Not a Kellogg's family. Photo: Getty
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Miriam González Durántez hits out at the "victim complex" of politicians and their families in the public eye

The international trade lawyer and wife of the Deputy Prime Minister discusses election campaign scrutiny, defending her husband's record, and protecting her family from the public eye.

Miriam González Durántez, the international trade lawyer and wife of Nick Clegg, has done a live webchat with Mumsnet. In it, she speaks frankly about family life during the election campaign and her experience as a politician's wife.

Her strongest words were aimed at those politicians painting themselves as victims of media scrutiny:

Having been married to Nick, the Deputy Prime Minister of this country for the last five years, and seeing British politics so close-by has been a privilege. I do not agree 'at all' with the victim complex that seems to be applied recently to some politicians and their families. If there are difficult times we deal with them together as a family, as I suppose most families do. But I can guarantee you that most of what families of politicians go through is nothing in comparison to the issues that other families have to deal with.

But probably the most exciting revelation, which she feared would land her in trouble with Lib Dem press officers – "when my husband's advisers learn this they are going to freak out!" – was her recipe blog. She has been teaching her children (three sons called Antonio, Alberto and Miguel) to cook, and running a food blog with them for three years called "Mum and Sons".

Yet in spite of what sounds like quite an idyllic homelife, González Durántez won't be forced to portray a certain image of her life with her husband for political purposes:

I have always accepted public scrutiny provided I am not asked to pretend we are a Kellogs family, because we are not one. 

She and Clegg have indeed been quite reticent about making their private life public, never releasing pictures of their children, and generally protecting them from the press. As a Spanish citizen, González Durántez can't even vote for her husband in the general election.

However, she did appear recently (as the other two main party leaders' wives have done) in an interview set in their kitchen. She's also been out campaigning with some of the women running for Lib Dem seats, and hinted at political aspirations of her own during her Mumsnet chat:

I cannot even vote in this country, so there is no chance I could be a candidate. Though I would tell you this; I would have given my right arm to have been able to do for my country what Nick has done for his. 

As well as cooking, González Durántez filled us in on her television preferences. In terms of courtroom dramas, she enjoys The Good Wife more than Suits (joking that by "Daily Mail standards she would be the Bad Wife!"), and would have preferred a different actor playing her husband in Channel 4's recent film about the coalition: "I only watched the end . . . and still think George Clooney would have been a so much better fictional husband!"

I've yet to hear back from the actor who played Clegg, Bertie Carvel, for comment...

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

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Labour's establishment suspects a Momentum conspiracy - they're right

Bernie Sanders-style organisers are determined to rewire the party's machine.  

If you wanted to understand the basic dynamics of this year’s Labour leadership contest, Brighton and Hove District Labour Party is a good microcosm. On Saturday 9 July, a day before Angela Eagle was to announce her leadership bid, hundreds of members flooded into its AGM. Despite the room having a capacity of over 250, the meeting had to be held in three batches, with members forming an orderly queue. The result of the massive turnout was clear in political terms – pro-Corbyn candidates won every position on the local executive committee. 

Many in the room hailed the turnout and the result. But others claimed that some in the crowd had engaged in abuse and harassment.The national party decided that, rather than first investigate individuals, it would suspend Brighton and Hove. Add this to the national ban on local meetings and events during the leadership election, and it is easy to see why Labour seems to have an uneasy relationship with mass politics. To put it a less neutral way, the party machine is in a state of open warfare against Corbyn and his supporters.

Brighton and Hove illustrates how local activists have continued to organise – in an even more innovative and effective way than before. On Thursday 21 July, the week following the CLP’s suspension, the local Momentum group organised a mass meeting. More than 200 people showed up, with the mood defiant and pumped up.  Rather than listen to speeches, the room then became a road test for a new "campaign meetup", a more modestly titled version of the "barnstorms" used by the Bernie Sanders campaign. Activists broke up into small groups to discuss the strategy of the campaign and then even smaller groups to organise action on a very local level. By the end of the night, 20 phonebanking sessions had been planned at a branch level over the following week. 

In the past, organising inside the Labour Party was seen as a slightly cloak and dagger affair. When the Labour Party bureaucracy expelled leftwing activists in past decades, many on went further underground, organising in semi-secrecy. Now, Momentum is doing the exact opposite. 

The emphasis of the Corbyn campaign is on making its strategy, volunteer hubs and events listings as open and accessible as possible. Interactive maps will allow local activists to advertise hundreds of events, and then contact people in their area. When they gather to phonebank in they will be using a custom-built web app which will enable tens of thousands of callers to ring hundreds of thousands of numbers, from wherever they are.

As Momentum has learned to its cost, there is a trade-off between a campaign’s openness and its ability to stage manage events. But in the new politics of the Labour party, in which both the numbers of interested people and the capacity to connect with them directly are increasing exponentially, there is simply no contest. In order to win the next general election, Labour will have to master these tactics on a much bigger scale. The leadership election is the road test. 

Even many moderates seem to accept that the days of simply triangulating towards the centre and getting cozy with the Murdoch press are over. Labour needs to reach people and communities directly with an ambitious digital strategy and an army of self-organising activists. It is this kind of mass politics that delivered a "no" vote in Greece’s referendum on the terms of the Eurozone bailout last summer – defying pretty much the whole of the media, business and political establishment. 

The problem for Corbyn's challenger, Owen Smith, is that many of his backers have an open problem with this type of mass politics. Rather than investigate allegations of abuse, they have supported the suspension of CLPs. Rather than seeing the heightened emotions that come with mass mobilisations as side-effects which needs to be controlled, they have sought to joins unconnected acts of harassment, in order to smear Jeremy Corbyn. The MP Ben Bradshaw has even seemed to accuse Momentum of organising a conspiracy to physically attack Labour MPs.

The real conspiracy is much bigger than that. Hundreds of thousands of people are arriving, enthusiastic and determined, into the Labour party. These people, and their ability to convince the communities of which they are a part, threaten Britain’s political equilibrium, both the Conservatives and the Labour establishment. When the greatest hope for Labour becomes your greatest nightmare, you have good call to feel alarmed.