JASMINE WITH WRETCH32
What a wonderfully diverse week! This week I’ve had dinner with a huge group of music industry movers and shakers where we debated what’s going to be big in 2012 as well as all other frivolous industry tittle-tattle. I’ve been running in and out of celeb hair salon 3V in Notting Hill practically daily for a blow to keep my bonce looking shipshape- especially when I had a shoot with the British broadcasting legend that is Terry Wogan.
JASMINE AT HER HAIR SALON 3V WITH CO-OWNER JULIEN AND HER HAIR STYLIST MELISSA.
I’ve spent a day at the Telegraph TV offices discussing new media and had lunch with no 10 Downing Streets head of digital communication-Mr Nick Jones! (My new years resolution is to actively stick with winners in their field!)
My LONDON360 news team have been working on numerous TV news reports this week which included the fall out of the Stephen Lawrence sentencing, interracial/interfaith adoption, the Amy Winehouse foundation, London’s tube buskers, young people and body image, the Palestinian state, love on the tube, female boxers in the Olympics and the regeneration of Tottenham.
Much has been said in the media about this North London borough in the past regarding riots both past and more recently but not many are focusing on the reasons behind the social discord. The LONDON360 reporters hit the ground running as they spread across the Tottenham community to ask residents, local MP’s and local celebrities their thoughts.
We went down to Tottenham’s much loved venue-the Bernie Grant Centre to speak to a local resident called Jermaine Sinclair who you may know better by the name Wretch32.
Wretch has grown up in Tottenham on the Tiverton Estate and has a lot of passion for his community and the late Bernie Grant…. ‘’Bernie Grant being such a legendary figure they thought it was necessary to make a centre and build something, it holds quite a lot of events, it is really for the community, I’ve performed here quite a lot of times, yeah Bernie Grant Centre is definitely the place to be in Tottenham.’’
Tottenham has clearly shaped Wretch as a person. His memories are very vivid-this he uses in his lyrical content…’’Mostly my estate -Tiverton Estate, Growing up in a estate it is like your friends become your family, and your surroundings outside your house almost become your home. My school I went to Northumberland Park, Broadwater Farm we used to go and play football up there, they always used to have a rave in the farm and all dayers always going on over there’’.
Estates can be depressing places for young people to grow up but Wretch who used to listen to a lot of bashment and So Solid Crew in his early days says things have most definitely improved ‘‘in Tiverton they got something called the NDC it is a organization which I think is stands for New Deals in Communities, and they got a 50 million pound bonus to boost up the area, they rejuvenated the flats to make it really new, they improved the youth clubs that were already open. They put basketball stuff up in the cage and they have really tried to make it look like a better place and really executed on the areas that are going to benefit the youths so it is really cool’’.
Wretch was lucky enough to have a fathers influence in his life-unlike many young people today and cites his dad as his main reason for making music ‘’Growing up anything my dad done made me want to do it. So if he was a Plummer I’d be fixing toilets right now I’ll be honest. He kind of was the biggest role model I had, when I saw him in a club and he was on the mic and on the turntables it just set something in my head and it made me really feel like you can be the most quietest person but once you come on the mic you’re the most important person in the room, and just looking at that from a kids perspective really excited me. I went home was messing around on the decks, got in trouble for it!’’.
Wretch is really proud of his area and named other acts that he was proud of that were his peers like Skepta, Chipmunk and Adele but wanted to highlight a new act called ‘’Hard Palm Dun- you know the kids really love him round here he is going to come through and do big things next year. They call him Dun Dee as well. I think he has done great stuff and the kids really love him. I think you have got to listen to who the kids are listening to you know cause the kids are the future, they know what is happening. When the whole area is screaming Dun Dee you know he must be big’’
I think Tottenham is definitely a place where we are really hunger driven we have got a lot to prove all the time so we want to conduct ourselves in a professional way. We want to make better music than all the other artists, we want to be the best’’.
Wretch has seen the journey that his area has made in recent years and has his own thoughts on how to rejuvenate Tottenham …..’’ ask the really young kids what they are into and really try to execute and implement some of their ideas. It is difficult asking someone like me who is 26 because I am still going to have to ask a 15 or 18 year old but if we go straight to the source what they are in to, it is weird because the next generation might be into writing films they might be really inspired by noel Clarke -people like that and think I want to write a film it is about setting up anything we can to really help benefit the kids in the direction they really want to go in’’.
Whilst Wretch’s area homes one of the biggest football teams in the capital, he looked around concerned as he confided in me that he is not a Tottenham hotspur fan…..’’
I’m just going to be honest I am an Arsenal fan! My dad is a Tottenham fan so I’m not quite sure how he allowed this to happen LOL. I think I just remember in my early years playing football in primary school the idol was Ian Wright you know if you had a red top, I remember a mate of mine wrote the number 8 on his back obviously no body had the money to go and get it printed on, so he drew it on. Everything was Ian Wright orientated hence why I support Arsenal. But you know Tottenham are a good club one day they might be as good as us!’’
