Chuka Umunna: it’s not a question about Obama

Chuka Umunna, the recently selected Labour candidate in Streatham, has been the object of some fairly wild comparisons with Barack Obama (one is yet to become an MP, and if Chris Nicholson has anything to do with it, certainly won’t become one for a good many years yet; the other is running for President of the United States and is down to the final three).

Sam Coates on the Red Box blog questions Chuka Umunna’s judgement regarding the way he’s responded to these comparisons, but this seems to me to miss the real questions over his judgement. They are over Umunna’s strident support for disgraced Labour councillor Miranda Grell – the one who was convicted and booted out of office for smearing her Liberal Democrat opponent as a paedophile.

His support for Miranda Grell included attacking Liberal Democrat blogger Andy Mayer for merely reporting her arrest in a very dry and factual piece. He posted a comment criticising Andy for reporting the arrest at all, and ending up with this attack:

This is base politics of the worst kind and there will be no winners save for Cllr Grell when she clears her name.

Of course, Grell didn’t clear her name, but instead the conviction stood.

To be fair to Chuka Umunna, he did seem to back away from supporting Miranda Grell all the way through her appeals process (the one which, regularly readers may recall, involved the made up court transcript). But he certainly showed very questionable judgement alongside a rather intolerant attitude to free speech (is factually reporting an arrest really “base politics of the worst kind”?), and I’ve yet to see any public admission of fault on his part for his views and actions. Those, to me, are the real questions that should be asked about his judgement.

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