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Two Labour leftwingers to stand for vacant general secretary position

TWO leftwingers are in the running to succeed Iain McNicol as Labour’s general secretary.

Unite south-east regional secretary Jennie Formby formally declared she would be applying for the job today.

And the Star understands that Momentum founder Jon Lansman is likely to throw his hat into the ring.

Labour’s head office chief is traditionally appointed by the party’s national executive committee (NEC), meaning that more than one leftwinger can apply without risking allowing a right-wing candidate to slip through.

Ms Formby, who represents Unite on the NEC, said: “Labour’s strength rests on three pillars — the support of millions of voters, an individual membership far larger than that in any other British political party and our link with our affiliated trade unions.

“I believe I am well placed to help our party build on all three.”

She emphasised ensuring that Labour’s ongoing democracy review “empowers the party membership, opens up policy-making and ensures democratic best practice” and developing community organising programmes.

“I stand for a tolerant and welcoming party with no place for anti-semitism, racism and misogyny or any form of abuse or intimidation, a party in which complaints are handled both fairly and speedily,” she added.

The Star learned today that Mr Lansman, who was recently elected to the NEC, was still considering a run.

The veteran leftwinger was campaign manager during Tony Benn’s 1981 bid for the deputy leadership. More recently, he headed Jeremy Corbyn’s successful 2016 campaign after the leader was challenged by Owen Smith.

One NEC member told the Star they wanted to see “a number of different, good candidates all from the left.”

“If Jon really does stand, fair play to him for doing that,” the NEC member said. “It would just be good to have a different conversation about ideas. There’d be some unnecessary bad feeling if there wasn’t a contest.”

Applications for the job opened today and a shortlist will be drawn up by the NEC officers’ group. The full executive will vote on a successor on March 20.

Mr McNicol, a divisive figure in recent years due to his hostility to Mr Corbyn’s leadership, is staying on for the time being to ensure a “smooth transition.”

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