At the start of the week the Daily Mail ran a headline saying only 20% of people thought David Kelly committed suicide. The Mail claimed it was an overwhelming rejection of the official verdict – it wasn’t actually quite as overwhelming as it seems, by only mentioning the 20% the Mail implied that a large percentage of people thought he didn’t commit suicide, in fact a large majority of people told Harris they didn’t know whether David Kelly committed suicide or not, the proportion of people who disagreed with the statement that he committed suicide was only around 22% (the tables aren’t on the Harris website anymore, so I’m taking the figure from memory – apologies if it’s a point or two out). The Mail could equally have headlined the poll report “1 in 5 disagree that David Kelly committed suicide”. Though actually, that itself would still have been quite a striking finding.

The way Harris asked the question on David Kelly was perfectly valid, but considering alternatives I thought their way was quite likely to show a high score for people rejecting the suicide explanation – it is likely to be easier for a respondent to say they disagree that Kelly committed suicide than to actually say he was murdered as part of some conspiracy. The proportion of people who thought David Kelly was murdered would surely be lower than 22% if asked outright? So we asked.

We ran a question on the YouGov daily polling and reasking the question YouGov first asked back in 2003 during the Hutton inquiry. Now, I don’t think the wording YouGov used is perfect either. For starters, if I was writing it from scratch, I’d have given people the option of saying other or none of these. However, since YouGov had asked the question back in 2003 I wanted to use the same wording to draw direct changes.

Back in 2003 11% of people thought that David Kelly was murdered, 75% that he committed suicide (most thinking he had done so due to the pressure placed upon him) – given it was at the height of the controversey, only 14% said don’t know. Looking at the same question now 30% of people think David Kelly was murdered, 32% think he committed suicide and 38% don’t know – meaning in the 7 years since his death the proportion of people thinking he was murdered has almost tripled. The Daily Mail’s headline was rather sensationalist, but the underlying fact is that a large minority of people do indeed think Kelly was murdered.

Not of course, lest I be misunderstood, that this makes it any more likely that he was.


806 Responses to “30% think Dr David Kelly was murdered”

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  1. Rob S,

    For the record- I ahve been remarkably restrained about DM. I could go to the bother of running his newspaer article of June 2009 through a discourse analysis, or posting his 2003 select committee hearing on PFI. But I wont.

  2. @Sue Marsh

    Er… If you read my comment a little more closely, you would note that I do not think the current government is centrist. It’s purse strings are held by someone on the right wing, and a cuts agenda focuses the direct policy power of government in the hands of the treasury. So DC and NC can be as centrist as they like, the policy decisions are being pushed by GO. DC, and NC, are almost appendices to this government at the moment, since they’ve allowed GO almost free reign in decision making.

    The political problem over this is that the current situation is splitting the Lib Dems, but tightening the leash on GO’s agenda will split the conservatives.

  3. @ Barney

    I have not seen that movie; I don’t watch many movies but I will get it on DVD because I quite like the Bogart movies I have seen. 8-)

  4. Economic Left/Right -1.0
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian -1.74

    Well well, turns out I’m “Left of centre” after all.

    Actually that almost almost happens. But I do think an awful lot of the questions have precious little relevance to either scale, really.

  5. Haha Amber – You’re the only one so far more left wing than me!

  6. Economic Left/Right -1.0
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian -1.74

    Well well, turns out I’m “Left of centre” after all.

    Actually that almost always happens. But I do think an awful lot of the questions have precious little relevance to either scale, really.

  7. colin

    It just confirms my view that these labels are crude & unhelpful-and handy dividing lines for those who can only think, and relate to others in terms of them.

    The ability to make categories and definitions and therefore construct meaning out of the world around us is one of the various things that separate us ‘from the beasts’ as Dickie would say.

    Demonising intelligent thought is…well it does not surprise me that it is you that are doing it.

    It can also be heard on Faux news- Glen Beck and Shaun Hannity are great purveyors of such a dark art.

  8. Jay – You misunderstood me, it was simply that you had been part of the debate. I realised it was on the same side as me. Sorry if it wasn’t clear.

