Tag Archives: chuka umunna

Chuka’s first Lib Dem canvassing session

The other night, Chuka Umunna had his first proper canvassing session with the Lib Dems.

He seems really happy and relaxed with the choice he has made to join us.

 

A word about Helen. Until a couple of weeks ago, she was the PPC for Streatham. And then suddenly she finds that there is a Lib Dem MP. She has shown such generosity of spirit in welcoming Chuka and we should recognise that.

So Chuka definitely has promise. He can hold a diamond the right way up, he can deliver leaflets with a bar chart and he seems to have got the hang of Minivan very quickly indeed.

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LibLink: Chuka Umunna: Boris as PM would tell world Britain brazenly tolerates prejudice and hatred

So, it’s Chuka Umunna’s LibLink debut.

And he’s used his Independent column to talk about Boris Johnson’s unsuitability to be Prime Minister.

Chuka contrasts the Tory membership with the population as a whole:

The average age of a UK citizen is 40, over-65s make up around 18 per cent of the population, and those aged between 18 and 24 make up 9 per cent of the population. On this measure, the Tory party is in no way representative. The project found that the average age of a Tory party member is 57, significantly older, with 38 per cent of Tory party members aged 66 and over, and 7 per cent between 18 and 25 years old.

And it doesn’t get better with other diversity characteristics:

The population is split more or less equally between the genders, yet three-quarters of Tory members are men. Whereas around 14 per cent of the population is of an ethnic minority background, just 3 per cent of Tory party members are non-white.

And then we get to Boris and his greatest transgressions:
He has described black people as “piccanninnies” with “watermelon smiles”. Last summer, he compared Muslim women wearing veils to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”. And, this weekend, none other than Steve Bannon, right-wing populist and former campaign manager to Donald Trump, revealed that he worked with Johnson on his government resignation speech last year. I don’t know whether Johnson is a racist or not – only he can answer that question definitively. But there is no doubt that the aforementioned comments are racist and, at the very least, they reveal a complete disrespect and condescension towards those of a different ethnicity.

He describes how his fellow panellists on Politics Live last week dismissed Johnson’s remarks:

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Chuka: Make large businesses pay promptly

The novelty of Chuka Umunna as a new Lib Dem MP hasn’t quite worn off yet. For the second day running our new Treasury Spokesperon tackled the Government, this time on measures to deal with late business payments, trying to nail their jelly to the wall.

I thank the Minister for advance sight of her statement. She talked about the challenges facing small businesses. Brexit, of course, will cause huge disruption to small businesses’ supply chains given the added bureaucracy and tariffs.

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Chuka’s first parliamentary question as a Lib Dem

Chuka Umunna is no stranger to holding the government to account. He spent four years opposing the Business Secretary, one Vincent Cable. The effect of that seems to have been the formation of a close friendship.

Today he asked his first question as a Lib Dem on a touchstone liberal issue – the benefits of immigration and the awfulness of the Tory Government’s policies:

The King’s Fund says that the earnings threshold in the Government’s immigration proposals, which was mentioned earlier, will definitely impact on the ability to retain and attract NHS staff. The proposals for a transition period during which many social care workers would only be allowed to come here for a limited time with no entitlement to bring dependants will, again, negatively impact on the ability to retain staff. When will this Government realise that immigration is good for our public services and good for our country, and that badly thought out policy in this area that impacts on the retention of NHS staff is wrong and nonsensical?

It’s nice to see him down as a Lib Dem in Hansard, too.

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Chuka joining the Lib Dems is good for him, the Lib Dems and UK politics

Chuka Umunna becoming a member of the Liberal Democrats is good for him, the Liberal Democrats and politics in the UK. There are several and important, obvious and not as obvious, reasons why this is so.

Chuka Umunna is clearly an able, dynamic, eloquent personality. Anybody who has seen him relate to and engage with people, can see this. At home on television, with interviewers, on platforms, he is a communicator who is a good talker and listener. And he is as at ease with school kids and young people in their turf as he is in the Westminster bubble.

