Press Releases

Chuka writes for the Brixton Blog on the Trinity Academy Free School

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Chuka has written for the Brixton Blog on the Trinity Academy Free School in Brixton. You can read the piece in full by clicking on this link.

Chuka’s South London Press Column: Register to Vote & Make Your Voice Heard

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Chuka Umunna MP wrote the following column for the August 29 edition of the South London Press:

Politics will shortly fill the news again. The Scottish referendum is now in less than three weeks and, after that, the Political Parties’ annual conferences will dominate our TV screens. Politicians from all political Parties will be making their pitch to the electorate, and fighting for your votes at the general election.

But if not enough people locally are registered to vote, you will not get to have your voice heard and have your say.

For areas like my constituency of Streatham, with so much potential but more than our fair share of challenges, it is essential that politics works for our community, and using your right to vote is one of the best ways to ensure this happens.

Recent electoral commission figures showed that less than a year to go to the General Election, 7.5 million of the electorate will be unable to vote. The disparity between who is and isn’t registered to vote is concerning. Those who make up our BME communities are less likely to be registered to vote than the average, as are those aged 18-24, and those in the private rented sector.

The government is rushing to introduce Individual Electoral Registration – which will require each to individual to register, rather than the head of the household (as is the case currently). The government’s figures from their own pilots have suggested that nearly 9 million of the current electorate face falling off the register, because they can’t be matched with government-held data. It is the same groups which are currently under-represented that are most susceptible to this drop-off.

It’s only natural to think that those who aren’t registered to vote are insufficiently served by government – when the LibDems and Conservatives in government put tuition fees up, which impacts disproportionately on the young, or when the government sets its face against sensible action proposed by Labour to improve tenancy arrangements for private renters.

As everyone seems to live busier and busier lives, active involvement in politics can be difficult, and I know that Party politics has to do more to attract people to get involved. Whilst I don’t think people are become less political, they are becoming less party political. But if you don’t vote at a General Election because you are not registered, you miss out on having a say as to how our country is run.

Politics matters and does make a difference. Just look at any of the Sure Start centres in my constituency, there because of a Labour government, or the minimum wage introduced when Labour last came to power because we believed it was unacceptable that some people in our society could be paid £1 for an hour of work (we were prepared to push it through despite what the other Parties said).

I know that a lot of trust was broken at the last election, particularly when the LibDems broke their promises to the electorate on tuition fees and VAT, and the Conservatives with their top-down reorganisation of the NHS. However, I think it is incredibly important that we don’t let that put people off politics completely, or take it to mean that politics does not achieve anything.

When politics has the potential to make an enormous difference to people’s lives, and to our local community as a whole, I believe it is absolutely vital that we all have a say over what politics does. As a community, we can’t avoid for our voice to be missing from the debate.

You can register to vote online at gov.uk/register-to-vote or you call your local Borough for more information. If you are in Lambeth electoral services can be contacted on 020 7926 2254.


Chuka Slams Boris for focusing on Parliamentary ambitions instead of the needs of London commuters

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Streatham MP Chuka Umunna has criticised London Mayor Boris Johnson ahead of Mr Johnson’s possible selection as Conservative candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, saying “Boris, distracted by his Parliamentary ambitions, has taken his eye off the ball when he should be focused on the needs of London commuters like my constituents”.

Mr Umunna wants the Mayor to agree that a Streatham route should be considered in any consultation concerning the extension of the Bakerloo line, saying thatif Streatham is not even considered in a consultation on extending the Bakerloo line then it would simply lend credence to those who say our Mayor has become distracted by his Parliamentary ambitions from his full-time job as Mayor”.

The London Infrastructure Plan 2050, launched by the Mayor’s office in July, suggested “Extending the Bakerloo Line south from Elephant and Castle through Southwark, into Lewisham and beyond” at some time prior to 2050.

It has since been reported that Transport for London (TfL) are to start a ten-week public consultation on extending the line to south-east London in September. However, there has been no indication that the option of extending the line to Streatham in South west London via Camberwell and Herne Hill – which TfL had agreed to consider in 2009 following pressure from Mr Umunna – will be included.

Prior to the launch of the London Infrastructure Plan, in a letter earlier this year to London’s Transport Commissioner, Mr Umunna wrote about his “strong view that Streatham is at the moment insufficiently served by TfL and by transport services more generally”, repeating his long-time demand that TfL examine the case for extending an existing underground line to Streatham.

Mr Umunna – who has been campaigning for a Streatham tube since before becoming the MP for his local area – is meeting the Transport Commissioner in September to repeat his long-held demands for his constituency which has been historically poorly served by the tube.

