Conspiracies around Dr Kelly’s death are a silly distraction

2:31 pm - August 22nd 2010

by Flying Rodent    

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Ay, Dr. David Kelly’s death is back in the news for the umpteenth time.

The whole story uncannily shares a notable trait with pointless distractions such as the infamous Iraq-will-kill-everyone-in-45 minutes claim; the Oooh, how legal is the war debacle – a bit or not really?; the dodgy dossiers and so on, namely that it’s composed entirely of utter bullshit.

The Kelly case provides critics of our various wars with an unmissable opportunity to take aim at the previous government and its naked dishonesty with a twelve-bore shotgun and then, with unerring accuracy, blow their own feet off in full public view.

Much like the entire case for the invasion of Iraq, Dr. Kelly’s death is a huge diversion from the colossal, ongoing crime that is our foreign policy, and still we lefties can’t resist chasing it down the rabbit hole.

Here’s how it’s gone for the last decade with every one of these non-issues – some new shred of evidence comes to light. A load of journos and bloggers grab it with both hands and start shouting about the corruption of the last government, and then some joker suggests that a minor supporting character may be an MI6 agent, or that the politicians knew full well that there were no horrible explodey weapons in Iraq and then…

Boom, headshot! 11-Kill Streak, enemy AC-130 inbound!

Instantly, you get Blairite chucklers of the Aaronovitch genus cackling about tinfoil-hatted conspiramentalists and their crackpot theories of lizardoid assassination squads offing government scientists, and pedantic, punchable Kammtwats burbling about UN resolution fourteen-forty-fucko.

For their part, the various lefties get all huffy, stamping their little feet and digging themselves further into a hole, while a shower of media vermin take the opportunity to once again bury the Iraq disaster under a billion-ton shitpile.

I can’t be alone in finding this Punch & Judy pantomime infuriating. The only issue here should be this – We invaded a country on an entirely false pretext of self-defence and sat on our hands bleating about human rights vs. fascism while the conditions we created led inexorably towards possibly the worst incident of inter-communal slaughter since Rwanda.

Dr. Kelly, the aluminium tubes, the model planes filled with anthrax that were going to genocide Dogdick, Alabama – quibbling about all of the individual lies, big and small, that were concocted to support the invasion allows its authors to wriggle out of their culpability and makes the quibblers look like idiots.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the United States, the world’s only superpower and possessor of the most terrifying, planet-crushing military colossus in human history, invaded the two-scared teenagers in an obsolete Russian tank nation of Iraq under the feeble excuse of self-defence.

And what are we worried about? The possibility that military intelligence might have quietly and unprovably bumped off a scientist. That’s like scoring an own-goal from the opposition’s six-yard line.

Sceneon the eve of the war, Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell sit before a gigantic, roaring fire in their Satanic palace of lunacy.

Tony: So Alistair, our deranged and wildly irresponsible plan for ultraviolent and unnecessary warmaking is almost complete. I still worry though – are our left-wing critics about to expose us as liars, bullshitters and epic criminals? What are they up to, do you think?

Alistair: What?

Tony: I said, our deranged –

Alistair: I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over this bloody Wagner. Do you mind if I turn it down? (Leans over, turns down hi-fi blaring Ride Of The Valkyries at ear-splitting volume). Now, what were you saying?

Tony: I said, what are the anti-war mob up to? Are they concocting a simple narrative of elective warmaking and near-total indifference to the possibility of mass civilian death that even the layman can understand?

Alistair: Uh, no. They appear to be bleating about some numbnuts MI6 conspiracy to knock off some scientist and parsing the text of UN resolution fourteen-forty-fucko.

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Flying Rodent is a regular contributor and blogs more often at: Between the Hammer and the Anvil. He is also on Twitter.
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Reader comments

This title amuses me. If there was a conspiracy – let alone multiple! – how would it be a distraction?

On the post, well – I sympathise. But has anyone been distracted? If the Mail wasn’t fulminating about David Kelly it’d be screaming about X, Y and Zambian refugees.

New Labour mismanagement of investigation of Dr Kelly’s death numbs my brain. The total fuckwittedness of it all is perhaps the most convincing evidence that there was no conspiracy.

