Student who revealed Umunna internship: “He wants us to take out a loan to work for him”

Chuka Umunna

Kane Emerson is the Leeds University student who revealed centrist Labour MP Chuka Umunna’s ad for an unpaid internship – at his London office.

Umunna issued an explanation – emphases added by the SKWAWKBOX – of his reasons for advertising the unpaid position:

The Leeds University placement is a structured part of politics sandwich-course degrees at the university, and takes place on the strict condition that students receive Student Finance throughout. The scheme, and others like it, are run collaboratively by MPs and universities, and gives students supported work experience as part of their university degree.

In addition to the Student Finance students receive while undertaking a placement, as detailed in the advert, my office will reimburse travel expenses for a student travel card to minimise expenses. I do not and would not offer a long-term placement where a student is not supported and left financially penalised.

Unfortunately, IPSA do not provide additional resources for MPs to recruit interns on a paid basis, though the Parliamentary Labour Party has always argued strongly for them to do so. I strongly believe that interns should be paid and, for that reason, I do not have any unsupported interns working in the office despite the many requests received. For many years, my office has only accepted students undertaking work experience as part of supported university schemes, or short work experience placements from the schools in my constituency.

The ad earned Umunna – who has previously apologised for snobby comments on an ‘elite’ social media site – an elegant but pointed rebuke from party leader Jeremy Corbyn – but what did Kane Emerson make of Umunna’s response? The SKWAWKBOX asked him and he responded:

I’m not happy with it.

Essentially this is the case of an employer expecting a student to take out a student loan to work for them. This wouldn’t be okay for any private business nor should it be in the public sector. Dressing work up as an educational experience is not a sufficient reason for not paying workers a living wage.

Not only is this an MP but it’s an MP that ran on a labour manifesto to ban unpaid internships. Forcing students to take out loans to pay for amazing work opportunities like this discourages poorer students and reinforces politics as a career option for the rich.

It didn’t take a student long to work out the major flaw in Umunna’s carefully-worded excuse for the unpaid offer.

Happily, Labour’s leadership remains quite clear on the matter, as the briefing issued to all MPs on Thursday showed:


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  1. keeping the job for rich parents hmm chukka outer of the party this man is full blown tory

  2. Umunna is a Tory at heart.

    He has comprehensively destroyed any chance he had of getting even close to a position of power within Labour and should recognise that.

    Cross the floor Chuka, you know you want to…

  3. Once again the case is made for mandatory reselection . This has to be priority number one at this year’s conference. Give the membership back their voice and powers to hold MPs to account via their CLP.

  4. He behaves like a cross between Jacob Rees-Mogg and Esther McVey on the Neoliberal Far-Right of the Labour Party. He ain’t no Bruv, Bruv!

  5. “my office will reimburse travel expenses for a student travel card to minimise expenses.” – so he’s not actually paying their travel expenses, just ‘helping’.
    He just doesn’t get it, this Socialism thing, does he?
    It’s a worry. This guy wanted to lead the party, until he realised that involved being chased by the press, rather than briefing them.

  6. I read on his Wiki page yonks ago he’d been an employment lawyer. Naturally assumed that as a Labour supporter he would typically have been acting on behalf of victimised employees but now I’m wondering if that was a rash assumption.
    On a completely different subject… how does it serve our interest to flick our snots at the benches opposite?

    1. Anyone looking for a way to undermine the party leadership can always find someone to fit their agenda among Labour’s large membership. Just a shame they pick people who don’t have Labour’s respect for democracy or seem to know what Labour’s Brexit Policy is.
      For the record, I’m a remainer, and I believe Labour’s policy is the best one out there: honest, coherent, respectful of democracy.
      But I don’t get my info from the Mail, the Sun, the BBC or even the Grauniad.
      I get it from Labour.
      Works for me.

      1. Andrew

        For Grauniad, read Fraudian. The capture of our beloved Guardian by the Establishment is one of the journalistic tragedies of recent times.

        The OffGuardian blog is much better…

    2. The economic arguments against Brexit seem valid in the short term at least but the EU appears – for now anyway – to be even more dedicated to the neoliberal project than the Tories.
      I’d argue it’s too soon to tell exactly how that will turn out but I think we can say that in government Labour’s influence on the EU will be less outside than in.
      OTOH reduced numbers in employment will likely have far more influence on opinion than speeches anyway.
      As a concept I’m very much in favour of a Europe united – but united in socialism.

  7. F**ker umunna making iain dummkopf-schmitt’s ”workfare’ programme look positively philanthropic.

    What an absolute shitehawk he is. People of Streatham, you’ve some explaining to do…

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