Most kids look to music stars like Wretch as role models but he understands that the people that make changes are politicians and had a straight message for them ‘’any MP can just look at this place and see a lot of good things have come out of it. It is easy to shine a light on the negative things that are happening, but it is better in the long run if we shine a light on the positive things, and add to them. They really should focus on getting into the schools and talking to the youths and finding out exactly what they need and what they are after and help them with any of their requests’’.
Tottenham is clearly somewhere wretch is zealous about as he states ‘’there is a certain way we lace our trainers here is a certain hair cut we get there is a certain line everything is set and trimmed and designed-Tottenham has everything to do with how I am today’’.
I talked to Wretch about the sadness I felt at many of London’s libraries closing down. most of my childhood has great memories from weekly library trips. Wretch revealed something fascinating…’’ It doesn’t sound like a good thing. I think a library is probably a home for a lot of people.I think in this day and age when you are able to read a book online in your house for free I would see why it is probably not as popular as it used to be. Books are everything, but the funny thing is the first book I ever read other than kids books was Tinie Temphas book and that was the other day. I just made the decision I haven’t read a book I need to read and I read Tinie Temphas book. What was really funny about that is it made me realize that I didn’t feel to read anything before because no book interested me. What did interest me was that Tinie Tempha had a book and I could relate to it. It is about finding out what people are into and if there is enough stuff you are into then you will read it. See I have now gone on to Jay Z ‘s book Decoded it is massive. It made me feel like what UK artists and urban artists are doing is a big thing, because if Tinie made me pick up a book, he has done that to a lot of other people as well that are not book readers’’.
The LONDON360 congratulated him on his last album ‘black and white’ going gold, and were most keen to hear about Wretch’s new album about which he said ‘‘the new album is going to be the next chapter to Black and White. I’m trying to give you my life as it changes my life before Black and White it was like this and I gave it to you up to that point. Now after Black and White it has changed again so I can give you to this point and as long as I keep progressing and I see different things I meet new people I will always have things to talk about. It is a progression from Black and White’’.
Regards any collaborations on his new album wretch revealed ‘’I am a firm believer in making the album first and then pulling in the missing pieces to the jigsaw I think if you were baking a cake you would not start with the cherry and then the icing you would make your cake first. So that is how I look at it my album is my cake I make the cake and then I think ok maybe Tinie Tempah will kill this verse I give him a call and see if he likes that track and we see about that after there isn’t any collaborations at the moment it is all myself’’.
(For the full interview transcripts with WRETCH32 and DAVID LAMMY MP SEE BELOW…….!).
WRETCH32 INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT-BY JASMINE DOTIWALA
Tell us about this place any memories of this place?
This is one of the most renowned places in Tottenham. Bernie Grant being such a legendary figure they thought it was necessary to make a center and build something you know massive. Basically After he passed away and it holds quite a lot of events it is really for the community I’ve performed here quite a lot of times as well and there is a office which I use, which is a minuet from here just around the corner, so yeah Bernie grant center is definitely the place to be in Tottenham.
Where else in Tottenham did you hang out growing up and what memories do you have of those places?
Mostly my estate Tiverton estate (1.36) and that is up the road. Growing up in a estate it is like your friends become your family, and your surroundings outside your house almost become your home. A lot of time in the estate of course and school I went Northumberland park as well that’s just up the road. Also Broadwater farm we used to go and play football up there and chill out they always used to have a rave in the farm and all dayers always going on over there. Literally anywhere in Tottenham but mainly my estate.
Tell us about the changes you’ve seen happen over the years what it used to be like and how has it changed?
Yeah the changes in Tiverton they got something called the NDC it is a organization which I think is stands for New Deals in Communities, and they got a 50 million pound bonus, don’t know what you call it, to boost up the area in Tiverton they made the flats, they rejuvenated the flats to make it really new, I think they improved the youth clubs that were already open. I think they put basketball stuff up in the cage and they have really tried to make it look like a better place and really executed on the areas that are going to benefit the yutes, like the football pitches the youth clubs so you know it is really cool.
So growing up in the Tiverton area what kind of music were you listening to? What music shaped your life growing up?
Growing up? I used to listen to a lot of Bashment! A lot of my bredrins used to listen to Wu Tang clang and things like proper deep Hip Hop but I was more into listening to Bashment. You know of course when things like So Soild came in to play that was the new frenzy that was the take over, you know heartless crew being from North London as well theses are like before we get into Dizzee and that. Them time we were young but definitely like So Solid and that definitely
You come from a musical family your dad is a dj tell us about the musical effect he had on your music taste growing up?
Growing up anything my dad done made me want to do it. So if he was a Plummer I’d be fixing toilets right now I’ll be honest. He kind of was the biggest role model I had anything he did I wanted to do, when I saw him you know in a club and he was on the mic and on the turntables it just set something in my head and it made me really feel like you can be the most quietest person but once you come on the mic you’re the most important person in the room, and just looking at that from a kids perspective and him being my dad as well it really excited me. I went home was messing around on the decks, got in trouble for it! And really I just started to write lyrics when I got older.
Name check other music artist that have come from music and North London.
