A SOUTHAMPTON-BASED union official has applied to be general secretary of the Labour Party.

Jennie Formby – who is regional secretary for Unite south east – said she would be proud to be the first woman in the post in a generation, and only the second ever.

Now Southampton City Council leader Simon Letts has backed her plans, saying it’s “high time” the Labour Party had a female leader - and it will be “great” for Southampton.

Ms Formby said: “My service as a party member for 40 years, as a member of the National Executive Committee for the last seven, and as a senior official of my union in industrial, political and administrative posts, has given me the breadth of experience to lead the whole party in meeting the challenges and seizing the opportunities ahead.

“I will work with all parts of the movement to ensure that the party democracy review empowers the party membership, opens up policy-making, and ensures democratic best practice throughout.“I will ensure our exciting new community organising initiative is developed to help entrench Labour in the communities we serve and win the seats we need at the next general election.”

Ms Formby said she stands for a tolerant and welcoming party, with no place for anti-Semitism, racism, misogyny or any form of abuse or intimidation, and a party in which complaints are handled fairly and speedily. A decision on the role will be made on March 20.

Speaking to the Daily Echo Mr Letts added: “I think it’s excellent.

“It will be great for Southampton to have someone in a national role who lives around the corner in Freemantle.“And it’s high time there was a female general secretary.”