David Lammy

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The Right Honourable
David Lammy
Official portrait of Mr David Lammy crop 2.jpg
David Lammy in 2017
Minister of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills
In office
28 June 2007 – 11 May 2010
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Preceded by Bill Rammell
Succeeded by David Willetts (Universities and Science)
Minister of State for Culture
In office
5 May 2005 – 28 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Estelle Morris (Arts)
Succeeded by Margaret Hodge (Culture and Tourism)
Member of Parliament
for Tottenham
Assumed office
22 June 2000
Preceded by Bernie Grant
Majority 34,584 (70.1%)
Member of the London Assembly
as the 8th Additional Member
In office
4 May 2000 – 4 July 2000
Preceded by Constituency created
Succeeded by Jennette Arnold
Personal details
Born David Lindon Lammy
(1972-07-19) 19 July 1972 (age 46)
Archway, London, England
Political party Labour
Nicola Green (m. 2005)
Children 3
Alma mater SOAS, University of London
Harvard Law School
Website davidlammy.co.uk

David Lindon Lammy, FRSA[1] (born 19 July 1972) is a British Labour Party politician, who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tottenham since 2000.

Early life and education[edit]

Lammy was born in Whittington Hospital, in Archway, North London, to Guyanese parents David and Rosalind Lammy.[2][3][4] He and his four siblings were raised solely by his mother, after his father left the family when he was twelve years old. Lammy never saw him again, but has often spoken about the impact that this event had on his life. Lammy advocates positive parenting, often speaking publicly about the importance of fathers and the need to support them in seeking to be active in the lives of their children. He chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fatherhood and has written on the issue.[5][6][7]

Lammy grew up in Tottenham. Having attended a local primary school, at the age of ten, he was awarded an Inner London Education Authority choral scholarship to sing at Peterborough Cathedral and attend The King's School, Peterborough – an event he has described as his "X Factor moment".[8] He later worked at KFC and as a security guard. He studied at the School of Law, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, obtaining an upper second[9] class degree. Lammy went on to become one of the first Black Britons to study at Harvard University when he won a place to study for an LL.M. at Harvard Law School after Sir Damon Buffini completed an MBA at Harvard Business School a decade earlier. He was called to the bar of England and Wales in 1994 at Lincoln's Inn and practised as a barrister.[10]

Political career[edit]

In 2000 he was elected for Labour on the London-wide list to the London Assembly. During the London election campaign the sitting member for his home constituency of Tottenham, Bernie Grant, died and Lammy was selected as the Labour candidate. He was elected to the seat in a by-election held on 22 June 2000.


In 2002, he became Parliamentary under-Secretary in the Department of Health. In 2003, Lammy was appointed as a Minister in the Department for Constitutional Affairs. As a member of the Government, he voted in favour of authorisation for Britain to invade Iraq in 2003. After the 2005 general election Lammy was appointed Minister for Culture at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

In June 2007, Lammy was appointed as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. In October 2008, he was promoted to Minister of State and was appointed to the Privy Council. In June 2009 until June 2010 when Labour lost the election, he became Minister for Higher Education in the new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Opposition backbencher[edit]

Lammy with Tottenham Labour Party members and others before joining the TUC Anti-Cuts March in March 2011

After Labour lost the 2010 general election a Labour Party leadership contest was announced. During the contest Lammy nominated Diane Abbott, saying that he felt it was important to have a diverse field of candidates, but nonetheless declared his support for David Miliband. After the election of Ed Miliband, Lammy pledged his full support but turned down a post in the Shadow Cabinet. He explained this decision by asserting a need to speak on a wide range of issues that would arise in his constituency due to the "large cuts in the public services" that his constituents rely on.[11] Deciding instead to become a back-bench opposition MP. Lammy opposed the Coalition Government's comprehensive spending review.

In 2010 there were suggestions that Lammy might stand for election as Mayor of London in 2012. Lammy pledged his support to Ken Livingstone's bid to become the Labour London Mayoral candidate, declaring him "London's Mayor in waiting".[12] Lammy became Livingstone's selection campaign chair. In 2013 Lammy announced that he was considering entering the race to become Mayor of London in the 2016 election.

Following the party's defeat in the 2015 general election, Lammy was one of 36 Labour MPs to nominate Jeremy Corbyn as a candidate in the Labour leadership election of 2015.[13]

London mayoral candidate[edit]

On 4 September 2014, Lammy announced his intention to seek the Labour nomination for the 2016 mayoral election.[14] In the London Labour Party's selection process, he secured 9.4% of first preference votes and was fourth overall, behind Sadiq Khan, Tessa Jowell and Diane Abbott.