Loads of us you know, of course we’ve got the Skeptas the Chipmunks Double s, Marvel, and that I think there is a lot of drive in north London we always want to take it to that next level and there is also so much new artist coming through. There is a new artist called Hard Palm Done you know the kids really love him round here he is going to come through and do big things next year. I think it is definitely a place where we are really hunger driven we have got a lot to prove all the time so we kind of want to conduct ourselves in a professional way. We want to make better music than all the other artist we want to be the best and I think that really shows.
Of course Adele where did she say she was again? I think she was from Landsdown road didn’t she (5:34) that is only up there when I found out Adele was from Tottenham I was surprised I was like woh.
How should Tottenham be rejuvenated?
I think the best way to rejuvenate Tottenham would be to ask the really young kids what they are into and really try to execute and implement some of their ideas. It is difficult asking someone like me who is 26 because I am still going to have to ask a 15 or 18 year old but if we go straight to the source what they are in to, it is weird because the next generation might be into writing films they might be really inspired by noel clark people like that and think I want to write a film that to me I think once we find out exactly what is needed it is about setting up anything we can to really help benefit the kids in the direction they really want to go in.
Are you a fan of the very known football team in Tottenham? What does having a big team in the area do for the area?
So I’m just going to be honest I am a Arsenal fan! It is really random me living in Tottenham my dad is a Tottenham fan as well I’m not quite sure how he allowed this to happen but he was alright with it. I’ll be honest I think I just remember in my early years playing football in primary school the idol was Ian Wright you know if you had a red top, I remember a mate of mine wrote the number 8 on his back obviously no body had the money to go and get it printed on, so he drew it on. Everything was Ian Wright orientated hence why I support Arsenal.
But You know Tottehham they are a good club one day they might be as good as us don’t shoot the messenger just saying. The new improvements they have made to the station makes Tottenham look better as well, they have opened up new shops and created a bit more space by the school and it looks pretty cool. It is a nice stadium as well I’ve been in there a few times to watch American football (laughs)
How do you think having a club like Tottenham has helped with the unity of the area/ community/ borough?
The community will always benefit when there is stuff like football stadiums and music venues, stuff like that, because people are coming from all over the globe, well not the globe but at times yeah, to come to these places it is almost like London having the Olympics. It feels like that every Saturday when all the Tottenham fans are walking about you won’t be able to walk out there but its not like there is any problems everyone is cool they all walk in the same direction they are going to the match. A bit of unity it is nice it is cool.
So you think with the worlds eye on Tottenham when there are football matches and so many artists coming from here you would think that the government really want to put money into it. What message do you have to the MPs?
Just hope that any MP or someone in that Government area of life, will just look at this place and think a lot of good things have come out of it. It is easy to shine a light on the negative things that are happening, but it is better in the long run if we shine a light on the positive things, and add to them. That will really rejuvenate they really should focus on getting into the schools and talking to the youths and finding out exactly what they need and what they are after and help them with any of their requests.
Do you think young people who come from Tottenham are proud to come from here or do you think recent events have stigmatized things slightly?
I think people from Tottenham are proud to be from Tottenham. I think especially the kids they are really proud because they know that they have got a lot to scream and shout about. I think it is more the adults that will feel like “oh gosh” I don’t want to seem like I am a part of this or anything like that. But you know, what they have got to realize is we have all got a part to play and people really like pointing the finger. It was easy to point the finger at me to do stuff but I was like, well my kids are well behaved and stuff and I do that as a parent before a artist.
Anything I can do for my area as an artist or a parent is done. Consider it done I think it is definitely the kids that are really happy. I think the adults just need to realize that we want what’s best and we do want to be doing good stuff and positive things we just need a bit of help sometimes.
How Important is Tottenham been in shaping you and what attributes would you say came from growing up in this area?
I think in terms of who I am as a person it is everything because I think when you grow up in England you are not Jamaican you are English. So when I grew up in Tottenham there is a certain way we lace our trainers there is a certain hair cut we get there is a certain line everything is set and trimmed and designed to your surroundings, so I think if I grew up somewhere else I would be completely different. Tottenham has everything to do with how I am today.
You are really good at championing new people who should we be championing from this area who should we be looking out for?
I definitely think a guy called Caliber he is definitely going to come through he has done F64 SBTV stuff Grime Daily ect there is another guy called Hard Palm Done they call him Dun Dee as well. I think he has done great stuff and the kids really love him. I think you have got to listen to who the kids are listening to you know cause the kids are the future, they know what is happening, so you ask them when ever I come across someone new I ask them. I want to know why they are listening to them, who they are tipping. When the whole area is screaming Dun Dee you know he is a mate of mine too so year look out for him.
Black and white has gone gold tell us about that where were you when you heard did you expect it?
Yeah we got gold I’m happy about that. When I heard I was inside at home and it was weird it took me back to a few conversations that we were having before everything really kicked off, and I’m a big dreamer but I’m really realistic and our initial goal was like anything to do with, with me it was going to be more album driven we should go for like 50 thousand albums, lets look at top 40s, and not necessarily consider top tens, and it is weird because when Tractor came out that whole ethos just changed. And it was like ok that one has gone in there, this wasn’t where we were planning to be but we are here, lets see if we can keep it going.
