“Durántezmania – that has legs” and other compliments for Miriam

Miriam González Durántez by Cabinet OfficeIt seems that Miriam González Durántez’s interview the other day has impressed a couple of Fleet Street columnists.

In the Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff says Miriam is “electrifying.”:

I’ve seen Miriam talking to girls at an Essex comp about raising their sights. She was electrifying. In a world where successful women are regularly portrayed as ball-breakers, lonely, or just underdressed, she makes working motherhood look thrillingly fun and achievable, if not easy. (She’s big on graft). And for teenage girls, she explodes the myth that men won’t want you if you’re clever. She doesn’t rush, surrendered wife-style, to kiss Clegg for the cameras after a party conference speech: she waits for him to come to her – and he does.

In person she’s funny, frank, mischievous, and enviably fearless. She doesn’t care how people judge her: she simply can’t see why she can’t have what men have, professionally and personally (which is of course why a certain kind of man hates her).

For Claire Cohen in the Telegraph, it’s Miriam’s authenticity and her ability to sum up what we all think hat makes her “worship the ground she walks on”:

That’s what makes Miriam so intriguing. We know relatively little about her (on paper: 46, Spanish, Roman Catholic, a successful corporate lawyer) and yet when she does speak it seems absolutely genuine. Rather than an ‘act’ one gets the sense that, on these rare occasions, we’re seeing the real person and not the ‘wife’. I just don’t believe that she’s faking it at all.

Listening to her opinions is like a session putting the world to rights with your best friend, over a bottle of Spanish red.

 

Photo by Cabinet Office

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74 Comments

  • Is there now a deliberate party strategy to promote Miriam? And what does that say about the calibre of women within the party?

  • paul barker 19th Oct '14 - 2:39pm

    @Hywel. a No. b Nothing.
    Note to self, remind daughter to read interview.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 19th Oct '14 - 3:08pm

    No, Hywel, it’s me posting stuff that might inspire people. Miriam, and many other women within the party, talk a huge amount of sense and they tend not to get promoted by the party anything like enough.

  • David Evershed 19th Oct '14 - 3:18pm

    Is Miriam a party member?

    And if so, which party?

  • Tony Dawson 19th Oct '14 - 3:26pm

    I recall an earlier ‘charismatic-presenter’ UK political party leader who had an arguably more intelligent high-achieving Catholic lawyer for a wife. And then, of course, in the US there was/is Hilary Rodham who is a prayer-circle conservative Methodist but shares other characteristics besides the type of husband she married.

  • “she makes working motherhood look thrillingly fun and achievable, if not easy. (She’s big on graft).”

    Isn’t she also big on employing domestic staff? I’m not sure how much of a role model for working mothers she is, since she enjoys huge privileges that the vast majority of working mothers can only dream of.

  • She’s from an even more privileged background than Nick Clegg, isn’t she?

  • David Evershed 19th Oct ’14 – 3:18pm
    David, you asked — ” Is Miriam a party member? And if so, which party? ”

    According to the book ‘The Clegg Coup’ Miriam’s father ( A conservative Senator of the party the Central Democratic Union) was a firm supporter of Margaret Thatcher.
    Miriam herself worked for Conservative Grandee Chris Patten whilst her husband to be worked for that other Conservative Grandee Leon Brittan on the recommendation of a third Grandee of The Conservative Party, Lord Carrington.
    According to page 56 of the book, Miriam says of Clegg that she has “always been a notch to the right of him politically, a legacy of her conservative father”.

    Hope the background is helpful? It does not answer your question directly. But there may be some clues in there somewhere.

  • Ed Shepherd 19th Oct '14 - 5:28pm

    Of course, the biggest obstacle to women from humble backgrounds acheiving things professionally is the same one that confronts men from humble backgrounds: lack of money. It costs tens of thousands of pounds to become a corporate lawyer, for instance. The women from this Essex comprehensive will have to face borrowing tens of thousands of pounds to take a degree then further tens of thousands of pounds if they need to do post-graduate study and do low-paid or unpaid “internships.” Then even if they get through all that and are tens of thosusands in debt, they face the problem that their lack of useful family connections will hinder their ability to land the best jobs. It all boils down to money. “Raising one’s sights” will not change this sad fact. Lifelong education funded though progressive taxation and an end to professional “closed shops” is the only thing that will.

