Formby at the Labour Party Conference in ACC Liverpool in September 2016
|General Secretary of the Labour Party|
|Assumed office |
3 April 2018
|Preceded by||Iain McNicol|
|Born||12 April 1960|
Freddie Formby (m. 2000)
|Education||Bath High School for Girls|
St Helen and St Katharine
Jennifer "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.
Born Jennifer 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 from the age of 14. Formby left school with 10 O levels and 3 A levels, but chose not to go to university.
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. She later worked for BOC in Southampton, where she became a union shop steward.
Formby became a Transport and General Workers' Union regional officer in 1988. 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 white baby. Formby became the union's national officer for the food, drink and tobacco sector in 2004. In 2013, she was appointed Unite's political director. In March 2016, Formby moved to the post of regional secretary in south-east England.
Since late 2011, Formby has been a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party, on which she was considered to represent the thinking of Unite general secretary Len McCluskey.
In February 2018, Formby announced she was a candidate to become General Secretary of the Labour Party, shortly after the incumbent, Iain McNicol, resigned. Her main rival, Jon Lansman, the chair of Momentum, dropped out of contention on 11 March, making Formby the frontrunner. On 20 March 2018, she was appointed to the role, effective from April 2018.