Today is the deadline for applications for the Conservative Party candidacy in Uxbridge and South Ruislip. Boris Johnson confirmed this week he will be seeking selection, despite his position as Mayor.

Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat chair of the London Assembly transport committee, voiced support earlier this month for extending the Bakerloo line to Lewisham & Bromley. However, Mr Umunna’s view is that Streatham is poorly served by existing transport connections and should have a tube line. Mr Umunna said today that “all we are asking is that Streatham – historically ill-served by London Transport – be given due consideration instead of being ignored.”

Commenting, Streatham MP Chuka Umunna said:

Boris, distracted by his Parliamentary ambitions, has taken his eye off the ball when he should be focused on the needs of London commuters like my constituents”

“We have been pushing for TfL to extend the underground to Streatham and if Streatham is not even considered in the consultation on extending the Bakerloo line it would demonstrate clearly that Boris’ focus lies elsewhere.

“We will not stop campaigning on this.  Boris must intervene and ensure Streatham’s case for a tube is heard – Conservative association members in Uxbridge aren’t the only people he’s been elected to serve.

“All we are asking is that Streatham – historically ill-served by London Transport – be given due consideration instead of being ignored.”

Response on Cherry Groce inquest verdict

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Commenting on the verdict of the inquest into the death of Cherry Groce, Chuka Umunna MP said:

“In pursuing justice for their mother and fighting to ensure they received legal aid to be represented at the inquest into her death, my constituents – the family of Cherry Groce – have been completely vindicated by the jury’s findings.

“It is a disgrace that my constituents – all innocent victims of a grave injustice – have had to wait almost three decades to get to the bottom of what happened that fateful day in 1985 when their mother was shot by the Metropolitan Police.  That Cherry Groce never lived to hear the jury’s findings today compounds the injustice my constituents feel.

“The findings of the jury are very welcome and resounding.  The staggering ineptitude and incompetence of the police at the time – who should have called off the raid they carried out and did not properly check who lived in the home – are astonishing.  The family now deserve nothing less than a full, proper, formal apology on behalf of the Met by the Commissioner for what happened.

“Much progress has been made with regard to police community relations since the 1980s. But cases such as this and ongoing injustices surrounding issues like stop and search and deaths in police custody, highlight there is still a long way to go before we reach the levels of trust in the Police that we all want to see.”

ENDS

Chuka: Police Must Film Every Stop & Search in Lambeth

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Lambeth MP Chuka Umunna has called on the Metropolitan Police to extend a body worn camera pilot to the borough, arguing that increased scrutiny of stop and search actions is necessary to ensure trust between the police and those in his Streatham parliamentary constituency.

Mr Umunna has written to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, asking him to extend a Metropolitan Police pilot in which officers are equipped with body-worn cameras that can be switched on to film their interactions with members of the Public.

The pilot, launched in May this year, is operating in the London boroughs of Barnet, Bexley, Bromley, Brent, Camden, Croydon, Ealing, Havering, Hillingdon and Lewisham. During the pilot officers are using the cameras to both collect evidence in incidents such as domestic abuse and public order but also for potentially contentious interactions such as the use of stop and search.

Mr Umunna argued that introducing the pilot to Lambeth, which has had an historically poor relationship with the Police in comparison to other areas, would help to build trust between the Police and the people he represents, particularly with regard to the relationship between the police and the black community in Lambeth.

Research collated by the House of Commons library has shown that a black person is at least six times more likely than a white person to be stopped and searched.  Lambeth has a high black population. Over 25% of people in Lambeth identified themselves as black in the 2011 census.

Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP said:

“When people are the victims of crime, or witness to crime taking place, we need for them to feel able to trust the police in order to build a safer community, so we need to act to resolve anything that corrodes this trust.

“Some of the distrust comes from what has happened in the past, but whilst we have come a long way from the dark days of the 1980’s, there is much more that still needs to be done, particularly around stop and search.

“In my view, the Met should record every stop and search in Lambeth, both because it will help increase trust in the police and because it will help ensure the Police are accountable should they fall short of that trust.”

 

Chuka writes for the South London Press on the Living Wage

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Chuka Umunna MP wrote the following column for the June 30 edition of the South London Press:

Pay; Promotion; Politics; Safety; Security; Family; Community; Society; the Elderly. Ask most people in my South London constituency to put these in order of how important they are for them and it’s a safe bet that politics will come out bottom of the list.

And that’s as it should be – people rightly care far more about their jobs, families, local community and society, ahead of how much they care about the latest ministerial pronouncements or the ins-and-outs of party politics.

