Nichola Fisher and the Max Clifford sausage factory

Unlike my distinctly unesteemed Assembly Member Brian Coleman, I am not in the business of claiming that a defenceless woman can somehow be in any way responsible for getting whacked round the legs by an armed policeman, and I can understand why Nichola Fisher may have felt the need to hire a publicist. But I can’t help but feel uncomfortable having watched her interview on BBC News.

It is clear that Clifford has decided to process her through his sausage factory, inside of which all his clients get a makeover so that the unaccountably all end up looking and speaking in exactly the same way. A pretty dress; hair tied back neatly; lip gloss that only seems to serve the purpose exposing her rather ragged teeth. She has been transformed from barbarian at the gates to English Rose. I think I understand the logic behind this rebranding exercise, but I surely can’t be the only one who questions whether presenting her as something she surely is not is either honest or particularly effective.

And then there is what she says. In the interview she presents herself as a total innocent. “If he had wanted me to move on, he could have asked politely” she says at one point. I’m sorry, but bollocks. She was at a protest and the film quite clearly shows her effing and blinding. I’m not for a second going to claim that she deserved getting punched and batoned to the floor, but it is quite clear she was there to cause a stink and to give the police a hard time.

Let’s not mount the victims of police violence on a pedestal. Ian Tomlinson was quite clearly not a living saint. And far from the dainty, shrinking wallflower she is currently presenting herself as, Fisher clearly knows how to look after herself. Presenting them in an idealised way is ultimately counter-productive and entirely plays to the prejudices of no marks like Letters from a Tory: specifically, that you can only be a victim of police violence if you live an entirely blameless life, dress neatly, go to bed early and behave like a model citizen (and ideally vote Conservative). Fisher doesn’t need to wash her hair to elicit my sympathy and I don’t like the implication that anyone who isn’t willing to play this media game somehow deserves what they get.

For an anti-globalisation protestor to so happily accept the services of spin in this way (regardless of whether she is making any money out of the deal or not), seems to betray a certain lack of awareness. Surely this sort of blatant media manipulation is the sort of thing she was protesting against?


  1. And of course the police didn’t manipulate the news in any way at all, now did they. Nooooo, not a bit of it, wouldn’t dream of it, never, not even for a second ….

  2. Yeah, I realise what it’s called. Barking slogans at me doesn’t suddenly make it right.

    It’s the same justification people used which lead to Mandelson, Campbell et al ultimately destroying the Labour Party. But more to the point, I don’t think it has been particularly effective.

  3. Why shouldn’t a citizen use all available reasonable means to fight the state? I’ve no problem with what Nichola Fisher has done here, she’s simply playing the game as it stands.

  4. I’m with Leon on this one–not followed it closely, but Clifford has a long involvement with political stuff and knows what he’s doing, he’s good at both promoting stories and suppressing them, so if she’s gone to him for help as she felt overwhelmed and/or fancied the opportunity to make a bit of extra cash, so what?

  5. @Leon
    Well, it only ends up meaning we give up any shred of moral highground unfortunately. Perhaps that’s not ground to occupy if you wish to win though.

    I also felt uncomfortable with the interview as it made a mockery of reality, where she wouldn’t have moved along peacefully and (as I’m sure she’s aware) picking up a woman in that situation is leaving yourself open for all kinds of minor sexual assault claims if not done absolutely perfectly.

    How hard is it to say, as a protester, that if I’m not breaking the law leave me alone, and if I am breaking the law in your eyes arrest me and let my peers judge whether that’s true or not.

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