In praise of: Miriam González Durántez

…or Mrs Nick Clegg, as you might know her. Our new deputy prime minister’s wife was, for me, the most revolutionary figure in a very surprising election campaign.

Photo from Liberal Democrats on Flickr

While Sarah Brown tweeted and SamCam smiled winsomely in every children’s ward and old people’s home in the country, González Durántez announced that she was too busy to hit the campaign trail.

And the reason that she gave wasn’t the three small boys she and Clegg have – it was her job as an international trade lawyer. She told a TV interviewer: “I don’t have the luxury of having a job that I can simply abandon for five weeks, and I imagine that that is the situation for most people in the country.”

It’s a bit surprising that in 2010 it should be so revolutionary for a woman to refuse to sacrifice her own career for her husband’s – but it is. Perhaps now more than ever a political superwife is seen as an indispensible appendage – the Michelle Obamas and Sarah Browns supposedly embody their husbands’ human sides, while Samantha Cameron and Carla Bruni Sarkozy trail glamour and around their rather charmless spouses.

Each of these women has been immensely successful in their own fields, completely separately from the political sphere. Yet each of them has forsaken her own career. González Durántez’s act of defiance was a gift to ambitious women everywhere.

She was keen to stress that this was not the act of a chilly, apathetic wife: the Telegraph said:

Striking a markedly more political tone than Mrs Cameron, Mrs Clegg said she was “willing to help Nick because he is my husband. I want the best for him and of course I love him”, but she added: “I’m willing to help the party because I’m willing to help what I defend. There is a core set of principles that I just cannot wait to see implemented in the country. Whatever I can fit between the job and the children I will do it 150 per cent.”

But crucially, her job and children are the non-negotiables.

So while Sarah and SamCam hurtled up and down the countryside, having their toes and outfits picked over in the national press, Miriam got on with her job, looked after her boys, and left it to Vince Cable – at the time the most popular politician in the country – to chaperone her husband most of the time (and even then, she campaigned with him extensively at weekends).

So thank you, Mrs Clegg, for showing us you can stand by your man without standing by your man.

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