Lammy: Immigration, Tottenham and me by Cerys Buchanan St. Michael’s

David Lammy’s personal experience with one of the most high-profile issues in current political life has given him a unique insight into the problems facing his constituency. The son of first generation immigrants from Guyana in South America, Mr Lammy says he recognises himself in some of the constituents who seek his help, especially when ‘people come to me in surgery and their child is being an advocate for them and translating for them and I remember doing that for my mother.’ 


Sitting in his Westminster parliamentary office, surrounded by family photos and copies of his latest book, David Lammy is not your typical politician.The 50-year old who grew up in Tottenham, North London is a Harvard graduate, friends with former US president, Barack Obama, and the current shadow foreign secretary. 

Speaking about the fondness he has for his birthplace, Lammy told me that he was ‘unsure whether I would’ve become an MP if I wasn’t able to represent my home.’


Representing one of the most deprived areas in Britain, Lammy consistently sees the direct impact that high inflation and energy bill increases have, describing the cost of living crisis as ‘the biggest headache for families across Tottenham’. His answer to these difficulties is clear: believing that ‘in tough times those with the broadest shoulders bear the biggest burden’, he  supports Labour’s initiative for a windfall tax on North Sea oil companies.  


After an unprecedented whirlwind of change to UK politics in recent months, including the Liz Truss mini budget, David Lammy says that in Tottenham, the upheavals have had real world consequences. ‘Over half of my constituents live in rented homes’ meaning that landlords ‘put their rents up because their mortgages have gone up’, all of which have contributed to the ‘tremendous hardship in families to use food banks and causing lots of stress in relationships’, he says. 


After 22 years as an MP, with over half of his parliamentary career in opposition, opinion polls suggest Labour will win the next election.  However, Mr Lammy appreciates that it won’t be straightforward, ‘I think we’ve still got a lot of water to pass under the bridge between now and then.’

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