Last week we reported that Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna was in the running to become Labour’s next leader and potentially the first non-white Prime Minister of these united kingdoms.
This, unfortunately for some, is unlikely to happen anytime soon, as Umunna has seemingly done some serious thinking since announcing his bid on YouTube, and as a result, has since withdrawn his candidacy.
According to his announcement, Umunna felt the pressure of his impending fame, and the potential scrutiny said fame would impose on his personal life. Umunna was initially pegged as the one to win, the bookie’s favourite in the race against the likes of Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham. This unsurprisingly led to what Umunna has described as “uncomfortable” and perhaps unwarranted media attention, with his personal life, including his relationship with his partner Alice Sullivan, becoming a topic of national debate. Just before his withdrawal, for example, Tory supporter and writer of Conservative Woman blog Laura Perrins, questioned Umanna’s ability to potentially run the country; not because he’s underqualified or inexperienced, but because, at the apparently ripe old age of 36, he has a girlfriend and not a wife. This, according to the snarky blogger, makes Umunna dubious, and unfit to run the country.
Some have speculated over whether it was this article, which pushed Umunna, who was already unsure about whether his bid was coming at the wrong time, pushed him into withdrawing. Others have claimed that juicy tell-all, set to be released in the Sunday papers, is what led to Umunna’s speedy withdrawal. A claim that turned out to be totally unfounded. Ultimately, according to Umunna, he wanted to protect himself, and those close to him, and felt that the media scrutiny, over a course of just a few days, was more than enough for him and extremely ‘uncomfortable’ for a man who values his privacy.
“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,” he wrote in his statement.
“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.”
“Most importantly, I continued to have very real concerns and worry about this bid’s impact on those close to me,” he added.
Despite the fact that he is no longer running for the Labour leader position, Umunna also pointed out in his statement that he will proudly continue is role as Shadow Business secretary and is committed to helping Labour in its latest campaign.
The other candidates, including Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, will continue to battle for the coveted position until September, when the new leader will officially be announced.