Miriam: Lib Dems Bring Stability

Labour and the Conservatives risk being "constantly blackmailed" if they go into government with either the SNP or Ukip, Nick Clegg's wife has warned.

Miriam Gonzalez Durantez hit the campaign trail in Scotland to urge voters to reject the prospect of such deals by backing the Liberal Democrats.

She teamed up with UK Business Minister Jo Swinson to launch a new plan aimed at improving opportunities for women.

As she did so, Ms Gonzalez Durantez revealed she was very proud of what her husband had achieved as Deputy Prime Minister - but insisted he would have done even better if he had held the top job in British politics.

With just over a week to go till the General Election, the Liberal Democrats are facing the prospect of heavy losses in Scotland, where surging support for the SNP has seen Nicola Sturgeon's party tipped to become the third largest at Westminster.

But both Ms Gonzalez Durantez and Ms Swinson spoke out about the risks of the UK having Labour administration propped up by Scottish nationalists after May 7.

Ms Gonzalez Durantez, who has built a successful career as a lawyer, said: "It is very clear that this is not an election that is going to be won by anybody, the only ones that guarantee a stable government anchored in the centre are the Lib Dems.

"If people do not want to have a government that is constantly blackmailed by the SNP or by the right wing of the Tory party with Ukip, there is a very easy answer. It is that easy - they just have to vote Lib Dem."

Similarly, Ms Swinson stated: "There is a real danger you have a government that gets dragged off to an extreme, either an extreme left-wing scenario with ever more borrowing undermining the economic recovery under Labour with the SNP, with the huge risk of a potential other referendum which could tear our country apart.

"Or, indeed, with the extreme right-wing Conservatives and their allies in the Ukip party who want to tear us out of Europe and also just keep cutting for idealogical reasons.

"Neither of those is a particularly attractive prospect for voters and there is a really clear way to avoid it, which is to vote Liberal Democrat."

Ms Gonzalez Durantez went on to say it was a "pity" her husband had not become prime minister after the 2010 election, saying he would have done ``even better things'' if he had been handed the keys to 10 Downing Street.

But she hailed his party's achievements in coalition with the Tories, saying: "If you look at the record they have, shared parental leave, more apprenticeships, stabilising the economy, the amount of things they have done with 56 MPs. Imagine if they had more."

She said the Lib Dem MPs at Westminster had been a "dream team" for what they had achieved "in really difficult circumstances for the country".

The politician's wife stressed the importance of the Liberal Democrats' role in the economic recovery, saying "one of the main things the Lib Dems have done for women is to help stabilise the economy".

Ms Gonzalez Durantez added: "Women suffer when you take your eye off the ball of the economy."

While she has a career and three sons to care for, she said tried to "do what I can in the campaign" to support Liberal Democrat women candidates.

She has been involved with the Inspiring Women campaign, which works with schoolgirls across the country, saying as part of that she had been "travelling across the country and many girls and women were asking what could we do to get more women into politics".

Ms Gonzalez Durantez said: "I thought when the General Election campaign came: what could I do? What I think I can do in a practical manner is support some of the female candidates of the party, who are candidates who share the values I share.

"I wish I could be with them all, there are only so many hours in the day, but Jo, with her track record, I could not not be here."

Ms Gonzalez Durantez spoke as she visited Scottoiler, a female-run business which makes lubrication systems for motorcycles.

She and Ms Swinson were there to launch the Liberal Democrats' five-point plan to create more opportunities for women.

It aims to bring about a "dad revolution for shared parental leave" as well as expand free childcare provision and flexible working.

Liberal Democrats also want to challenge gender stereotypes and encourage more women into careers in areas such as science and engineering.

Ms Swinson said: "I am proud of the achievements made by Liberal Democrats in government in championing the rights of all women and girls to reach their potential at home and abroad.

"More women are in work than ever before, women have secured more than a third of all recent FTSE100 board appointments and by introducing shared parental leave we have challenged the outdated system which prevented dads from playing a full role in their child's life."

She added: "Liberal Democrats believe society should give equal opportunities to women from all walks of life and across all generations.

"We are ambitious about what can be achieved so that every girl and woman has the chance to get on in the world. That ambition starts with removing barriers.

"Today I am launching the Scottish Liberal Democrat five-point plan to remove the barriers which too often stand between girls, women and opportunity.

"We simply can't afford to lose out on the talents and skills of over half the population if we want to build a stronger economy.

"We can't afford to let up on our efforts to tackle violence against women at home and abroad if we want to build a fairer society.

"From introducing measures so that women can rightly challenge their employer where they are not being properly valued, to challenging gender stereotypes, this plan shows how Liberal Democrats will create opportunity fit for the 21st century."

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