But just assume for a few moments that somebody ordered the death of David Kelly. Who benefitted? David Kelly had already spilled the beans to Andrew Gilligan, so there was nothing left to suppress.

It’s no wonder people see a conspiracy theory here considering the monumental series of mistakes that surround this case. Instead of attacking people for being ‘conspiracy theorists’ you’d be better off attacking the gross incompetence that allowed this to blow up in the first place.

Your ‘article’ just comes across as a stupid rant, I’m surprised this got passed the editorial team.

Your ‘article’ just comes across as a stupid rant, I’m surprised this got passed the editorial team.

Woe and shame, it’s like a blade through my heart.

I think David Aaronovitch should take it up with his buddy Nick Cohen about conspiracy?

But then, maybe Cohen just wrote that to have a go at the BBC again…

@3 Oliver

Far from coming across as a “stupid rant”, I think the OP is right on the money.

Issues like this and the legality or otherwise of the war have generated huge amounts of heat, and very little light. In the meantime, the “real” issues relating to the direction of our foreign policy, the supine lack of opposition to the decision not only within the Labour Party, but within the other organs of government are relegated to the background amidst the feeding frenzy.

Granted you can always rely on a hard core of tin-foil hat wearing conspiracy theorists to dream up and/or broadcast this kind of stuff…. the shame of it is so many people (who really ought to know better) are content to think there’s probably no smoke without fire, or even if they don’t really believe it enjoy scratching the atavistic itch.

Talk about not being able to see the wood for the trees! No wonder a bunch of oily, spin obsessed principle voids were able to first emasculate the Labour Party, and then leave us to the tender mercies of the ConDems as they wander off into the wilderness for a bit of ideological navel gazing and political re-education.

I wonder if Dr Kelly’s family and friends think all this is a “silly distraction”?

It doesn’t make one a conspiracy theorist to believe that there should be a proper public inquest into Dr Kelly’s death; that the evidence should not be with-held from inspection for 70 years.

And wanting a proper inquest for Dr Kelly while condemning the war in Iraq and wanting those responsibile for it brought to account are nor mutually exclusive.

Tell you what is getting tiring, flying rodent’s self righteous, fuming rants on Iraq “it-doesn’t matter-if-the-war-was-legal-or-not-or-what Bush-said-to-Blair-or-Kelly’s-suicide-I-am-the-only-one-who-can-see-the-real-issues-here-you-are-all-idiots-deluded-by-distractions”

Knock it on the head son, we’ve heard it all before.

Whataboutery, from the Rodent himself??

The point of the Kelly stuff is that it doesn’t involve some sweary clique telling each other what they already know about US imperialism or whatever you want to call it. Don’t get me wrong – that’s all good fun, and among the small section of the politico class not already cemented into political positions, may even have some traction. But as Aaro et al are quite aware, it has fuck-all to do with public opinion, which is where the electoral (and indeed directly active, if I may don my beret for a second) beef is.

Mr Rodent may find it quite lieterally unremarkable that ‘military intelligence’ may have bumped off a scientist, but plenty of other people – many being floating voters on a number of other issues – consider it on a par with lizards etc. And the very selfsame attitude means they are – until it’s too late – unwilling to countenance the idea that dossiers may be made up, etc., because similarly unremarkable claims like that get called ‘conspiracy theories’ too.

As far as I’m concerned, at least, the ‘conspiracy theory’ rhetoric is a major weapon for those who want to rubbish just about any view that isn’t stamped and certified by the entire political class. And the Kelly affair is a great example of how that rhetoric works, and how vapid and ill-founded it really is, and the everyday murkiness of political realities which a lot of people would rather not face, or are deterred from considering. And if people are Pollyannas about this kind of stuff, what on earth makes you think they are going to listen to your generalities, especially when you seem to deliberately eschew any discussion fo the evidence? For plenty of people, all this stuff about false pretexts for war and bent rhetoric founders on their trust of the essential decency and trustworthiness of the whole political apparatus and all its personnel. Blair’s ‘pretty straight kind of guy’ stuff was a grotesquely conspicuous appeal to that – and even that seemed to work pretty well.

