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 23,564 (55.4%)
Member of the London Assembly
In office
4 May 2000 – 4 July 2000
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Jennette Arnold
Personal details
Born David Lindon Lammy
(1972-07-19) 19 July 1972 (age 46)
London, England
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Nicola Green
Alma mater School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Harvard University
Religion Anglicanism
Website www.davidlammy.co.uk

David Lindon Lammy FRSA MP[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

Lammy was born in Tottenham, North London, to Guyanese parents[2] David and Rosalind Lammy.[3] He and his four siblings were brought up by his mother, after his father walked out on the family when he was 12. Lammy never saw him again, but has often spoken about the impact that this 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 10 he was awarded an Inner London Education Authority choral scholarship to sing at Peterborough Cathedral and be a pupil at The King's School, Peterborough – an event he has described as his 'X-Factor moment'.[7] Growing up, Lammy worked in KFC and as a security guard to help the family get by. 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 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

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

In 2002 he became Parliamentary under-Secretary in the Department of Health. He was responsible for the introduction of the 4-hour target on A&E waiting times, leading to a significant decrease in waiting times. 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 the authorization 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 this role Lammy introduced a new generation of apprenticeships, setting up the National Apprenticeship Service and National Apprenticeship Week and committing the Government to creating half a million new apprenticeships. He also established the Aimhigher scheme to get more young people from poor backgrounds into university. In October 2008 he was promoted to Minister of State and was appointed to the Privy Council. In June 2009 the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills was abolished and merged with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to form the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Lammy continued in the new department in his previous role as the Minister for Higher Education.

Opposition backbencher

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

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 after he instigated 35,629 calls without gaining permission to contact the party members concerned urging people to back his campaign. 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

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]

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. U.S. 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.

On 12 March 2013, Lammy apologised for claiming the BBC made a "silly innuendo about the race of the next Pontiff".[19] David Lammy was commenting on a BBC Twitter message, which asked "will smoke be black or white?" Mr Lammy, tweeting from the Commons chamber, said the BBC message was "crass and unnecessary". He later apologised after Twitter users pointed out the role played by black and white smoke in announcing the election of a new Pope.

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".[20]

Personal life

Lammy married the artist Nicola Green in 2005;[3] the couple have two young sons.[21]

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.[22]


  1. List of members' Interests, Cabinet Office, March 2009.
  2. David Lammy's website.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Who's Who 2012
  4. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jun/15/families-need-fathers-david-lammy
  5. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/14/dad-fathers-day
  6. http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/david-lammy-we-all-need-more-help-to-become-a-better-man-9098599.html
  7. Lammy, David, 'Out of the Ashes'
  8. Lammy rejects offer from Labour Party leader Ed Miliband – Haringey Independent.
  9. David Lammy drops out of mayoral race... and backs Ken Livingstone
  10. http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/06/who-nominated-who-2015-labour-leadership-election
  11. http://www.londonlive.co.uk/news/2014-09-04/david-lammy-to-go-for-mayor
  12. "MP David Lammy apologises over nuisance calls".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "David Lammy fined over mayoral bid nuisance calls".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Tottenham MP David Lammy condemns ‘Grand Theft Auto culture’", Ham & High Broadway, 13 August 2011.
  15. "Labour MP partly blames anti-smacking law for UK riots". The Guardian. London. 29 January 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Culture Minister David Lammy's Keynote Speech to 'Slavery: Unfinished Business' Conference".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "BBC News: Head-to-head: Slavery 'sorrow'". 27 November 2006. Retrieved 2 January 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Time Out – London's slave trade
  19. "MP David Lammy apologises for BBC Pope race 'innuendo' claim". BBC News. 13 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CkpWOiLfXU
  21. Curtis, Polly (18 November 2008). "High expectations". The Guardian. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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