby issued a message on Twitter announcing that she was to undergo treatment for breast cancer.[17]


  1. ^ a b c Waugh, Paul (20 March 2018). "Corbyn Ally Jennie Formby Appointed As Labour's New General Secretary". Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b Watson, Iain (March 20, 2018). "Jennie Formby: Labour's new general secretary". BBC News. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Jennie Formby named as Labour's new general secretary". BBC News. 20 March 2018. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  4. ^ Formby, Jenniwe (8 March 2018). "We must do better for women". Labour List. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Nurse wins £20,000 in race case". The Guardian. Press Association. 18 May 2004. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  6. ^ "Jennie Formby". LinkedIn. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  7. ^ Watts, Joseph (4 March 2016). "Len McCluskey's ex-lover Jennie Formby 'in talks on Labour safe seat'". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  8. ^ McSmith, Andy (10 March 2016). "Jennie Formby: Unite political director to take up new job within union after being involved in series of controversies". The Independent. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  9. ^ Akehurst, Luke (1 November 2011). "NEC report – November 2011". Progress. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  10. ^ "Who's who on Labour's National Executive Committee?", New Statesman, 10 October 2016, retrieved 10 March 2018
  11. ^ Waugh, Paul (27 February 2018). "Unite's Jennie Formby Declares Candidacy For Labour General Secretary". HuffPost. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  12. ^ Heffer, Greg (11 March 2018). "Momentum chair Jon Lansman withdraws bid to become Labour general secretary". Sky News. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  13. ^ Schofield, Kevin (20 March 2018). "Jennie Formby appointed Labour general secretary in huge boost for Jeremy Corbyn". PoliticsHome. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  14. ^ Waugh, Paul (28 March 2018). "Jeremy Corbyn Plans In-House Lawyer In Anti-Semitism Crackdown On 70 Unresolved Claims Of Abuse". Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  15. ^ Grew, Tony (21 July 2013). "Love child link of union's top brass". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 28 February 2018. (subscription required)
  16. ^ Waugh, Paul (2018-03-20). Corbyn Ally Jennie Formby Appointed As Labour's New General Secretary. Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-04-03.
  17. ^ Labour party's general secretary diagnosed with breast cancer. The Guardian. Retrieved 2019-03-26.