Lammy has commented on the UK’s history of slavery, both in his role as Culture Minister to mark the 200th anniversary of the end of the slave trade in Britain and because he suspects there were slaves amongst his ancestors.
Lammy won an Inner London Education Authority choral scholarship to The King’s School, Peterborough. He then studied Law at theSchool of Oriental and African Studies in London followed by a Master’s degree at Harvard Law School (the first black Briton to do so) and is a member of Lincoln’s Inn having been Called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1994.
In 2000, he was elected as a Labour candidate on the London-wide list to the London Assembly. However, the sitting Member of Parliamentfor Tottenham Bernie Grant died during the campaign, and Lammy was selected to succeed him. He retained the seat, on a low turnout, in a by-election held on 22 June 2000, becoming the Baby of the House (the youngest MP). He was promoted to the government in 2002 and served at the Department for Constitutional Affairs from 2003 to 2005. He was accused of being “out of his depth” when handling the Mental Incapacity Bill in the House of Commons on 14 December 2004. Following the 2005 General Election, Lammy was appointed Minister for Culture under Tessa Jowell at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
Lammy has stated in speeches and articles that his vision for the arts in the UK is to move towards participation for all. In February 2006 he criticised the Arts Council of England leading to a conflict with its chairman.
On 29 June 2007 he was moved from Culture, Media and Sport to become a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the newly createdDepartment for Innovation, Universities and Skills, working under Secretary of State John Denham. He has been involved with trying to raise the number of University applicants in his constituency of Tottenham, an area where only a small proportion of school leavers go onto University. In October 2008 he was promoted to Minister of State and it was announced he would be appointed to the Privy Council. In the June 2009 reshuffle the department was abolished, being merged with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to form the new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, under Secretary of State Lord Mandelson. Lammy was transferred to the department to continue his previous role.
On general election night in 2005 he controversially dubbed George Galloway MP, of the Respect party, a “carpetbagger“, and said he had “come down from Scotland to whip up racial tensions”. Galloway contested that his prior constituency in Scotland was dissolved and that he had a right to stand as a British MP wherever he had support.
The Sir Thomas Legg inquiry cleared David of any over-claiming of his Parliamentary Allowances. . Lammy allowed local people to review his expense claims in May 2009.. David’s full expenses are listed on the Parliament website
Lammy appeared on the British TV programme Mastermind over Christmas 2008. He scored 8 points on his specialist subject, Muhammad Ali, and performed poorly in the general knowledge round, gaining a total of 13 points.