  • A Social Liberal 19th Oct '14 - 5:28pm

    Further to John Tilleys point, the Tories put something like this on their job adverts “You will be sympathetic with the views of the Conservative party.”.

    Now, Ms González Durántez may or may not have Lib Dem membership – and to be honest it doesn’t matter, she is a private person without position within the party. But how the hell did we come to elect a leader who either was “sympathetic with the views of the Conservative party.” or at least said he did in order to get the job with Brittan?

  • paul barker 19th Oct '14 - 5:36pm

    Hard to know where to start with some of the comments above. Say something positive about a strong woman & the usual response is a wave of snide, bitchy & misogynist comments from men. Libdem sites are no different, sadly.
    I would reccomend deleting all the comments so far & starting again.

  • David Allen 19th Oct '14 - 5:46pm

    “I would reccomend deleting all the comments so far & starting again.”

    I would recommend a quiet word in paul barker’s ear, rather than the removal of his comment. But then you see, I’m a bit of a liberal…

  • @David
    She was a registered libdem member in my local party a few years ago. I’ve moved since so don’t know if she’s still is.

  • Paul barker
    Which comments in particular did you think were — “snide, bitchy & misogynist” ??
    There is another article current in LDV on Lynne Featherstone. It is very positive about a strong woman. A woman with some very real plitical achievements to her name.
    It does not seem to have drawn what you describe as “the usual response”‘ of a wave of snide, bitchy & misogynist comments.
    Why do you think that is?

  • A Social Liberal 19th Oct '14 - 6:46pm

    Or possibly, Simon, the fact that Featherstone never worked for the Conservatives?

  • Tsar Nicolas 19th Oct '14 - 8:14pm

    I’m in arrears with my mortgage – how is she going to help?

  • Malcolm Todd 19th Oct '14 - 8:47pm

    Simon Shaw
    “Most of us never worked for the Conservatives. Who are you implying did so, and with what evidence?”

    I presume A Social Liberal is referring to the fact (referenced above by John Tilley) that Miriam Gonzalez Durantez worked for a Conservative Commissioner, which, he implies, is a valid reason for the different responses to this article as compared to the one on Lynne Featherstone. Hope that helps.

  • Eddie Sammon 19th Oct '14 - 8:58pm

    I’m all for promoting women, especially at the moment, but when terms like “misogynist” are thrown at men in the party and on the website it turns relations sour and begins to spoil debate.

    Of course, there are some misogynists, and especially misogynist click bait, but the term is used too often.

    Having said that, I am surprised by the mini fire-storm under this article. The quality of some comments are awful, but how do we improve this without stifling debate? It’s one to think about.

  • Eddie Sammon 19th Oct '14 - 9:03pm

    By the way, one of the things I enjoyed about Miriam’s interview in the Standard was that I didn’t sense an ounce of prejudice against men, I didn’t feel personally attacked, as some feminist interviews have made me feel. Although I didn’t agree with everything she said, I didn’t feel offended and I think a lot of people could learn such skills, including me at times.

  • I have a very intelligent daughter but she is only 7, so this kind of thing of choosing appropriate role models is a bit in the future, but its something I am generally keeping an eye on.

    I don’t really see Mrs Clegg (or Mrs Obama) as a role model when we are only talking about her due to her relationship with a man. It reminds me of a thing about Anne Sinclair (of France) in “The Week” recently which said (from bad memory) – Anne Sinclair is seen in English speaking countries just as the woman wronged by DSK, when actually she is a woman of substance. Her father was …. — again defining her by a relationship to another man.

  • @ Simon Shaw.

    The article you refer to supports the view that I put forward. Financial support from firms andfor those training to be corporate solicitors is normally only available to the small number of students who can get a training contract with big firms. The award of those training contracts is strongly biased towards those from a privileged background. The girls from that Essex comprehensive are at a big disadvantage if they wish to follow such a path.

  • Ed Shepherd 19th Oct ’14 – 11:16pm
    The article you refer to supports the view that I put forward. Financial support from firms for those training to be corporate solicitors is normally only available to the small number of students who can get a training contract with big firms.