So it is really weird it’s done better than we expected. The position that has put me in now is just I feel like I might as well go for the world now and I’m literally just going to go for it the new album we are recording is a lot bigger you know we are getting in with bigger producers bigger sounds the same producers as well but we are making everything sound bigger.
Why are you surprised black and white has done so well you have put in your work?
It is one thing wanting something and another thing achieving it I think you can really set your self up to be depressed if you aim for platinum and you only sell 1. So I think it is better to aim for something that is realistic but still something that is pushing you and we thought 50 thousand is a good push lets go for it first time round and when it surpasses it it just goes to show that maybe we were under thinking and this time I’m going to think big and hopefully I’m not left depressed.
Did you have to worry about illegal downloads when it came to releasing music and do you still have to worry about that how do you combat that?
In terms of illegal down loads I look at it like this, any body that is going to download it will do it and anyone who is going to buy it will buy it. I don’t really know how to download alums. Someone’s album could leak and I’ll be there for 4 hours to find it, I don’t even know where to go but if that is the way you are you know exactly where to go and you get the leak the minuet it happens and I think there is no way to stop it unless we stop leaking or we cut off whatever sites they are using I honestly believe that if you are a downloader you are a downloader if you are a buyer you are a buyer. With me I’m just so excited to hear a album when it has leaked I’ll still buy it when it is out but out of excitement I’m like I need to hear this everyone is talking about it.
How do you tread the line between being commercial and credible?
It is definitely a hard line to tread you know the whole credibility thing while being commercial at the same time but I think the thing is with me I have always continued to make the same kind of music so I’d have something vibey like ‘Tractor’ I would put that in the same vain as ‘be cool’ I did before, it has that same sort of vibe. ‘Don’t go’ there was a song on my other cd called ‘all that I need’ and before that nothing last forever it is like I make the same songs I just tell you about the next chapter. Where I’m really honest I am talking about my life I am just talking about what effects me over good instrumentals so I think it is not for me it is ok because people don’t class me as someone who sold out. It just so happens that the songs are being played on all the stations now.
Tell us about the new album and any new exclusives you can give London 360?
The new album is going to be the next chapter to Black and White. I’m trying to give you my life as it changes my life before Black and White was like this and I gave it to you up to that point. Now after Black and White it has changed again so I can give you to this point and as long as I keep progressing and I see different things I meet new people I will always have things to talk about. It is a progression from Black and White.
In terms of progression and collaborations I am a firm believer in making the album first and then pulling in the missing pieces to the jigsaw I think if you were baking a cake you would not start with the cherry and then the icing you would make your cake first. So that is how I look at it my album is my cake I make the cake and then I think ok maybe Tinie Tempah will kill this verse I give him a call and see if he likes that track and we see about that after there isn’t any collaborations at the moment it is all myself.
There is a trend that artist do think too much about collaborations before the body of work
Yes I think it can be a problem being too calculated. You know I have had conversations with people who have calculated their career to a number 1. Like ‘so I’ll put that out it will get top 40 and then that well go there and then I will have my number one’ and I’m like how can you do that maths it is impossible? The main thing people should want is to buy that album because of you and anything else should come as a bonus.
When it comes to a wretch video the one thing that we notice is it is not like the rest how involved are you in your videos?
We are really involved when it comes to the visual thing. I like to pick a person I can trust and I look at it like this when I am writing my song no one will come and tell me change that line add that change that don’t say that. So when I comes to a video director we are going to talk about he concept and discuss it for a while. I am going to let him do his job and he will direct me cause he has his vision. The hardest thing is trusting and finding someone you trust. You know with the last campaign we used the same director three times Tractor Unorthodox and Don’t Go after Tractor I could literally do everything he said and the video would be fine.
It is like having a 9-5 and going to work every day you know what you are going to get. That is the beauty of having the familiarity with someone.
You don’t follow the cliché video honey scantily clad women in a video how much do you think that is to blame for young people with body image videos and how much pressure are young people under when it comes to body image?
I think that when you are young you are impressionable you get familiar with seeing things a certain way and think that is how it should be and I think it is definitely a issue when it is effecting people that are real young and they are being mislead I think adults are adults and they can make their mistakes cause they are old enough to know better and they are old enough to know where your trying to go in life.
How do we fix it?
I think it is difficult to fix because it starts in the home I think firstly parents have got to get hold of it. It is extremely difficult but being a parent I know what I mean I would not expect somebody else to guide my children you know if I was watching a cartoon with my son and I saw something funny in the cartoon I would explain to him and we get that wiped out of his head completely I wouldn’t send a email to the cartoon company unless it was something really ridiculous.
In Terms of airbrushing I don’t have the whole super sexy thing going on in my video I just think what works for me is being really realistic. I never shave my beard I’m just like this and I cut my hair when I think I should and that is just how I am it works for me I am your average neighbor people can relate to me.
Some people are really into fantasy and they need to see that perfect girl and need to think I need a girl like that and you know I suppose if people who do fantasy type videos if we were to banish them it could have a back lash because maybe if people stop fantasizing they might end up depressed I think it can work both ways it is a funny one. But personally it is not me it is not my kind of style.
