Election 2015: 5 things Chuka Umunna has just done to position himself as next Labour leader

Umunna has done everything short of officially throwing his hat in the ring

Chuka Umunna has emerged as one of the frontrunners in the race to become the next Labour leader, and is doing nothing to discourage the growing speculation that he will throw his hat into the ring.

Unlike rival Liz Kendall, he did not confirm today that he will be running for the leadership. But there were plenty of signs that such an announcement cannot be far away.

The TV appearance

Mr Umunna was given a prime billing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show today, and there were many thinking it was to make a big announcement.

He left viewers guessing, however, only committing that he “certainly intends to play the fullest part I can in rebuilding the party” but that it was “too early to say”.

The endorsement

chuka-marr-mandy.jpgGoing on Andrew Marr, Mr Umunna appeared on the red sofa alongside Lord Mandelson, the architect of New Labour’s three successful election campaigns under Tony Blair.

So it’s a strong endorsement when, asked by Marr if he thought the man sitting next to him was “his kind of candidate”, Lord Mandelson replied: “I think he’ll get there [into Government].”

The walkabout

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Labour MP Chuka Umunna (L) and girlfriend Alice Sullivan (R) 10 May 2015 (Rex)

On his way to Millbank for his TV appearance, Mr Umunna was conveniently photographed in full statesmanlike-mode, walking hand-in-hand with his girlfriend, Alice Sullivan.

The appearance before photographers was reminiscent of David and Samantha Cameron in the days surrounding the election, or Ed and Justine Miliband presenting a united front outside their London home yesterday.

The Sunday newspaper article

No campaign to get your name out there ahead of a leadership battle is complete without a big article for a Sunday newspaper – and Mr Umunna’s featured prominently in an eight-page election special in the Observer under the headline: “Where Labour went wrong – and what we must do to put it right”.

In the article, he says “Ed [Miliband] was too hard on himself in assuming all the responsibility for the scale of our defeat”, but adds that the party “must channel our disappointment into rebuilding and renewal”. The implication seems to be that Mr Umunna would be at the centre of that process.

The soundbite

“We can do this in five years if we make the right decisions now and present that aspirational and compassionate case to the British people which we are so good at. We can do this.”

The leadership would, presumably, be one of those decisions.

 

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