He brings with him knowledge of and a background from, South London and its diverse communities. I am from South London and have been a resident of Streatham too. I know he has a high reputation there.

He has in his biography, some remarkable elements, not as often alluded to. His African father Bennett Umunna, came to the UK with no money. He started and built a successful import and export business. He became involved in Nigerian politics, and his stand against corruption brings some to the conclusion that his tragic demise, in a car accident when young Chuka was in his early teens, was no accident. Bennett had met and married  Patricia Milmo, a solicitor. Chuka’s mother is the daughter of Sir Helenius Milmo, a prosecuting lawyer at the Nuremberg trials. What few know, is, they are also descendants of a great Liberal politician Samuel Morley.

Posted in Op-eds | 21 Comments

Ed and Jo on Chuka joining the Lib Dems

Both the leadership candidates have warmly welcomed Chuka Umunna to the Lib Dems:

Ed said:

Stopping Brexit is my number one priority and I welcome Chuka to our benches as a key player in this fight. He has shown huge courage, and will make a major contribution to the Liberal Democrats.

Liberal Democrats are back in the game, and the only viable force for pro-Europeans across the UK. Join us.

Jo said:

I have said all along that growing a liberal movement means reaching out to bring more people into our party, and I am delighted that Chuka has decided to join the Liberal Democrats.

I have worked with Chuka on the People’s Vote campaign, and I know the passion, intellect, and energy he will bring to our party, and our campaign to stop Brexit.

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Chuka: Lib Dems offer the best chance to improve the lives of the people I represent

I am convinced the Liberal Democrats, as the spearhead of a broader progressive movement in civil society, offer the best chance to improve the lives of those I represent as well as countless other citizens across our country.

The time has come to put past differences behind us and, in the national interest, do what is right for the country. So I urge others to join the party too.

So says the newest Lib Dem MP Chuka Umunna in an article on the Lib Dem website. He’s also been on the Today programme this morning (at about 7:12 am if you want to catch him on catch up) knocking it out of the park, to be honest. It was a very strong and positive interview in which he described how, as a social democrat with liberal values and a passionate internationalist, his values matched up to ours.

In his article and interview, he tackled his prior criticism of the Liberal Democrats’ role in the coalition.

I found it hard to come to terms with the impact of the public spending cuts which were instigated by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government of 2010-2015.

I did not disagree with the need to reduce the public sector deficit and debt – indeed Labour’s last Chancellor Alistair Darling accepted this.

But I did disagree with the speed and severity of fiscal consolidation, and the extent to which cuts to public spending as opposed to tax increases were made to carry the burden.

Four years on from their time in office, things have changed.

The Liberal Democrats have voted against every Tory budget since 2015. They stood on an anti-austerity manifesto in 2017 with, for example, commitments to end the public sector pay cap, increase tax to pay for the NHS and reverse cuts to housing benefit and Universal Credit.

Senior figures – including Vince – have since said that, although they curbed George Osborne’s worst excesses, they should not have allowed measures like the bedroom tax to be introduced.

They also accept that a major mistake was made in making and then breaking a pledge on university tuition fees, which should never happen again.

Most importantly, the biggest impediment to ending austerity currently is pressing on with Brexit.

It is worth pointing out that many Lib Dem members were incredibly unhappy with some of the things we allowed to go ahead as part of the coalition – including me – even if we did see some of the good that we were doing.

His experience since leaving the Labour Party has taught him the importance of having an established party structure:

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ICYMI: Chuka Umunna joins the Lib Dems

Embed from Getty Images

In case you had an early night last night and are wondering what’s going on, last night Chuka Umunna joined the Liberal Democrats.

Here’s the official announcement which came just after 10pm last night.

The Liberal Democrats are delighted to announce that Streatham MP Chuka Umunna has joined the party.

