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Chuka chucks his hat into the ring: Umunna announces Labour leadership bid with promise to win back England

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  • Shadow business secretary formally announced his leadership bid today
  • The Blairite frontrunner released a message on his Facebook page
  • Mr Umunna said Labour could be back in power within five years
  • He is the second MP to throw hat into the ring to become Labour leader
  • Shadow health secretary Liz Kendall was first out of the blocks on Sunday
  • Yvette Cooper expected to launch her leadership bid as early as Thursday

CHUKA UMUNNA: BRITAIN’S BARACK OBAMA WHO CAN SAVE THE LABOUR PARTY OR JUST ANOTHER WELL-GROOMED PUBLIC SCHOOL BOY?

Labour’s shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna announced his bid to become Labour leader in a video released online this morning.

The 36-year-old MP for Streatham in south London made the announcement on Facebook after savaging Labour’s disastrous election defeat.

He is the second Labour MP to join the race to replace Ed Miliband, after Blairite shadow health minister Liz Kendall announced her bid on Sunday.

But the pair are likely to be joined by at least three more candidates, including Yvette Cooper – who will launch her bid as early as Thursday – and the shadow health secretary Andy Burnham.

Mr Umunna, who worked as a lawyer in London before entering Parliament, this morning claimed he wanted to ‘lead the effort’ to get Labour back into power in 2020 – dismissing claims it would take the party another 10 years to win back power.

It comes after a string of senior Labour figures, including Lord Mandelson and former chancellor Alistair Darling, ripped into the party’s disastrous campaign.

Labour slumped to its worst defeat in almost 30 years in last week’s election – finishing 99 seats behind the Conservatives, with 26 fewer MPs than even Gordon Brown managed in 2010.

Speaking in Swindon, a key marginal where Labour failed to make any inroads at the election, Mr Umunna this morning insisted he could lead the party back to power within five years.

Mr Umunna said: I’m pleased today to be announcing that I will be standing for the leadership of the party.

‘I think we can be winning in seats like Swindon. North, South, East, and West we can absolutely do it as a party.

‘Some have suggested in the last few days that this is somehow now a 10 year project to get the Labour party back into office. I don’t think we can have any truck with that at all.

‘I think the Labour party can do it in five years. I want to lead that effort as part of a really big Labour team, getting Labour back into office, building a fairer, more equal society – that’s why we all joined the party in the first place.’

Shadow health minister Liz Kendal was the first out of the blocks on Sunday.

She is expected to be joined by Yvette Cooper, the wife of former shadow chancellor Ed Balls, and the shadow health secretary Andy Burnham.

A source close to Ms Cooper this morning told MailOnline she was likely to put her name forward within the next 48 hours.

The source said: ‘In terms of her thinking, she is getting a lot – a lot – of people who would like her to put herself forward. She is thinking about it – I would say she is more likely than not.

‘We need a woman who is credible, who brings the experience and is not just old ideas with a shiny face. We need to not get caught in old battles with new people fronting them up.

‘When and if she puts herself forward, it won’t be until after the NEC tomorrow. If I was betting, I would say Thursday or Friday.’

The source said Ms Cooper had a lot more than ‘dozens’ of MPs contacting her urging her to put her name forward.

Labour is considering three approaches for staging the contest to succeed Ed Miliband, who is currently on holiday in Ibiza, with a final decision to be taken by the ruling national executive tomorrow.

The options are a short campaign with the result decided on July 31, a longer campaign with the new leader chosen one or two weeks before the party conference in September, or using the conference as a final hustings with a ballot after that.

Others tipped to join the race are shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham.

It came as it emerged the Labour party knew it was behind in the polls from as early as last year, according to an internal pollster.

James Morris, who worked for Labour from when Ed Miliband was elected as leader in 2010 until the general election, said public polling showed a much more favourable position than the party’s internal data, both in the run-up to and during the campaign.

He said Labour’s own polls showed they were seven points lower than those made available to the public in the run-up to last Thursday’s election which saw the Conservatives scoop a majority.

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