  9. grahambc
    I am a local councillor and work very closely with evangelical christians both in the Cof S and in smaller congregations. As I have posted before, if we are to improve the welfare state we must find a way of incorporating more love and religion is one important way of doing this and a crucial element in any Labour Party strategy. I am not a believer and those I work with know this but my wife is a Cof S activist helping to run the outreach work of the Bethany Trust for rough sleepers. We also have a Street Pastors organisation which works with young people etc. In Aberdeen the selection of our Scottish Parliamentary candidates will be held in the Citadel of the Salvation Army, a connection which goes back through the Labour and Trades Council to before the founding of the Labour Party
    I should also say thaat we Labour councillors have strong links with the Catholic Church where again we have to respect boundaries! However it has to be appreciated that the labour Party in close contact with the Church has been the vehicle for the social transformation of the Irish Catholic community in Scotland. This is one of the foundational elements of Labour’s traditional strength in Scotland.
    If Irish citizens did not have the right to vote in UK elections as they have always done, there would only have been one Labour government before 1997.

  10. Hmm. Liam Fox has called for a ‘Voluntary’ ban of the new version of “Medal of Honor” because it allows multi-player games where one side plays the Taliban.

    I wonder if the cabinet have been briefed at all about what the press are like in August? Or, say, what modern video games are like? Good way to lose a lot of the ‘too young to remember the 80s” crowd.

  11. Rob Sheffield,

    Deary deary me…

    June 5 2009 Andy Burnham gave an interview to the Daily Telegraph.. “I used to share a flat with purnell, he is my friend but I DISAGREE with him”.

    Now give it a rest. From what I recollect Mandy was not swinging on the phone trying to convicne AB to stay.

  12. @ Barney

    Makes me very happy to hear of things like that, the issues the Church have currently have been highlighted in the recent court case with the Catholic adoption agencies and in some other areas of political correctness, like nurses being suspended for praying with patients or told to remove jewellery in the shape of the cross etc.

  13. Jay Blanc
    Yes
    Last night I watched a dvd of the first episode of the thick of it. They are desperately trying to think of a populist cheap policy to grab headlines.
    I know a clamp-down on benefit scroungers….They could have oniforms … etc etc

  14. Rob S

    Telegraph 6/6/09

    Instead Mr Miliband blinked – for the second year in a row. Mr Hutton was prevailed upon to issue a statement supporting Mr Brown, as was Andy Burnham, another Blairite cabinet minister and a close friend of Mr Purnell’s, although not an anti-Brown plotter. Mr Brown had been badly, badly hurt – but was still alive.

  15. john S

    you make an excellent point, and an honest outline of the real conservative position(rather than the palatable position they adopt in public) however the extreme Darwinist’s seem to forget that people are not lions or tigers, we are primates. we have eyes in the front of our head to enable better communication and cooperation, not primarily for hunting as the red in the claw capitalists maintain

    one of the most important aspects of evolutionary theory is adaptability, we humans are successful because we are very good at adapting. if we transfer this our economic and social life, it must surely be obvious that the more rigid class system a society has, the more difficult it is to adapt

    i have more on this but i must dash right now

  16. Well so far , using the crude method of netting the Economic & Social scores, we rank as follows -left to right:

    Name/Economic/Social/Total

    Amber Star -9.25/-4.97/-14.22
    Billy -6.25 / -6.36 /-12.61
    Sue M -8.50 / -3.69 / 12.19
    GrahamBC -8.75 /-1.90 / -10.65
    Eoin -8.12 / -1.69 / -9.81
    Rebecca D -6.25 / -1.90 / -8.15
    NeilA -1.00 / -1.74 / -2.74
    Colin -1.38 / -0.87 / -2.25
    Aleksandar +1.00 / -3.18 / -2.18.

    THe Economic scores are far less variable than the Social scores.

    And who was it who claimed this forum is politically balanced ?

    Roland- I wasn’t sure if your numbers were from it or not?

  17. @ Richard in Norway

    “we humans are successful”

    Debatable ;)

  18. @ Rob Sheffield

    I almost fell off my chair laughing at your comment about Andy Burnham & James Purnell.

    You are obviously going by this:
    Health Secretary Andy Burnham said Mr Purnell had made “an immense contribution to public and political life in this country”.

    “James is a great friend of mine and a man of huge intellect and talent,” he said.

    “He won’t be completely lost to the Labour Party I’m sure, because he remains as committed to the party as he ever was.

    “I think he’s obviously decided to pursue other options and I wish him well in whatever he chooses to do, but James is a great loss to frontline politics.”

    Which is exactly what I’d have somebody neutral say if a cabinet minister had just committed political & career suicide in public & tried to take the party leader & David Miliband down with him.

