Trauma awoke the campaigner within Gina Miller. Charlotte Metcalf meets the woman on a mission to ‘clean up politics’ for the latest edition of Scarfes Bar.
Photo by Alexandra Dao
Gina Miller on Transparency, Truth and Death Threats
If anyone is shaped by trauma it’s Gina Miller. She was growing up happily in her native Guyana when a car bomb killed the leader of a new opposition party, which was co-founded by her father. ‘Our family was next on a “death list” so my eldest brother and I, aged 13 and 11, were dispatched to safety in Eastbourne,’ Gina begins.‘I was sent to boarding school. I’d never left home before and we didn’t see our parents again for two years. My father kept fighting against dictatorship and for justice, eventually becoming attorney general.’
Gina is known as a transparency campaigner and defender of our representative parliamentary democracy, having twice defeated the Conservative government in the Supreme Court for its unlawful attempts to bypass Parliament in implementing Brexit. She’s now the founder and leader of the True & Fair Party and parliamentary candidate for Epsom and Ewell. ‘Most of my family are medics, but from when I was tiny, my father used to brush my hair and tell me I was going to do something important, that I was a chip off the old block,’ she grins.
Another trauma occurred when she was brutally attacked and sexually assaulted by four men while studying law at the University of East London. ‘The university tried to cover it up and my mother told me I mustn’t be seen as a victim, so I didn’t tell anyone. My dream was to be a barrister, like my dad, but I couldn’t function, or face going back.’
Gina eventually married and gave birth to a daughter in the late Eighties. The NHS was in crisis and there was a shortage of midwives, so Gina was given a drug to slow her delivery: ‘Lucy-Ann was such a perfect baby, I couldn’t put her down. But she didn’t achieve her developmental milestones and by the time she was two we knew something was seriously wrong.’ Today, Lucy-Ann is 35, with a mental age of five, due to being starved of oxygen and suffering stress during delivery. Gina fought to keep her little girl from being placed in an institution: ‘Lucy-Ann awoke the lioness and the campaigner in me. I campaign based on my life experiences.’
Gina then met her second husband in the City when she was founding her successful financial services marketing agency. ‘My marriage appeared idyllic. We’d moved to a fairy-tale old house in Bradford-on-Avon. After two-and-a-half years, I woke with a huge gash in my back. Lucy-Ann, then about seven, asked, “Mummy, why did Jon push you down the stairs last night?” I woke up with a shock after having blanked out how coerced and totally broken I’d been by my manipulative, controlling, alcoholic husband. I remembered another occasion he’d hit me, when I sat battered in a police station corridor in my nightie while police just walked past laughing. Jon turned up and persuaded them that I was having mental problems, so they just let him take me home. But that night I knew I had to be safe to look after Lucy-Ann, so I picked her up and ran to a friend nearby. I had zero access to money. I sold my BMW, bought an old Fiat, in which Lucy-Ann and I lived for three weeks in a car park while her dad tried to find us a place. From that car, I planned a marketing consultancy and how I would start speaking out against domestic violence.’
Gina’s campaigning has earned her a mixed reputation. ‘For speaking out against the lack of transparency in financial products in 2010, Bloomberg called me a “wrecking ball” that was single-handedly destroying the City.’ She’s been nicknamed ‘Black Widow spider’, ‘Director of Lipstick’ and ‘a bloody difficult woman’, and admits to feeling the most hated woman in Britain, but nothing deflects Gina from her mission. ‘I’m so shocked by our leaders’ lack of courage and competence, and millions feel the same. I launched the True & Fair Party last year to clean up politics, combat corruption and put governance into government. Politicians have wasted millions. High streets are dead, there’s no community cohesion, nothing for young people to do, and millions are off work with mental health and other health problems. On top of that, climate change, food insecurity, wars, pandemics and tech are changing almost everything. We must have a country where people are healthy, happy and have hope for the future. I want Epsom and Ewell to be a place where we trial robust practical solutions.’
Recently, Gina took on Monzo for closing her political party’s bank account, and launched a campaign to protect our countryside, farming and food sector. Though she espouses causes popular with many, her fearlessness and outspokenness mean Gina has received multiple death threats and still can’t even venture to a café without being insulted or attacked. If multiple traumas haven’t, what would it take to stop her? ‘I’ll never, ever stop standing up for others, fighting for fairness and equality, or lose my passion for what I believe is right,’ she insists. ‘The things that should have broken me have only made me stronger.’