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Friday, 23 June, 2000, 05:55 GMT 06:55 UK
The great black hope
David Lammy
David Lammy wins the Tottenham by-election
Black barrister David Lammy, who has become the youngest MP in Britain by winning the Tottenham by-election, is tipped for a big future in politics.

The Sun's deputy political editor George Pascoe-Watson even went so far as saying he could be Britain's first black prime minister.

A jewel of New Labour, he follows in the footsteps of a very different character in veteran left-winger Bernie Grant, whose death caused the contest.


My horizons as a working-class Tottenham child were blighted

David Lammy MP

The 27-year-old, who was already a member of the Greater London Authority minister, ran his election campaign appealing to voters to opt for one of their own, a local boy-done-good.

His start in life was similar to hundreds now living in the Tottenham area, plagued by high unemployment and crime.

Mr Lammy witrh Cherie Blair
Mr Lammy is popular within New Labour

His mother was a single mother on state benefits who brought up four children.

In his own words: "I know what it is like to be brought up by a working, single mother, surviving on a low income.

"My horizons as a working-class Tottenham child were blighted by the realities of joblessness, crime, social tension and under-funded health and education services."

Opportunity knocks

Mr Lammy's singing voice earned him a ticket out of a more uncertain future as he became a choral scholar at the exclusive King's School attached to Peterborough Cathedral after he was heard singing in a gospel choir.

His studies took him on to study law at the University of London, then at the Inns of Court Law School and he became the youngest qualifying barrister in England in 1994.

Mr Lammy's firsts:
Youngest MP
Youngest qualifying barrister
First black Briton to attend Harvard Law School

He was a student activist throughout university and worked part-time as a volunteer for the legal charity, the Free Representation Unit.

He is still a member of the Manufacturing Science and Finance union (MSF).

In 1996 Mr Lammy was the first black Briton to attend Harvard Law School, graduating with a Masters in law, and took an active role in Labour International.

Mr Lammy's venture into politics soon followed.

His uncle had been a Labour councillor in Newham and time spent in the US after his studies at Harvard fired him up about the mayoral model for urban politics.

Sharon Grant
Sharon Grant...lost out to Mr Lammy

Having been elected onto the Greater London Authority he was chosen as the Labour Party candidate for the safe seat of Tottenham over the late Bernie Grant's widow Sharon.

His strength for the future lies in his similarities and friendship with the existing prime minister.

Opponents have even dubbed him "a black Tony Blair."

He fits the New Labour bill, a dedicated Christian and the only black member of a committee set up last year by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to develop a vision for the future for the Church of England.

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See also:

23 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Labour retains Tottenham
22 Jun 00 | UK
Is New Labour all-white?
22 May 00 | UK Politics
Labour 'needs ethnic MP targets'
18 May 00 | UK Politics
Bernie Grant's widow on shortlist
08 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Bernie Grant: A controversial figure
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