Caling Hutton-dissent a ‘distraction’, as if people can only hold one thought in their head at a time, is indeed whataboutery, and the real problems it covers (for about what is whataboutery, if not distraction?) are laziness, snobbery and a fear of being lumped in with simpleton Mail readers or tarred with the ‘conspiranoid’ brush.

It’s not worth all the hassle when there are really obvious things that need to be said to others who also think them really obvious. Obvious, but respectable, because they don’t fall foul of the quietist political-science propaganda about ‘conspiracy theories’ that goes back to Popper – nice company you head-befoilers keep!

As a result the case study of corruption in action which is represented by the Kelly whitewash is just ignored, rather than used as a way of waking a few people from dogmatic slumbers about how the ruling class rules, and indeed that it does rule. Instead, one must join the condemnathon of every kind of ‘conspiracy theorist’, on pain of being called one oneself. You are either with us or with the conspiranoids!

But then it rather depends on whether you’re more interested in consciousness raising or in preaching to the choir. And who wants Mail readers anyway? We know what they’re like, and they can fuck off, they’re not welcome here.

Look, if the only problem is that it’s a distraction – and FFS, it’s a distraction from Cheryl Cole and (at best) the Labour-leadership Factor, not from agitation about foreign policy – then why the outrage, why the abuse, why the going on about it? There’s a major failure of cognitive fit here, that makes a few people, from Chomsky on down, look a bit silly.

(BTW thanks to Liberal Conspiracy for linking to my piece about Aaronovitch on Kelly, which may still be visible off to the right, if it hasn’t yet dropped off the bottom of the blog roll…)

I wonder if Dr Kelly’s family and friends think all this is a “silly distraction”?

If I recall correctly, Mrs. Kelly believes it was suicide. Nice appeal to emotion, though.

Tell you what is getting tiring, flying rodent’s self righteous, fuming rants on Iraq…

Feel free to not read them, if you like. It isn’t compulsory.

@ 9

If this is how you gets you kicks, good luck to you, knock yourself out.

But to the rest of us you’re starting to sound like one of them nutters that stand on street corners ranting incoherently.

Here’s a thought; howzabout posting this bollocks on your own site and not boring the arses off the rest of us eh?

Tim, my point is that this is all ultimately unprovable and counterproductive. You’re charging the enemy’s machine guns with this stuff, making it easy for them to mow you down in droves. Suicide squad, attack! That may be annoying and unfair, but that’s the way it is.

The same goes for the various legal arguments and bullshit claims etc. These were intentionally deployed because they’re highly technical, legalistic and controversial; they’re meant to produce years of fierce debate about loopholes and red tape while the invasion and occupation charges ahead. It wasn’t exactly a fiendishly brilliant strategy, yet I note it’s still tying the Chilcot Inquiry in knots, years later.

They exist explicitly to avoid having to defend a lunatic endeavour in layman’s terms. By picking away at UN resolutions etc., the anti-war movement was playing in the government’s casino, where the Blairites held all the cards and the house always wins. As I’ve been saying for years, let’s not do that – it’s a sucker’s game.

Tim, my point is that this is all ultimately unprovable and counterproductive.

But how is it counterproductive? Let’s say Kelly offed himself and alternative explanations are a bunch of dingo’s kidneys. In the worst case it leaves Rentoul, Aaronovitch and co. a bit smugger and expends some needless bandwidth. The interest that it’s attracted wouldn’t have been channelled into rage over Iraq; the papers would have found a different curio and we’d be squabbling over that. Sure, that’s not a reason to oppose the theories if you think they’re false – the truth is its own reward, and other platitudes – but I’m not sure it’s worthwhile if you just reckon they’re naff.

(Ooh, and muchas gracias for the link, by the way.)

But how is it counterproductive?

Because it allows pro-warriors of all stripes to blast goal after goal into the anti-war net from about two yards out. Let’s say that the government did have Kelly offed – is an inquiry going to expose this and march officials off to the dungeons? No, it isn’t. I offer the various Iraq inquiries as evidence.

