UK parliamentary elections 2017

On the campaign trail with Labour candidate Chuka Umunna

Chuka Umunna, Labour candidate for Streatham constituency, campaigns for re-election, Saturday 3 June 2017
Chuka Umunna, Labour candidate for Streatham constituency, campaigns for re-election, Saturday 3 June 2017 Christina Okello/RFI

He's a hero in his Streatham constituency in London, and often compared to Barack Obama. Chuka Umunna, a 38-ear-old lawyer has represented Streatham, one of the capital's most ethnically diverse constituencies since 2010, and even contested the Labour leadership.


It's hard to move through parts of Streatham in the south London borough of Lambeth without coming across Chuka Umunna moving from door to door.

"I think it’s really important that you don’t take any support for granted," he says. "I have a majority here of just under 14,000, but frankly it wouldn’t matter how big my majority was I’d always be out talking to people, earning their support."

Ummuna won the last general election in 2015 with 53 percent of the votes over his Conservative rival Kim Caddy’s 25.1%

As we're walking past the council estate properties of Tulse Hill, in this ethnically diverse constituency, groups of people stream past me moving in Umunna's direction.

It's Saturday afternoon, five days before the general election and Umunna and his team of supporters are out canvassing to for last minute votes.

Recent polls show a surge in support for Labour and its leader Jeremy Corbyn.

"I think Jeremy has had a good campaign," says Umunna. "He's a natural campaigner, and he's a people person, whereas Theresa May has been exposed as being a bad campaigner. She doesn't look comfortable being out and about with people in their communities and I think that's definitely going to expose you."

The British Prime minister came under fire from rivals for refusing to appear at the BBC's live TV debate, sending instead her interior minister Amber Rudd.

Tories under fire

Yet it's on the Tories social care plans - branded a "dementia tax" by opponents - that Labour has really focused.

"In many ways the most damaging thing they’ve done and which has helped give Labour a real boost is to introduce a dementia tax where they’re basically proposing that individuals should shoulder a massive part of the burden in providing social care for older people and their families," he says.

"I just cannot understand how they could announce the policy that they did in mid-campaign!"

Umunna in 2015 contested the Labour leadership only to withdraw his candidacy three days later, but has long been considered a potential rival to Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour united behind Corbyn

As soon as the General Election was called Labour unified, he says.

"All we want to see is as many MPs delivered into parliament as possible. Wherever you sit on the Labour spectrum - that is definitely the one thing that unites us.

"It wasn't the right time for me [in 2015] but who knows anything can happen in politics."

Does he think he'll retain his Streatham seat?

"This is the constituency that I’ve represented since 2010," he says, "I don’t believe in the concept of safe seats."

It will be up to voters to decide on Thursday June 8th.

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