    Ed Shepherd, I know virtually nothing about this subject but friends of mine who do say that your interpretation is spot on. I am told that it is always helpful to have a family member or family friend already working in the corporate solicitors where a would be trainee. An unpaid internship effectively funded by Mummy and Daddy can also be useful. The English class system works in subtle ways not already obvious to the more gullible who think they can post a link to a website which on the surface offers told wealth to anyone who wants to train to be a solicitor.

    It is all a bit like getting a job with a Conservative Grandee. It helps enormously if your parents live next door to Lord Carrington. Unfortunately for most of us there are no Lord Carringtons living next door to our parents.

  • Liberal Neil 20th Oct '14 - 8:25am

    As she is an adult in her own right, I’m not sure in what way the views of her father, or a former employer, are relevant to her own political views.

    My father is a staunch Conservative, no-one’s ever questioned my liberalism on that basis.

    She seems to have had a very successful career, and if she is now spending some of her time inspiring girls to broaden their ambitions then that’s a pretty good thing in my book.

  • A Social Liberal 20th Oct '14 - 10:42am

    Simon, Liberal Neil

    all advertisements for jobs within the Conservative party (and for that matter Labour – but not the Liberal Democrats, unless it is in the application pack) demand that an applicant have sympathies with the aims of that party. I quote a Tory advert “You will be sympathetic with the views of the Conservative party.”, and a labour one “The post holder will have a strong commitment to the Labour Party”

  • Did Clegg not work for Brittan at the EU, in which circumstance party orientation would surely not matter.

    Good job ordinary voters don’t read this stuff.

  • Regardless of what you think of privileged, wealthy and conservative women telling girls in state schools they too can succeed without the benefit of privilege, wealth and political connections, surely there’s something terribly wrong with promoting somebody as a role model just because they are somebody else’s wife?

  • Tsar Nicolas 20th Oct '14 - 11:21am

    @Robin Lynn

    “Did Clegg not work for Brittan at the EU?”

    Yes, and that indicates to me that NC has been a Tory all along.

  • First comment is appalling.

    Mrs Clegg is incorrect nomenclature, that is not her name. The normal sticklers for facts and evidence don’t appear to have picked this up..

    @ Liberal Neil “My father is a staunch Conservative, no-one’s ever questioned my liberalism on that basis.” Same here, tho no doubt my gender will cause people to be concerned I don’t have a mind of my own.

  • @ Paul Barker “Hard to know where to start with some of the comments above. Say something positive about a strong woman & the usual response is a wave of snide, bitchy & misogynist comments from men. Libdem sites are no different, sadly. I would reccomend deleting all the comments so far & starting again.”

    Hear, hear. It’s an embarrassment., quite frankly.

  • Is the argument genuinely being made here that no one who has been associated with another political party should be allowed to be a Lib Dem? I can think of a certain Cabinet member who falls foul of this, although it might be one that “A Social Liberal” is pretty sympathetic towards!

  • To Richard S (above) Give your 7 year old daughter Lynne Featherstone as role model 🙂 she is 100% her own person 🙂

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 20th Oct '14 - 1:13pm

    I think this thread is proof of the culture of casual sexism in this party. We post something good about a successful, inspirational Lib Dem who is doing a great deal to motivate women and girls both inside and outside the party and all we get is a stream of objectionable comments implying that her views might be akin to those of her father’s and her background.

    I thought liberals were against that sort of thing.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 20th Oct '14 - 1:19pm

    And also, Lib Dem job adverts have the same thing.

  • Peter Watson 20th Oct '14 - 1:32pm

    @Simon Shaw “Who are you suggesting ever worked for the Conservative party?”
    My guess is that the original posters mean that Clegg and his wife worked for EU ministers who were prominent tories, and that you would mercilessly skewer them over the distinction between working for a Conservative and working for the Conservative Party. Hopefully that has saved everyone a little time 😉

  • +1 for what Caron and Louise Ankers have said.

  • Article: Miriam visited a school and inspired people and was pretty decent.

    Average person: “Good on her” / “She sounds cool” / “Well done her” / “That’s nice.”

