Constituency vitae: David Lammy on Tottenham

The north London constituency is not without its problems, admits David Lammy, but it remains a destination second to none…

Rt Hon David Lammy MP speaking at the launch of his report Taking Its Toll. Photo by: <a href="">Policy Exchange</a>
Rt Hon David Lammy MP speaking at the launch of his report Taking Its Toll. Photo by: Policy Exchange

Tottenham is the most diverse place in the country, where people from all backgrounds come together. There’s always lots of exciting things going on, which is why it’s the constituency that produced Skepta, Wretch 32 and Adele. These acts are indicative of our amazing music scene, which is embodied by fantastic arts centres like the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, which produces wonderful plays, theatre and film.

The vibrancy of our community lives on our streets and in our wonderful markets, like Holcombe Road Market. Adding to that atmosphere is a new arrival and one of the biggest egos in football, José Mourinho. That’s why it’s a huge privilege of mine to be representing my home for the seventh time – a place where all sorts of people either pass through or call home. If I was going to promote a specific upcoming event, I’d say that when Spurs win the Premier League next season and the victory parade bus travels down Tottenham High Road, that’ll be pretty special.

When I get a day off, there’s nothing better than taking my kids for a traditional Turkish breakfast in Green Lanes before heading to Lordship Rec and the Model Traffic Area. We bike down to the canal before grabbing a drink at Styx, a fascinating café-theatre-bar in a converted warehouse by Tottenham Hale and taking in a show by Haringey Shed.

Brilliant local restaurants include San Marco Italian, The Banc Restaurant for burgers, steaks and more, and El Botellon for tapas and cocktails. Or if it’s real ale you’re after, try the Antwerp Arms on Church Road. The Antwerp is Tottenham’s longest-established pub and in 2015, to prevent it closing down, it was bought by 300 members of the local community – including me!

I must also mention our beautiful green areas, where you can forget you’re in London altogether. Check out Bruce Castle and Tottenham Marshes and you’ll see what I mean. All that and only 13 minutes from Oxford Circus on the Victoria Line.

Nonetheless, Tottenham faces some big challenges in order to protect and build on that special atmosphere. Brexit could be hugely significant nationally, but also to Tottenham. Boris’s Brexit has been estimated by the government to have a negative effect on growth of some 6.7 per cent, which is as big as the 2008 crash. That means my constituents’ jobs, money throughout the economy, benefits our families rely on will be under threat.

I’m also really worried about the way people like Tommy Robinson have felt able to endorse Boris Johnson. Hate crime is something the people of Tottenham think about a hell of a lot.

Lastly, housing is surely the biggest issue facing mine and every constituency, a real crisis which has been created by the government and which is affecting people young and old. In my nearly 20 years as an MP, I’ve never seen anything like it. I have real worries about what this crisis will mean for families and in the future.

I think it’s unbelievable and a scandal and an outrage that there are people going to bed tonight – children, parents – in buildings that are surrounded by cladding. Frankly it should’ve come down by now. We need a situation where people living on our housing estates and indeed in student accommodation are properly supported, feel safe and know that in the event of a fire they can get out of the building. There are still so many lessons to be learnt from the tragedy of Grenfell, in Tottenham and across the country.

3rd February 2020