Chuka Umunna’s interview on The Sunday Politics today highlighted several of the problems facing the Labour party. When Andrew Neil pressed him on whether he could name any heads of big companies backing Labour, the shadow Business Secretary could only name a Labour peer who the party ennobled in 1998. Here’s the exchange:
AN: Tony Blair said that Labour can’t go into the next election without the support of a single chief executive from a big company. Can you name the boss of a big major company who’s backing Labour?
CU: The Chairman of ASOS who is Waheed Alli. He has backed the Labour Party.
AN: Is that a public company on the FTSE?
CU: I’m not sure that ASOS is listed. It may be or it may be just outside the FTSE 100.
AN: Any others? Any others?
CU: I know where you’re going with this.
The other subject on which Labour is being put under pressure at the moment is whether it will support George Osborne’s decision to only increase most working age benefits and tax credits by 1%. Umunna gave a pretty clear indication that Labour would vote against it, saying ‘unless fundamental changes are made to the proposals that we’ve seen so far I think we will struggle to support it.’ But, revealing, when Neil pushed him on whether he could accept out of work benefits only going up by 1% if the in work benefits were increased more generously, he wouldn’t answer.