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Will ‘British Obama’ be the next Labour leader?

world Updated: May 10, 2015 19:53 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times
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Chuka Umunna, the 37-year-old MP of Nigerian origin who retained his seat for Labour from the London constituency of Streatham, is one of the frontrunners to lead the party after Ed Miliband resigned Friday, insisting that the party is ‘down, but not out’.

The process to elect the Labour leader will be set in motion shortly. Seen as a rising star soon after he joined the party from the pro-Labour pressure group Compass in 2007, the sharp-suited Umunna has been dubbed ‘British Obama’.

On Sunday, Umunna made two significant interventions: setting out his vision to revive the party on BBC’s Andrew Marr show and wrote an article in The Guardian titled ‘Where Labour went wrong – and what we must do to put it right’.

Other candidates likely for the party leadership are Tristram Hunt, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall. If Umunna is elected, it will the first time that any of the major parties is led by a non-white leader.

He said it was "too early" to say whether he would stand for the leadership, but wanted to be involved in taking the party forward: "We can do this in five years as long as we make the right decisions. You can change the leader but if you don't change the message we won't win."

Umunna admitted that Labour had focused too much on those at the top and bottom of society and had too little to say to the millions of those in the middle: "We often had a message which spoke to people on zero hours contracts and the minimum wage. But for middle-income voters, there was not enough of an aspirational offer there”.

In a separate interview, Hunt told Sky News that he was considering his options and wants to be "one of the voices" contributing to the party's rebuilding process, saying Labour found itself in a "terrible hole".

Kendall told the Sunday Times she was considering putting herself forward, adding that "we don't just need a new face. We need a fundamentally new approach".