In March 2016, he was fined £5,000 for instigating 35,629 automatic phone calls urging people to back his mayoral campaign without gaining permission to contact the party members concerned. Lammy apologised "unreservedly" for breaking the rules of the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations.[15] It was the first time a politician had been fined for authorising nuisance calls.[16]

Political views[edit]

Lammy has commented on Britain's history of slavery[17][18][19] and on many other subjects.


Lammy in 2015

On 11 August 2011, in an address to Parliament, Lammy attributed part of the cause for England's riots of a few days earlier to three destructive 'cultures' that had emerged under the prevailing policies: "A Grand Theft Auto culture that glamourises violence. A consumer culture fixated on the brands we wear, not who we are and what we achieve. A gang culture with warped notions of loyalty, respect and honour."[20]

He has also suggested that a ban on the smacking of children was partly to blame for the riots.[21]

Lammy has blamed the Prime Minister and Home Secretary for failing to take responsibility over fatal stabbings in London.[22] Lammy said, “I do know from the police that there are big gangs, eastern European, Albanian, that traffic people and guns. It’s not being handled solely by the Met. We’ve cut our Border Force. The National Crime Agency, the lead agency in this regard, reports an increase in this activity.” Lammy also blames inequality, high youth unemployment among black males, also local authorities cutting youth services and outreach programmes. Lammy added, “We aren’t debating this in parliament. I’ve not had a phone call from the home secretary, I haven’t had a phone call from the mayor, no one’s come to visit my constituency. This is happening across London at large. I’m sick of the political football, what I want is a political consensus.” Lammy wrote on Twitter, "Is a life in my constituency worth less than a life elsewhere in our country? I have had four young people lose their lives since Christmas and not a single phone call or visit from the PM or Home Secretary. Where is the political consensus on a serious strategy? Enough is enough."[23]

Lammy has stated that the criminal justice system deals with "disproportionate numbers" of young people from black and ethnic minority communities, despite saying that although decisions to charge were "broadly proportionate", he has said that black and ethnic minority people still face and perceive bias.[24] Lammy said that young black people are nine times more likely to be incarcerated than "comparable" white people, and proposed a number of measures including system of "deferred prosecution" for young first time offenders to reduce incarcerations.[25] A report published by Lammy states that black and ethnic minority people offend at the same rates as comparable white people when taking age and socioeconomic status into account. They were more likely to be stopped and searched, if charged more likely to be convicted, more likely to be sent to prison and less likely to get support in prison.[26]

Same sex marriage[edit]

On 5 February 2013, Lammy gave a speech in the House of Commons on why he would be voting in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2013, critically comparing the relegation of British same-sex couples to civil partnerships to the "separate but equal" legal doctrine which justified Jim Crow laws in the 20th-century United States.[27] US television host Lawrence O'Donnell praised Lammy's speech, relating it to Oscar Wilde's testimony on "the love that dare not speak its name" during his 1895 trial for sodomy and gross indecency.[27]

University admissions[edit]

Lammy has criticised Oxford University for admitting relatively few black students and students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Lammy stated, “This is social apartheid and it is utterly unrepresentative of life in modern Britain,” Lammy also stated, “Difficult questions have to be asked, including whether there is systematic bias inherent in the Oxbridge admissions process that is working against talented young people from ethnic minority backgrounds,” Lammy has criticised the university for resisting publishing information on black admissions and considers this reluctance, “defensive” and “evasive”. Lammy said, “I have been pressuring the University of Oxford to publish this data for over a year and they have only begrudgingly decided to partially publish it now.” Lammy has expressed concern about Oxford's treatment of all disadvantaged potential students, saying “I just don’t think the universities fully understand what they’re doing. Oxford spent £10m on this and what we’ve seen over the last decade... is we’ve gone backwards on social class, we’ve made no progress on north/south divide and we’ve made little progress on race.”[28]

Windrush scandal[edit]