London the Olympics what are you looking forward to most? Do you think it will benefit the city and residents of London?
Yeah I think I terms of the Olympics I am excited things like this don’t happen in my life time and I’m 26 so I would have to assume it is once in a life time it does happen.
Are you going?
Yeah a million percent I am going to go to the ones that I am really interested in 100 meters 400 meters the women’s 100 meters that is just for the running of course. Yeah I think it is something to bring kids to, go with your family and I think it is interesting.
It is not every day you get to see the height of athletics. In terms of enhancing the country we will be looked at very good, providing everything runs smooth you know?
I think it will benefit us as a country and if you are into property and stuff and you have anything around there it will also benefit you as well it is win win! Of course it will be extremely busy but that is to be expected it will help, businesses will capitalize off it. It is a chance for New talent for team UK and their will be a lot of performances around it so everyone will benefit.
Do you think football breads racism any experiences you can think of?
I don’t think football breeds racism I think racism is just racism if you are a racist you could be a conductor one day somebody plays the wrong key and you might say something you thought in your head. I think it is just a person is a person. I don’t think it comes from a sport. But I think professionals should always try and conduct themselves in a professional manner I don’t really agree with miss conduct in that sense in that way as well.
What about those that say it is just banter?
I don’t think it is banter I think it is a lot more than banter and it shouldn’t happen.
Does it affect you?
I have never really experienced racism like that being called a name or anything in jest, I don’t recall having it like that. The type of racism I have experienced is being in a foreign place and being looked at funny or asking for directions and not feeling wanted in that town. I think it is what it is, but as a country I feel like it is getting a lot better. I feel like it is a generational issue when we are going back there are people who are not use to seeing another certain amount of people I think as time has gone on that has changed. I think from 5 and under with that generation it just shouldn’t happen, it would be ridiculous it wouldn’t make sense because a white kid is growing up with a mix raced brother and it is normal, where as before it was something more like gosh. It is in society in the culture so in generations to come it should be finished.
In light of Stephen Lawrence Do you think race relations have improved?
I think it has had an impact. Stephen Lawrence is a person that we all feel connected with I think we almost feel like we know or knew him and he is definitely iconic, him and his parents. They have gone through such a tragic experience and they have, the right word feels like they have triumphed, but you should not have to go through such a great loss to feel like you have won anything. I wouldn’t say they have won something but I feel like they have made a impact in peoples lives. Which they will never be forgotten as people and I think when you have done something like that you are on that iconic level and they are icons.
Closure of libraries around the capital, what do you make of councils carting half their libraries how important is it for kids to have libraries in their lives?
It doesn’t sound like a good thing. I think a library is probably a home for a lot of people.
I think in this day and age I think when you are able to read a book online in your house for free I would see why it is probably not as popular as it used to be.
Books are everything, but the funny thing is the first book I read other than kids books was Tinie Temphas book and that was the other day. I just made the decision I haven’t read a book I need to read and I read Tinie Temphas book. What was really funny about that is it made me realize that I didn’t feel to read anything before because no book interested me. What did interest me was that Tinie Tempha had a book and I could relate to it. It is about finding out what people are into and if there is enough stuff you are into then you will read it.
See I have now gone on to Jay Z ‘s book decoded it is massive. It made me feel like what UK artists and urban artists are doing is a big thing, because if Tinie made me pick up a book, he has done that to a lot of other people as well that are not book readers.
Do you think it is possible to meet the love of your life on the underground have you ever met any one on the tube and thought woah she is cute?
Um the tube scenario for me, I haven’t been on a tube for a while but I always remember you know when you go to a particular place say I would be going studio five times that week and then you get on at the Monday at that time you might see someone and you might see them the next day and then you might think well if I see her again then im going to say something tomorrow but you never see them again that is the kind of scenario I’m use to in regards to the train. I think it is really cool proposing on the train and underground. It probably takes along time for her to get upstairs and phone someone and announce it no reception and that but I think you can propose to any one anywhere I think the train is a bit random it is very random.
Do you have any pet hates about being on the tube?
Being on the tube what I always used o worry about when you see in a film they get stuck and people have to get out and walk I always have that in my head when I’m on the train for more than half a hour thinking ahh man do I have to get out and walk if it gets stuck but it never gets stuck!
If you had to get on the tube now would you have to use disguises?
Some how I have managed to just get though life not being recognized as much as I probably would be. I think I move really quick head down and im on the phone and you don’t really look at me twice so I get away with a lot of public places and not been recognized. It takes skill though. Woolly hat.
How much has Amy had a impact on music as a whole and what kind of legacy has she left?
Amy is a name that is embedded in the world for a long time. I think the beauty of her is that everything is wrong but in being so wrong it is so right and I think what that does for people in generally is strong motivation I think on top of having one of the best voices ever heard and being able to sing effortlessly the beauty in her other than her vocals is almost that story of being anything you want to be as long as you are talented and she definitely is that type of figure. She is the type of person when you are thinking I can’t do this she is the type of person who makes you think yes you can. Without her trying to be that figure she just is herself she is definitely iconic in that sense one of the best voices this country has ever heard her as a character and talent and a person is legendary on all fronts. Being ever so un normal but normal and being so wrong and so right and she was a north Londoner.
