Chuka Umanna Withdrawal


The first drama of the Labour leadership election was the surprise announcement that one of the favourites Chuka Umanna has withdrawn. Along with the non-entry of Dan Jarvis into the race for family reasons, this denies Labour of two of its most interesting characters for the same reason!

The withdrawal is a worrying spotlight into the tactics and intrusion suffered by politicians (amongst others I fully accept) into their personal and family life. Why on earth were journalists doorstepping such a wide range of his family? It wasn’t for a cup of tea and a nice chat. These are not pleasant people who do this. They have headlines to create and are under a lot of pressure to deliver the killer story. As anybody who has suffered the intrusion of the national press will tell you they don’t understand the word NO or even just leave us alone.

I have a great deal of sympathy for Chuka. I only ever got one weekend of this in 2003 over Iraq but it is unbelievable.  I had not made up my mind about him, as I have never met him personally. I have heard the usual stories repeated by the press about him being aloof – but I have seen him operate during the election and liked his calm and approachable manner. He has – or had a bright future. He is a bit *too* smooth for my liking but this is something that can be easily managed as he learns to communicate with a wider audience.

More worryingly it does restrict our choice. Can we only have politicians who are prepared not to have had normal lives – even before they enter the political arena!

One of the (many) reasons I was not interested in going further than being a humble back bench MP was seeing the lifestyles endured by even junior ministers and Ministers I served as a PPS.  One of my great pleasures in life has been playing rugby as many will know! Throughout my time as an MP I wanted to carry on as much of my previous life as possible. So I carried on playing for Birstall RFC most weekends. I didn’t need an expensive focus group as 20 minutes in the changing room and bar were a great insight into what the lads thought of the previous political week. But a couple of friends who I also knew played sport still took the decision they were going to give it up in a push to become Ministers. To be fair they put in the extra hours and focus and made it. One lost in 2010 but another is still making good progress. They have their Ministerial experience and I am still playing rugby. I have no regrets. I am sure they have none either. But it does show that to make it to the top requires such a level of dedication that too much normal life is given up for my liking. It is little wonder that politicians seem out of touch when they are created as mini-celebrities and not allowed to live  normal life – with all its ups and downs. It would be great for politicians to be allowed a proper balance, The march of the professionalisation of politics continues. And that is not good.

Below is the statement form Chuka Umanna

“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.

“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.

“I apologise to all those who have kindly supported and encouraged me to do this and for disappointing them. I know this will come as I surprise to many but I had always wondered whether it was all too soon for me to launch this leadership bid – I fear it was.

“Most importantly, I continued to have very real concerns and worry about this bid’s impact on those close to me.

“I intend to carry on playing my full role as a proud member of our Shadow Cabinet taking on the Tories. I also hope to play a leading role in Labour’s campaign to keep the UK in the EU during the forthcoming referendum which is absolutely crucial. Most importantly, I will as ever continue to serve the area I know and love – the Streatham parliamentary constituency.”


As part of a series looking at the organisations & charities I support in the ‘faith sector’ my biggest contribution now goes into World Vision UK (as a volunteer – CiS takes more time but in a different relationship)

Last November I visited Bolivia with WV to see what impact we make on the ground –

If you are interested in what World Vision do please have a look at their site. You may be interested in sponsoring a child? Its is a great way to contribute to their work.

Worldvision UK

World Vision UK – Children’s Charity | Every Child Free From Fear


I will be using Tumblr a great deal more to be highlighting & capturing many of the faith elements of our work/ play/ impact/ at sajeImpact.

We start at home – with Open Heaven where we have found ourselves. More about Open heaven at a later stage but Ignite has been a big part of Sarah’s journey for the last 12 months. Worth a look if you are interested!

Ignite | Open Heaven Church

The Journey to 2020

Like most commentators I was spectacularly wrong about the outcome of the election last week, so it would seem very foolish to start to speculate about the outcome of the 2020 election already. So clearly I won’t even try. But I did enjoy the experience of trying to make sense of the election campaign for ‘friends’ & ‘followers’.  So much so that I intend to log the journey to 2020 here on this political blog. I may not be able to keep up a daily blog but certainly I hope to capture each week what has been happening and why!

Of course this will be a Labour biased commentary but I will be looking at the big picture and commenting on the tactics and positioning taking place. The announcements from the Tory government have already been very political and planning ahead (as far as you can) to position themselves for the dividing lines in 2020. One of the reasons for Labour losing in 2010 was the Tories pinning a global recession onto the last Labour government. ‘Labour’s economic mess’ was allowed to stick. How many people realise economic growth was stronger in 2010 than it was in 2015?

I am guessing many of the early posts will be about why Labour lost and the Labour leadership election, which will be concluded by September. As I don’t believe all the candidates have declared yet (and Chuka has thrown in the towel already) I have not declared my support. In 2010 my choice for David Miliband was an obvious choice for me – even though all the candidates were friends. The fact that I have no immediate enthusiasm for any of the candidates is worrying. But more of this and an analysis of each candidate as we journey to September. I may find myself enthused as the feeling of fighting back returns!

In the meantime we can sit back and watch the comedy being given to us by Nigel Farage and UKIP. What an amazing soap opera. He managed to not be the Great Leader for about 48 hours! There are clear splits in the personnel but I am hoping this runs much deeper. As Lynton Crosby has predicted in The Telegraph today this might have been the political high point for UKIP. In a post Euro Referendum world what is the point?

And that of course will be the massive distraction of this government. The next 2 years could be dominated by a Referendum campaign on our membership of the EU. I will be campaigning for us to stay IN Europe. I know that this will be hard sell. It is always easier to be against things!

So hopefully this blog will be of some use to me if nothing else in plotting the journey back to power for a progressive government.

Tidying Up Social Media!

As you can see from my website the links to my various social media channels keeps growing. So I am having a little bit of a tidy up and being a little more ruthless about what goes where!

From today I will be using my Tumblr for more faith based work, initiatives. That probably means for 2015 CiS, Engage2015 and Openheaven.

My old WordPress site has been revived to allow more political blogging over the next 5 years up to the 2020 General Election.

I will continue to use twitter as my main feed. I use Facebook for more local stuff to Loughborough and friends. I may try to trim this down to make it usable again! Photos do go to Flickr and Instagram, and I don’t have a proper methodology yet as to why! 

Finally my Linkedin pages will remain for professional use only. I do only accept requests from people I know or would like to meet! 

The websites are all linked from my SajeImpact site – The sports Think Tank and Sportinnovation sites. 

So have a quick look –