Elspeth, the driving force behind him

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When Elspeth Campbell was asked about the prospect of her husband leading the Liberal Democrats through two general elections, her response was characteristically forthright.

"God help us," she declared, but insisted that those who criticised him as too old for the job "should know better". She added: "I'm absolutely thrilled. It's been a long time coming and I think he deserves it."

Lady Campbell, 65 - known by all simply as Elspeth - is famously ambitious for her husband. The daughter of Major-General Roy Urquhart, who led British forces at Arnhem (portrayed by Sean Connery in the film A Bridge Too Far) is known as fiercely bright.

The couple met in 1970 when she was recently divorced and he was an up-and-coming 29-year-old barrister.

She is known as a charming guest, with strong opinions to match. She has a first-class degree from the Open University - her thesis was on Coronation Street - and once worked at Conservative Central Office. For years she has worked as Sir Menzies' secretary, and is credited with using her considerable social skills to increase his political and media network.