“It will happen in the first Queen’s Speech” – Chuka Umunna’s interview with LabourList

30th June, 2014 12:45 pm

Recently LabourList interviewed Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna, with questions submitted by LabourList Grassroots members. The interview covered a wide range of topics, including zero-hour contracts, a possible coalition deal and that Sun picture.

You can watch the full interview, which has been available to members of the Grassroots members since last Tuesday, here:

In his role, Umunna has built a reputation as one of the more business-friendly faces in the Shadow Cabinet – and here he spoke positively about building a narrative focussing on aspiration in the next year, saying that “aspiration has to be at the centre of everything we do”.

The idea of Labour having a “narrative” is something he obviously sees as vital to success. This is especially on the doorstep, where he seemed unconvinced by the scripts activists have to work with – believing that a smarter way to build relationships with voters is by talking about personal values when out doorknocking.

On the topic of building a narrative, he said:

“Policy is important, but you’ve got to knit that together in a story of what the country is now, and what we want to do in the future, not just in the country but for your community and your family. One of the things you’re going to see from us between now and the general election is knitting it together in that story.”

But what will these policies be? Asked about what timescale Labour had planned for improving the minimum wage, the Streatham MP wasn’t afraid to speak candidly about how long he felt it would take – and why:

“We’ll set a target [for the minimum wage] in terms of the percent of the median income we want the Low Pay Commission to work towards, and we’ll get them to do that over five years. Now why five years? Why not immediately? Because we want to give employers time to increase productivity and plan for an improved rate.”

On zero-hour contracts, however, he was clear that a Labour Government will waste no time in tackling the exploitation of workers, even if they are keeping the intricacies of what that will involve to themselves for now:

“It would require legislation – that is something that will happen in the first Queen’s Speech.”

To get content like this first, and have the opportunity to put your own questions to senior Labour figures, join the LabourList Grassroots Programme now for as little as £1 a week.

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  • Tokyo Nambu

    Eyes down, look-in for policy wonk bingo!

    “Business Friendly!” “Narrative!” “Aspiration!” (the latter two twice each in the space of two consecutive sentences). “Community!” “Story!”

    Those with post-graduate qualifications in philology or hermeneutics might like to try to guess what the difference is between a story and a narrative, if you’re still awake.

    God, is this the sort of stuff that passes for exciting political, er, discourse (about the only piece of jargon he didn’t use) these days?

  • EricBC

    We need a narrative about wealth creation not just a narrative about meeting the needs of folk standing at their doors demanding more services.

  • nana

    ‘Policy is important’.shock horror.why don’t they get business people in.how many on the shadow front bench know how to run a business?you can’t start promising things until you read the books.we wikll get ‘labour are spending monbey they have’nt got’.clegg did that re tuition fees? 4 years the coalition began,and now you are discussing policy.people are fighting ferrets in a sack wanting to be the next leader.hello.we got people going to foodbanks,
    today we are told the cost to households is not covered by monies coming.stop worrying about your careers,and do what you are there to do.SERVE THE PEOPLE.not yourselves.

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