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Discussions with David

11 February 2021

Current Year 9 pupil, Joel, writes about sitting on a live webinar panel, asking questions to one of the UK’s most well-known and most outspoken MPs.

It seemed like a normal Tuesday at the start of February. That was until the evening, when a webinar hosted by the Southwark Schools’ Learning Partnership (SSLP) took place with the special guest - the Member of Parliament for Tottenham, David Lammy. And I was one of the panellists, from schools across the SSLP, sitting on that panel.

At the beginning of our webinar, Mr Lammy gave a short talk about his job, talked about the struggles and perks of being in the public eye, and highlighted some of his achievements like the Lammy Review and its impact (a report about racial discrimination in the criminal justice system) and his book, Tribes. This gave both panellists and guests an insight into Mr Lammy’s life and career.

After this, panellists posed questions to Mr Lammy, like: “Do you think, because of Brexit, the level of tribalism in Britain could get worse?” and “At Russell Group universities, the number of black students are shown to be less than 4% of the national average. Do you think there is need for a diversity quota or is there an alternative method?” 

It was then was my turn to question the Labour Party MP! I asked Mr Lammy: “What do you think is the most influential thing you have done, as an MP, to help ethnic minorities in the UK?” 

Mr Lammy replied: “I’ve been in Parliament for a long time. I’m hugely proud of the review I conducted on the criminal justice system. It’s work that has been replicated in other countries and I think it will stand the test of time. On a personal level, I think it was me standing up to the government about their mistreatment of the Windrush nationals. They got an independent review and a compensation scheme as a result of it, even though I don’t think the compensation scheme has been as generous as it should’ve been. And, even more personally, the morning after the Grenfell fire, it was important for me to make an intervention on that. It was described as a tragedy when actually it was corporate manslaughter, and I went on the radio and said that and again. We got an independent inquiry of that. So, those are three things that I can think of.”

The webinar continued with a further Q&A from guests, then Mr Lammy concluded with a short speech about how he believes classism is also a factor in the division in Britain, especially between northern and southern England, and its effect on the UK’s higher education system. 

And at the end of the webinar, we all left with ideas, views, agreements and disagreements. However, everyone knew the webinar had been a success and that there were more discussions to be had in the future...

This news story was written by Joel, in Year 9 (pictured above, before lockdown, at Palace Street). Joel successfully applied to join the SSLP panel for their webinar, Thinking about…. Identity with David Lammy MP. Thank you to Joel for taking the time to write about this experience.

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