Chuka joins the Liberal Democrats, having held the seat since 2010. The Liberal Democrats recently topped the poll in London during the European elections and are extremely excited to gain this seat.

Commenting on his decision, Liberal Democrat MP Chuka Umunna said:

I have chosen to join the Liberal Democrats because it is at the forefront of a renewed, progressive and internationalist movement in British politics that shares my values.

Labour and the Tories are committed to facilitating Brexit, and Brexit makes ending austerity virtually impossible.  The Liberal Democrats are not – they were arguing for a People’s Vote and to remain in the EU from the very start.

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+++Breaking…Chuka Umunna joins the Liberal Democrats

 

 

In an interview with the Times tonight, Chuka Umunna announces that he has joined the Liberal Democrats and becomes our 12th MP.

Chuka said:

“Time and time again when I was speaking to voters around the country and in my constituency, people were saying, ‘Well, look, why don’t you just join the Liberal Democrats? Why don’t you all come together in the progressive centre ground?’ ”

So he has swallowed his pride and joined the effort to make the Liberal Democrats the spearhead of a “new progressive movement in this country”.

Urging others to join him, he said the party’s success in the European elections showed the potential: “I think we’ve got to grab the chance to fundamentally change the system for ever now. And if we don’t do so, I think history will be a poor judge of us.”

A hugely warm welcome to him.

I might be a little annoyed that the Mail on Sunday got it broadly right but I am happy to see Chuka join us.

Vince, who also took part in that Times interview,  said that more MPs could follow the Streatham MP to the Lib Dems:

There are lots of conversations going on, some more intimate than others,” the outgoing party leader added. “Chuka joining us today is a big event in itself but there may well be others. I’m not going to make commitments on others’ behalf, they will make their own decisions in their own time.

“We have a very, very good relationship with members of the independent group,” he added in a clear hint that other members of the breakaway outfit are considering joining his party.

He said that the approaching threat of a no-deal Brexit would drive as many as 20 MPs out of the Tories. “I think there are probably a dozen to 20 who have mentally crossed the Rubicon that they can’t stay in the Conservative Party in its current form.”

From what I’m hearing, the local Lib Dem party have been absolutely brilliant as all this has been unfolding. Helen Thompson, who was selected as PPC for Streatham earlier this year, has just tweeted:

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Chuka standing for the Lib Dems? Really?

The Mail on Sunday  seems very certain that Chuka Umunna, having left Change UK, is going to stand for the Lib Dems in Streatham.

This has about as much fact as anyone reading this site would expect from a Daily Mail story.

Let’s dial it back a little.

In order to stand as a Lib Dem candidate, you have to be a member of the party. Chuka isn’t. I suspect that if he wanted to join at some point in the future, we wouldn’t stand in his way.  I certainly wouldn’t be averse to that, as I said the other day and I quite like the idea of arguing against his suggestion that young people should have to do national service on the floor of conference.

There is also process to go through to be able to stand as a Lib Dem candidate.

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Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry write: The Independent Group and the Lib Dems working together is grown up politics

Today one of The Independent Group of MPs (TIG), Anna Soubry, will be speaking at a fringe event organised by IPPR North at the Liberal Democrats’ Spring Conference.  Inevitably, the Westminster village will ask why and speculate as to what this means.  But outside of Westminster, the idea that people who share similar values and have common views on things should work together is not news, its common sense.

There is no doubt that our politics is broken and needs fundamental change. We have a Government and an Official Opposition who are deeply divided, have failed to provide coherent leadership and to discharge their duties with the competence the British public are entitled to expect.  All public opinion research shows millions of politically homeless people are crying out for an alternative and something new – we left the main parties to create one.

A key facet of the culture of TIG is that we are non tribal – we share the same progressive values but we hail from different political traditions.  The fact people come from different political backgrounds should not preclude anyone working with others where there is agreement.  It is this belief that paved the way for the formation of our group and it is precisely why we had all worked with Liberal Democrat MPs long before our group formed on a number of issues, especially on Brexit, and will continue to do so. This is made easier by the fact that, unlike the main parties, the Lib Dems have not been taken over by parties within parties promoting the extremes of left or right.

