As I sat down for this talk, I thought I knew what I was going to get from Gina Miller. I imagined her being empowering, political, and determined, and I was right about that. But I also thought she wouldn’t be too charming. That’s because in her book, Rise: Life Lessons in Speaking Out, Standing Tall, & Leading the Way, she said many people have offered to help her “work on her ‘warmth problem’”, but she doesn’t want to change anything. “I am who I am,” she writes. “I’m not in the business of trying to deceive anyone.” So, although it wouldn’t have mattered either way, I thought she would be interesting, but perhaps not so likeable. Evidently Gina Miller was being very modest in her book. She strode onto the stage and sat down in an emerald green jacket. And then she smiled. From that point on she captivated the entire room.
At times she was conversational and humorous. But these times were only breaks between her insistent and fast paced opinions. She wasn’t a traditional orator, slow and steady, letting her voice echo around the lecture theatre. No. Instead she had many things to say, and she was going to say them all. It was exciting, and compelling. From learning about her upbringing in Guyana – the influence of her father, who became Attorney General, and her mother, as she wrote in her book and again mentioned that evening, “an eco-warrior before the term was invented” – to her opinions on the government’s handling of Brexit, the state of democracy around the world and how young people seem disillusioned, there was one phrase she kept coming back to: “There’s an awful lot of work to do.”
It sounds like Miller never stops working. But why would she? She’s successful, and now, owing to her court case against the government, she’s known up and down the country. But more than that, she enjoys the work. Miller admitted how, since publishing her book, her “entire life has changed”. But she doesn’t regret it. Just as she sheds light on rip-offs in the City with her True and Fair Foundation, she enjoys revealing in her book “what’s happened behind the scenes that you don’t see. I wish I’d done a bit more of that actually”.
But this talk wasn’t a smattering of Miller’s opinions on various disconnected topics. She was slowly building up a set of ideas. From new types of democracy to how to run defence, education, and the NHS, it seemed she was laying the foundations of her own manifesto. At the top of my notebook I scribbled, “Would she ever try to be an MP?” Apparently not yet. Answering questions after the talk she said, “At the moment I am much more effective outside of politics because our whipping system and the bullying that’s going on inside both political parties is disgusting”. As she explained during the talk, “There are ways of being an activist where you don’t actually have to be at the front, you can just help other people use their voices in a much more effective way”.
Miller doesn’t have all the answers. But she proposes solutions. Even if you didn’t agree with everything she said, one thing is undeniable: she is empowering. To women, certainly, but to everyone else as well. Here is a story of someone who is determined and passionate about what she believes in. She has the motivation everyone wishes they had. But instead of flaunting it, she asks that we jump on board. She described her book as a “virtual cuddle”: for Miller it is a chance for us to learn we can be as motivated, as determined, and as successful as she is.