What are your thoughts on inter racial adoption?
I think inter racial adoption should be allowed I think as long as to be able to adopt they check you out as a person as long as you are capable of being a parent to somebody who doesn’t have a parent then I think that is perfectly fine. If I was every in a situation where I would have to decide about a child of mine or a child I knew to be adopted I wouldn’t effect me what colour they were as long as the home was going to be loving and looked after and they were going to be a parent it would not effect me.
I am sure that in life as a person you would check out about your back ground any way and that would be down to the parents which I am sure they would do I don’t see the problem with it.
DAVID LAMMY MP INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT-IV BY L360 REPORTER TOM WHITER
TW What are your memories of growing up in Tottenham, as one of the only MPs to grow up in the area they now represent?
DL My memories growing up in Tottenham in the 1970s/1980s are mixed in the sense that I came from a typical West Indian family it wasn’t always easy, my parents didn’t always get on, it was a tough time socially in London in terms of relationships with the police and sometimes the ability to do well at school, but Tottenham has always been a happy place, it’s actually a very residential place; rows and rows of terraced housing with people from all over the world living side by side actually relative to other London boroughs we haven’t got as many estates so very much a neighbourhood where people get on and I remember a lot of time outside in the parks playing football so positive generally but pressures lying behind in family life and that would be the same today, for a lot of people it’s not easy because income isn’t easy and there are pressures in family life.
TW What changes in Tottenham have you seen since then?
DL I think there have been some changes, I think the schools have got hugely better, we take for granted now that people ARE going to university and are succeeding that wasn’t happening before and I think the schools and the hospital have been rebuilt. But there are still huge pressures and the big challenge of big infrastructural regeneration in the area hasn’t happened although neighbourhood renewal has taken place in different wards.
I think the public sector has got a lot better but there’s a lot more to do.
TW How much of the changes are to do with the legacy of Bernie Grant?
DL I think that Bernie’s legacy was a legacy of defiance and fighting against what was a Conservative government, but of course he died in 2000, only 3 years into the New Labour Government. I think he would have loved to have seen some of the things beginning to flower in the constituency but be concerned with many of the things yet to happen.
TW What kind of regeneration have you overseen when you took over from Bernie Grant in 2000?
DL My principal aim when I came in in 2000 under a Labour government was to see the schools improve. At that stage I’m afraid the schools were on 15% of kids getting 5 good A-C GCSEs and we have seen a transformation; now around 60% of them getting 5 good A-C GCSEs, often with English and Maths, and the schools have been renewed.
The hospital has been rebuilt, the public services that people in this area need to rely on are there, we also have a new deals for communities area in the Seven Sisters ward, so we’ve seen big changes, particularly to our housing estates, where kitchens, bathrooms, the conditions people were living in were seriously grim here in Tottenham and again we’ve seen some of that renewed. So I think that that would be the principal advance over this last period, primarily in the public sector and also employment. Unemployment was huge in the 1980s and 90s, it came down in the last ten years, of course it has gone back up again, not quite to the levels of the 1980s, but it’s definitely going in the wrong direction.
TW So the Mayor of London’s regeneration taskforce has put £100 million aside to help areas affected by the riots, you’ve said a lot more money is needed, why?
DL Well my bottom line, is that Tottenham is in need of huge regeneration, that was the case before the riots and that’s why I fought so hard to make sure Tottenham Hotspur football club did not leave the area, I believed that was unacceptable for them to go to Stratford and I was one of the lone voices saying that they should not go to Stratford and we won that battle. It’s interesting that in Tottenham and Croydon, the two areas that were asking for an enterprise zone from the Mayor, were the two areas that saw most devastation during the riots. So I want to see about a billion pounds worth of investment in my constituency, the mayor has set aside 30 million, that is not going to hit the mark for the people of Tottenham, Tottenham deserves the same kind of regeneration that we’ve seen in the Olympic zone, it is as depressed, it is as deprived, it is time now, not just the mayor, got serious about the regeneration we need. Of course all that money can’t just come from the public sector, but we will need about a billion pounds worth of investment.
TW Where have you got this figure of a billion ponds from, studies in your area?
DL If you look at the sort of regeneration we’ve seen in Salford, with half the BBC moving to Salford, if you’ve seen the Gateshead development in the North East of the Country and then again if you look at the Olympic zone and the huge investment in Tower Hamlets, in Newham, in Waltham Forest, in Hackney and in Redbridge, I think you have to recognise in the constituency of Tottenham, with the highest unemployment, with the highest amount of people on benefits, with a tremendous amount of need and a very young population, we need the sort of financial investment that amounts to a billion.
We need jobs, there are not sufficient jobs within the constituency, and it is not enough to expect people to travel into the centre of town for those jobs, we need to be driving jobs here and I think that needs a commitment from the government, a think we need a big government department, a passport office, a student loans company, proper employment from my constituents.
TW You’ve mentioned a few things there you’d like to see and the schools and hospitals that have improved, what infrastructure would you build with a billion pounds?
