Chuka Umunna: Could Shadow Business Secretary be the next Labour leader?

The charismatic and youthful Shadow Business Secretary has been consistently touted as leadership material

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Among the contenders lining up to take Labour’s reins following Ed Miliband’s resignation from the party is Londoner Chuka Umunna.

Currently an outside shot at 13/8 (according to Ladbrokes) Umunna has long been speculated as a possible Labour leader – but is now the time? Here’s what we know about him.

Who is he?

Born and educated in Streatham, south London, to a Nigerian father and English-Irish mother, he was initially educated at state school and then moved to private during his later years.

He studied English and French Law at Manchester, afterwards spending a term at the University of Burgundy in Dijon, before taking an MA at Nottingham Law School.

Before politics he worked for roughly six years as a solicitor for a City of London law firm. During this period he became increasingly involved with the Labour party, writing various commentaries as a member of the management committee of the Labour-aligned pressure group Compass.

What’s his political history?

In 2010 he was successfully elected as a Labour MP for Streatham, following his 2008 party nomination. Since then, his rise has been swift.

He was appointed to the Treasury Select Committee (2010), followed by serving as Ed Miliband’s Parliamentary Private Secretary (October 2010), before he became Shadow Business Secretary (2011) – a position he continues to hold. He was re-elected for Streatham in 2015 with 53 per cent of the vote.

He has been lauded by some members of the Labour party, most notably former leader Tony Blair, who – according to close friends of Blair – sees him as his “natural heir”.

Umunna also has friends in high places in the party, speaking regularly to Lord Mandelson, Tessa Jowell, who he called his “political mum” in a New Statesman interview, and Lord Adonis – as well as Blair himself.

Any controversies?

He was touted as the British Barack Obama – a claim he played down in interviews – but which embarrassingly rebounded after it appeared his Wikipedia page had been edited to link to an article suggesting exactly that from his former law firm’s offices in 2013. Umunna denied any connection with the change.

So, what are his chances?

Mixed. He’s a fresh face to the public without being a total unknown thanks to his frequent media appearances. He seems to be the antithesis of Ed Miliband, consistently appearing polished and (relatively speaking) gaffe free.

These strengths may undermine him if Labour veers left, with Umunna possibly too posh for the party. His relative inexperience in politics may also be another factor stacked against him.

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