When, six months ago, we invited transparency activist Gina Miller to speak at LTB19, she had already successfully challenged the British government’s right to exit the EU without parliamentary approval. It was a significant moment in history and she became a very prominent figure. Details of her life story began to emerge. This was a woman who had run an investment firm and her own philanthropic foundation, encouraging the ultra-rich to give back to society, but she had also faced personal adversity: racial prejudice, domestic violence, the struggle of being a single mother to a child with a disability, and at one point experiencing homelessness.
Then, in between issuing the LTB19 invitation to speak and the event itself, she mounted another incredible challenge, taking a supreme court case against the prorogation of parliament. Her success led to her being vilified. Gina Miller had “beaten Boris”. Go Fund Me campaigns to “take her out” were launched and the “toxic river of hate” meant she was frightened for her children’s safety. We were told a visit to Dublin would require The Gloss to put significant security measures in place. When we spoke to Gina, she was determined not to allow anything frustrate her intention to come – her natural courage and instinctive desire to impart her message around truth and justice would not allow her to pass on an opportunity to share her views.
Gina made a remarkable impression on the audience at LTB19. She spoke of her background, her privileged upbringing in British Guiana, her “eco-warrior mother before the word was even invented”, and her attorney general father who “taught me to do the right thing and be respectful”. Her move to the UK, as an eleven-year-old, “the promised land, as it seemed to be then”, was instigated by political unrest at home. She described how she made her way through life, overcoming all sorts of personal and public obstacles.
She explained how “looking the business” opened doors for her, and how she used clothes to signal an intent, a maturity and a confidence that she didn’t really possess. But using fashion to help project a persona was a tool that served her well in her career. She called for women to always prioritise doing the right thing, saying, “If you are actually being effective, you will ruffle feathers”. Key to being able to do this, she said, was to be authentic. “I believe we have to own our own story; knowing yourself makes you very powerful.”