“Can she legitimately claim to be left-wing when she’s married to a banker,” I found myself wondering the other day as I listened to a legal aid lawyer tell me of her horror at the impending funding cuts.
Certainly, she enjoys the benefits of her husband’s fat salary. And it was bankers, let’s not forget, who brought about the financial crisis that made all the cuts necessary in the first place.
Nick Clegg, who is married to big-earning City lawyer Miriam Gonzalez, suffers a similar credibility problem, having last week demanded that all MPs disclose their tax returns while insisting that his wife’s earnings are her business only.
Not that it’s hard to find out what sort of money Gonzalez pulls in. Profit per equity partner at her law firm, Dechert, stands at £1.3 million. While Gonzalez, who is head of the firm’s London-based EU Trade and EU Government Affairs practice, won’t be earning quite that much (such sums are reserved for the US firms’ top home-based partners), she is reported to be on well in excess of £500,000…
Corporate lawyers who get that sort of money don’t tend to worry too much about human rights – a notion particularly close to dear old Nick’s heart.
Gonzalez’s clients include Moroccan mining giant OCP, which is at the centre of international controversy over the treatment of the Sahrawi nomadic tribesmen of the Sahara.
Human rights champion The Daily Mail writes:
“Morocco, which runs the mining firm, annexed Western Sahara, where the tribesmen live, in 1975, enabling it to seize the world’s biggest phosphate reserves worth billions of pounds.
It embarked on a ruthless campaign of forced removals of Sahrawis to refugee camps and Moroccans were brought in to run the mines.
The United Nations has called for the ‘illegal occupation’ of Western Sahara to end and demanded the Sahrawis are given a vote on independence. Morocco has failed to comply with both requests.
It has also been accused of an orchestrated programme of ‘disappearances’ of independence campaigners in Western Sahara.”
Amnesty International, meanwhile, claims that hundreds of Sahrawis “disappeared” in Western Sahara at the hands of Morocco’s secret police, with victims including pregnant women, children and the elderly.
According to Spanish newspaper El Mundo, some were thrown out of helicopters or buried alive.
How does Clegg square all this with political beliefs that he, at least, would probably describe as liberal and compassionate? Or is Gonzalez’s work, and with it the income she contributes to the Clegg family pot, her business only?