David Lammy hits back at Tory MP over Comic Relief criticism

The Labour MP David Lammy has hit back at critics who have sought to link his criticism of Comic Relief with a drop in donations this year.

The Conservative MP Chris Philp claimed on Sunday that Lammy had caused an £8m drop in the amount of money donated to the charity by airing his concerns that the charity perpetuated “tired and unhelpful stereotypes” about Africa.

Responding on Monday, the Labour MP poked fun at Philp but also said he wanted Comic Relief to reflect upon his criticism.

“I hope my comments surrounding some of the tired, unhelpful tropes, which I have now been highlighting for several years, will inspire the charity to refresh its image and think harder about the effects its output has on our perceptions of Africa – and the costly knock-on effect this has on the continent,” Lammy said.

“I have seen first-hand the very good work Comic Relief donations fund in the UK and abroad and I hope that a revitalised and refreshed Comic Relief will reverse this trend in the coming years.”

Philp had tweeted that Lammy’s “pathetic manufactured indignation” was behind the £8m drop in donations. He also criticised his “absurd egotistical posturing”, saying the money “could have been used to save lives”.

Chris Philp MP

Pathetic manufactured indignation from @DavidLammy has caused £8m less money to be raised for charity. The cost of his absurd egotistical posturing is real. This is money that could have been used to save lives. He should fulsomely apologise to stop a repeat next year pic.twitter.com/Kmr5HirBqV

March 17, 2019

In a mocking reference to Philp’s comments, the LBC radio host James O’Brien asked what else could be blamed for, adding: “May I nominate the weather?” Lammy replied:

David Lammy

To be fair since I’ve become MP for Tottenham sea-levels have risen, Trump has become President, and England still hasn’t won the world cup since ’66. Coincidence? https://t.co/YxOB2XKchG

March 18, 2019

Among the others who criticised Lammy after his comments was Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, who tweeted on Red Nose Day last Friday:

Jimmy Wales

I notice @DavidLammy wisely keeping quiet while the UK celebrates @comicrelief #rednoseday raising millions for good causes and raising awareness of our fortunate place in the world and what we can do to help. Wisely keeping quiet.

March 15, 2019

The row began last month, when Lammy picked up on criticism of the television presenter Stacey Dooley from the campaign group No White Saviours, which was unhappy that she had posted a picture on social media of herself and a black child that was taken during a visit to Uganda for Comic Relief.

The MP said: “The world does not need any more white saviours. As I’ve said before, this just perpetuates tired and unhelpful stereotypes. Let’s instead promote voices from across the continent of Africa and have serious debate.”

He added that he did not question Dooley’s “good motives” but said: “My problem with British celebrities being flown out by Comic Relief to make these films is that it sends a distorted image of Africa which perpetuates an old idea from the colonial era.”


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