    Did it not occur to you that Andy B was probably sent to pour some oil on the troubled waters? 8-)

  19. Colin,

    Dont forget Pete B bless em :)

  20. Rob

    “Demonising intelligent thought is…….”

    Stupid?

    It is indeed

  21. @ Colin

    Yes, according to the scores we’re all left leaning.

    The Liberal Democrat ranks should swell overnight ;)

    I don’t know whether I find it odd or not that my social and economic scores appear to be the only ones that are nearly identical…

  22. Colin,

    It was an American website…. hence the skewed nature of it.

    We aint all that left- I dont think…

  23. Eoin

    THanks

    PeteB-profuse apologies-my scribble notes are a mess

    List again with you in place :-

    Name/Economic/Social/Total

    Amber Star -9.25/-4.97/-14.22
    Billy -6.25 / -6.36 /-12.61
    Sue M -8.50 / -3.69 / -12.19
    GrahamBC -8.75 /-1.90 / -10.65
    Eoin -8.12 / -1.69 / -9.81
    Rebecca D -6.25 / -1.90 / -8.15
    NeilA -1.00 / -1.74 / -2.74
    Colin -1.38 / -0.87 / -2.25
    Aleksandar +1.00 / -3.18 / -2.18.
    PeteB +2.75 / +1.36 / +4.15

    You put us all to shame :-)

  24. @ Billy Bob

    Rudd was always one of those intriguing political figures because he seemed like the exact opposite of what you would imagine a winning political leader to be. He always appeared to be quite average, not intellectually but physically and socially. Yet he was what Australians wanted and he had great appeal. I think though what’s interesting is that what did him in was his relationship with his own cabinet. THey didn’t like him and as soon as bad news hit, they got rid of him. I think that led to a backlash against Labor because the leaders looked somewhat weak and whiny. As if to say that a leader should be sacked because he wasn’t nice to you.

    As for the economic illiterate scare tactics, I’m not certain that could be it. In the U.S., people complain and criticize deficit spending even though it saved us from economic devastation and the economy is growing and adding jobs (albeit very slowly) again. However, if the economy was growing at 6% a quarter and we were adding 600,000 jobs a month, no one would be complaining about the deficit.

    I think the ALP must have borrowed Martha Coakley’s campaign manager because with the current climate, they should have won a handy reelection. It shouldn’t be a hung parliament. That say, the results are far from clear in Australia and Gillard may still win the thing. I was complaining about this last night about their declarations of winners in seats only to have those declarations change. Gillard probably won’t get a majority of seats but she may wind up one or two off and be able to get a few independents to back her. ALP is predicting now they’ll get 75 seats. If that prediction turns out to be correct, with that one Green, they’ll have 76. But it’s not clear. So we’ll see.

    @ Roland Haines

    I’m not sure you’re correct when you say that Labour hated the United States. But even assuming what you say is true, it’s in the past. Clearly, Labour does not hate the United States. Blair and Clinton got along famously. I think Obama and Brown saw eye to eye on far more issues than he and Cameron do. I actually know a Brit who works for the Labour Party or one of its political affiliates and he was a major Hillary and Obama supporter. I don’t think these things would exist if there was continuing hatred (assuming that hatred ever existed). And clearly the Labour posters on this site don’t hate the United States.

  25. Eoin -thanks

    It didn’t surprise me seeing some of the scores !!

    It was our relative positions which interested me.

    It seem to me that our economic scores are a function of our general political stance-& therefore fairly stable, but our Social scores are informed by our personal experiences in life & therefore much nore variable.

    Interesting though.

  26. Colin – It ranks us pretty much in the right order though.

    Reds – Please guys, all I’ve been saying all along is the past is the past. We should look at what all the candidates say NOW. Now that they are free from “politics” in the sense that they no longer need to be “Blairites” or “Brownites” or “traitors” or “loyal”.

    They can be who they are now, and personally I think that counts much more for what they truly believe than when they had a boss and a media who expected certain reactions.

    Politics is a FILTHY game and being excellent or nice or intelligent are not enough. You also need to be able to navigate the shark-infested waters of Westminster – not just for a week or two but constantly. Other’s battles become important to you. If these battles bring you down you no longer get YOUR chance to change things. ANYONE who has made it to the kinds of offices the male leadership candidates have will have compromised when they wished they didn’t have to. Some will even have gone against deeply held principles because not to have done so would have finished them.

