David Lammy Early Life
David Lindon Lammy, British Labour Party politician, was born in Tottenham in 19 July 1972, one of five children raised by a single mother. David was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1994, practised as a barrister in England and the United States and became the first black Briton to study a Masters in Law at Harvard Law School, graduating in 1997.
David served for 8 years (2002-10) as a Minister in the last Labour government, including as Culture Minister and Higher Education Minister, and was appointed to the Privy Council in 2008. As a Minister in the Department of Health David oversaw the introduction of four hour waiting times in Accident and Emergency Departments and as Minister of State for Higher Education and Skills established the Skills Funding Agency and the National Apprenticeship Service.
Who is David Lindon Lammy?
David Lindon has been one of Parliament’s most prominent and successful campaigners for social justice. David led the campaign for Windrush British citizens to be granted British citizenship and paid compensation by the government, forcing the Home Secretary to guarantee the citizenship of Commonwealth nationals, set up a specialist Commonwealth Taskforce and establish a compensation scheme.
In the last Parliament, David led a successful campaign for diversity to be included in the BBC’s Charter as a Public Purpose, with the BBC setting ambitious diversity targets. In 2016 David launched the Save Our Apprenticeships campaign, following a government announcement of up to 50% cuts in funding for young people in deprived areas, forcing the government into a u-turn, the introduction of a 20% payment for 16-18 year olds and a separate fund for disadvantaged areas. In 2016 David also led a successful cross-party campaign opposing the Government’s plans to privatise the Land Registry, resulting in Ministers dropping the plans and the Land Registry staying in public hands.
David has led a high-profile campaign calling on Oxbridge to improve access for students from under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds. In May 2018 the University of Oxford announced a £150 million investment in its outreach programmes and committed to publishing annual admissions reports, and the University of Cambridge announced plans to introduce a foundation year. In March 2018 Comic Relief announced that it will end “white saviour” charity appeals, after pressure exerted by David’s campaign.
Since the Grenfell Tower fire David has been at the forefront of the fight for justice for the Grenfell families. David was the first Member of Parliament to challenge the gambling issue on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, launching the Stop The FOBTs campaign in 2013. In 2018 the government announced plans to cut the maximum stake on FOBTs to £2 per spin.
David Lammy Review
In January 2016, the then Prime Minister David Cameron asked David to lead an independent review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in our criminal justice system. The Lammy Review was published in September 2017, and included 35 wide-ranging policy recommendations for Government and the criminal justice sector. In April 2018 the Home Secretary asked David to join the Government’s Serious Violence Taskforce.
David Lammy: “My concern with criminal records arose from the review that I did for the Government on the disproportionality of black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals within the criminal justice system. When I began that work, I did not really understand the effect that our criminal records regime was having on disproportionality. It is important to fully understand that while this is an issue for all young people, whatever their backgrounds in the criminal justice system, we also know—following work done by the Department for Work and Pensions over the past two decades and a range of other research—that we are unfortunately still living in a society where people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds have a penalty in the public sphere, in relation to employment. That penalty, unfortunately, is that there are still aspects of discrimination when ethnic minorities apply for employment, particularly for those who have a criminal record.”
“I urge the Government to reflect hard on what we see of the job market, the double penalty that exists for minorities, and why recidivism rates are so high—because people are effectively trapped in unemployment. I want to make the case clearly that we have to give our young people from urban communities’ hope. The challenge of getting employment when someone reaches the age of maturity is a fundamental part of that. I urge the Minister to think hard about this area.”
David is an Ambassador for Action Aid, President of the British and Foreign School Society and a Trustee of the National Youth Theatre as well as a Patron of a number of charities in Tottenham. He has spoken at the US Congress and Harvard University and is a Fellow of the University of Birkbeck, St John’s College, Durham and City Lit.
David is also the author of Out of the Ashes: Britain after the riots, an analysis of the long-standing causes of the 2011 riots. David is a regular contributor to national newspapers and publications including The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, New Statesman and others, and appears regularly on television and radio.
Windrush campaign – letters to the PM and Home Secretary
On 28th April, I co-ordinated and wrote a letter to the Prime Minister alongside Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbot which was co-signed by 200 MPs. The letter called on the Government to enshrine the rights of the Windrush generation in law. It stated:
It is important that the Government enshrines the changes that have been announced in response to the Windrush crisis into law without delay. We are calling on you to do this by bringing a Statutory Instrument before Parliament to ensure that the measures are implemented as quickly as possible. Following what so many have endured, there is an understandable lack of trust within the Windrush and wider Commonwealth community. Proper legislative means are the only acceptable manner in which to protect and uphold the rights of Commonwealth citizens. Pronouncements from Ministers with no statutory or legal backing are simply not good enough. If you fully intend to comply with the assurances you have made to Commonwealth citizens we believe that you will take no issue with meeting our simple and reasonable request.
