Published On: Thu, Jan 30th, 2020

Tributes to Kennedy as veteran NEC member steps down to be replaced by Beckett

Unite member of Labour’s ruling committee who announced Corbyn’s leadership victory steps down after 15 years
Jim Kennedy with Labour general secretary Jennie Formby

Veteran National Executive Committee (NEC) member Jim Kennedy has stepped down from Labour’s ruling committee after fifteen years of service, to huge tributes from colleagues – in spite of his attempts to avoid them.

Kennedy, one the the Unite union’s representatives on the committee, was the NEC member who announced Jeremy Corbyn’s original leadership victory – and played a key role in keeping the Labour leader on the ballot during the 2016 challenge by the Labour right.

One Labour figure told the SKWAWKBOX:

Jim is an absolute hero of the movement – and a mostly unsung one. He announced Jeremy as leader and when the right tried to keep Jeremy off the ballot in 2016, Jim fought like f*** to keep him on it.

An NEC colleague said:

Jim has been fantastic. He, Jennie [Formby, now Labour’s general secretary] and Andy Kerr were an amazing team and played an absolutely crucial role in keeping Jeremy on the ballot paper in 2016.

They had the lawyers texting them throughout the [NEC] meeting and they must have raised more than fifty key points challenging the legal advice pushed by those who wanted to bar JC from the election.

But he’s also been chair of org sub [a key NEC committee] for most of his time in office and has fought for the left over and again while always maintaining the highest standards of integrity as an ambassador of the party.

On a personal note, he’s warm, supportive and just a brilliant friend and comrade, highly respected and liked by everyone who knows him – and it’s so typical of him that he hates a fuss and he wouldn’t even let Jennie pay tribute to him at his last NEC meeting.

Kennedy’s Unite place on the NEC has been taken by the union’s assistant general secretary Howard Beckett.

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