There are really two ways to look at the Fall of a powerful man.
Thus…when Jeffrey Archer is imprisoned for Perjury, it makes a lot of people happy.
It is not the nicest human emotion, the nearest we will get to going to a public execution.
“Max Clifford, PR Guru” is how he is usually described.
And Max, 71 has been jailed for eight years.
He made a lot of people rich by representing them.
And he made a lot of enemies. Especially the powerful whose careers he effectively ended.
And some of the stories he sold to the newspapers for over more than two decades…were simply lies. Entertaining lies. Such as the story about Comedian, Freddie Starr.
“Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster” remains a classic headline in the detestable British tabloid newspaper industry.
To some extent, Freddie Starr is defined by that headline from over thirty years ago.
Thus Clifford who has represented O J Simpson and has been the “agent” for far too many “kiss and tell” models, who have allegedly been left broken hearted by seemingly casual relationships with celebs.
It is standard fare for British tabloids.
When Clifford revealed that British Tory cabinet minister David Mellor was involved with a much younger and more attractive lady (frankly Mellor has the sort of face that scares children) the story was embellished and Mellor was stated to have made love wearing a Chelsea football shirt.
In fact he had not worn a Chelsea shirt at all but a rich, powerful, middle aged, ugly man was made to look even more absurd by the embellishment.
Sleaze sells. And GOD knows there is enough sleaze in London to fill tabloids.
Yet it turns out that Max Clifford was more sleazy than anyone he ever exposed. Sexual Assault is serious and he will serve at least four years in jail.
The people he tormented will raise a few glasses.
Yet perhaps there are two shocking facts. One is that “everybody” knew. “Everybody” being the tabloid hacks who fed off the stories.
And the second shock is that Clifford himself did not, by his court demeanour take his crimes too seriously.
We live in an era where everything is said to be post-modern.
Fifty years ago, women were exploited by men. It was casual. It was…expected.
And Clifford’s crimes have their origins in the 1960s and 1970s.
It was an odd time that I can actually remember, albeit from the perspective of a Catholic child and teen in West Belfast.
Did the mini-skirt and the “pill” really liberate a generation of young women? Or did it actually belittle them more?
Take classic BBC comedy like “The Likely Lads”, almost weekly plots where two young men plotted to get their casual girlfriends drunk and have sex. Viewed in 1966, these were two …well…likely lads…doing what young men do. But viewed in 2014, this is actually a criminal offence.
Set in 1970, the 1980s TV mini-series “The History Man” (based on the book by Malcolm Bradbury) told the story of a university lecturer who was predatory towards his female students. It was…a comedy.
Likewise TV …chronicled the changes from say 1965 to 1975 and we were led to believe that it was a form of liberation. But four or five decades later, the excesses of rock stars with their groupies looks increasingly sordid.
And that is actually the world that Max Clifford inhabited.
Basically a record plugger and fixer on the edge of the pop scene in London in the 1960s, he was in a position to arrange….by his own boast…sex parties. He knew the rock star secrets and he knew how to protect them.
Perhaps thats the oddest thing about his career.
That he used his expertise to protect his clients.
And used it to damage others.
As TV personalities from that era go thru the courts…the revelation of a sense of entitlement among the Rich and Famous emerges. Evidence is heard that “he was powerful”. It is a peculiar situation that SOME people seem accountable for SOME crimes committed decades ago. While it is obviously right to do so…it seems unbalanced. This was a time when young men were encouraged to “fill their boots”. The Rich and the Famous had more access.
But we seem to be putting a Decade 1965-1975 on trial also.
Which raises the question of how the early part of the 21st century will be viewed in fifty years time.