On 6 September, serial party-changer Chuka Umunna announced that he would be competing for a different parliamentary seat in the next general election. Since leaving the Labour Party earlier this year, he has refused to give constituents a chance to change their minds too via a by-election.
I'm delighted to have been appointed as the @LibDems candidate for the Cities of London & Westminster. I relish the prospect of ensuring the constituency – which is a global symbol for open, liberal values– is represented by a party and an MP who will be true to those values. https://t.co/6sWYUkGJ7M
— Chuka Umunna (@ChukaUmunna) September 6, 2019
Umunna had previously faced demands from his Streatham constituents for a by-election:
Amazing turnout for campaigners braving the elements to demand a by-election in Streatham.
Almost every single voter I spoke to on the doorstep thought Chuka Umunna should stand down and allow an election. pic.twitter.com/MAjHaaodZj
— Owen REGISTER TO VOTE Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) March 16, 2019
He continues to face such demands today:
Confirms what we all knew all along: Chuka Umunna is an unprincipled careerist who doesn't care about the people of Streatham. He needs to call a by election. https://t.co/a6VYdP85Eg
— anita K (@a_nitak) September 6, 2019
The currently Liberal Democrat MP previously defended his refusal to trigger a by-election, however, saying that “under our constitution you are elected as an individual first and foremost”. And he insisted local people “don’t have a problem with what I’m doing”. This was despite him stressing very openly in 2017 that he himself couldn’t forgive the Lib Dems for the suffering they’d helped the Conservatives to inflict on the constituency:
— Chuka Umunna (@ChukaUmunna) April 24, 2017
While apparently confident about local support, though, he’s now flying off to a different seat.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire?
Streatham was a long-time Conservative seat, but Labour has controlled it since 1992. The Lib Dems, meanwhile, last came in second place in 2010. So perhaps Umunna was wary of a possible defeat if he stood there as a Lib Dem candidate.
Either way, though, the Cities of London and Westminster seat may not be any easier for him to win. As the BBC reported:
Twice during the 1980s the Lib Dems came second to the Conservatives but the party has never received more than 21% of the vote and has often trailed behind Labour in third.
Indeed, Labour won 38% of the votes in 2017, while the Lib Dems won only 11%.
Can see that winning Streatham as a Lib Dem would have been difficult. But not sure that chances in Westminster are any better. If anything Lib Dems have fared better historically in Umunna’s seat (came close second in 2010). https://t.co/mDhzI6s672 pic.twitter.com/uDZOYFE3vI
— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) September 6, 2019
In short, the next general election may not be very kind to Umunna.
At least Streatham constituents finally know just how committed to them Umunna is, though.
Featured image via YouTube
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