In this sense, it should come as no surprise that at this time – when Brexit is the dominant issue facing our nation – our Brexit spokesperson should be speaking on a platform with Jo Swinson, the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats. We were delighted to have the full support of all Lib Dem MPs for Sarah Wollaston’s cross party Peoples Vote amendment which was voted on in the House of Commons last night.

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14 January 2019 – today’s press releases

As we start another week, is there an emerging consensus on where we go next? Tomorrow sees the meaningful vote in the Commons, whilst tonight saw a somewhat less meaningful one in the Lords, although it perhaps offers a portent of what is to come…

  • Cross-party group publishes legislation for People’s Vote
  • Cable: Research shows UK companies hit hard by ‘Leave’ vote
  • Lib Dems: EU letter changes nothing
  • Lords defeat ’embarrassing setback’ for Theresa May

Cross-party group publishes legislation for People’s Vote

A cross-party group of MPs has today (January 14th) published legislation to bring about a ‘People’s Vote’ referendum on the Government’s Brexit deal in …

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Cable, Umunna and Lucas demand Brexit answers from the Prime Minister

As Theresa May prepares to set out her five tests of a Brexit deal, Vince Cable, Chuka Umunna and Caroline Lucas have demanded that she and her ministers live up to the promises that they have made since the referendum, most of which revolve around cake and the eating thereof.

Open Britain co-ordinated a letter which is short and sweet. It’s the appendix in which the words of Ministers are outlined that is useful.

The point of the letter is not so much that they think the Prime Minster is going to take any notice, but more so that they can raise awareness of how far the Government is falling short of its own promises.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dear Prime Minister,

You have been Prime Minister for more than a year and a half and yet it has taken you until now to explain in any detail to the public what you believe the future relationship between the UK and the EU should be. It was your decision to rule out membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union, yet you and the Brexit Secretary have misleadingly claimed we can do this and at the same time retain all the benefits of membership.

Since the referendum, you and your ministers have made a number of promises about our future trading relationship with the EU:

  1. The exact same benefits as today
  2. No hard border on the island of Ireland or across the UK
  3. Fully negotiated by March 2019
  4. No payment for access to the EU market
  5. A complete end to EU rules and regulations
  6. Continuation of all EU trade deals and new deals ready to come into force

Listed below are the promises made by you and your Ministers, in your own words.

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Vince on the Government’s “Road to Brexit” plans

Vince summed up in a tweet what many people are thinking about the Government’s Brexit plans and yet another attempt to show that they actually know what they are doing.

Please someone make that a cartoon.

He also had this to say on the comments by Anna Soubry and Chukka Umunna on the Andrew Marr Show that MPs could vote down a Brexit deal that wasn’t good for the country.

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Vince Cable and Chuka Umunna criticise Government’s industrial strategy in Independent article

Vince Cable has teamed up with Chuka Umunna in an Independent article that warns of the likely consequences if Vince’s former department of Business, Innovation and Skills suffers the massive cuts predicted. It’s not a protected department, so its budget could be cut by up to 40%. That would make it difficult to continue Vince’s successful industrial strategy:

One of the positive legacies of the Coalition government was the establishment of an ‘industrial strategy’ with the same objectives. It was successful in attracting a lot of support from business in general and in key sectors like automotive, aerospace, bio-tech, creative industries, energy and railway supply chains and construction. In vehicles and aerospace, especially, a large amount of private sector and government money was committed to R&D. The approach was flexible, accommodating and welcoming of disruptive technologies and the emergence of new industries. Before the election, the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems (and the SNP) subscribed to the industrial strategy.

