William Moloney: Doctor David Kelly And Other WMDs

Published: Wed 30 Jul 2003 05:06 PM
Doctor David Kelly And Other Weapons Of Mass Destruction
By William Moloney
Scoop's eyes and ears in the Streets of London
There is an old adage in British Politics, when you are in trouble, attack the BBC. There have been numerous examples of this and the war of words over Andrew Gilligan’s reports is simply the latest.
(Interestingly, at the start of New Labours attack on the BBC for bias, the Conservative Party was also complaining to the BBC governors of suffering under a BBC bias).
The attack on the BBC was a master stroke by Number 10, designed to deflect the interest away from the embarrassing stories of WMD, the Invasion of Iraqi and the on-going quagmire of the somewhat flawed “peace” there. But it ran into another flaw, the death of Doctor David Kelly.
The death of Doctor Kelly was a shocking waste. By all accounts he was a well-respected, conscientious and thorough expert in his field. He has worked on biological and chemical weapons to the highest international standards for both the British Government and the United Nations. He was feared by Saddam as one of the people that had brought Iraq to task over its weapons programs. He was known as someone that freely briefed journalist - not for personal or political gain - but for a desire that the public debate be well informed and in perspective on such a confusing subject.
He was not a politician, or a media insider or in Public Relations. He was an empirical scientist. He dealt in facts. He did not, therefore, have a politician’s skill with the miss-use of language; he simply did not know how to spin his story. His inability to deal with the media firestorm that he was thrust into, and the stresses it placed upon him, should therefore not be viewed so much as a weakness but as a sign of his decency.
But it was these failings that those inside the Westminster Village found so disturbing. It was disturbing because for the first time there were obvious repercussions to plying their trade. They were playing their game as best they could, with the usual array of slight of hand, smoke and mirrors with the understanding that all the players knew the rules. Cynically they are only able to play these games simply because they know that they hold no real value.
Doctor Kelly however was unable to play their games in isolation from his own values and morals.
This is the vexing issue at the heart of the matter for the Westminster Village. He took it all seriously. You could see the incredulity on their faces as the news broke. Why did he take it to heart? Did he not know it was only a game? It was not worth his life or any ones!
The initial reports in the papers saw middle England’s response to the tragedy.
The underlining theme was this is what happens to a decent man when caught up in a New Labour world. It was the Christians and the lions. A man with beliefs against godless beasts.
Out of the Westminster Village's shock has now come a phoney war, the media's big guns are silenced. It is like being in London in 1939, awaiting the start of hostilities which will be heralded by the start of the Hutton Inquiry. But as we wait, the jockeying for position has already begun. Number 10 is presenting their case, assigning roles and blame before we have heard the facts.
This jockeying for position is best shown by the three examples below:
It was released to the media that the leak of Doctor Kelly’s name came from the MOD.
It was released that this was against the wishes of Number 10.
Mr. Blair’s Minister of Defence, Geoff Hoon; make a trip to see Doctor Kelly’s widow to offer his condolences, and thus, his guilt.
These three pieces of the puzzle point to the conclusion that it is Mr. Hoon who is to be offered up to be held accountable for Doctor Kelly’s death by Number 10.
And so even at this time, after “spin” has claimed it's first victim, Number 10 is spinning the outrage felt over that victim’s death to its own ends. All the while as they speak of a “spin less” government, they are still spinning.
But as the story of Doctor Kelly’s death enters this phoney war, Mr. Blair’s former friends are trying to re-focus the debate back onto the original story, the Coalition of the Willing's invasion of Iraq.
Claire Short and Robin Cook are constantly chipping away at Mr. Blair’s creditability over the case for war. The search for WMDs continues amid a growing number of deaths of coalition servicemen and women in Iraq. These stories are slowly returning to the front pages, and the pressure is slowly growing on Mr. Blair.
This leaves Mr Blair’s (some are calling him Bliar) in a bind. His great counter-attack on the BBC has stalled, without releasing the pressure on him and his reasons for war. All he can pray for now is a WMD find before the media ceasefire ends.
The irony of the whole tragedy is that one of the few men who could have saved Tony Blair’s political career at this stage by actually finding Iraq’s WMDs, was Doctor David Kelly.

Next in Comment

Saving The News
By: Alastair Thompson
Gordon Campbell on why the highly educated vote centre-left
By: Gordon Campbell
Gordon Campbell on Elizabeth Warren’s plans
By: Gordon Campbell
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILEWe're in BETA! Send Feedback © Scoop Media