Chuka Umunna – Throws His Hat In, Takes His Hat Out

Chuka UmunnaSo the Labour Leadership contest is starting to heat up and along with some of the first candidates, Chuka Umunna, the bookies favourite and frontrunner for the leadership through his hat in, before promptly, and quite surprisingly, picking it back up and taking it out again.

Everyone seems to be truly baffled as to how this bizarre set of circumstances came about – apparently it was the pressure of running for the leadership on himself and his family.  This could very well be true – although the media seem to be holding out for some crisis or scandal to hit their news desks to give them some kind of explanation for it that they can understand.

However, it’s increasingly looking like that he was simply overwhelmed by the media attention that ensued and possibly (albeit a little surprisingly) naive about the pressure and attention that would be attracted towards him after announcing he was a contender for the leadership.

I think in particular one bizarre comment that he made was that ‘politics is not my life’ – sure to be the death knell of any future senior cabinet or leadership bids – in such senior positions of a major political party politics is expected to be your life.

So in light of all this, it’s definitely not the right time for him to stand and maybe it never will be.  This does leave the door open now for Andy Burnham to storm ahead with his leadership bid – and he is now the bookies favourite.

Chuka’s statement in full:

Shortly before the election campaign, I made the decision, in the event that Labour was defeated and a new leader was to be elected, to stand for the leadership of the party if there was a desire in the party for me to do so.

I dearly hoped Labour would win the election and it was a decision I would not have to implement.

I also thought I understood the scrutiny and attention a leadership contest would bring.

As a member of the Shadow Cabinet, I am used to a level of attention which is part and parcel of the job. I witnessed the 2010 leadership election process close up and thought I would be comfortable with what it involved.

However, since the night of our defeat last week I have been subject to the added level of pressure that comes with being a leadership candidate.

I have not found it to be a comfortable experience.

One can imagine what running for leader can be like, understand its demands and the attention but nothing compares to actually doing it and the impact on the rest of one’s life.

Consequently after further reflection I am withdrawing my candidacy.

I apologise to all those who have kindly supported and encouraged me to do this and for disappointing them.

I know this will come as a surprise to many but I had always wondered whether it was all too soon for me to launch this leadership bid – I fear it was.

Most importantly, I continued to have very real concerns and worry about this bid’s impact on those close to me.

I intend to carry on playing my full role as a proud member of our Shadow Cabinet taking on the Tories.

I also hope to play a leading role in Labour’s campaign to keep the UK in the EU during the forthcoming referendum which is absolutely crucial.

Most importantly, I will as ever continue to serve the area I know and love – the Streatham parliamentary constituency.