The time people most care about politics is when it impacts most on these more important priorities. The creation of our local SureStart centres by the last government, say, or the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance.

That’s why the focus for politicians must be on making sure that government helps where possible, does not act where acting would make things worse, and that when government does act it acts in the best possible way.

Pay needs to be a huge part of that focus, because getting people better paid jobs has a huge effect on the other things that people think is important, our ability to look after our families, share experiences with our children, and have a sense of security in the future.

It’s for these reasons that the fact that pay has fallen by £2300 since 2010 in my constituency is such a concern, and needs government to act to help where it can, and stop doing things that are making things worse.

One of the Campaigns that’s been most successful during my time as an MP has been the campaign for a living wage, and I think that is because it is a campaign focused relentlessly on ensuring that pay works for more people in our society – that more people earn a wage that means they can have a reasonable standard of living, instead of working constantly but not earning enough for the basics.

That campaign’s not been a political campaign purely focused on government, but a civil society campaign working with some of our most important institutions, like the Church of England & our businesses, charities and local councils. It shows the best of our society where we can all recognise that we rise and fall together and that we can also work together to improve things. The Archbishop of York, launching the Living Wage Commissions final report this week, called it a “beacon of hope for millions of workers”.

I think it’s important that government works to support the living wage campaign. It’s particularly important for the area I represent, where there are many people earning less than the living wage, and where some of our local communities, like our local Latin American community, are disproportionately not earning the living wage.

That’s why if elected next year, Labour will introducing Make Work Pay contracts, so that every employer who moves to offer a Living Wage to those on less than that wage a tax break; The saving this brings to government through less money being paid out in in-work benefits, isn’t kept only by government but shared with companies as well.

It’s not just on the living wage where we need to act to help people’s pay and prospects, but it is a very important part of it. And what people get paid at the bottom of the pay spectrum effects not just those people, but also has an impact on the ability of our businesses to grow and for everyone to get on at work.

It’s easier for everyone to achieve prosperity if there are less people in poverty, and that’s one of things that I think politics can help achieve.


Fantastic News on the Megabowl

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Chuka Umunna MP said:

“It is fantastic news that London Square have exchanged and should complete on the purchase on the Megabowl. Getting the Megabowl redevelopment built has been one of my top priorities for the local area and this news has been a long-time coming.

“The Megabowl has been too long an eyesore and I’ve lost count of the number meetings I’ve had to try and get this development going – I know local residents will be pleased that we finally seem to be getting back on track. ”

 

Dr Abbas Khan, Six Months On: Local MP & Family Speak Out on Need for Justice

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Six months after the death of British doctor Abbas Khan at the hands of the Syrian regime, the Doctor’s family and his local MP have said that what happened to him must never be forgotten so that justice can be done whenever the opportunity arises.

Dr Abbas Khan travelled to the region on humanitarian grounds in late 2012, before his capture by the regime inside Syria in November 2012. He was held in captivity until his death on December 16 2013.

Dr Abbas Khan’s brother Afroze Khan said :

“Six whole months since our brother’s death we are no closer to the truth of what really happened to him. Abbas showed great courage and fortitude in the presence of tyranny and we do not want his story to be buried in Syria or forgotten in Britain.

“Abbas made a selfless act to help others with no regard to the risk to his own life. For this he was imprisoned, tortured and in an act of sheer cruelty murdered just when freedom was in sight.

“On this day we ask that Abbas’s sacrifice be not forgotten and that there be a ceaseless pursuit to grant him and his family justice.”

Dr Abbas Khan’s sister Sara Khan said:

“The loss of my brother has left an indelible scar for us all and nothing can ever bring him back or help us recover from the pain we have suffered, however, this does not mean we will allow the perpetrators to walk freely and we will fight till justice is done”

Dr Abbas Khan’s local MP, Chuka Umunna said:  

“The treatment of my constituent, Dr Abbas Khan, who was tortured and eventually killed whilst in the hands of the Syrian regime, was a heinous act which should never be forgotten and for which justice is required.

“There seems to me no doubt that people within Syria know more than what they are saying now of what exactly happened to Dr Khan, who killed him, and who gave the order.

“Whilst the tragedy that engulfs the country could mean the path to truth and justice is longer and more arduous than most; that means only that we must not let up in our pursuit of justice.”

 

Chuka’s Speech at the PRS 100 Year Celebration

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Chuka gave the following speech this evening at the PRS 100 Years of Music Celebration.

**CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY**

Thank you Robert for the kind introduction.