Lammy believes the Windrush scandal is about injustice to a generation who are British, have made their homes and worked in Britain and deserve to be treated better. Lammy wrote, "But the real issue is the hostile environment policy that caused this crisis in the first place, and her (Amber Rudd's) resignation must not distract from this fact. Each Windrush story is the hostile environment policy personified and writ large. Each case is directly linked to a policy that ignores the principle of habeas corpus by imprisoning innocent people without reference to a judge, jury or evidence of guilt. It is this policy that barred British citizens from accessing the public services and benefits that they themselves built with their own hands, staffed and paid for. It is this policy that turned employers, doctors, landlords and social workers into border guards. (...) Let’s not let government ministers change the subject to illegal immigration. At root the hostile environment is a policy rooted in pernicious cruelty designed to make life so difficult for people who are here legally that they simply give up and, as suggested by Theresa May’s vans, “go home”. ( ... ) A minister falling on their sword is usually an attempt to draw a line under a scandal and encourage the media to move on. But the person sat in the hot seat at the Home Office makes no difference to the thousands of people suffering as a result of the hostile environment policy. An unjust law is no law at all. The Windrush generation will not get justice until it is the law that is changed, not just the home secretary."[29]

Lammy told Sajid Javid in July 2018 a constituent waiting 10 weeks to start the citizenship process had contacted him. Lammy commented, “It is outrageous that those who have been failed by the Home Office should be failed once more by the very scheme designed to correct historical wrongs; it is morally repugnant that more than two months after the former home secretary made her statement to the House of Commons, members of the Windrush generation find themselves anxiously waiting for nothing more than recognition of their rightful status.[30]

Lammy has publicly shown his support for Vernon Vanriel who was not allowed back to the UK in 2005 by the ruling Labour government. Lammy was in the government at the time of Vernon being rejected and sent back to Jamaica to live in absolute poverty in a roadside shack. Vernon would have to wait 13 years in Jamaica before the current Conservative government brought him back to the UK to be reunited with his family.

Voter ID[edit]

Lammy has stated that the voter ID system disenfranchises poor people. He wrote "No evidence of in-person voter fraud at polling stations. Voter ID schemes = the systematic disenfranchisement of poor people and ethnic minorities. This Jim Crow writ large and how the racists disenfranchised African Americans in the Deep South. Straight out of that playbook."[31]

Grenfell Tower fire[edit]

David Lammy described the Grenfell Tower fire as corporate manslaughter and called for arrests to be made.[32] Lammy wrote, "Don't let them tell you it's a tragedy. It's not a tragedy, it's a monstrous crime. Corporate manslaughter. They were warned by the residents that there was an obvious risk of catastrophe. They looked the other way. We don't need another review kicked into the long grass and years of equivocation– what a civilised country should demand is arrests and a criminal trial before a judge and jury. (...) If past disasters have taught us anything, it is that things change only when powerful people are put in the dock. So, for the sake of the victims, call it what it is: a crime of the most horrendous kind."[33] His friend Khadija Saye was one of the victims of the fire.[34][35]

Lammy also said over failure of authorities to come up with figures for how many people have died, “It's hard to describe the extent to which the local council has lost the trust of these people (survivors of the fire and bereaved families). They completely understand the difficulty in identifying people because of the nature of the fire. But if they are to trust that the authorities are standing with them, they need to know that every possible effort is being made to count and identify the dead, and they don’t think that is true.”[36]

European Union and Brexit[edit]

On 26 January 2016, Lammy claimed that 1 million Indians sacrificed their lives during the Second World War, not for the survival of Britain and to fight Nazism, but instead for the "European Project". The statement was strongly criticised by some right-leaning publications.[37][38][39]

On 23 June 2018 Lammy appeared at the People's Vote march in London to mark the second anniversary of the referendum to leave the European Union. People's Vote is a campaign group calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union.[40]

Personal life[edit]

Lammy married the artist Nicola Green in 2005;[4] the couple have two sons and a daughter.[41]

In November 2011, he published a book – Out of the Ashes: Britain after the Riots – that serves as his account on the causes and consequences of the August 2011 riots.[42]