There has been a deafening silence since. We are now past the first 100 days: the government’s honeymoon. There is no excuse for lack of clarity over a key area of government policy. There may be an innocent explanation: a wish by the Conservative government to rebrand the industrial strategy as part of its ‘Long Term Economic Plan’, while work quietly proceeds in the background. A more worrying possibility is that the ideologues in government have got their teeth into it believing, against all previous experience, that market failures will correct themselves and that the UK economy will achieve balanced, sustained, recovery thanks to resurgent banking and app start-ups in Shoreditch.

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Vince Cable in his own words on the sale of Royal Mail

Vincent CableThe publication of a report today by the National Audit Office criticising the “deep caution” of Vince Cable’s department in setting the sale price of shares in Royal Mail has, inevitably, been leapt on by opponents of the policy. Critics who would, of course, have been equally happy crowing if the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills had set the price too high causing the flotation flop.

Vince Cable went to the despatch box of the Commons today to defend his department’s actions, making headlines for unambiguously stating, “The last thing …

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LDVideo: Vince Cable praises Royal Mail’s “very good launch” onto the stock market

Royal Mail shares soared on their first day’s floatation yesterday, prompting inevitable accusations that the company had been priced too low. Here’s Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable explaining his aim to assure long-term investment irrespective of the froth of the “spivs and speculators”:

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Labour’s stance on high pay leaves the ball firmly in Vince Cable’s court

The appearance of cross-party consensus in politics usually makes me welcoming and wary in equal measure – welcoming as it signals a weakening of the fierce discord between political tribes, wary because the sheen of consensus often betrays a deep underlying suspicion of the ability of any party to take on the challenges they face.

Excessive remuneration appears to be the latest issue on which the three main parties appear to agree – it apparently unites the hitherto unlikely trio of Vince Cable, Ed Miliband and, latterly it seems, David Cameron around the recognition that extremes of …

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Councillor Warren Swaine apologises for offensive tweet

Reading Councillor Warren Swaine has issued an apology for his actions on 27 January.

I would like to take this opportunity apologise for making derogatory comments during the BBC Question Time programme on the 27th January especially those relating to Chuka Umunna MP. I made a lot of comments that were insulting that night and I regret that.

In respect of one particular tweet, no offense was meant but I absolutely acknowledge that it was recklessly worded and liable to an interpretation that was never intended. For that I would like to offer my sincere apologies to Mr Umunna and

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Councillor Warren Swaine reinstated after Twitter race row

Reading Councillor Warren Swaine has had his Liberal Democrat membership restored after being accused of making a racist remark about a Labour MP in February – but will have to complete diversity training if he wishes to be an officer for the Liberal Democrat council group.

The Reading Chronicle reports:

The Lib Dems’ South Central office announced today that Reading borough councillor, Warren Swaine, who represents Katesgrove ward, will have to undergo diversity training if he wants to be a spokesman for the group in the next two years.

The decision comes more than five months after Cllr Swaine was suspended

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Do CCHQ staff have to bring their own toilet paper in to work?

I only ask, you see, because earlier today the Conservative Party’s press team decided to highlight the fact that a Labour MP, Chuka Umunna, claimed £43.12 for “soap, toilet roll etc”.

Toilet paperWell, the claim was for his office where staff work. So quite why would someone want to pick on an employer providing toilet roll (and soap! yes, soap! the sheer luxury!) for his staff?

But perhaps that’s how CCHQ works and the staff there are so used to having to bring their own toilet paper …

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What not to tweet, part 94

From the Reading Post:

The Lib Dem councillor at the centre of the “racist” Twitter storm has been suspended from his party.

Cllr Warren Swaine quoted an Ali G catchphrase “Is it because I is black” in a tweet about mixed race Labour MP Chuka Umunna when he was appearing on Question Time…

Henk van Klaveren, Liberal Democrat national office spokesman, said: “The Liberal Democrats have a zero tolerance policy on racist comments and behaviour. The regional party has suspended Councillor Warren Swaine pending further investigation.”

And from Political Scrapbook:

With a meeting approving cuts of £65 million and 1,300 redundancies, the leader

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