21 Sep 2010

Night and day with Mr and Mrs Clegg

Late night in Liverpool – ran into Mr and Mrs Clegg at a midnight party on the fringes of the Lib Dem conference here. Clegg himself revived after his speech.

Seems a nice enough guy close up. But hard to stay rooted to the spot as his wife Miriam González Durántez passes though my field of vision in an unmissable red number. Haven’t met her before and we talk for a bit.

Hard to gauge across the Hispanic cultural divide whether she has a droll sense of humour, or a combative countenance. It could be either on show when I suggest that, for a career international lawyer, she must at least have felt safe in the assumption that in marrying a UK Liberal Democrat he would never become Deputy Prime Minister. I dig deeper, suggesting that – now that he had – it must be a bit of a shock to the system.

“Rubbish”, she says. “I always expected him to go to the top. I’m not remotely surprised that he has become Deputy Prime Minister.”

“In fact,” she adds, “I always expected him to become PRIME Minister – and I still do!”

“You are a patronising man,” she quips. I respond: “And you are a true romantic!” We agree to settle for a score draw. A formidable and attractive force she is.

This morning, 7.45: back in the conference centre to interview Mr Clegg ahead of his run to Heathrow and take-off for the UN General Assembly.

He’s wondering when he will ever come back. He has the millennium goals meeting and then is supposed to speak on Friday at the UN. But he follows Ahmadinejad and Chavez – either of whom may speak for several hours – so he fears his speech may take until Saturday to deliver.

I ask him about the free schools and academies vote that he lost at the conference yesterday. He suggests his party doesn’t understand the issues – and says he’ll work on changing his party on the issue rather than the government.

Lots of other good stuff…banking, poverty and the rest. Oh, and making IKEA cabinets with Cameron on the floor of Number Ten.

Tweets by @jonsnowC4