All that happens is that you get hooters and snorters like Aaro presenting themselves as fountains of rationalism and truth – David Afghanistan may be an unwinnable war ergo we must stay Aaronovitch, FFS – and yer Nick Cohens and sundry right wing twats use it as an excuse to bash lefties generally, the BBC and God knows who else. We look mad, they look dignified and reasonable. Why not cut to the chase and just show up for debates in clown shoes?

The one thing I will say for the pro-warriors – they got their message out strong and early. Saddam is horrible, he’s making weapons and threatening to destroy the universe, we must launch a massive war and then cuddle some Iraqi bairns. It was so effective that some still repeat this crap today.

What the hell were our side doing? Babbling incoherently about oil, the Project for a New American Century, Israel, David Kelly and seven billion other matters connected and not. This isn’t just a historical issue. It’s bad enough that the anti-war arguments were all over the place back then, and it’s unforgiveable that they still are now.

That’s not to say none of this was true, but how hard is it to construct a simple message – say, Blair = mental & invasion = insanely dangerous and probably disastrous – and stick to it without tearing off at mad tangents? Not hard, I think – Robin Cook’s famous speech was a good example of Doin it Rite.

That’s based on two ideas:

1. what I called Hutton-dissent is a matter of concocting various scenarios about what happened (as if any particular murder scenario is ever going to be established to a reasonable – let alone an Aaronovitch-satisfying – standard!). Doing that is, I agree, going over the top in both singoly and doubly metaphorical senses. But you don;t distinguish between ‘just asking [extremely pointed] questions’ and over-confident speculation which in this area alone attracts such fatal ooprobrium. It seems you’re accepting the polarising myth beloved of Aaro etc: that criticism of the official account and – more importantly, perhaps – of the methods used to protect it is tantamount to adopting some specific – preferably luridly paranoid – ‘conspiracy theory’.

Because your piece reads like ‘nothing to see here’, not ‘stop rubbernecking’.

2. It has nothing to do with anything else. It does. For one thing, if you give a shit about civil liberties, then you’d better give a shit about impune state killing – there’s been a fair bit of that recently, and every time – no matter how dodgy the circumstances – it’s an accident or unpredictable or whatever.

For another, if the Hutton charade is allowed to stand on some fudged ‘distraction’ grounds that are not clearly distinct from endorsing its findings, then the ratchet for acceptance of coverups clicks round another notch – and you’d better not complain when some similar charade is used to establish some other – by your lights more important – claim. ‘This charade is hallowed by convention and precedent – in the case of the Kelly suicide, crazed troublemakers were rightly not allowed to derail the proceedings, as you must agree.’ First they came for the Kelly ‘nuts’…

Foir another, the quarantining of so-called ‘conspiracy theory’ affects all reaches of political discussion and attitudes. This kind of ambiguous stuff about ‘distractions’ (as if Kelly displaces something more meaningful in the press, public opinion, etc) is all pretty Judean Popular People’s Front, if you ask me, which is just how our rulers like it. I mean, why not just say ‘yes, Hutton was a stitch-up, this was fishy as hell, and it’s an example of the kind of dodgy shit you should expect, but I’m not interested in arguing the toss, now let’s move on’, if that’s all you really mean?

The propaganda about ‘conspiracism’ has been going strong since the 50s and… well you’ve heard all this, see above, and repeatedly on AWatch, Crooked Timber, my blog, ad nauseam…

(that was in response to no 11.)

17. Roger Mexico

I would have though that Mr Rodent would rather liked the revival of the Kelly affair. After all it’s let the usual Decents go round making incoherent fools of themselves; terrified that anything may besmirch the memory of the Blessed Tony. Perhaps Papa Razzi is planning to canonise him during his British gig – I know he’s not dead, but the one thing the current Vatican regime is liberal in, is the qualifications for sainthood.

Anyway, the pop-eyed arm waving from Aaronovitch and co should all be grist to your mill. Panic is always an instructive emotion and, though I somehow doubt that Kelly was taken out by a crack Decent hit-squad, it at least gives us a chance to focus on Iraq again. I hadn’t exactly noticed it filling the papers (despite some fairly horrendous recent events) in the last few months.

