Monday 28 July 2003

Short blames government 'abuse of power' for David Kelly's death

Wouldn't it be nice to see Paxman interview Phony Tony and start off by saying: "So is it true you're a lying twat?"

Clare Short has blamed the death of Dr David Kelly on "an abuse of power" by the Government and warned that the tragedy has become a symbol of Prime Minister Tony Blair's "obsession with spin".

In an interview with The Independent, the former Secretary of State for International Development says the affair has made it more likely Mr Blair will stand down before the next general election. She describes him as an "emperor" and a "neo-Conservative", saying his speech this month to both houses of the US Congress shows he shares the analysis of Washington hardliners. "He is a complete convert to the neo-Conservative view of the world."

Recalling her 1996 attack on spin doctors "who live in the dark", she says: "I said spin would damage and destroy Tony. There is a danger the tragedy of this death encapsulates the argument [about spin] and then everyone sees it through that lens. Public confidence has changed enormously. It has deepened the sense there is something wrong in the way in which No 10 is run. There is more scrutiny of that, so that affects Tony Blair's reputation."

Ms Short says normal Whitehall procedures were breached in the way Dr Kelly was unmasked, triggering the events leading to his apparent suicide. She believes resignations should follow Lord Hutton's inquiry. "The truth needs to be found and those responsible need to be held to account. Alastair Campbell and Tony Blair work very, very closely together. They are all implicated, it seems to me."

Ms Short adds: "We all ended up mesmerised by Alastair Campbell attacking the BBC. In the course of that, Dr Kelly felt so pressured he felt the need to take his life. It has got enormous significance." But she hoped "some good" might yet come out of the tragedy, if the Government abandons spin and changes the way decisions are made.

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