DL I would start with saying that I think that the Seven Sisters/Victoria line should be extended up through Tottenham, through Northumberland Park into Enfield, connecting people quicker into jobs and infrastructure. I think the link between Tottenham Hale and Stansted which takes an hour is too long and should be quicker and I’m concerned that the government is happy to spend billions on the link between London and Birmingham but it still takes an hour to Stansted because my constituents need those jobs in that airport and they need to get to them quicker and I am pleased that Spurs are staying and that they are going to regenerate their stadium but much needs to happen around that area, as I said I want to see a government department there, I want to see private investment there and if we look at what’s happening in London, look at the Olympic Zone, look at that huge, new Westfield Centre that’s opening up in Stratford, that’s the kind of regeneration we need to see in Tottenham.
TW You mentioned TH, that would be big private investment, do you agree with their assertion that the stadium development will bring more jobs?
DL I think that the plans Tottenham have are good and ambitious they need support to deliver those plans I’m clear that a football stadium on its own is not sufficient, there aren’t enough jobs attached to a football stadium. A lot of regeneration these days seems to be driven by housing, and I don’t think that’s the need here in Tottenham, I think there are density issues already actually in the constituency. What we need are big drivers of employment and that must involve the government, it must involve the private sector, I’d like to see some companies put their HQ here in Tottenham. I’m not convinced at all under the previous government that we should have been driving jobs to different parts of the country, when suburban London is in tremendous need. So as the local MP I’m pretty fierce and actually pretty angry that some of the need that is demonstrated in my constituency is nor being borne out with the levels of investment that are driven, let us remember that the Northumberland Park ward, the ward that surrounds the football club, we have the highest levels of deprivation and the highest levels of unemployment in the country and yet my constituents can look in the papers, can look on television and see footballers getting some of the biggest salaries, there’s a real inequity here and we need to sort it.
TW We’ve spoken to private companies, like Workspace who are on the better buildings for London committee, their CEO is on the regeneration taskforce and they’ve said to us they need some kind of incentive to come to areas like Tottenham, what incentives would you be willing to offer them?
DL Well incentives are the Mayor’s gift, not mine,
(TW, interrupting, “Well what would you say the mayor should be offering?”)
Well I think Boris should have put in place an enterprise zone in my constituency, that’s what I was asking for last year, we didn’t get one. He gave one, funnily enough, to the Olympic area, who already had regeneration going on, so I think that was a mistake. I think you need to attract private investment to areas like Tottenham, I think you need to look very carefully at business rates, capital allowances, you need to make sure you drive businesses to be attracted to the area, staying in the area, and choosing the area over other areas in London. It’s not clear to me the incentives are in place to make sure this happens. I think I would agree with Daniel Levy, the chairman of the football club; we need to see more in that area if we are to attract people to Tottenham over other areas of London.
I am worried that the East is getting a lot, the West was always slightly wealthier, Heathrow and that area, it’s not clear to me what is happening in the North East and in a sense I stand up here for Tottenham, Edmonton and this area of town that needs to see real drivers in regeneration.
TW You’ve also said you’d like to see business with a sense of accountability and that they should look after their employees as well, are you worried businesses that come to the area might be scared that you’ll be pressing on Boris to make them do a lot of things they don’t want to do and drive them away?
DL Look, business is hugely important if you want to drive and area, Tottenham historically has not had enough big business, it’s had small businesses, obviously people have had businesses here all the time, many ethnic minority groups start their own businesses. It’s important we don’t drown these businesses with red tape and regulation, but equally if we’re talking about big business, if we’re building a hospital, we’re building a stadium I think it is right that we say for example that they should take apprentices, and local apprentices, now some big business might take that as regulation, I don’t think that’s regulation, that’s just fair, it’s employment and I think it’s very necessary and it’s my job to say so, robustly.
TW Are you engaging with the youth population and asking what they’d like?
DL Well of course I’m engaged with the youth, this morning I was at the youth centre with the St Anne’s church community, who are doing a lot of work on our estates principally and I think it is important that any regeneration takes in and the views of local residents and local people. But I also say this, it is important that the vision for this community is ambitious and it can be the case in deprived communities that your average 15/16yr old doesn’t know what is possible because they haven’t seen what is possible. I remember that very well because I grew up here and so my challeng as the local mp is to challenge the mayor PM and private invesetors who might come into the area, to be ambitious about this community and to stand up for it. My constituency hasn’t even got a cinema, it hasn’t got a bookshop, there are too many betting shops on our high road because our planning regulations think its ok for every betting shop that wants to, to set up on Tottenham High Road. It’s also about ambition for this community and to challenge those in power to deliver. As an MP in the opposition, I don’t have the purse strings, I haven’t got the money to deliver those things, but what I can do, often pretty vociferously for what I think are the best interests of my constituents.
TW Talking about ambition, shouldn’t we be celebrating the musical success stories from Tottenham, only you’ve said fathers and a sense of community can shield people from, amongst other things, rap culture. It’s conflicting isn’t it, that yes, we should be ambitious, but no we can’t have rap culture?