If there is widespread suspicion the Kelly was murdered; there’s been a bigger increase in those who simply don’t know:

(Did you think you’d get through a comment from me without an opinion poll link?). I suspect suicide (perhaps under government pressure we don’t know about) and incompetent investigation are still the likeliest explanation. But we shouldn’t ignore the widespread public disquiet and award the 68% – 76% of people honorary tin-foil hats as the Decents have. At the very least, the habit of disbelieving the government isn’t a bad one to cultivate. And even my explanation doesn’t reflect well on the Decents’ super-hero – see Cohen’s consequent contortions in today’s Observer

Considering Kelly and the lead up to the Iraq “war” should also focus our attention on two of New Labour’s dearest principles: mindless imitation of America and an obsessive secrecy. Fighting those faults, in the behaviours of the current government and opposition, is something we have to work on.

I’ve made similar attacks in comments about the number of posts here recently about NHS homeopathy versus those on the remaining 99.9% of the NHS, so I’ve some sympathy with your basic point. But in this case we can use the attention to look at other aspects of public policy, so the time isn’t wasted.

Good rant though.

Look Tim, we’ve had seven years of nothing out of the Dr. Kelly thing. We’re getting nothing out of any inquiry that might be upcoming and we’ll get nothing for decades, if ever.

If concern about state murder is your thing, the UK and US have rubbed out thousands upon thousands of civilians since Kelly’s death; the President of the United States has declared that he has the right to murder anyone he likes, whenever he likes, wherever he likes.

There are pressing issues that need to be addressed here, and continuing to pick away at lost causes undermines that brutally. It’s an own goal, a huge giveaway to people campaigning for greater levels of violence in our foreign policy. I strongly advise that people drop it – you’re never getting answers there.

19. Shatterface

Agree with the OP.

Conspiracy theory – as opposed to rational institutional analysis – is as rife on the Left as it is on the Right.

The case against the invasion of Iraq is strong enough as it is without getting tin-hatted over a tragic suicide.


Let’s say that the government did have Kelly offed – is an inquiry going to expose this and march officials off to the dungeons? No, it isn’t. I offer the various Iraq inquiries as evidence.

True, but would it be more helpful to damn – in whatever tone, style or medium – the war on Iraq? The government could weather the slings and arrows of outraged citizens and trample on regardless. (I offer the pre- and post- war climates as evidence o’ that.)

Robin Cook’s famous speech was a good example of Doin it Rite.

A fine speech, indeed, but it does remind me of Peter Cook’s line about “those wonderful Berlin cabarets which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the outbreak of the Second World War“. However elegantly we condemn the invasion our words are likely to have all the force of a finely crafted paper dart. If Kelly was murdered, and a lot of folk deduce it to be thus, they’ll at least be savvier about the next sugar-coated calamity. If not, Aaro’s got a few column inches and the truth takes a flimsy knock. Both irritating, perhaps, but not of dire consequence.


What’s a “conspiracy theory“?

I agree with FlyingRodent’s argument that the mainstream press has (as they always do) littered the story with trivial distractions from the issue at hand. Dr Kelly aside, the fact that John Prescott was able to call the war’s critics ‘fashionable’ and get away with it demonstrates the extent to which Iraq has dropped out of the public consciousness in recent years.

For me, the main issue is – and has always been – prosecuting the architects of an illegal war. For more detail on that, I would strongly recommend this excellent John Pilger article:, which seems to unwittingly (or not? I’m not sure) explain why Blair chose to donate the profits from his memoirs to charity. From my point of view, when we talk about Iraq, we should focus upon the huge crimes that were committed by those in power over and above anything else.

I also agree that the Daily Mail’s bouts of shrieking (or journalism, as I believe they call it) has just been totally ridiculous; sometimes utterly nonsensical (e.g. ‘it wasn’t suicide because David was too nice to kill himself in a place where someone might find him and get upset’), and other times apparently morphing into an episode of Midsomer Murders. But it’s the Daily Mail: hypocrisy is their raison d’etre. I hardly think their opinion is a valid reason to dismiss the Kelly thing altogether.

