How much does Chuka Umunna want you to call him the new Barack Obama?
He’s not like Obama but if you want to think that, he won’t stop you
Labour’s business chief Chuka Umunna seems to be having difficulties using the internet as of late.
First he was caught slagging off London’s “trash and wannabes” on a social network for “jetrosexual” millionaires, and now he’s facing accusations of doctoring his own Wikipedia page to slip in rosy comparisons with US President Barack Obama.
The “SocialDemocrat” account made a range of edits to the page, with Umunna slow to deny that he was responsible and later blaming his staff.
Did he do any of the changes? Err..as he tells the Telegraph: “I don’t have any recollection of that log in or any of the changes. But I can’t say for certain that someone with my campaign did not set up that log in.”
Unclear as he is over his personal involvement with the Twitter account, someone from Team Chuka wanted people to associate him with the political stardust of Barack Obama.
By contrast, Umunna has been more than strenuous in playing down those comparisons, once saying that the comparison “annoys me a bit”.
Before being elected, he complained: “The Obama comparison thing has been problematic.”
He went on: “It is very flattering but I’m not Barack Obama, for goodness sake. The problem is it creates all this hype. People pump you up, pump you up, pump you up, and I’m very aware that you get pumped up to be knocked down. It’s not something I’ve promoted. It’s something I’ve found flattering but I haven’t invited this thing.”
After being elected, he toldThe Independent in 2011: “You get lazy journalists and the odd blogger who’ll suggest that I fancy myself as “Britain’s Obama”, and that I seek to encourage the comparison.
“It’s never been something I’ve encouraged. I want people to look at me as me, not through the prism of someone else’s personality.”
In a profile of Umunna, Mehdi Hasan recalled Umunna “wincing” at the Obama comparison.
“I once introduced Chuka Umunna at a conference as “Britain’s Barack Obama”. He winced, as the audience of centre-left activists applauded and cheered. Umunna has said in the past that he tends to “cringe slightly” when Obama’s name is linked to his own.”
In 2013, it’s even blunter. “Mr Obama? I’m me!” begins a Times piece with Umunna.
So the conclusion: Umunna doesn’t want you to think of him as the British Obama, but his team will happily give you the nudge to do so.
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