David Lammy

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The Right Honourable
David Lammy
David Lammy speaking at Policy Exchange 2015 crop.jpg
Lammy in 2015
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 45)
London, England
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Nicola Green
Alma mater School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Harvard University
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 Tottenham, North London, to Guyanese parents[2] David and Rosalind Lammy.[3] He and his four siblings were raised solely by his mother, after his father walked out on 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 frequently on the issue.[4][5][6]

Lammy grew up in Tottenham, next to the Broadwater Farm estate. 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".[7] Growing up, Lammy worked at KFC and as a security guard to support his family. He studied at the School of Law, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, obtaining a first-class degree. Lammy went on to become the first black Briton to study at Harvard University when he won a place to study for an LL.M. at Harvard Law School. He was called to the bar of England and Wales in 1994 at Lincoln's Inn that he had joined as a student member and practised as a barrister for several years.

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. Upon his election Lammy became the Baby of the House.

New Labour minister[edit]

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, explaining that he felt it was important to have a diverse field of candidates, but declared his support for David Miliband. After the election of Ed Miliband, Lammy pledged his full support for Miliband, though he turned down a post in the Shadow Cabinet offered by Miliband. 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.[8] Deciding instead to become a back-bench opposition MP. Lammy has 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".[9] 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.

Lammy was one of 36 Labour MPs following the party's defeat in the 2015 general election to nominate Jeremy Corbyn as a candidate in the Labour leadership election of 2015.[10]

London mayoral candidate[edit]

On 4 September 2014, Lammy announced his intention to seek the Labour nomination for the 2016 mayoral election.[11] In the London Labour Party's selection process, he secured 9.4% of first preference votes and placed fourth overall, behind Sadiq Khan, Dame 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.[12] It was the first time a politician had been fined for authorising nuisance calls.[13]

Political comment[edit]

David Lammy speaking at an anti-Brexit rally in Parliament Square on 25 March 2017

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 'culture's that had emerged under the prevailing policies: "A Grand Theft Auto culture that glamorises 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."[14]

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/david-lammy-mocked-for-fuming-at-racist-bbc-after-report-on-sistine-chapels-black-and-white-smoke-8532676.html He has also suggested that corporal punishment of a kind currently illegal in Britain could have been used to prevent the riots.[15]

Lammy has commented on Britain's history of slavery.[16][17][18]

On 5 February 2013, Lammy gave a passionate 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.[19] 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.[19]

On 26 January 2016, David 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.[20][21][22]

On 25 June 2016, after a majority voted to leave the European Union in a referendum, he urged Parliament to ignore the result.[23]

Grenfell Tower fire[edit]

David Lammy described the Grenfell Tower fire as corporate manslaughter and called for arrests to be made.[24] 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."[25] His friend Khadija Saye was one of the victims of the fire.[26]

Lammy also said over failure of authorities to come up with figures for how many people have died, “Its 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.”[27]

Lammy also wrote, "If you are on the 22nd floor of a tower block, the state literally has your life in its hands. It is the state that told you to stay put in the case of a fire. It is the state that failed to install working fire alarms. It is the state that you rely on to come up the stairwell to save you and your family from a burning building."[28]

Personal life[edit]

Lammy married the artist Nicola Green in 2005;[3] the couple have two sons and a daughter.[29]

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.[30]


  1. ^ "List of members' Interests, Cabinet Office, March 2009." (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-04-07. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  2. ^ "Rt Hon David Lammy MP Member of Parliament for Tottenham". Davidlammy.co.uk. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Who's Who 2012
  4. ^ David Lammy. "It should always be father's day". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  5. ^ David Lammy. "A dad is for life, not just Father's Day". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  6. ^ David Lammy (31 January 2014). "We all need more help to become a better man". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  7. ^ Lammy, David, 'Out of the Ashes'
  8. ^ Elizabeth Pears (11 October 2010). "Lammy rejects offer from Labour Party leader Ed Miliband". Haringey Independent. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  9. ^ David Lammy drops out of mayoral race... and backs Ken Livingstone Archived 5 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Eaton, George (15 June 2015). "Who nominated who for the 2015 Labour leadership election?". New Statesman. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "MP David Lammy apologises over nuisance calls". 
  13. ^ "David Lammy fined over mayoral bid nuisance calls". 
  14. ^ "Tottenham MP David Lammy condemns 'Grand Theft Auto culture'", Ham & High Broadway, 13 August 2011. Archived 1 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ "Labour MP partly blames anti-smacking law for UK riots". The Guardian. London. 29 January 2012. 
  16. ^ "Culture Minister David Lammy's Keynote Speech to 'Slavery: Unfinished Business’ Conference". 
  17. ^ "BBC News: Head-to-head: Slavery 'sorrow'". 27 November 2006. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  18. ^ This is an archived page. (2 May 2006). "London's slave trade". Time Out. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  19. ^ 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. 
  20. ^ "David Lammy Claims Indians Fought in WW2 for the European Project". YouTube. Retrieved 27 July 2016. 
  21. ^ "MP David Lammy slammed for claiming Indians in British Army fought for 'European Project'". Express. 26 January 2016. 
  22. ^ "The 'in' side's shockingly bad start in the EU referendum campaign". The Spectator. 30 January 2016. 
  23. ^ Worley, Will (25 June 2016). "David Lammy MP urges Parliament to ignore EU referendum result: 'We can stop this madness'". The Independent. Retrieved 25 June 2016. 
  24. ^ 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. 
  25. ^ This was a monstrous crime – there must be arrests after Grenfell Tower The Guardian
  26. ^ Sommers, Jack (16 June 2017). "David Lammy Fights Back Tears Describing Khadija Saye, Who Died in Grenfell Tower Fire". HuffPost. Retrieved 19 June 2017. 
  27. ^ Mistrust and anger deepen as Grenfell death toll is still unknown The Guardian
  28. ^ Grenfell’s victims trusted the state with their lives. Now it owes them justice The Guardian
  29. ^ Curtis, Polly (18 November 2008). "High expectations". The Guardian. London. 
  30. ^ 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

Succeeded by
Election in progress
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