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The Liberal Democrats Have Been Accused Of "Underhand Racism" By The Hackney Heroine

Nick Clegg's party has "neanderthal views on diversity", according to Pauline Pearce, who came to fame during the 2011 London riots.

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Pauline Pearce, dubbed the Hackney Heroine after she took a stand against looters during the 2011 London riots, has posted this video accusing the Lib Dems of "underhand racism" and "neanderthal views on diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility".

Pearce, a member of the Liberal Democrats, was standing to be president of the party. But in a video posted to her Facebook page she says she is no longer willing to be involved, in part because the Lib Dems have not offered enough support to her or other individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Pearce claims she was "ridiculed for my past as an ex-convict" by opponents within the Lib Dems, despite the party professing to offer second chances.

Pauline Pearce

"There are some quite prestigious people in our party who feel they can’t back me because of my criminal record. I find that very demoralising and upsetting. The crime I got involved with was many years ago. It’s now long gone, it’s past. I’ve served my time, I’ve paid back to society.

"If we can’t turn to people that are saying they believe in second chances without finding out that they actually don’t it’s quite a devastating situation to be in."


She says she felt "patronised" by people within the Lib Dems, and says that while the party pretends to be inclusive it acts differently.

Pauline Pearce

"I feel quite hurt and let down by this because I thought the Lib Dems always had my back. But I’ve realised that they do have your back until you’re going for a prestigious position within the party. And it’s now showed me that I will never be that establishment person in the party, because it is not as inclusive with diversity as it makes out."

And she says she was ridiculed by individuals within the party for having a lack of political experience when she ran for the role.

Pauline Pearce

"It’s what I would call underhand racism where you feel people are not quite able to step up to the mark in chairing meetings.

"I would not gain experience if I don’t go for these positions."

Pearce came to fame after she was videoed during the 2011 London riots shouting at looters stealing from shops in Hackney.

View this video on YouTube

The media quickly christened her the Hackney Heroine, and she has since been a regular guest on discussion shows.

Pearce says she'll remain a member of the Lib Dems and be "the token person who sits and smiles in the background" since she realises she cannot climb any higher.

In response the Lib Dems issued a statement: "We are upset that Pauline feels she has been subjected to discrimination and prejudice, as this behaviour is the opposite of the values of equality and respect we embrace and pride ourselves on as a party. We urge Pauline to report what she has experienced and will look at her concerns as a matter of urgency."

Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Jim Waterson at

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