Labour MP David Lammy suggests he is not on the frontbench because of 'the white men who run my party'

Posted On: 
6th April 2018

Labour MP David Lammy has suggested he is not a shadow minister because he is black.

David Lammy in the House of Commons.
PA Images

The Tottenham MP said "the white men who run my party" were the only ones who can explain why he is not on the Labour frontbench.

Mr Lammy, who was first elected in 2000, was a minister in both Tony Blair's and Gordon Brown's governments, and turned down a frontbench post when Ed Miliband was leader.

David Lammy files police report over email warning he could 'face the same fate as Jo Cox'

Labour MP David Lammy slams 'social apartheid' of Oxbridge admissions

Labour MP David Lammy suggests true Grenfell Tower death toll may have been covered up

He has never been in Jeremy Corbyn's frontbench team, although it is understood that he turned down a job in the Labour leader's first reshuffle.

In an interview with The Guardian, Mr Lammy was asked if he could explain why he was not in a frontbench job.

He said: "No. Go and ask the white men who run my party. That’s all I’m going to say.

"Go and ask them. Go and ask them. Don’t come to me and ask me why I haven’t been chosen. Ask them about who they’ve chosen."

Asked why he was not part of Mr Corbyn's inner circle, despite nominating him to be leader, he said: "You know what? You know what? I’m so bored of tribal politics. That’s part of the problem. I’m so bored of it. I’m not a tribalist. That’s not what turns me on. So if I don’t present sufficiently as part of the clique, then so be it. I am very happy influencing change in the way I’m influencing change. I have long given up crawling up political backsides in order to float to the top."


Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Lammy also included Sadiq Khan, the Labour mayor of London, in a list of politicians who have not done enough to tackle the recent spate of violent crime in the capital.

He said: "You know, I’m here in this constituency, it’s bloody tough. Why is there a political vacuum? Where is the Prime Minister? Where is the Home Secretary? Where is Sadiq Khan? There’s a riot, everyone’s on holiday? David? Kids get killed? David?

"So I have to start every debate. I have to be in every discussion. It’s very frustrating. I want other people to step up to leadership. I can’t do this all on my own.

"Quite rightly, folk on the street are pretty p****d off, they’re really frustrated with politicians, they want action. I hear: ‘David, can you do this? ‘David, can you do that?’ I’m trying, but I can’t.

"I find it slightly odd that I am asked to be the urban guru. I haven’t got a budget. I’m a legislator, but it’s hard to legislate when my party’s out of power. I can convene and knock heads together, I have some influence and can speak to the media. So I’m doing what I can do. But I have no pocket of cash."