Cleggers, you mummy’s boy, don’t be such a wet dishcloth!
09:00 GMT, 12 March 2012
Over less than two years, Nick Clegg has morphed from clean-cut darling of the pre-election debates to a wet flannel.
In April 2010, he impressed us with his charm, good looks and his easy manner, scoring an astonishing 51 per cent in some polls after the first showdown.
Flash forward to 2012, after months of snatched shopping raids for supper and guilt-driven school runs that are all part of the shared parenting of his three sons with his successful wife Miriam.
Under pressure: Nick Clegg pictured with his successful wife Miriam
On top of everything, he tells us their three-year-old is waking him up at 5.30am. Factor in the endless squabbling with Tory coalition partners in Cabinet — not to mention his fractious fellow Lib Dems — the meltdown over tuition fees, the interminable haggling over the NHS reforms and the furious debates about how to extract more tax from the wealthy to give to the less fortunate, and it’s no wonder he constantly looks like he is about to burst into tears.
Even his wife admits her husband is
‘killing himself’ trying to cope. Cleggers has put on weight, looks
stressed out, and that confident chap of 2010 has been replaced with a
ashen-faced, middle-aged workaholic torn by conflicting demands.
Transformation: Nick Clegg pictured in 2010 (left) and today (right)
Last week, he was photographed at the Stock Exchange on International Women’s Day, gurning alongside a ludicrous line-up that included a black model and an interior decorator. What that achieved for women or the Lib Dems I do not know, especially as a new survey reveals that female executives earn 10 per cent less than men for doing exactly the same job, and women are still woefully under-represented at boardroom level in British business.
Ordinary men find it hard enough to juggle work and family, but Clegg has another problem to contend with — a bossy back-seat mum.
Last week, the Deputy Prime Minister confessed to school children that — even at the age of 45, holding down the second most powerful job in British politics — he gets an email each day from his mum issuing orders about what he should be doing.
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That’s as well as a bright wife
putting in her five bob’s worth, and the Grande Dame of the Lib Dems,
Shirley Williams, gaining plenty of accolades for her bitterly fought
amendments to the NHS reform bill.
is a male feminist, but the time has come to man up, start thinking for
himself, putting his foot down and exhibiting a bit more muscle. Nick
Clegg’s mother Hermance was only six when she was taken to a Japanese
prisoner-of-war camp, which must have been a life-changing experience.
He still speaks to her in Dutch and they are clearly very close. Even so, the best present a mum can give to her son or daughter is to not interfere. As I rose up the career ladder, Mum was always offering advice about what to wear, who to date and what job to take.
From the moment I left home, I adopted one consistent policy: doing the complete opposite to any of her ‘helpful’ edicts. If you want to succeed in business, politics or anything else, you have to listen to your own instincts and sod everyone else. Nick Clegg is like one of those expensive sponges you can buy in the supermarket — it soaks up everything on contact but soon is a nasty-smelling rag you chuck in the bin.
Yes, I know Mother’s Day is coming up — and mums are wonderful, but politicians don’t need theirs telling them what to do. Worse, they shouldn’t be blabbing about it. Nick Clegg reveals too much about his daily routine, and it’s irrelevant.
He lives in a swanky house in leafy South-West London. He was privately educated and speaks five languages, but I think he harps on about his daily struggles because he (wrongly) thinks it makes him seem more ‘like’ one of us. Forget it. Politicians are well paid to get on with running the country, but Cameron and Clegg think revealing what telly they like, what music makes them cry and what they cook makes us warm to them. Sadly, it has the opposite effect.
I know Nick Clegg wants to means-test pensioners, even though the recession means more and more of us are forced to work into our 70s. I know he would like to tax people like me who have put all their hard-earned cash into a decent house. I know he doesn’t want to give married couples tax breaks.
That’s why, Mr Clegg, you have all the appeal of a wet dishcloth, even if you are following your mum’s orders to the letter.
Chicken recipe fit for a royal
Coronation chicken — an irresistible combination of mayo, curry powder and cold meat — was created when the Queen was crowned in 1953. Now, the National Farmers Union is launching a competition to find a new chicken recipe to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. If it reflects popular taste, then chicken tikka will be the winner, although I don’t know if Buckingham Palace orders takeaways.
Madonna, don’t preach!
Madonna has a new album to promote
Madonna has a new album to promote. Cue interviews about her ‘struggle’ as a single mum and the unimaginable demands on her time (she’s sounding a bit like Cleggers) combining career and family.
She wants her work ethic to be a positive example to other women around the world. No thanks! If it means spending hours in the gym, signing up to a religious philosophy that requires endless attendance of classes, existing on a militant diet and endlessly ripping off ideas from anyone 30 years younger, forget it.
Madonna has got where she is by exterminating anything that stepped in her path, supported by a staff who carry out her every whim. Fact: she decided to adopt two kids. Fact: she decided to marry and then divorce.
She’s a control freak of the highest order (I was surprised she didn’t run the catering on her film WE — after all, she co-wrote it, directed it and lent the production furniture and jewellery, and it was still a flop), and I salute that, but I wish she wouldn’t hold herself up as someone women should emulate.
Time to Bea serious
graduate Princess Beatrice is said to be desperate to join her dad on
his forthcoming trip to India, part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee
celebrations. Who wouldn’t fancy a five-star luxury freebie
Unemployed: Princess Beatrice
A better plan might be to a take a
regular job instead of hanging out in nightclubs accompanied by
bodyguards that taxpayers have to fund.
understand that seven out of ten workers at the sandwich chain Pret A
Manger in London have degrees — so how about flogging wraps and lattes,
BBC creates portrait of life in modern Britain
BBC has launched The Listening Project, which aims to create a
portrait of life in modern Britain by recording thousands of snatches of
everyday conversation and broadcasting them on Radio 4.
can be submitted on-line and the results stored at the British Library.
David Kynaston’s book Austerity Britain was a compulsively readable
account of the post-War years based on recordings, but these days the
art of chat is dying fast. Sadly, a lot of us just email, tweet and
text, and the days when you could spend the whole of Sunday morning
wittering on the phone to friends and family are long gone. Will ‘I’m on
the train’ or ‘LOL’ be how 2012 gets remembered for posterity
Style icon No, sheer disaster
Sarah Jessica Parker is not just a slave to fashion, she’s a misguided victim. How else to explain this ghastly mish-mash she wore in Paris last week — a white lace top with a black bra underneath, white TOWIE stilettos and white gloves She looks like an albino stick insect, instead of a beautiful woman who could put on a few pounds.
Style icon Sarah Jessica Parker pictured in Paris last week