Rising Labour star Chuka in town visit

Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna and Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere visited Ip

Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna and Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere visited Ipswich residents on Saturday. - Credit: Su Anderson

Labour’s shadow business secretary – and party rising star – Chuka Umunna joined party members on the doorstep in Ipswich at the weekend.

And as well as pressing the flesh with residents on the Chantry estate, he also had a message for businesses and for those looking for improvements to rail and road infrastructure – don’t be afraid of Labour.

Conservatives, including current Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, have warned that major infrastructure programmes – including improvements to the rail line to London and the rebuilding of the A14 in Cambridgeshire – could be put in danger by a new Labour-led government. But Mr Umunna said projects that had already been given the green light by the present government would be continued by an incoming Labour administration next year - unless there was a compelling case for cancellation.

He said: “They’re the ones who have massively cut capital spending. I don’t take any lectures from him on the need for more infrastructure investment and in fact my opposite number as business secretary has conceded they should not have cut expenditure on things like infrastructure as they did at the start of the government.”

But he said it was necessary to balance the books and not spend money that was not available.

He added: “You do have to invest in infrastructure and we have said to the extent that we inherit the plans from the other government, we take that as a starting point in terms of what you can do with the money that you do have.”

Mr Umunna has been mentioned as a possible successor to current Labour leader Ed Miliband, who has been the subject of leadership plot rumours recently. But he did not seem overly concerned about recent polls suggesting the Tories are now neck-and-neck with his party.

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He said: “These are not ‘usual times.’ We are in a coalition for the first time in generations and I think we all know the next general election will be one of the closest ones ever.

“We now live in an era of multi-party politics which we did not have previously so the old certainties are not there any more.”

Mr Umunna joined Ipswich Labour candidate David Ellesmere in the Chantry area before joining them for lunch at the Kingfisher pub – which has become one of the town’s most successful community pubs over the recent years.