Interview by Sarah Tucker
As a child, I cannot ever remember feeling that there were paths my three brothers could pursue that I could not. My father was a very principled man who had a strong sense of social justice and helping others who were less fortunate than our family. Other people mattered. He came from a very poor background, and started serving petrol at the age of eight to earn money to go to school. He became a barrister and rose to be attorney general, but he never forgot his roots, his community nor his humble beginnings.
My parents instilled in us that we should always strive to be the best we could be, and do everything to the best of our abilities – whatever the outcome. Like most children growing up in a Commonwealth country, in our case British Guiana, we were in awe of everything British. We revered the values, writers, academics, the royal family, the law, politicians – everything about Britain was held in the highest esteem.
I’ve had many failures, professionally and personally, but my parents’ voices have echoed in the different chambers of my life, whether I was failing or succeeding. As such I am who I am today – a culmination of failures, successes and scars that have toughened me.
When I believe people are being bullies, or being dishonest or hypocritical, it gives me an itch that I must do something. I don’t necessarily go through some complex thought process – I follow my gut; that feeling when you instinctively know something is right or wrong.
My attitude is that life is not a rehearsal; I must dare and dive in. And diving in has taught me about myself. It has challenged me out of my comfort zone. If I’m the only one left standing in the room still asking the questions, with no answers, I’ll go outside the room and keep asking, armed with as much research and data as I can fi nd.
My husband calls me a mental fidget, others a nosy parker – I plead guilty to both. But I laugh all the time with my children – we dance, we sing, we laugh.
Regarding Brexit, set within the mood of rising populism, I believe the defence of the rule of law and proper legal processes take on heightened importance. But there was – and still is – a fear that has taken hold, which meant wonderful people were deeply concerned about the backlash.
I’ve recently launched a tactical vote campaign, ‘Best for Britain’, to support candidates who campaign for a real final vote on Brexit and reject any deal that leaves Britain worse off. The campaign will support parliamentary candidates who commit to keeping the options open for the British people and fi ght to make the Brexit deal transparent, honest and democratic.
I am still prepared to fight for ‘Brand Britain’ – the values and principles that have seen us admired around the globe but are now in danger of being tarnished – tolerance, inclusion, our moral compass, fair play, the rule of law and social justice.
As women, we have an essence, a vitality, passion – and when we put it into what fulfils us, there is no holding us back. I believe in being bold, brave and benevolent. My experiences during recent months have shocked me; the fact that women doing their professional jobs – MPs, journalists, newsreaders – tell me it is normal to be trolled, violated on social media, or worse. No, it is not normal! I have endured much, but I am positive. I believe we need to speak out about people crossing the line of decency and tolerance.
I would encourage all women to dive in. There are only three things we truly own – our words, our actions and our conscience. We must not shy away from using them.