Streatham boy on track to become MP candidate

Chuka Umunna

Chuka Umunna

First published in News by

With Barack Obama's popularity ever increasing in America, the man described as the UK equivalent to the presidential candidate could become Streatham's MP.

Chuka Umunna, 29, is one of three front-runners to become Labour's parliamentary candidate for Streatham. Current MP Keith Hill announced he would retire at the time of the next general election, expected to be next year.

The solicitor joins Lambeth Council leader Steve Reed and former Lambeth councillor and charity chief executive Cathy Ashley in the race to be chosen as the party's candidate on March 15.

Born and raised in Streatham, Chuka grew up in Downton Avenue and attended Hitherfield and Christ Church primary schools.

He has lived in Streatham all his life, currently residing in Streatham High Road, and only left the area while he studied English and French law at Manchester University.

"Growing up in Streatham, I couldn't help but notice the poverty and inequality rampant in the area," said Chuka, who qualified as a solicitor in 2004, specialising in employment law. "A lot of people with my background haven't been able to overcome obstacles like I have."

Chuka, who is the vice-chairman of the Streatham Labour Party, editor of online political magazine TMP and regular writer for the Guardian, said he has not considered standing to become MP anywhere other than Streatham. "I'm a local boy wanting to represent the area I'm from - that's what it's about really," he said.

If elected as Streatham's MP, Chuka's main priorities would be youth provision, crime and education and he would campaign for parents to get the right for flexible working hours, so they could spend more time with their children.

"I hate the way urban youth are demonised as hoodie-wearing, happy-slapping monsters'," he said. "I used to be one of those youths and I wasn't like that, and neither were my friends."

As for the numerous comparisons which many journalists and political commentators have been made between him and Barack Obama, Chuka said they were "extremely flattering" but insisted he "wouldn't be so arrogant" as to make them himself.

He admitted similarities were there, with both men being mixed race, lawyers and having lost their fathers at a young age.

"Obama's so high profile - it's not that much of a surprise comparisons are made," he said. "He's very inspiring so it's a massive compliment."

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