Pauline Pearce, the Hackney Heroine packed the Lyric Theatre in Bridport to the rafters on Friday for a sell-out fundraising event on "What’s wrong with politics?".
A wide ranging audience from Dorchester, Sherborne, Bournemouth and Lyme Regis as well as Bridport attended the Question Time style event which debated: community politics, localism, sustainability and how to increase people power in politics without giving in to right wing populism.
The panel, also comprising international human rights lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith; photographer, documentary-maker and founder of the Home in Bridport project, Robert Golden; and Bridport Councillor and our Parliamentary Candidate Ros Kayes explored what has led to the current apathy and anger with politics and whether it can ever be reversed.
Following close upon the heels of Dorchester’s People First meeting (which challenged West Dorset District Council’s system of cabinet government and its contempt for the public) the meeting, chaired by former Mayor of Bridport Dave Rickard looked at why trust has been lost in career politicians and how ordinary people can rediscover their voices and regain control of how decisions are made.
Pauline, who achieved her moniker after footage of her standing her ground as violence escalated around her in Hackney, during the 2011 riots went viral on youtube, (where she was seen berating a gang vandalising a building, shouting: "I'm ashamed to be a Hackney person because we're not all gathering together and fighting for a cause, we're running down Foot Locker and thieving.") led the audience in a gospel song. She talked about what had led her into politics, and joining the Liberal Democrats, as part of her presentation about why politicians need to listen to ordinary people and to bring groups who are usually ignored by politicians into the centre ground:
“I have never hidden the fact I was involved in gangs and I had a criminal record. But that's what makes me the woman I am today because of the honesty, and coming clean with the media and with people I have dealt with in and around the community”
Pauline Pearce, has had a remarkable life. Once a jazz singer, now a motivational speaker, running workshops with young people and a DJ on community radio, Conscious FM. She talked about the media sting that hit her after she came to fame when her prison sentence and drug addiction were highlighted in an attempt to discredit her as she began to speak up for young people and ethnic minorities, and was wooed by Boris Johnson and Ed Miliband .
She told the story of the night of the riots, of how after trying to save a white photographer from a mob who objected to his presence, she was pushed into a burning car.
Ros Kayes, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for West Dorset talked about improving our broken political democracy through a reformed voting system; online plebiscite; abolishing the whip system and reforming party funding as well as encouraging more ordinary people to enter politics