UK Politics

Chuka Umunna: Gangs show 'entrepreneurial zeal'

Chuka Umunna and Ed Miliband on London walkabout
Image caption Chuka Umunna will say gang members view their involvement in gangs as a way of "getting out and getting on"

Young gang members show "entrepreneurial instinct" which could be channelled into business, the shadow business secretary will argue.

In a speech, Chuka Umunna will say the skills used by gang members to organise and brand themselves could be used to start successful businesses.

He will argue redirecting the energies of gang members could provide them with "a ladder up".

Mr Umunna is chair of the London Gangs Forum.

The Labour MP, who sees entrepreneurship as central to Labour's approach to increasing social mobility, will focus on the London area of Lambeth, where his constituency of Streatham is.

He is expected to say what gangs do is "completely unacceptable" but gang members could achieve success in business if their energies were redirected.

'Illegitimate means'

He will say: "If one studies what Lambeth's gangs do in more detail, it is both shocking and frustrating - they put a lot of effort into building up their gang's brand.

"You can find music videos they produce to promote their activities on YouTube. This brand building is shocking because it glamorises what they do.

"What frustrates me is many of these young people are using skills that if channelled in the right way, would provide them with an alternative route to success."

He will add: "Their entrepreneurial zeal, used in a legitimate business setting, could provide them with a ladder up."

Mr Umunna will say that gang members view their involvement in a gang and its activities as a way of "getting out and getting on".

Gang members seek "to make money first through illegitimate means, with a view to building up enough finance to run a legitimate business later".

"We must make legitimate business a more feasible avenue through which our young people can realise their dreams even when all else may have failed them," he will say.

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