‘A Tottenham boy becoming London mayor has never been done’

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IN THE RUNNING: Tottenham MP David Lammy is seeking to become Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London

TOTTENHAM MP David Lammy has become the first Labour hopeful to put himself in the running to become his party’s candidate for London mayor.

The former universities minister, who has been an MP since 2000 following the death of his predecessor Bernie Grant, said he felt the time was now right to confirm his interest.

Lammy said affordable housing would top his campaign agenda and vowed to make the UK capital a “city of opportunity”.

He told The Voice: “I said I was thinking about [running] a year ago and I have thought long and hard.

“I thought about my parents and when they arrived in London [from Guyana] back in 1956. London was the place of opportunity. My dad bought his house in Tottenham for £6,000 in the early Sixties. He was about 27 years old. Someone of the same age now trying to buy a house has to find £400,000.

“London is no longer the city of opportunity it used to be. I want to restore that. I think it can be a place of opportunity for everyone.”

Lammy, who grew up in Dongola Road, Tottenham, has today released a 41-page report on the London housing crisis.

It sets out 34 policies to ensure that the 63,000 homes a year that are needed in the capital are built.

The proposals include rent controls to limit rent hikes and a plan to ensure that ‘affordable’ housing means exactly that by linking it to average earnings in each London borough. The affordability threshold would be capped at 60 per cent.

Lammy, aged 42, is expected to face opposition from some of Labour’s most well-known figures.

Names that have been mooted include the outgoing Dulwich and West Norwood MP Tessa Jowell, who played an instrumental role in bringing the Olympic games to London; shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan, a rising Labour star; and Hackney and Stoke Newington MP Diane Abbott, who threw her hat in the ring for the nomination for leader of the Labour party.

Last month, current mayor Boris Johnson revealed his intention to return to Westminster after eight years in City Hall.

Johnson hopes to become the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

Responding to critics, Lammy said he was determined to give the contest his best shot.

“Too often people from Tottenham are told they can’t do something. There are things I’ve been told I couldn’t do. I couldn’t go to a good school. I couldn’t get good A-levels. I became the first in my family to go to university. [I was told] I couldn’t become a barrister. Become an MP. Become a minister. A Tottenham boy becoming London mayor is something that has never been done.

“As well as my experience, it’s my own story that I bring to the table which is very much that of the average Londoner. Housing will be at the top of my agenda, as well as other issues such as policing which I will talk about over the coming weeks.”

Lammy said that over the past year many people in Tottenham had encouraged him to run for Mayor of London.

He added: “I love the job of being the MP for Tottenham. And if I was to become mayor, I would also be representing Tottenham’s interests. The two converge.”

Lammy, a father-of-two, is married to the artist Nicola Green. He graduated from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) with a first class degree in Law and later attended Harvard Law School.

He was called to the bar in 1994 and practised for several years before starting a career in politics.

As universities and skills minister, he set up the National Apprenticeship Service and Aim Higher – a programme to get young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into higher education.

The Tottenham Hotspur supporter has also campaigned for absent fathers to play a role in their children’s lives and against cuts to legal aid.

In 2011, the backbench MP was thrust into the public eye when the London riots broke out in his constituency following the killing of Mark Duggan at the hands of the police.

He later published the book Out of the Ashes: Britain after the Riots outlining his solutions to the underlying issues that sparked the unrest.

Lammy donated the book’s proceeds to charity.

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