Lisa Johnson rules herself out of Labour GS job

GMB officer Lisa Johnson has ruled herself out of standing for the position of Labour Party general secretary.

The union’s director of external relations wrote on Facebook: “I’ve often said ‘we need to stop packing our good people off to the Party – we have trade unionism to do’. With all that in mind, it’s just not the right time for the Party, for me or for GMB for me to stand to be General Secretary.”

Her full post is here: “A few words about the Labour General Secretary job. I was torn about posting anything on this because of everything that’s going on in the world at the moment, and my natural inclination to just get on with the job without being the focus of attention or the press (some days that’s easier than others). But I’ve had so many people asking me about it, and more journo interest than I’m used to, so a Facebook post seemed appropriate. Forgive the uncharacteristic length.

“My name got thrown in the frame for the Labour GS contest last time round, and I’d never really considered it. It was a bit of a surprise to me. I found it quite entertaining in some ways, and obviously flattering being only in my mid-30s.

“With a few more years under my belt in a senior role at GMB and a heartbreaking election defeat later, I was starting to come round to the view that a miners’ daughter from the heartlands with experience across the movement could help the Party get where it needs to be.

“And honestly – I know we’re not allowed to say this as women – I think I’d be good at it.

“I’ve worked for unions, in Parliament, driven change politically, developed leaders and activists, run campaigns, I can work across left and right (depending who you ask I’m a ‘Red Tory’ or a ‘Trot’). I’m an organiser and I instinctively understand some of the areas we need to build trust in.

“However, we now find ourselves with an independent inquiry at GMB amid some serious issues being raised. I can’t comment on that, other than to say I welcome the inquiry. Addressing the role of women and our experiences in the movement is long overdue (and not just in GMB, if we’re frank). I want to actively engage with the inquiry to make sure it is as thorough as possible and that change afterwards is deep and wide.

“I’ve often said ‘we need to stop packing our good people off to the Party – we have trade unionism to do’. With all that in mind, it’s just not the right time for the Party, for me or for GMB for me to stand to be General Secretary.

“I’m so proud to work alongside some amazing trade unionists at GMB, including some fantastic women members and officers who are leading the way in building modern trade unionism. In the toughest of times right now, it’s exciting and inspiring to see how we’re changing, growing and leading the way. What we do matters, and I want to keep doing it.

“A genuine ‘thank you’ to everyone who has been encouraging and supporting me to stand (and lobbying the world without me needing to ask). It has meant and does mean a lot. I love GMB and the people I work alongside. I love our Party and my comrades in arms there too – neither are without their challenges right now, I’ll do my best to help both be better, and to win the fight for working people. Onwards.”

The investigation into the conduct of former GMB general secretary Tim Roache was announced on April 29, with GMB president Barbara Plant saying she supported an independent investigation on May 1.

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