Chuka Umunna, Labour’s business spokesman, used a visit to a youth training business in Croydon this morning to dismiss Respect’s entry into the Croydon North by-electioncampaign.
“We regard this as likely to be a two-horse race,” said Umunna, the MP for neighbouring Streatham.
Labour held a 16,000 majority over the Tories at the last General Election. The by-election, expected to be held on November 29, follows the death last month of the local MP, Malcolm Wicks, who had represented Croydon North for 20 years.
Umunna is the second shadow minister to be out campaigning in Croydon North in a week, and was doing so not knowing who the Labour candidate will be. Members of the Croydon North constituency party will make their choice from a five-strong shortlist on Saturday.
In the meantime, the other leading political parties have declared their candidates and begun their campaigns.
George Galloway’s Respect party named Lee Jasper as its candidate on Sunday, prompting concerns in some quarters that this might stir racial tensions in an area with unhealed wounds after the rioting of August 2011.
Umunna was on a visit to Elevating Success on Union Road, a company which offers training to young people. He said he was found the young people he spoke to were “particularly critical” of the abolition of the Future Jobs Fund and closure by Tory-led government of Connexions, the employment advisory service.
Referring to local charity worker Andy Stranack, the Conservative candidate, Umunna said that he is a “strong candidate” to fight Croydon North, but that he “is hampered by the fact that he represents a failed Tory government and a failed local Tory council.”
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