Indeed, Kelly was still a human being and a citizen of this country, who deserves the same lawful treatment as anyone else, regardless of his involvement in the Iraq war. The fact is, there SHOULD be an inquest because the law requires there to be one. See below from the government’s website:

An inquest is a legal inquiry into the medical cause and circumstances of a death. It is held in public – sometimes with a jury – by a coroner, in cases where the death was:

* violent or unnatural
* took place in prison or police custody

or when

* the cause of death is still uncertain after a post-mortem

I simply do not believe for a second that if a pathologist reported a verdict of suicide for an ordinary person, only for that verdict to be contested by so many other experts, there would not be an inquest. There absolutely would. The sentiments of the family do not come into it: it’s a case of following correct legal procedure.

Not only that, I think it’s pretty flippant to dismiss it altogether given the amount of law-bending that was carried out by the Labour party at the time: using a law inappropriately to stop an inquest, suppressing evidence for 70 years, the later attempts to introduce the Coroners & Justice Bill – all these have implications for future inquests.

I do think it was suicide, incidentally. But anyone who suggests that thinking otherwise is tinfoil-hat-sporting craziness is sorely naive. It wouldn’t be the first time the state has bumped someone off that gets in its way.

22. Shatterface

‘What’s a “conspiracy theory“?’

Well, you see the bit in the OP that refers to ‘conspiracy theories’?

And the bit in the title which refers to ‘conspiracies’?


So, a “conspiracy theory” is a claim that there’s, er – been a conspiracy? Good to hear that people who’ve nosed into, say, Gladio, MKULTRA, Iraq, Iran/Contra, the CIA drug running, Operation Ajax and the Mafia (to say nothing of slightly more contentious episodes like Lockerbie or Tonkin) were a bunch of tin-foil hatters.


The impetus of my investigation into the epistemology of conspiracy theories – in particular, those which seem particularly dubious: elaborate plots explaining the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, claims that humans never, in fact, landed on the moon, worries that the world economy was under the control of a cabal of Jewish bankers, and so on – was the question whether there might be a Humean analysis of such theories that would identify them as incredible a priori. In other words, can we identify a class of conspiracy theories – I call them “unwarranted conspiracy theories” (UCTs) – that were by definition incredible?

My conclusion was that, alas, such an analysis fails. The chief problem is that there is a class of quite warranted conspiracy theories about such events as Watergate, the Iran-Contra Affair, etc., and that there is no principled way of distinguishing, a priori, the two classes from one another. There is no “mark of the incredible,” as it were (as Hume argues there is for reports of miracles). As a result, contrary to being able to reject conspiracy theories out of hand, prior to any investigation, we ought to adopt an agnostic attitude with respect to conspiratorial claims.

Just because you believe in conspiracy theories does not mean you believe all conspiracy theories.

If dick wit Aaronovitch is suggesting that there is no such thing as a conspiracy he is a bigger fool than he already is. Funny how he came out with all that establishment bullshit once he took the Murdoch shilling.

Wow there is a conspiracy. leftie goes to work for right wing media mogul, and then gets money to write right wing clap trap. Nothing to see here folks, move along

26. FlyingRodent

True, but would it be more helpful to damn – in whatever tone, style or medium – the war on Iraq?

I’m thinking as much of our wars now, to be honest, although I still think there should be some severe consequences for high-ranking members of past administrations.

We’re still dropping bombs on innocent people’s houses week in, week out, not because we think there’s a chance of any kind of victory that resembles our stated aims, but because nobody in power has the balls to admit that the whole war on terror has been a misguided, horrifying disaster from the very beginning.

Putting that point across without outbreaks of yawning is hard enough without people handing Times writers a huge stick to beat anti-war types with. It’d be really handy to have a consistent narrative that can’t be instantly dismissed as lunacy, and the dr. Kelly stuff isn’t helping in that regard.

Shatterface – “Conspiracy theory – as opposed to rational institutional analysis”?

Engage brain. You do realise you’re regurgitating Karl Popper’s half-century old propaganda, do you?

Rational conspiracy claims are not opposed, but complementary to institutional analysis. They just occur at a different (directly observable) level of detail. That makes them rather easier to understand and to establish than the hydraulics of abstract forces. If you were serious about changing anyone’s mind, you might take that into account instead of repeating these formulas.

FR – in other words, whatabout the war?

