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Brandishing the same walking stick she shook at looters during the London riots, heroine of Hackney Pauline Pearce hit the streets to campaign for moral standards - and the Liberal Democrats.

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Mobile phone footage of Pauline, 46, lambasting looters as they wreaked havoc in Hackney last August was the start of a “weird and wonderful” few months for the self-confessed former drug dealer.

Her impassioned blast at criminals destroying local shops and properties went viral online, propelling Pauline into the spotlight as the voice of a civil society shocked by scenes of anarchy on the doorstep.

Now Pauline, who has turned her back on crime, is trying to capture votes in the ballot box by running for council in a Hackney Central ward by-election.

The wooden stick is still present – baring scars from that night.

The plastic nub at the bottom of it partially melted when a thug pushed her against a burning car – pinning her temporarily to the wreck.

Laughing off the episode as “a Tom and Jerry cartoon moment,” Pauline warned the simmering tensions which exploded last August could boil over yet again, this year.

“I think there could be more riots this year if the government does not shape up quick; it’s the calm before the storm if they do not stop the cuts - which are happening every day,” she said.

“People were rioting because they are struggling to make ends meet – the cuts are causing more problems.”

Slamming the impact upon Hackney of the government’s austerity agenda could be tricky for Pauline, while standing for the Liberal Democrats - one half of the coalition.

The term poli-trick-ans is a term for elected representative among some of her Rasta friends, said the grandmother from Dalston.

But no record in politics and strong community ties may be a boon for Pauline’s bid for a Town Hall seat - judging by how many people come to speak with her on the walkabout from Hackney Central station to the Senior Citizens club in Shellness Road.

For now Pauline is revelling in her novice status.

“I’ve been in jail, I’ve been involved in gangs, I used to deal drugs,” she said. “But now I am a symbol of the second chance and I want to help. I don’t want to be one of those poli-trick-ans.

“I want to continue to be that symbol of someone standing up for right and for people in the community, via political engagement.”

Policing, in particular stop and search tactics by police, is a big issue for her.

“You cannot moan about things going wrong if you do not try to make a change. You cannot stand on the outside all the time.

“In Hackney the Lib Dems are out on the estates, while Labour is not. You have to book appointments at surgeries to see them - Hackney people don’t want formalities, we want realities.”

Hackney is a stronghold for Labour - with all but eight seats under its control. Meanwhile, the Lib Dems hold three. That is the reality for Pauline to overcome ahead of polling day on May 3.

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