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The United Nations that make up Deputy PM Nick Clegg
British leader half Dutch(-Indies)
Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill
LONDON – New Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nick Clegg, was taught Dutch right at home by his Dutch East Indies-born mother Hermance Van den Wall Bake, a survivor from the Japanese concentration camps. The international connections of the Liberal Democratic Party leader received a fair amount of scrutiny during the recent general elections in the U.K., with some critics calling the former European Commission aid and former European Parliament member an internationalist and an EU promoter.
Clegg, who studied social anthropology, lectured part-time at Sheffield and Cambridge Universities before being elected as Member of Parliament for Sheffield Hallam in 2005. Earlier in his career he worked as a trainee journalist with columnist Christopher Hitchens in New York, as a consultant in London, and while in Budapest writing about economic reform won a prize from the Financial Times.
While working at the EC in Brussels, Clegg gained more international experience managing aid projects in Central Asia following the collapse of communism. As a senior member of Leon Brittan’s office, then Vice President of the EC, he also acted as a trade negotiator with China and Russia.
The list of international connections of Britain's Deputy PM does not end there, in fact many of these start right at home. Clegg is married to a six-figure earning London Spanish-born lawyer Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, who kept her own surname. In addition to Clegg's maternal 'foreign' roots, his paternal roots also are partially 'exotic' as one source described it, namely upper-class Russian. Clegg's father was born to a well connected Russian baroness, perhaps the reason the Deputy PM is able to claim proficiency in the Russian language as well. Clegg also speaks German and French.
Elected leader of the Liberal Democrats in December 2007 after a leadership campaign in which he focused on reaching out beyond the party to new voters. Clegg proudly points to his party's politics on civil liberties, on the environment, on greater fairness in the tax system, on international affairs and on reforming the outdated parliamentary ways of his country.
The Liberal Democrat has no shortage of critics, who warn fellow islanders of his exotic lineage and cosmopolitan lifestyle, which they see as being a world away from the MP's gritty Yorkshire constituency.