I don’t recall any shortage of voices at the time saying exactly the kind of thing Cook was saying. (And btw, what if he was killed? Would that be distraction too? Where does this end?) In fact there were faasands of em. And there still are, aren’t there? How is the Kelly business supposed to undermine that? It doesn’t.

A different argument (the two aren’t clearly distinguished) is that Kelly talk – regarded as an undifferentiated class into which for all you’ve said Ellie Mae @21, e.g., falls – leaves the anti-war movement open to being discredited. In other words, you’re accepting what Aaro et al claim: that rejection of Hutton involves a specific CT agenda (and by extension dissent may generally be assimilated to a CT); that CTs are uniformly ridiculous, so to be dismissed; the Kelly issue is of great relevance to the war issue in some way…

Just make sure you don’t discredit the anti-war movement by saying anything more specific or detailed than ‘the war was not justified’:

Blair: The very reason why we are taking the action that we are taking is nothing to do with oil or any of the other conspiracy theories put forward.

FR: btw I personally am interested much more in the rhetoric of conspiracy theories, and in exposing Aaro’s shit arguments and misrepresentations specifically, than particularly in the facts of what happened to Kelly.

27 Tim Wilkinson

Is your comment directed at me, or are you just citing me? I’ve been on the Sunday wine (that’s a tradition, right?) so I’m not as quick off the mark as I normally am – which is not quick at all. I thought you made some good points though.

One more thing – the big distraction at the time was the Campbell – BBC spat, not the issue of whether Kelly committed suicide, which was simply presumed by Hutton, like so many others.

EM – no I was just citing you as an example of someone who FR appears to be willing to dole out (undeserved) aluminium headgear to.

“the worst incident of inter-communal slaughter since Rwanda”

Off-topic & I know this was flippant, but you should really read something on DRC.

‘because nobody in power has the balls to admit that the whole war on terror has been a misguided, horrifying disaster from the very beginning.’

No, not really. It has made the money for the people it was supposed to make money for. And will continue to do so. Was there actually another point to the ‘war on terror’ apart from patriotism keeping populations scared, stupid and compliant?

34. FlyingRodent

For the record, I don’t think I’ve made any comments calling anyone conspiracy theorists or nutters – I’ve made the point that trying to prove the unprovable hands various journos a golden opportunity to dismiss inconvenient arguments by using stuff like david kelly to do exactly that. It does.

I make no judgement on the case, but I recognise a lost cause when I see one. Like I say, if state murder is your concern, there’s plenty of it going on right now, today, that needs addressing.

…you should really read something on DRC.

Yes, that occured after I hit “publish”. I’m sure people get the idea tho.

35. organic cheeseboard

maybe Cohen just wrote that to have a go at the BBC again

i think he did.

I find it really, really funny that Nick spends half his article wanking on about how people hate Blair so much that they’re prepared to indulge in the weirdest conspiracy theories because they can’t every admit anything half-good about the man who they all hate so much.

And who does Cohen blame? er, the BBC. the organisation which he complains about in every single one of his TV columns for standpoint, and in the observer too when they let him.

So Cohen blames the suicide on his own bogeyman, while absolving his personal friend Alastair Campbell from any blame whatsoever (aside form being, you know, a bit pugnacious, and aren’t we all?). you couldn’t make it up,

The truth is that without a full inquiry into the death, any theory about the suicide will be a conspiracy theory, based largely on pre-existing political prejudice.

I’m not sure I’m with Rodent on the above, though the points make sense.

The reason why some have become fixated on Kelly is that the incidents and issues are at the core of the totally unjustifiable ‘justification’ for the war – i.e. both Kelly and Gilligan were right about the dossier being dodgy as fuck, and the Govt relied on it to pass the vote to go into Iraq. The reason why people (not me, incidentally) still believe he was murdered is that if he was proven right, and if he was allowed to mouth off about it in the press, the war probably couldn’t have gone ahead (remember that even to get through parliament it relied on Tories voting for it) and Labour would probably have fallen there and then. There was a lot at stake in silencing official dissent about that dossier.

earwigca: Was there actually another point to the ‘war on terror’ apart from patriotism keeping populations scared, stupid and compliant?

yah, establishing permanent fortified military bases all over Iraq. The first li’uw hin’ervention, also elective though with cover arranged in much classier fashion, was largely IMO about doing the same in Saud, which pissed various people off no end.

