A different species of politician? Nick Clegg’s biography serialised in the Mail

The forthcoming biography of Nick Clegg by Liberal Democrat councillor Chris Bowers was serialised in last weekend’s Mail on Sunday.

Here’s just a brief extract :

For a few terrible weeks, Nick Clegg came face to face with his ultimate nightmare. One after the other, his wife and his little boy had fallen gravely ill — and doctors warned that they might not pull through.

It began when his son, Antonio, then aged two, became feverish and listless. When he was admitted to hospital, Clegg insisted on spending every night at his side.

According to the doctors, Antonio was suffering from pneumonia. But, Clegg told me: ‘They kept pumping him full of antibiotics and he just got iller and iller.’

In an increasingly desperate race against time, Antonio was transferred to another two hospitals — but even there, no one could explain why he wasn’t responding to treatment. His life was visibly ebbing away.

‘There was a moment when we thought we were going to lose him, which was just horrific,’ Clegg continues.  ‘And then, finally, we got him to a specialist hospital, and they drained his left lung which was full of pus. He had pleurisy that got out of hand.’

Although the Cleggs were living in Brussels at the time, his family rallied round, flying over to offer support. ‘It was just a shocking time,’ says Paul, Clegg’s elder brother.  ‘If you see a baby of that age really struggling, this is as personal as it gets. It was a shocking reminder about how tenuous life can be.’

Then, hard on the heels of Antonio’s near-fatal misdiagnosis, Clegg’s wife Miriam went into hospital to give birth to their second son, Alberto. The delivery, however, went horribly wrong and she was left fighting for her life.

Though Miriam and Antonio eventually pulled through, it’s little wonder that the Deputy Prime Minister remembers 2004 as ‘a horrible year’.

You can read the whole extract from the book here.

UPDATE: You can read Mark Pack’s review of Nick Clegg: The Biography here and you can buy it from Amazon here.

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  • How does the title relate to the content of your article?

  • Patrick Smith 18th Aug '11 - 4:46pm

    I have read bios. of Paddy Ashdown,Shirley Williams,Ming Campbell,Alan Beith,J.S Mill and now Nick Clegg, who I consider to be Liberal,rare,talented and gifted and speaks languages and is very able to take the Country to better days!

  • I’m waiting for the autobiography. Nick Clegg – My Struggle: The journey from Westminster to Westminster.

  • What a pity the Mail on Sunday was the chosen newspaper to serialise this! Why not the Independent or the Guardian?

  • In relation to the article the title is a ridculous piece of hyperbole.

    Is this an “authorised work” with input from Nick? If so, as he has been struggling for time to run his “department” and his party (which it would seem as he’s dropped the ball on major pieces of detail like forestry privatisation and NHS reform) – how come he has had time for a bit of vanity publishing?

  • Dominic Carman 19th Aug '11 - 11:41am

    re: @Rebekah

    ‘What a pity the Mail on Sunday was the chosen newspaper to serialise this! Why not the Independent or the Guardian?’

    Serialisation rights are sold by a book publisher to the highest bidder. Associated Newspapers (publishers of the Daily Mail & Mail on Sunday) have much deeper pockets than the Guardian and Independent, both of which are suffering badly from substantially diminished print advertising revenues and falling circulation.

  • @Dominic – only because the writer agrees to that though (albeit that a publisher might not want to be so fetter or pay less of an advance)

  • dominic carman 19th Aug '11 - 3:40pm


    You make an important point re: exposure.

    Equally, the readership of the Daily Mail (circulation: 2,117,030; readership: 4,705,000) is nearly three times that of the Guardian (readership: 1,154,000) and Independent (readership: 505,000) combined. (Source NRS/ABC). It is worth adding that exposure of Nick Clegg’s biography, via the Daily Mail, to non-Liberal Democrat voters is arguably more important than preaching to the converted: nearly 90% of all Daily Mail readers do not vote Lib Dem, according to recent surveys.

  • Well, well… not exactly an image of Nick Clegg that will endear him to the stereotypical Daily Mail reader (but I guess we have established that they must have plenty of readers who don’t fit the stereotype).

    I think Hywel’s complaint about Nick Clegg giving interviews to a biographer is a bit over the top in any case (check out ‘Cameron on Cameron’ for a comparison) – but given the extracts we get here, it doesn’t look like he gave much time to this project. Most of the stuff that seems new is apparently taken from interviews with other people, and quite a few of the details we get from his own point of view seem awfully familiar from earlier articles about him…

    I have to say, this extract looks rather tedious – how much of this is relevant to anything? I think it would be fascinating to read, if he is ever willing to publish it, Clegg’s own version of what he did ever since 2005. But this looks more like shallow celebrity journalism… and I am not looking forward to the many little ‘gems’ people will no doubt find in this account to quote in spiteful commentaries…

    It seems that for interesting personal insights into politics, I am going to have to stick with Chris Mullin for now.

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