Three good things have come out of Carlton Television’s crude
extravaganza on the monarchy. Its chairman, Michael Green, will find it
more difficult to trivialise and ultimately ruin ITV. Telephone polling
has been exposed for the self-selecting, undemocratic nonsense it has
always been. And Max Clifford is now seen for what he is: a
sanctimonious hypocrite determined to make a fat living out of dishing
the dirt on his political opponents.
I am not having second thoughts about taking part, as contracted, in the
session of Carlton’s shouting match on the monarchy’s value for
I am sorry I did. It does no one any good to be associated with public
brawls. My only consolation is that I was able, if only for a few
seconds in the bear pit, to signal my support for the monarchy - and
that hundreds of thousands revolted against the spectacle by voting 2:1
against the nasty republicans.
But experience shows that some good can come from even the worst
We now know, for example, that by abandoning the poll tax, we have
passed up the one sure way of curbing local government profligacy. One
other benefit of Carlton’s Ratner is that I have tangled with Mr
Clifford on television. To my surprise, I came face to face with him on
BSkyB when I had assumed - because that is what I was hired to do - I
would be puncturing the piety of a tabloid editor.
I now know that Mr Clifford is a sensitive flower. He has, of course,
much to be sensitive about. He felt it necessary, for presentational
purposes, to apologise to viewers for swearing at me. I now know that he
believes that all PR people lie through their teeth and that that is
what the game is about, even in - nay, especially in - Number 10. He
seems not to understand that long-term spokesmen have to retain a
And I now know that he is as shallow as the sea at Southport. It is not
that he seems proud of running a business which encourages every moll,
rent boy and rat to expose the stupid indiscretions of the most minor
Tory if they fall short of his curious standards. Nor is it that he
justifies his pursuit of Tory politicians on trumped up charges against
a Government under which NHS funding has risen by 72 per cent in real
terms since 1979 and life expectancy has soared.
It is that he just looked blank when I accused him - and editors who
sign the cheques - of imposing on Britain a new brand of McCarthyism
which hounds out of office all who do not conform to their
commercialised brand of morality. Mr Clifford is odious. For its own
good, the PR industry should say so at every opportunity.