POLITICS

Question Time Heckler Turned Labour Activist Could Challenge Amber Rudd At Next Election

Nail technician Michelle Dorrell called for more working class people in frontline politics.

27/09/2017 14:07 BST | Updated 27/09/2017 16:36 BST

The Tory voter turned Labour activist who heckled Amber Rudd over tax credits on Question Time could challenge the Home Secretary at the ballot box, HuffPost UK can reveal. 

Michelle Dorrell said it would be “awesome” to go “head to head” with Rudd in Hastings and Rye at the next election and that she has been asked by the local Labour branch if she would stand. 

Rudd would be a huge scalp for Jeremy Corbyn’s party and victory is within sight after her majority was trimmed to just 364 votes in June. 

“I have had a couple of CLPs (Constituency Labour Parties) come along and say that they would like to pinch me,” said Dorrell, a nail technician and single mum-of-four who believes more working class people should be on the frontline of politics.

“Hastings have said, wouldn’t it be lovely if I went up against Amber Rudd.”

Michelle Dorrell
Michelle Dorrell two years ago on BBC One's Question Time

She added: “It would be awesome if I could go head to head with Amber Rudd.”

She said: “One of the problems we have is that we don’t think our MPs do represent us, because maybe they don’t actually live the same lives we do. The majority of them come from very middle class backgrounds.

“A lot of them have had lobbying jobs, working for charities. What happened to [us having more] like good old Dennis Skinner – he came out of the pits.

“I’m a nail technician. I’m a normal, working class girl like so many others out there, and we’re the majority.”

She said: “Throughout my lifetime, I’ve had some what you might call devastating things. I’ve been through scenarios where I’ve faced homelessness, I have faced poverty and being at the very bottom of the food chain.

“I’ve experienced mental health problems, and they were quite severe at one time. I know what it’s like to struggle and bring up kids as a single mum. I’ve been there, done that and got the T-shirt too.” 

Dorrell told HuffPost UK that Labour has welcomed her with “opening arms” after the clip of her on the BBC panel show went viral two years ago.

She said: “I voted Conservative. It’s only now that I realised I was falling for the narrative that was being portrayed through the media. I fell for the lies of the Conservatives and picked the wrong side.”

She went on: “Pretty much Question Time is what changed it for me. Sitting there listening to Amber Rudd throughout the filming of Question Time, all I was hearing was lies, lies, rhetoric, spin and as most people know I couldn’t stop the pent up anxiety, anger and frustration – it just spilled out of me.

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Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn pictured after McDonnell's speech during the Labour Party conference in Brighton

“It’s just where everything clicked and from then on, I did more searching, more study and realised just how much I didn’t know about politics.” 

She said the Labour Party conference had been “exhilarated” activists and more “normal” people should consider getting involved in politics. 

She said: “It’s an electrifying, amazing experience in there. The mood is fantastic. We are all exhilarated, leading on from the General Election when everyone thought we were going to be wiped out.

“If you had a heart and you believed in the Labour Party and what it stood for and the direction it was going in, you knew that wasn’t going to be the case.”

She shrugged off criticism that conference did not take an official vote on Brexit policy, and revealed she voted to leave. 

She said: “I’m a Brexiter. I voted to leave, maybe a different aspect to how it is portrayed. In the media, it is only really portrayed as a very right-wing agenda. It isn’t.

“There is a very left-wing, socialist case for it as well.

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Prime Minister Theresa May and Home Secretary Amber Rudd (left)arrive ahead of a ceremonial welcome for King Felipe VI and Letizia of Spain during his State Visit to the UK

“We are discussing Brexit. It has been in the debates, it’s just that we’re not voting on it. There are so many more important things, like the NHS, social care, education. Those are vastly more important to the soul of this country right now.

“Brexit: it’s been, it’s done, the vote is done.” 

Dorrell said she relished campaigning during the General Election in Folkstone, adding: “It’s been fantastic, I’ve been welcomed [by Labour] with opening arms. I’ve been right in there, really involved and campaigning during the General Election, door-knocking, canvassing, leafleting on street corners and talking to everyone.

“I think my nail clients are bored of the politics.”

Asked if she could have imagined being so enthusiastic about politics before her BBC experience, she said: “Never. I would never have believed it because I would have just thought ‘you are just a nail technician, what have you got to say, you don’t really know anything’ but that’s not the truth. Everyone has a say in this.

“Politics is real. It’s live. Politics is everything. When you are talking about housing problems, that’s politics; cost of food, that’s politics; education problems, that’s politics; even down to your rubbish being collected, that’s politics.”