Lame Lammy moved sideways in British Government reshuffle
By John Mair in London
June 16, 2003
The trajectory that was propelling second generation Guyanese politician David Lammy MP towards the British Cabinet seems to have come to a temporary halt. Prime Minister Tony Blair reshuffled his government last week. Lammy was moved from an active ministry- the Ministry of Health- to a new and experimental ministry -The Department for Constitutional Affairs. This has just been set up as a quasi Ministry of Legal Affairs headed by Lord Falconer whose major credentials for office appear to be that he once shared a flat with Tony Blair. Lammy’s sideways shift, at the same very junior ministerial level, is most definitely not a promotion for the young man from the UK diaspora whom some said was destined to be the first black British Prime Minister. His political career has stalled.
Lammy blotted his ministerial copybook last week with a lame performance in the House of Commons during the committee session on a Health Bill. He was attacked by both Opposition Conservative MPs and even by some of his own Labour side. It failed to impress. As the respected political commentator Simon Hoggart wrote in the London Guardian
“Mr Lammy, who is the MP for Tottenham and a junior health minister, is sometimes spoken of as our first black prime minister. That’s as may be. In the meantime he is the first black Tony Blair.
Gosh, he’s good at avoiding the issue. Golly, he can twist a statistic! Heavens, he is quite brilliant at making it sound as if a reasonable query is actually a vicious assault on the most noble and self-sacrificing people our poor nation is privileged to employ in its interests. Mr Lammy is very young. But he has a wisdom beyond his years.”
Sadly reports like that of his last Parliamentary performance were not uncommon. It spelt trouble for this youngest member of ‘The Guyanese mafia’ in British politics. That came home to roost in Lammy’s reshuffle sideways. The Conservative MP Enoch Powell once said that “all political careers ultimately end in failure”. Young Lammy, the son of a single parent Guyanese mother who was born in Tottenham North London and represents it in Parliament, may not be staring failure in the face right now. He is just down a political cul de sac from which he may emerge to continue that trajectory onwards and upwards.