    LDV comments: *HISSSSSSSSSSSS* ANOTHER SHE-THING APPROACHES! BLAAAARRRRGH

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 20th Oct '14 - 3:08pm

    @kat: Best summary so far. Applause.

  • SImon Shaw,

    my points, which I admit I’m guilty of making obliquely are these:

    The Liberal Democrats do not have a single woman within their ranks, with an upbringing that most people in the country can identify with, who has sufficient public profile to be the subject of fawning newspaper interviews.

    Rich, conservative foreign lawyers are of little interest to newspapers (at least as the subject of stories), what makes Miriam González Durántez stand out is her husband. They are interested in her, not because of her achievements, but because of who her husband is.

  • Jane Mactaggart 20th Oct '14 - 3:19pm

    Kat – that’s why many women don’t want to get involved with LDV debates, cost they aren’t debates at all!

  • Peter Watson 20th Oct '14 - 3:26pm

    @kat:
    Or …
    Someone visited a school and was pretty decent.
    Average person: shrug
    LDV response: it’s a woman, wow! who knew they could do that? it’s so inspirational
    or, she’s wealthy and/or is a bit right-wing and/or is married to Clegg, boooo
    or, you’re criticising a woman: you’re a misogynist

  • Caron Lindsay (along with Lousie Ankers, ATF and Liberal Neil)

    Some key points that you are missing which seem to betray a gap in your logic.
    1. The only reason we are discussing Miriam is because she is married to Nick Clegg. The Evening Standard would not have interviewed her if she was simply someone from The City making speeches at Girls Schools. She is not a prominent Liberal Democrat who has Liberal Democrat achievements to her name (unlike Lynne Featherstone or Jenny Tonge — see earlier comment). She is someone that the media has an interest in because she is married to Nick Clegg. Some people would regard that as a example of sexism — which I thought Liberal Democrats were against.
    2. She says of herself to the author of The Clegg Coup (see earlier comment) see page 56 of the book, in comparison to Clegg — she has “always been a notch to the right of him politically, a legacy of her conservative father”.
    Nobody has casually suggested that just because her father was a Conservative she must be as well, this is what she herself said about herself to the author of a book written only a couple of years ago.

    So I think you are fundamentally wrong to conclude — “…this thread is proof of the culture of casual sexism ..”.
    If during her many years as a leading Liberal Democrat councillor, MP, member of the House of Lords either the Evening Standard or indeed LDV had done a similar interview with the husband of Dr Jenny Tonge ( her husband was also a doctor with very real achievements to his name) one might suppose that it was perfectly normal to give such prominence to the partners of leading politicians. It is not, thank goodness.

    I liked the idea that Miriam did not play the role of politician’s celebrity wife and admired the fact that she kept out of the limelight for the first few years, avoiding all those nauseating photo ops that the Cameron’s and The Blairs have brought into UK politics.
    Unfortunately now that Miriam has teamed up with Samantha Cameron to copy what Michelle Obama has been doing as “First Lady” with accompanying interviews and photo-ops, I think you are on very weak ground praising this whilst failing to recognise why others might be uneasy about it.
    This is not feminism, this is perpetuating the role of the “politician’s wife”. Surely that is the opposite of feminism.

    The constituency I live in may be unique in having elected two Liberal Democrat women in three of the last four general elections, until May having a woman MEP ( for years always 1st on our regional list of candidates ) and having a woman leader of our local council group. There is much to do to improve the balance in the party between women and men; we could start by having fewer parliamentary candidates from all male public schools. A moratorium on public school boys being fast-tracked into parliament would help much more than throwing around lazy suggestions of culture of casual discrimination against women.

  • Peter Watson
    Even better, best summary so far! Even more applause!

  • @Kat
    “*HISSSSSSSSSSSS* ANOTHER SHE-THING APPROACHES! BLAAAARRRRGH”

    Isn’t that the reaction of the typical Lib Dem selection committee when they see a woman? It’s a shame feminists within the Lib Dem movement don’t get nearly as worked up about the lack of opportunities for women within their own party as they do about some of the comments here, most of which are perfectly valid.

    I don’t question for one second that Miriam GD is an admirable woman, and her “Inspiring Women” campaign is genuinely worthy. But is a woman with domestic servants really the best person to hold up as an attainable example of working motherhood? Not on this planet. I don’t blame Miriam for this – my comment was aimed squarely at the Guardian writer who I quoted.