On 11th May I wrote to the Home Secretary, demanded that all submissions to the Windrush compensation scheme consultation should be treated as anonymous and not passed to immigration enforcement. I also urged the Home Secretary to set up a hardship fund urgently, to provide support until the compensation scheme is in place. After I made enquiries regarding the Government’s Commonwealth Taskforce, I received written confirmation from the Prime Minister on 14th May that the Taskforce “will be used for no other purpose than helping people confirm their status and will not be passed to immigration enforcement”. On 17th May, I wrote to the Prime Minister calling on her to grant Exceptional Case Funding status to all Windrush cases, so that individuals caught in the Windrush scandal could access legal aid.
Post-Grenfell Hackitt Review
My response to the post-Grenfell Hackitt Review
On the 17th May, the Government published the Hackitt Review which did not urge a ban on flammable cladding. I released the below statement on the issue, and the Government subsequently committed to consulting on the banning of combustible cladding and desktop studies:
This review is a betrayal and a whitewash. It is unthinkable and unacceptable that so many people can die in a disaster like Grenfell and one year on flammable cladding has not been banned.
I will continue to stand with the Grenfell families and will continue to call for an outright ban on any combustible materials. The Grenfell families and the public needed a review that was fearless in standing up to the industry on behalf of all those who lost their lives in Grenfell with recommendations that ensure that an atrocity like Grenfell can never happen again.
I simply fail to see how it is deemed appropriate for any combustible material to be used on any tower block in this country and I find it unfathomable that this review has not recommended an outright ban on combustible material.
Debate in Westminster Hall on the Grenfell Inquiry
On 14th May, I spoke in the debate in Westminster Hall on the petition calling on the Prime Minister to build public trust in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. I emphasised the importance of an inquiry that represents the victims of the tragedy. You can find a clip of my speech here. I said:
The inquiry is not for the Government, and it is not for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It is for the victims. It is for the people who died in the Grenfell fire. It is for all who managed to get out of the tower, but still relive that night every single day. It is for the bereaved families and their broken hearts. It is for everyone who is grieving and carrying the burden of loss around with them, like a scar burned into their soul. It is for the people who saw the burning, saw people jumping to their deaths, and still have to look at that tower every day. It is for the people who are still living in hotel rooms, 11 months on.
This is about more than just a panel of advisers. The people have been badly let down. Of course there is deep mistrust of authority within the community. Of course they have no faith in the state and the establishment. If the Government lose sight of who the inquiry is for, it ceases to be an inquiry. It becomes a talking shop and an exercise in spin. It is up to the inquiry to ask tough questions and interrogate the authorities on behalf of the Grenfell families. That is why it is so important that survivors and families, and their representatives and lawyers, are able to ask uncomfortable truths of those who give evidence to the inquiry.
Why does trust matter? Because trust in the inquiry is a precondition of justice. If there is no trust, there will be no justice. A lack of trust will affect participation. If those affected do not fully participate, we cannot and will not get to the truth. If we do not get to the truth, we will not get justice. If we do not get justice, we will get injustice—more injustice.
Representation, which is at the heart of this debate, matters. Look at the Grenfell survivors; look at them clearly. Look at the families of the bereaved and the community of north Kensington protesting outside Parliament today, and sat in the public gallery during the preliminary hearings. Then look at the Cabinet—not just this Cabinet, but Cabinets under the Government that I was part of. We do not have representation. We do not have the experience of living in a tower block estate.
Let recent history serve as a reminder of what happens when we do not have that representation. We get residents associations being ignored time and time again when they raise fire safety concerns with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. We get a local authority that cares more about saving money than the lives of people living in social housing. We get a council leader in a local authority in London—a city with 700 tower blocks of 11 floors or more—who had never even set foot in a tower block before she became leader. We get a local authority that cares much more about how the tower block looks in appearance to the rich folk who live around it than the lives of those inside it. We get two thirds of Grenfell households still living in hotel rooms and temporary accommodation.
I was pleased to be invited to the opening session of The Serious Youth Violence Summit at 10 Downing Street in April 2019. The Government committed themselves to a cross-system, multi-agency approach – with a wide range of public bodies working closely with community and faith leaders, and the voluntary and charitable sectors taking joint action in local communities. The Summit included several Ministerial-chaired roundtable discussions over the course of the week, covering Best Practice in Law Enforcement; the Role of Education; Investing in Communities; Positive Activities for Young People; Effectiveness of the Criminal Justice System; Creating Opportunities for Young People; and Interventions in Health. More specifically, we discussed the following themes:
- Improving join-up across the criminal justice system to deliver innovative approaches that reduce re-offending, recognising that many young children in custody have also been victims of crime.
- Developing serious violence support arrangements for victims and witnesses.
- Deterring serious youth violence through swift, visible and effective justice.
