the rise and rise of miriam Gonzalez durantez

Daily Telegraph

People love 'Mrs Clegg' and not just because she has the cojones to talk about cojones, says Dina Rickman, who asks whether the other political wives can learn from her


All hail Miriam González Durántez - 'Nick Clegg’s wife' to some - a woman with more charisma in her little finger than her husband has displayed throughout the last four years.


Not only does she earn truckloads more than Mr Clegg (a cool £500,000 as a partner in international law firm Dechert, four times as much as her husband’s £134,565) she also managed to utterly upstage him during his speech on male parenting yesterday.


When Miriam put her hand up and challenged her husband to “loudly and proudly” hail men who look after their children as the ones with the “most cojones” I only had one thought: could we replace Nick Clegg with her? Or would she not be willing to take the pay cut?


Just imagine Sam Cam grabbing the mike during a PM Direct event. Or just imagine Sam Cam saying the word “cojones.” Would Sam Cam be too scared to? Afraid of interrupting her husband's stream? Probably not. Perhaps as a businesswoman in her own right, she has better things to do than attend her husband's press conferences and hijack them.


Either way, it begs the question, should we, could we, be hearing more from Sam Cam and Justine Thornton (Ed Miliband's wife)? They could at least, as Miriam has shown, raise matters that many women care about. Matter, which let's face it, are less likely to be raised around the current government table given there are only three female cabinet ministers.


Mr Clegg agreed with his wife, if you were wondering. Of course he did. People love 'Mrs Clegg' and not just because she has the cojones to talk about cojones. She is possibly the best thing about the deputy prime minister and has turned the role of political wife - a role in which women traditionally downplayed their own career achievements in favour of their partner’s - on its head.


This is a woman who stayed away from the campaign trail during the 2010 election on the totally reasonable basis that she did not have the kind of job where she could just take five weeks off to help her partner. Rather than standing next to her husband looking decorative in a designer dress she was at work, providing for her family.


She's well-informed and cool in her own right. But what is it we love most about her? Probably that her exchanges with her husband give us a glimpse into their relationship. You can imagine how they are at home together. With the other political wives, you get the feeling it's still all one big act in public - you're left questioning who the 'real them' is. A PR act Miriam's outburst might have been, but you get the feeling she's true to herself.


We already know (because she once let it slip) that Mr Clegg often ferries their three young children to school in the mornings, leading the press to talk about her 'wearing the trousers', as if that was a bad thing. Here is a husband who's not afraid, or threatened by a wife who is a dominant figure in her own right.


While Mrs Clegg rarely gets involved in politics, when she does she knows how to make an impact. If she’s not interrupting her husband’s speeches with colourful language, she’s highlighting the double standards women are subject to, writing for Telegraph Wonder Women last year about the labels women are given. “If we succeed in our professional lives, we’re branded ‘scary’; if we follow fashion, we’re ‘shallow’; if we like science, we’re ‘geeks’; if we read women’s magazines, we’re ‘fluffy’; and if we defend our rights, we’re ‘hard’.”


Is it too much to wish all women married to major politicians had the cajones to be as cool, clever and funny as Mrs Clegg?

Dina Rickman, 25/04/2014