Ace in the house of cards


Max Clifford has ‘…nothing to hide…’ [Sky News]

Irony aside, and with details of the case against him still sketchy at present – he reveals only that one charge dates back to ’77 and another a couple of years later –  it’s almost pointles to speculate on his possible innocence or guilt; suffice it to say that players on all sides will be watching developments with interest. Thru his lofty position in the world of PR, Clifford is undoubtedly privy to a great many potentially damaging untold stories from within the world of politics and media. He’s on record admitting to knowledge of the late Tory MP Alan Clark‘s sexual activities with underage girls ‘…the only slightly serious side is that he’d actually interfered with those girls from the age of fourteen.’

‘…It’s easy for me because I’ve got all the evidence; I’m the one that’s hidden it from the world…’ he says. If his covertly-recorded remarks left him open to accusations of collusion and failing in his legal and civil duty; then I’m equally concerned by his opinion that a middle-aged man soliciting underage girls for sex is ‘only slightly serious’. Sadly, such a view remains all too prevalent; nowhere more so than in the corridors and smoking rooms of the Old Boys Club, whose membership has more need than most for the services of PR from the likes of Max Clifford Associates.

It seems inconceivable then, given his connections and elevated status within the media that Clifford could have been unaware of his own impending arrest. With media nous honed over five decades in the business and – one may reasonably speculate – ample time to prepare his strategy, he’s better positioned than most to respond. In retrospect, his October revelation that  .‘Major stars from the ’60s and ’70s … concerned because of their hedonistic lifestyles’ …  are terrified of being named in connection with … Savile …’ could be interpreted as a forward excercise in damage limitation. Thru it he certainly sought to frame impending revelations in a historical context of ‘innocent times’; simultaneously playing down their seriousness whilst applying a ‘Life On Mars’ spin which (ha, ha!) implied that such things couldn’t happen today. They can and do, of course: Savile and those like him in all walks of life, not just the famous and well-connected, perpetrate their crimes over the course of a lifetime and it’s scarcely inconceivable that some of those major stars are still behaving ‘like it’s the ’60s’ today.

Guilty or not, Clifford is a position as powerful as it is precarious: with a career’s worth of insider information on movers and shakers from the international media and political communities he has a high-scoring hand to play in the game currently unfolding in the world media. Will he play his cards close to his chest as he did regarding Alan Clarke; or will he deal out a few low-scoring names to keep himself in the game? The latter seems unlikely. Nonetheless, there are almost certainly many terrified ‘names’ – not to mention less successful peers in the PR fraternity – who would love to see Clifford leave the table and it’s tempting to conclude he has been ‘shopped’ by some such individual or group. Over the course of his career he’s tangled with both major political parties, for example: is it coincidence that longstanding ‘conspiracies’ suggesting all roads lead back to government in the netherworld of paedophilia, threaten once more to be borne out once and for all, if inquiries promted by Savile and Bryn Estyn are conducted with due diligence and impartiality?  The danger for him then, is that as big a player as he is, there are others with higher stakes and better hands. Could we be looking at another Steven Messham, or even a David Kelly on the verge of his opening bid?

With the revelations concerning Savile, and speculation – following the questioning of Freddy Starr (a former client of MCA), Dave Lee Travis, Rolf Harris and a still-un-named 70-something celebrity – at an all time high, we have an unprecedented opportunity to face up to the scandal of organized sex abuse and institutionalized violence which paradoxically support the civilized facade worn by society whilst rotting its body from the inside. It’s not just parliament that is a ‘house of cards’: pluck out the right one and everything may well come crashing down; and that may turn out to be a very good thing for the safety and wellbeing of generations to come.


2 responses »

  1. While we should respect the premise of innocent until proven, can we all spare some thought to the innocent victims who have locked truly appalling abuse by people in ‘respected’ positions of power, and the courage these victims have shown to now come forward.

    The idea that ‘it could be xxx as they were so professional’ etc., belies a simple fact that most abusers do so in secret with an array if disguises, and being famous does not increase the level if morality!

    I believe this investugstion will run and run while victims feel they can now talk. We as descent people, should respect their bravery to come forward, not put our heads in the sand because the alleged abusers seemed so ‘nice on the telly’

    • Couldn’t agree more – it’s the long history of sexual abuse (amongst other criminal and moral outrages), the suffering of victims (I know a few) and the failure of institutions to recognize and deal with it that has prompted me to pay attention to the string of testimony and revelation that has been sparked by Savile. This level of public and media interest in sex abuse is unprecedented in my lifetime and I hope it presents a real opportunity to confront some of the deeper divisions and conflicts in our society for the good of us all. I hope you’re right that it will ‘run and run’ and some unpleasant truths exposed and resolved, but – and I don’t mean to be cynical – the ‘powers that be’ are crafty, unafraid of employing brute force when cornered and, well, powerful. And the truth of how widespread sexual violence, and indeed, violence and bigotry in general, is is a scary thing: that so many choose denial is as unsurprising as it is unfortunate. I apportion little blame for that, because suspicion and/or knowlege of the criminality of say, Savile represents the tip of a very big iceberg which is too much for most societies, never mind organizations or individuals to bear. I hope we’re up to the challenge, because things could get very complicated and nasty. As a man, I have spent most of my life unaware of how institutionalized sexism has made my life so much easier and safer – albeit less fully human – whilst causing unnecessary suffering to female friends and relatives. As a victim of violence – sexual on occasion but mostly other kinds – I feel disgusted by the thought of what some of these people went thru as girls and boys whilst those who were charged with their protection looked on, colluded and took advantage. I’m angry and sad about these things. And without meaning to sound trite, Savile, Harris and Stuart Hall are intimately tied up with some of my fondest childhood memories – to discover that their motives were – in the latter two cases, possibly – exploitative fills me with an irrational sickness and disappointment.
      Thanks for your comments DM, take care,


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