DL Well, one, let’s not stereotype rap culture. A lot of rap music is great, I listen to a lot of it and it’s fantastic, but equally a lot of it isn’t great. It’s fine if you’re white and middle class and you listen to rap music but you’ve got a lot of other things going on in your life.
If you’re stuck on the 15th floor of a tower block in my constituency and you’re getting the same type of message which is negative about authority, which is alienating and angry, that’s not going to do anything for you.
It’s my job to challenge men who do not want to be responsible for their children. I say that coming from a background where I know what that feel’s like. We cannot have communities where 65% of fathers are not engaged and therefore you have no male role models.
What happens is you get a postcode lottery, people finding their masculinity in peer groups, you get gangs and knife crime. That is a reality for people growing up in my constituency and it’s important I speak out against it in the strongest terms.
That isn’t about dissing rap stars, great we’ve had a few rap stars, but that is not serious regeneration in a community, not all of us can be a rap star. Actually there’s a challenge to those rap stars that exist, and footballers, to put their money where their mouth is financially and give something back to the community.”
TW Do you think parts of Tottenham are stigmatised, like generalising rap music, or, as you referenced in your speech to Dunhill primary on Tuesday, Michael Gove painting a cruel caricature of the borough in an attempt to foist academy statues on a school that doesn’t want it?
DL I think that it is always easy to stigmatise areas that you don’t’ understand. I think that we have a long history, in fact the whole concept of the inner city is a stigma is of itself; I have to say there should be no inner city, just one city. Inner city is often code for something that is separate and different. So I think it is appropriate to challenge political leaders who’ve been to expensive public schools – Michael Gove has never been to a school in Tottenham ever – to demonstrate they understand the situation of parents and teachers in this community and that the business of being in politics is travelling alongside and empathising with and serving people. I’m afraid I see a lot of talking to people and not a lot of getting alongside people and understanding where they’re coming from in relation to our national politicians.
TW Do you think that’s a prime example of the ‘hyper-individualistic age’ you talk about in your book?
DL I’m very concerned that we live in times of gross materialism and consumerism, of big businesses paying CEOs 500 times more than the cashier on the shop floor. Most of my constituents don’t have a living wage, if you are a cleaner, you are also a dinner lady, if you are a security guard, you are also a minicab driver, if you have to work those long hours, how much time have you got to look after your kids to take time with your family? Not very much at all. So our economy is not functioning properly when people have to work these hours and do those kinds of jobs in order to succeed.
These are also tough times for young people, from whatever background, to find proper employment, but for many of my constituents, it’s even harder. They’re facing discrimination in the employment market, and they haven’t got into Oxford or Cambridge. These are real issues, that’s why I continue to return to this issues on behalf of my constituents, because there is a real issues in terms of cutting EMAs, charging £9,000 for university, significant cuts to youth services, these decisions have consequences. These people in power, in government have to stand by the priorities they’ve determined and obviously I would like to see funds spent to deliver for that young people and I worry the decision to spend money elsewhere in areas I think are less important are not good.
TW Hypothetically, with that billion pounds to regenerate Tottenham, how long do you think it would be for the social chage to happen?
DL I think you can get pride back very quickly and actually in areas like Tottenham, people are getting on with it, they’re doing stuff everyday, they are a resilient bunch. So small injections of money can make a difference: in schools by putting extra teachers in the classroom for not that much money, £500,000 would be enough in our schools. You can build passion and resilience, people can start up their own businesses with a small amount of seed money; we’re a very mercantile community here, we’re quite good at being entrepreneurial , all we need is a little bit of money to get going and a little bit of leaning on the banks to lend money so that people can get going. So small things can make a difference pretty quickly.
In terms of real transformation it will take decades. If you look at East London and you look back to before Canary Wharf, which I remember, and then you think of the Olympics building on Canary Wharf, that’s about 3 decades of investment and change in that area and that’s what we need here and that’s what we’ve got to aim towards in North London.
TW So what does a regenerated Tottenham look like?
DL The regenerated Tottenhamis a mixed community, diverse, but mixed income as well. If you think about areas that were similar to Tottenham just a few years ago, think of Stoke Newington, think of Notting Hill where the initial riots were 30 years ago, think of Brixton, these communities now are mixed communities, high incomes and low, side by side and they remain diverse communities as you would expect, so I want to see more of a mixed community, more mixed neighbourhood. It helps our schools succeed. It helps people come back to an area and not feel like they want to leave and area and not return. It helps create the vibrant atmosphere we need in London. Tottenham is the last area where every ward is on the index of deprivation and that what makes it different to parts of Lambeth, parts of Hackney where actually what you get is cheek by jowl rich and poor.
TW I forgot: Do you think your proposed extension to the Victoria Line is more important than the Northern Line extension through Nine Elms to Battersea?
DL I’m very concerned actually, it’s funny isn’t it that the American Embassy moved to Battersea and they get a new tube station when actually we need to connect Tottenham through Edmonton through to Enfield, make it easier for people to get into town for jobs, we get nothing. That seems to me to be brutally unfair when Ken was mayor, he was committed to North East London, I havent seen that with Boris.
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