Now…Your members include unbelievably cool people like Soul2Soul, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards.  So it leaves me wondering: why on earth have you asked not one but two politicians to speak tonight!

How can we follow these guys?  I haven’t got any rock and roll stories to tell, I can’t recount any spaced out escapades….and, if I could, I wouldn’t be telling any of you tonight! ….You can bet there will be a Daily Mail journalist lurking somewhere in our midst.

But, seriously, thank you inviting me to speak – to be a part of your 100 year anniversary celebration tonight.

From 199 members in 1914 to more than 100,000 now.

From garnering £1,500 of income for members in your first year to more than £600m just last year,  You go from strength to strength.

So this is special night for a special organisation.

And I am so pleased to be able to celebrate with you for three reasons.

First, you know, PRS are technically amongst my constituents.  I am proud to have PRS headquartered in my constituency.  I work hard for all my constituents, particularly when they help boost my local economy.

Second, as Shadow Business Secretary, I have been clear that, in looking to grow our economy in the future, we have to pick sectors which will do this.

We might occasionally pick up a few too many null points at Eurovision, but our music industry contributes £3.8 billion to the UK economy – only the US music industry is bigger.  You are renowned around the world.

Your sector – music – with its prolific and inspirational songwriters, is a gold medal winner for UK industry.

In March I launched Labour’s Agenda 2030, which is our plan for building a better balanced, sustainable economy – A key plank of that plan is to back our strongest sectors and those what will inspire future success.  So I pledge to you this evening, if we are elected, we will back you.

Of course, in this age, your creative success spills over into the rest of the economy and creates genuine wealth for our country, both in financial terms and in cultural terms for other sectors too.

Finally, I am here because I love my music.  Though as I child as a cathedral chorister, I was part of the choir that sang the theme tune to the Mr Bean TV series, I don’t pretend to have any great musical talent….

But it is so important to me.  Music is part of who I am; it is part of who we are and it brings us together.

The first ever gig I ever went to was at the Brixton Academy to see Soul II Soul. I still remember “Back to Life” as if it was yesterday. It was this fusion of Soul, House, Garage, classical music and other genres – it represented the emergence of a really distinct British Soul sound. In the audience were people of all backgrounds, ages and colours.

What Soul II Soul’s music did was bring together people of all creeds, colours, backgrounds.  The group’s moto is: “a happy face, a thumping bass for a loving race”.

At a time when some people in our country are trying to set different groups in society against each other, the role music has in bringing us together has never been so important.

So PRS’ work in protecting your interests, ensuring those creating music get paid, is vitally important.

Every week I tweet a couple of tracks of the weekend. Sometimes the artists reply and tweet me back. A couple of weeks ago it was “We are family” by Sister Sledge – they tweeted me back saying they were glad to be giving me so much joy after so many years, which was pretty cool.

But a couple of years back I tweeted a De La Soul track and got a reply from De La Soul too. As well as saying thanks, they told me I’d got the wrong link and twitter handle.  I got told off by some of my heroes! I changed those links pretty damn quick!  I’ve since drunk the PRS Kool Aid and promise it is a not mistake I will make again.

So congratulations on 100 years, long may your work continue.  We’re right behind what you’re doing.  Have a great evening.

Thank you.

Fantastic News re Wandle Housing and the Streatham Hub

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Earlier today, Chuka received confirmation from Wandle Housing Association that the purchase of shared ownership properties at the Streatham Hub will go ahead with the sale of the properties at the reserved prices.

Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP said:

“This is absolutely fantastic news. I met with my constituents this morning who were treated disgracefully by Wandle on this matter. My constituents should never have been put in this position but I am pleased at least that this is now resolved and residents will be able to move into their new properties soon.”

Wandle Housing Association have issued the below update on the Streatham Hub: 

Wandle would once again like to apologise to its prospective purchasers for the anxiety caused by the recent communication in relation to the shared ownership properties at Derry Court, Streatham High Road. We are sorry that we have caused distress to the families involved.

During the course of this week, Wandle has been working extensively to explore all the options available to help those affected to continue with the proposed purchase of their new home.

Following discussions with our advisers and the GLA, Wandle were made aware of an option which would allow the purchase to go through at the original reserved price despite current higher valuations. We are pleased to advise that today, we have been granted permission by the GLA to go ahead with the sale at these prices.

Had we known this from the outset we would have approached the situation very differently. We are very sorry for the uncertainty this situation has caused to our prospective purchasers this week. We remain committed to ensuring that all of those involved will still be able to proceed with the purchase of their new homes.

Wandle is contacting all prospective purchasers today to inform them of this decision.