Tom Peck's Sketch: Chuka Umunna and the ultimate in selfies

Detractors will argue he is too slick to connect with Labour's core vote

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Indy Politics

Everything we thought we knew about the general election campaign may of course be wrong, but if it’s true that it was felt to be a rather sterile, stage-managed, inauthentic affair, at least the Labour leadership contest has got off to a more encouraging start, with the leading candidate driving himself up the M4 to hide in the corner of Swindon High Street and point his iPhone at himself.

That he is too smooth, too slick to connect with Labour’s core vote is the accusation Chuka Umunna’s detractors will level at him over the coming weeks, which may go some way to explaining the hypnotically low production values of his entry, via his own Facebook page, in to the leadership race. In this sad new world of identikit high streets, how much would it have cost to have Jan Aage Fjortoft drive past in a Honda Civic?

But what cannot be questioned is that, almost to the very second the honourable member for Streatham declared his intention to stand as leader of the Labour Party, the winds of change start blowing. First past Superdrug, then Costa Coffee, rising to a tempest of hope somewhere outside Monsoon, and finally right up the shaft of his selfie stick and directly into the mic of his smartphone. Not even when recorded on his own mobile phone, it seems, can a politician prevent his words falling victim to distortion.

It will doubtless be a concern that that he must now rely solely on the Wiltshire winds to carry the soaring oratory of crescendoing conclusion out to the wider nation, lost as it was behind a wall of white noise to his online audience, who will now have to make their judgements chiefly on what meaning might be hidden in the quizzically raised eyebrow of a passing septuagenarian shopper.

Swindon’s two constituencies represent one fortieth of the eighty seats in England unsuccessfully targeted by a Labour Party that has almost ceased to exist outside the capital. “I frankly wanted to get out of London,” Mr Umunna informed, “because we’ve got to be winning in places like here.” Indeed you do, though the tableau of life that moves unknowingly behind Umunna's glabresecent head doesn't seem to intimate a desperation to re-connect with a party who scarcely five days ago they emphatically told to go away.