  • Miriam may have started out to the media as Clegg’s wife but she’s managed to carve out her own identity since, hence why they now feel comfortable using her actual name. They cover her because she actually does things that are newsworthy.

    Yes, being the DPM’s wife adds some flavour to the story but it’s not the substance of it. She’s not just “out doing photo ops”, she gets invited to do speeches and seminars as a top international lawyer, a great public speaker and an empowered woman.

  • If DenisThatcher had done a similar tour of schools how would people have responded?

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Oct '14 - 3:03am

    I used to be a director of a gender balanced co-op at university and I’ve just checked up on it and it is still gender balanced, five years later. I am sure the students have heard of feminism now, but back then I had never heard of it and none of us ever spoke about it. We didn’t even think about gender balance, we just promoted who we thought were best and that was how it turned out.

    I’m not suggesting applying university tactics of the past to the Liberal Democrats of today, but it challenges the idea that all this tension between men and women is necessarily. It certainly didn’t exist back then. I used to live with women too and we seemed to speak to each other more maturely than a lot of people do in the Liberal Democrats today.

    Here is a link:

    http://www.enactuslancaster.org/meet-the-team.html

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Oct '14 - 3:08am

    Check out the pictures, race and gender equality in our little co-op, as it was back then. Things were so much better back then.

    http://www.enactuslancaster.org/national-competition-2014.html

  • Peter Watson 21st Oct '14 - 7:47am

    In terms of misogyny and casual sexism, for me the most disturbing comment is the concluding point in Hinsliff’s article which refers to Durantezmania as having legs, and that is something celebrated in the title of this page.

  • Eddie Sammon
    I was fascinated by your links to Lancaster University. My daughter has just started her fourth year studying there.

    I am not making a political point but you might be interested in a couple of observations when she first arrived there as an eighteen year old fresh out of the suburbs of London.
    Observation one — “Everybody in Lancaster is SO white except for a few Chinese students!!!”
    Observation two — “There is a lot of conversational, casual racism from students who come from rural villages in Yorkshire and have never actually talked to a brown person in their Iives.”

    By way of background – she left home for university having spent her secondary school years in a year group where the largest religious affiliation was Hindu and one friend had parents who were Japanese/German and another friend had parents who were from Sweden and Ghana., and being in Kingston several were Korean.
    Not too typical of South West London maybe but very different from some other parts of England.

  • Liberal Neil 21st Oct '14 - 8:33am

    g – Dorothy Thornhill, Annette Brook, Jo Swinson, Jenny Willott, Sarah Teather & Kirsty Williams all spring to mind.

  • Liberal Neil

    g – Dorothy Thornhill, Annette Brook, Jo Swinson, Jenny Willott, Sarah Teather & Kirsty Williams all spring to mind.

    That proves my point. How many of them have the profile of Ms González Durántez? Jo Swinson, maybe in the past? But not for a few years, and she’ll lose her seat in May. Sarah Teather used to have a profile, until she quit in protest, and now she’s leaving parliament too.

    The others, competent and senior though they be, are not exactly as well known as Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander, David Laws, Tim Farron, Vince Cable or Simon Hughes, all names I thought of as I was writing this sentence.

  • Hannah Bettsworth 21st Oct '14 - 10:32am

    @Liberal Neil

    I’m going to add Alison McInnes and Christine Jardine to that list 🙂

    Not to mention there’s so many awesome female activists I know who don’t have the media profile that they totally deserve!

  • John Tilley

    Well Dennis could talk about rugby, cricket , golf and fighting in WW2 ; so could probably engage with many pupils. I expect Dennis could coach rugby to a high standard as he was a referee.

  • A Social Liberal 21st Oct '14 - 1:06pm

    I concur with John Tilleys points, and cheer Hannah Bettsworths post !

  • Thomas Long

    “Yes, being the DPM’s wife adds some flavour to the story but it’s not the substance of it. She’s not just “out doing photo ops”, she gets invited to do speeches and seminars as a top international lawyer, a great public speaker and an empowered woman.”

