Pauline Pearce — dubbed the Hackney Heroine by the media for standing up to rioters in 2011 — has pulled out of her bid to be Liberal Democrats president.
She hoped to succeed MP Tim Farron when he stepped down at the end of the year, but in a video posted to her Facebook page, she claimed “underhand racism” was part of the reason for her decision.
She also claimed that party members were not prepared to support her because of her criminal record. “It was a long time ago — I’ve served my time and paid back to society, and this is why I’m here now wanting to make a difference, to encourage others to believe in second chances,” she says.
Pearce — who represented the Lib Dems in a 2012 by-election — says she’ll remain involved with the party, “but I realised my place is not to go for high positions, I’ll be the token person who sits and smiles in the background, and stick to community activism.”
A Lib Dem spokeswoman said: “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.”
Recently, Pearce said not enough was being done to help people negatively affected by gentrification of Hackney, saying that the influx of affluent young hipsters was pushing people out who had lived there for years.