Excerpts from ‘Max Clifford: Read All About It’, by Max Clifford and Angela Levin. Or, why the Tories might like to see the back of Max Clifford.
Max Clifford and the Tories
“My interest in the Labour party developed differently — more the PR side of politics than active participation. Some people have said I was significantly responsible for the downfall of the Tory government in 1997 because of my involvement in the stories that led to it being tagged the party of sleaze, and that the party has still not recovered.
Max Clifford, the Tories and the NHS
“I saw how the Tories were ruining hospitals, closing wards and cutting down on nurses,” he says. “The doctors were patently exhausted from their ever-increasing workloads and management obviously didn’t understand the practicalities of what they were trying to do. One result was that patients were left increasingly on their own and I saw for myself the pain and indignity they suffered from the decline in the services provided.
“I used to wander round the hospital and find cups of tea left by old ladies’ beds that had gone cold because no one was available to help them drink them. Whilst I’m not praising what the Labour Party has done since it came into office in 1997, they did inherit something in terminal decline, which is inevitably difficult to turn round.
Max Clifford Vs Tory David Mellor
The story of alleged sexual shenanigans was right up Max’s street, particularly as he’d always mistrusted Tories. “I was glad it [the story about 43 year old David Mellor and his affair with 30-year, 6ft-tall Spanish-born actress Antonia de Sancha, see following quote] was damaging,” he says, “but I didn’t put an advert in one of the papers saying, “Do you have any sleazy stories about Tories? Contact this number.” It just happened.”
The scandal turned Antonia into a household name overnight and prompted a statement from Mellor admitting he had marital problems. He also offered to resign. Major initially turned his request down. What no one realised at the time was that Major’s desire to keep his friend on board was no doubt influenced by his own affair with former MP and cabinet minister Edwina Currie, which had lasted from 1984 to 1988, ending two years before he succeeded Margaret Thatcher as Tory Party leader (the affair was divulged in Curries 2002 autobiography).
Read more about John Major in A Brief History of Libel, Part 1 – John Major.
Coincidentally, at just the wrong time for Mellor, Mona Bauwens, whose father was chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s financial body, appeared in the High Court. In the course of a defamation action it was revealed that Mellor had accepted a free holiday from Bauwens in 1990.
Newspapers, by now hungry for details that would keep the story hot, also discovered that he had allegedly accepted another holiday from the ruler of Abu Dhabi. Though neither holiday breached ministerial or parliamentary rules, they added fuel to the newspapers’ fire.
Mellor subsequently made an appearance on News at Ten and Newsnight and tried to blame the press for his predicament. If the over-the-gate picture of his harassed family stabbed himself in the back, his TV appearance was the equivalent of shooting himself in the foot.
Following a hastily arranged meeting of the Tory back-bench 1922 Committee to discuss his position, its chairman Sir Marcus Fox told Mellor that the backbenchers wanted him to resign as a minister. He did so — nine long weeks after his alleged affair first became public.
Max Clifford and the demise of the Conservative government
Max is, however, happy to take the credit for firmly linking the Tory party with the word ‘sleaze’. “I helped get them out of power in the 1997 election, when Mellor also lost his Putney seat. It destroyed them and happily, even though it happened so long ago, it’s a tag I believe they still haven’t fully recovered from.”
He maintains he is not by nature a political person. “Although I’m a natural socialist, I’ve probably voted only two or three times in my life. From an early age I’ve felt everybody should be looked after and I’ve wanted as good a quality of life as possible for all, not just the rich and powerful. In the 90s the Tories were looking after those who were already well looked after, often at the expense of those who weren’t.”
But I’ve never relied on governments, councils or politicians to look after me. I’ve always taken care of myself and at the same time tried in a small way to help other people, by giving money to charity, influencing the media and offering the needy support. Perhaps it’s a naively simple way of living a socialist life, but that’s what I do.”
Max Clifford and old Tory skeletons still left in the closet
“It’s one of the ways I build up relationships with people. I’m keen to earn money, but only when I feel comfortable doing so. I wouldn’t feel right watching someone being destroyed by a story of mine, when they didn’t merit it. And this includes a few Tories.”
“Kenneth Clarke was one. A female teacher at a private school came to me with a story about Clarke when he was a senior cabinet minister. I didn’t like her, checked her out and found there were several skeletons in her own cupboard. So I stopped the story at source by telling her that once her story was out, her other affairs would be exposed plus the fact she was a lesbian.”
Max Clifford was held at his Surrey home at 7.40am on Thursday this week on suspicion of sexual offences. He was taken to Belgravia police station in central London for questioning and released on bail at 9.20pm.
Say what you like about Max Clifford, he was a vital player in exposing aspects of what lies at the dead, black heart of the Conservative Party.