But indeed, that is not a point on which the latest meatgrinding exercise can be seen as a failure.

31. Tim WIlkinson

Ah yes, thought so.

I think the Kelly thing should not be ignored because it opened the door for so much more opacity and corruption in the future. By getting away with the distortion that they did, Labour opened the door for others to get away with it too.

Also, as much as I preferred Greg Dyke to the current jobsworth, I think the BBC’s treatment of Kelly was pretty piss-poor. Watching the way Labour MPs treated him after he was revealed as the source was fucking disgraceful – and makes me even more convinced that he did kill himself. Kelly made himself vulnerable to the BBC and it let him down. Bit off-topic but I think the same could be said of the Guardian and Julian Assange. Casually repeating those rape claims was a poor show.

Anyway, I get that FlyingRodent is talking about how the Kelly issue is used rather than whether it was suicide or not. He makes some fair points, but for me he is guilty of the things he is railing against. I’ve always hated the way that politics divides itself into left- and right- wing. As soon as you’re part of a group, you must defend its actions in case you’re discredit the values it was founded upon. I only started recoiling from the term ‘left wing’ this year, after my lefty fear of the Tories led me to start defending a party of war criminals and power hawks (or politicians, as is the common term). Once the furore died down I was disgusted that I’d forgotten some of the actions they’d taken in government because I still saw them as a child of the left in some way.

I think FR does the opponents of Iraq a disservice by conflating the war and the left wing. Opposing Iraq was about defending humanity, and is an issue that belongs to human beings, not political movements. By acting like those values are entirely its durastiction, I think the left can be exclude others and marginalise itself. The sort of personal values that lead someone to be left wing are important and should be discussed by everyone.

Besides, any group – left or otherwise – is susceptible to knee-jerkiness and mob mentality. It’s a human thing, not a right-wing thing. Just look at that Jan Moir fiasco: the speed at which it descended into mass hysteria, fuelled by Charlie Brooker et al, was just embarrassing. George Carlin, as usual, puts it best, ‘I love the individual, but I hate groups of people. I hate groups of people. Because pretty soon they have little hats, you know? And arm bands. And fight songs. And a list of people they’re going to visit at 3 am.’

For the record, I’ve always found tinfoil hats rather fancy.

P.s. Number 37 is me – forgot I am logged under a different name on this computer.

Sunny will be along in a minute to argue with me. We don’t agree on this 😉

I don’t particularly have a problem believing that Dr Kelly took his own life. I can’t imagine the stress he must have been under after both the BBC and his own government sold him down the river.

However I do have a problem with both the government at the time and Lord Hutton. The Hutton inquiry was an abuse of due process, and the secrecy of such evidence as autopsy records linked with the sidestepping of the proper coroners’ inquest only compounds the issue.

The last government always tried to tell us that if we had nothing to hide we had nothing to fear from their ever more intrusive powers. So why the secrecy?

40. Grimsby Fiendish

We look mad, they look dignified and reasonable.

This is true. On the other hand, you don’t look any more dignified and reasonable promoting conspiracy theories against something called “the bourgeoisie” and based upon Lenin’s theory of capitalist imperialism. \

I don’t particularly have a problem believing that Dr Kelly took his own life.

How low the bar is set.

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Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Conspiracies around Dr Kelly's death are a silly distraction

  2. David O'Keefe

    RT @libcon: Conspiracies around Dr Kelly's death are a silly distraction

  3. Rev Nev

    RT @libcon: Conspiracies around Dr Kelly's death are a silly distraction

  4. Andy Buckley

    Conspiracies around Dr Kelly’s death are a silly distraction | via @libcon Ha, funny *and* pertinent!

  5. Naadir Jeewa

    Reading: Conspiracies around Dr Kelly’s death are a silly distraction: Ay, Dr. David Kelly’s death is back in the …

  6. sunny hundal

    RT @JohnRentoul: BBC News leading on David Kelly. World gone mad << Agreed, but for diff reasons

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