Council housing openly supported by a Labour MP – I had to do a double take. But it was true. Here was David Lammy giving his backing to the building of more council homes. After all, he grew up in one, he said.
“Last year only 40 council homes were built in London. That is a disgrace. I will get London building again delivering 30,000 new social housing homes.”
Not only that, he wants a moratorium on the right-to-buy, the Tory policy that has had such a disastrous effect on the housing market but which the Labour Party has chosen not to challenge for fear of losing votes.
The member for Tottenham was on the hustings at Euston Station in support of his bid to become mayor of London, Euston being in Camden, the latest stop in his tour of all the capital’s boroughs.
He was clearly on fighting form, and refreshing with it. Pointing out that he had been brought up by a single mother in one of the poorer parts of town but had been blessed with the sort of opportunities denied to most of today’s youngsters, he said he wanted real housing options, the chance to improve and develop people’s skills by reinstating night schools, more decent paying jobs, cheaper childcare and a more affordable public transport system.
Oh, and he believes HS2, the high speed rail link to Birmingham, would be a “disaster”.
Then, taking a swipe at current Mayor Boris Johnson, he said: “If you want a candidate that isn’t blond, didn’t go to Eton, doesn’t want water cannon or a silly estuary airport, then I am that candidate.”
Zac Goldsmith, who is widely being touted as the Tory’s mayoral hopeful, was a nice enough person, he conceded. But his name suggested that he would not be prioritising council housing, better youth services and cheaper child care.
Had I not been passing through Euston on my way to Liverpool today, I would never have known David Lammy harboured such radical passions. Rightly or wrongly, I had always associated him with the dead hand of New Labour. Is this the Jeremy Corbyn effect or has David at last found his real voice? Either way, I for one will be following his campaign closely.