    You are just kidding yourself. Miriam may be an outstanding role model for young girls, but she will have been invited to this school and given all the media coverage because she is married to Nick Clegg. If she were DPM and Nick Clegg was invited to a local school it would be because he was married to the DPM, no other reason. Corporate lawyers – male or female – just don’t get invited to schools , so yes this is just a photo opportunity organised no doubt by the LibDems PR team.

  • Helen Tedcastle 21st Oct '14 - 2:51pm

    @ Eddie Sammon: ” I used to be a director of a gender balanced co-op at university and I’ve just checked up on it and it is still gender balanced, five years later. I am sure the students have heard of feminism now, but back then I had never heard of it and none of us ever spoke about it. ”

    As the link you provided was dated 2014, I take it that in 2011 you hadn’t heard of ‘feminism.’ When I was at university in the 1980s, (Lancaster), feminism was well understood and discussed, often robustly. It still is – in fact there are courses on it in most universities.

    It is useful to be aware of these pertinent issues.

    The party is very fortunate indeed to have Miriam. Yes, she might have only been brought to national attention because of her marriage to Nick Clegg but she has proven herself to be an excellent role model for young girls and women. In comparison to other high profile ‘political wives’ in British politics, she is outstanding.

    When we are in the position to talk about the husbands of female leaders of Westminster parties, (other than the late Denis Thatcher), we can discuss and assess their contribution.

  • Helen Tedcastle 21st Oct '14 - 2:54pm

    Correction to previous comment: As the link you provided was dated 2014, I take it that in 2011 you hadn’t heard of ‘feminism’ should read : ‘… I take it that in 2009 you had n’t heard of ‘feminism’…

  • It’s rather unusual that three such poor political leaders have such popular and well regarded wives – I wish they would do a job swap.

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Oct '14 - 9:44pm

    Hi Helen, I’ve found a photo of me in it and our diverse team! This year we were led by the woman under the I. I am on the very back row second from right. I was a director along with her and the guy standing above the F.

    It was called SIFE, rather than Enactus back then. The point is that gender equality and more can be achieved without a lot of the arguing that goes on in the Liberal Democrats. However, I appreciate it is much easier at a university organisation.

    Here is the pic: http://www.sifeuk.org/files/files/FINAL%20annual08.pdf

  • @malc
    “Miriam may be an outstanding role model for young girls, but she will have been invited to this school and given all the media coverage because she is married to Nick Clegg. If she were DPM and Nick Clegg was invited to a local school it would be because he was married to the DPM, no other reason.”

    You’re right about the media coverage, but not about the invite.

    In fact my wife used to do much the same thing as MGD, though obviously without the attendant publicity. Local schools were pleased to invite her in and talk to the kids about her job, which was nursing – not as well paid as corporate law, obviously, but “successful” and “inspiring” in other ways.

  • Stuart

    Fair point. I have heard of women from the armed forces and police also being invited to secondary schools and think it’s a great idea. From my own experience in the RAF I saw thousands of women having good and successful careers, but young women need to be made aware of the opportunities. I wasn’t meaning to have a go at Miriam – who I’m sure gave a very interesting talk – but I’d stake my life that this was arranged by the LibDems. I don’t blame them she’s an asset and lets face facts they don’t have many of those.

  • Helen Tedcastle 22nd Oct '14 - 4:33pm

    @ Eddie Sammon
    ‘ The point is that gender equality and more can be achieved without a lot of the arguing that goes on in the Liberal Democrats. However, I appreciate it is much easier at a university organisation.’

    Nice photo and I don’t dispute that you had a good experience. However, if women had simply not argued with men in the past, I doubt there would be equal voting rights and legislation for equal pay.

    Also, it is not always the case that university students are not sexist. If only we could all just be friends and that there wasn’t subconscious or even conscious sexism in the workplace, in politics, in most areas of British life.

    Unfortunately, not all men are as enlightened as you are.

  • Eddie Sammon 23rd Oct '14 - 12:29am

    Hi Helen, thanks. I agree that equality needs to be fought for. I am not a sexism denier, I was just trying to show the other side of the story.

    Your point about feminism being discussed in Lancaster in the 80s is an interesting one. Until 2012 I lived a narrow life and it didn’t make me happy.

    Best wishes

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