Protecting the public is the first duty of the government. I fear that increasing levels of violence in London and across the country this will be a recurring theme in my reports to come. However, we must resist reactionary responses that are both ineffective and unjust. Namely, I have resisted Sajid Javid’s attempt to use knife-crime as a means of expanding discretionary police power, which will inevitably be used in a disproportional manner. On the 13th October, I wrote an article in The Guardian entitled Stop and Search is unjust, unfair and ineffectual. In this article, I raised concerns about a racially disproportionate stop-and-search policy, namely in terms of the erosion of trust between certain communities and the police.
A People’s Vote
I believe passionately that the UK should remain part of the EU. This is something I have fought for continuously since 23 June 2016. 75% of my constituents voted to remain a member of the EU and I will continue to do all within my power to stop Brexit. As such, I have been placing pressure on the Government to give the British public a say on the final Brexit deal. The people must be given a say over whether the UK leaves the EU. This has also involved placing pressure on my own party to lead these calls for a second referendum. I believe Parliament is at an impasse and the only way to break the gridlock is to give the British public a say on the final Brexit deal. I will continue to do all within my power to stop Brexit and, in doing so, protect us from the disastrous consequences of leaving the EU. I have attended many rallies and marches, with some estimates reaching 1 million people in attendance. The following excerpt is from my contribution to the European (Withdrawal) Act Debate in December:
The Brexiteer promise to take back control in 2016 was nothing more than a deluded fantasy. It was a lie that divided friends and families, pandered to racism and xenophobia and caused an extra 638 hate crimes per month. What does it say about the United Kingdom when the UN sends rapporteurs to warn us of increased racism in our country? What does it say about Britain when our politicians play on the fear of migrants, races and religions to win votes? What did it say when Nigel Farage stood in front of a Nazi-inspired poster of refugees with the caption, “Breaking point”? The founder of the Labour party, Keir Hardie, spoke of socialism’s “promise of freedom”, its “larger hope for humanity” and of “binding the races of the earth into one all-embracing brotherhood”. I honestly ask my good friends in the party who are still wavering: can you really vote for this politics of division and hate? Can you really vote to slash workers’ rights ?and protections? Can you vote to give tax avoiders a sanctuary? Can you vote to hand over more power to the clumsy hand of the market?
What I am about to say is not fashionable, but our country’s story of renewal through Europe is one of immigration. We grew as a nation because of free movement. European migrants are not “citizens of nowhere” or “queue jumpers” as the Prime Minister would have us believe. Young, energetic, diverse and willing to pay taxes, EU citizens have given so much. They have done the jobs that our own would not do. Around 3.8 million now live in Britain. Over their lifetimes, they will pay in £78,000 more than they take out.
The contribution of European migrants has not been just financial. Our culture, our art, our music and our food has been permanently improved. The Prime Minister’s deal has emerged as a Frankenstein’s monster—an ugly beast that no one voted for or wanted. To appease hardliners, the transition period can be extended to 2022 at most. That has eradicated our leverage—it is simply not enough time to negotiate a free trade deal. We are now on course for another cliff edge. The deal does not take back control; it gives it away. It surrenders our voting rights on the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament for nothing in return. I cannot vote for any form of Brexit because every form of Brexit is worse for my constituents.
Brexit is a historic mistake. It forgets the lessons of Britain’s past. It forgets the value of immigrants. It forgets that we cannot build a new empire by force. It forgets that in the modern world our nation will flourish not through isolation, but through connection, co-operation and a new vision for the common good. Brexit forgets why this continent came together after two bloody wars.This country is crying out for a second chance. Seven hundred thousand people marched on the streets of London. Millions more campaigned online and wrote to their MPs. They are asking for one thing: an opportunity to right the wrong of 2016 and another shot at the imperfect but audacious European dream. As John of Gaunt says in Shakespeare’s “Richard II”:
“That England, that was wont to conquer others hath made a shameful conquest of itself”
I have written many articles calling for Labour to back a second referendum over recent months. One was entitled Why Labour must lead calls for a people’s vote on Brexit. This stressed that the Labour Party has a duty to oppose the government’s plans to end the UK’s membership of the European Union. I called on the party to present the public with a vote on the final Brexit deal, which must include an option to remain. Another was entitled Dire warnings of civil unrest shouldn’t stop us challenging Brexit. I argued that the threat of anger is vastly outweighed by the dire consequences of a no-deal Brexit; we must stand up to the radical right rather than pander to them.
I also attended the APPG for Reuniting Britain post-Brexit. This brought together members across parties to discuss the importance of bringing the country together and healing the divides that came to the surface during the Brexit referendum. We discussed the impact of austerity, the decline of the manufacturing sector and the increasing educational divide. Looking forward, we must build an anti-austerity platform on which to fight disenfranchisement, neutralize the regional divide and mobilise young people. This is also something I spoke about for Labour List, in an article entitled “Labour Together: Belonging.”
David lives in Haringey with his wife and three children.
David Lindon Lammy Biography and Profile (David Lammy)