  1. ^ "List of members' Interests, Cabinet Office, March 2009" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-04-07. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  2. ^ Kentish, Benjamin (23 April 2018). "David Lammy MP reveals racist abuse after speaking out on Windrush scandal: 'Be grateful we have taken you in as a black man'". The Independent. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Rt Hon David Lammy MP Member of Parliament for Tottenham". Davidlammy.co.uk. Archived from the original on 21 August 2016. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Lammy, Rt Hon. David (Lindon), (born 19 July 1972), PC 2008; MP (Lab) Tottenham, since June 2000". Who's Who. 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.23693.
  5. ^ Lammy, David (15 June 2013). "It should always be father's day". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  6. ^ Lammy, David (14 June 2014). "A dad is for life, not just Father's Day". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  7. ^ Lammy, David (31 January 2014). "We all need more help to become a better man". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  8. ^ Lammy, David, 'Out of the Ashes'
  9. ^ "Interview: MP David Lammy's trailblazing education in law". 25 October 2007.
  10. ^ "About David - Rt Hon David Lammy MP". Rt Hon David Lammy MP - Member of Parliament for Tottenham. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  11. ^ Elizabeth Pears (11 October 2010). "Lammy rejects offer from Labour Party leader Ed Miliband". Haringey Independent. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  12. ^ David Lammy drops out of mayoral race... and backs Ken Livingstone Archived 5 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Eaton, George (15 June 2015). "Who nominated who for the 2015 Labour leadership election?". New Statesman. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ "MP David Lammy apologises over nuisance calls".
  16. ^ "David Lammy fined over mayoral bid nuisance calls".
  17. ^ "Culture Minister David Lammy's Keynote Speech to 'Slavery: Unfinished Business' Conference". Archived from the original on 6 May 2008.
  18. ^ "BBC News: Head-to-head: Slavery 'sorrow'". 27 November 2006. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  19. ^ This is an archived page. (2 May 2006). "London's slave trade". Time Out. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  20. ^ "Tottenham MP David Lammy condemns 'Grand Theft Auto culture'", Ham & High Broadway, 13 August 2011. Archived 1 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ "Labour MP partly blames anti-smacking law for UK riots". The Guardian. London. 29 January 2012.
  22. ^ Aitkenhead, Decca (2018-04-06). "David Lammy: 'Kids are getting killed. Where is the prime minister? Where is Sadiq Khan?'". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  23. ^ Ministers failing to act over soaring murder rate, says Lammy The Guardian
  24. ^ BAME offenders: Bias 'needs to be tackled' BBC
  25. ^ Exposed: ‘racial bias’ in British criminal justice system The Guardian
  26. ^ David Lammy's review bursts the myth of a link between race and crime New Statesman
  27. ^ a b Rudolph, Christopher (8 February 2013). "Lawrence O'Donnell's 'Last Word' on Gay Marriage in the U.K." The Advocate. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  28. ^ Oxford accused of 'social apartheid' as colleges admit no black students The Guardian
  29. ^ Don’t let Rudd’s departure distract from a toxic policy that needs to die The Guardian
  30. ^ Windrush citizens still waiting for cases to be resolved The Guardian
  31. ^ [2]
  32. ^ Morley, Nicole. "Grenfell Tower fire is 'corporate manslaughter' and arrests should be made, says MP David Lammy". Metro. Associated Newspapers Limited. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  33. ^ Lammy, David (15 July 2017). "This was a monstrous crime – there must be arrests after Grenfell Tower". The Guardian. Comment is free.
  34. ^ Sommers, Jack (16 June 2017). "David Lammy fights back tears describing Khadija Saye, who died in Grenfell Tower fire". HuffPost. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  35. ^ Lammy, David (2017-12-26). "Those responsible for the horror of the Grenfell Tower fire must face trial | David Lammy". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  36. ^ Graham-Harrison, Emma (1 July 2017). "Mistrust and anger deepen as Grenfell death toll is still unknown". The Guardian.
  37. ^ "David Lammy Claims Indians Fought in WW2 for the European Project". YouTube. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  38. ^ "MP David Lammy slammed for claiming Indians in British Army fought for 'European Project'". Express. 26 January 2016.
  39. ^ "The 'in' side's shockingly bad start in the EU referendum campaign". The Spectator. 30 January 2016.
  40. ^ Staff writer (23 June 2018). "'At least 100,000' march for vote on final Brexit deal". Sky News. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  41. ^ Curtis, Polly (18 November 2008). "High expectations". The Guardian.
  42. ^ Cruddas, Jon; Rutherford Jonathan (10 December 2011). "David Lammy's lesson". New Statesman. Retrieved 16 December 2011. David Lammy's book Out of the Ashes: Britain After the Riots [...] is about more than the English riots, it's about the future of Labour in the country.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Bernie Grant
Member of Parliament
for Tottenham

Preceded by
Chris Leslie
Baby of the House
Succeeded by
Sarah Teather
Political offices
Preceded by
Estelle Morris
as Minister of State for the Arts
Minister of State for Culture
Succeeded by
Margaret Hodge
as Minister of State for Culture and Tourism
Preceded by
Bill Rammell
Minister of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills
Succeeded by
David Willetts
as Minister of State for Universities and Science