    It is NOW they are as real as they’re ever likely to get IMO.

    If I’ve seemed to favour any candidate, THIS was the only point I was ever trying to make. I’ve made it quite clear I don’t know who to vote for.

    Labour will TRULY become electable again when they let the future guide them, not he past.

  27. ???

  28. Colin – It ranks us pretty much in the right order though.

    Reds – Please guys, all I’ve been saying all along is the past is the past. We should look at what all the candidates say NOW. Now that they are free from “politics” in the sense that they no longer need to be “Blairites” or “Brownites” or “dis-loyal” or “loyal”.
    They can be who they are now, and personally I think that counts much more for what they truly believe than when they had a boss and a media who expected certain reactions.

    Politics is a FILTHY game and being excellent or nice or intelligent are not enough. You also need to be able to navigate the shark-infested waters of Westminster – not just for a week or two but constantly. Other’s battles become important to you. If these battles bring you down you no longer get YOUR chance to change things.

    ANYONE who has made it to the kinds of offices the male leadership candidates have will have compromised when they wished they didn’t have to. Some will even have gone against deeply held principles because not to have done so would have finished them.

    It is NOW they are as real as they’re ever likely to get IMO.

    If I’ve seemed to favour any candidate, THIS was the only point I was ever trying to make. I’ve made it quite clear I don’t know who to vote for.

    Labour will TRULY become electable again when they let the future guide them, not he past.

  29. @ Sue

    Haha Amber – You’re the only one so far more left wing than me!
    ———————————————————–
    GrahamBC is up there with us on the economic scores. :-)

    I see that having religious values makes a person illiberal, going by the social scores. That is definitely a blunt instrument. Such values are only ‘illiberal’ if you try to inflict them on others without compassion, consideration or tolerance, IMO. 8-)

  30. Colin,

    My social conservatism (and Rebecca’s) did not surprise me… I could have opted for ‘stronglys’ that may have made it even worse, assuming that authoritarian is indeed worse…. oops :(

  31. @Amber

    Nope- in the original post to yourself I was quoting directly from this report:

    “A former Minister who is close to Mr Purnell said: ‘David Miliband’s behaviour is astounding. It is no secret that he has said privately that he agrees with James that Gordon Brown cannot win the Election and that the Party would do better with a new leader.
    ‘James acted honourably and courageously and expected others to do the same. The anger with David is amazing. He is finished as a serious politician as far as many of us are concerned. Mr Purnell is also understood to be disappointed that his close friend Mr Burnham, whose loyalty to Mr Brown won him promotion from Culture Secretary to Health Secretary in Friday’s reshuffle, did not support him. ‘Andy and James see eye to eye on just about everything in politics but, when it came to it, Andy chickened out,’ said one MP.”

    It was also commented upon in the blogosphere and on newsnight that evening (which you may have forgotten/ not watched). All three of them were implicated at the time.

    My point was that it is both AB and DM who are keen on bringing back Purnell….whichever person wins :-)

  32. colin

    ““Demonising intelligent thought is…….”

    What you do every day :-)

  33. @ Rob Sheffield

    I think the report you quote was from the Daily Mail or Mail on Sunday. Forgive me, but I am a little sceptical about it. 8-)

  34. Rob

    “““ intelligent thought is…….”

    Something you never do -any day. :-)

    Good game this

    Your service -love all…..if you’ll pardon that bourgeois phrase .

  35. Sue

    “Colin – It ranks us pretty much in the right order though.”

    Yes-I would agree.

    But the size of the gaps surprise me.

  36. @ Amber Star

    I’ve never been to keen on the term Liberal or libelral democracy etc, I do not view myself as a liberal socially or econmically. my experience with a lot of liberals has been that you should allow any opinion as long as it is liberal. But on any scoring like this issues of abortion or sexuality and family knock a Christian into a more conservative position.

  37. @ Eoin

    I agree with you that anti-Americanism often has little justification. However, I don’t believe we’ve been invaded as many times as you claim.

    We invaded Mexico, not vice versa. Also, we invaded Canada in 1812 though I don’t think Canada was at that point an independent nation, I think it was still part of Britain. That war was utterly idiotic and unneccessary, we could have become part of Britain again because we were nearly destroyed. Admiral Cockburn burned down the District of Columbia. In fact, the only major victory the U.S. had in that war was the battle of New Orleans, where American forces, led by Andrew Jackson, destroyed British forces. However, that battle was ironically fought after the war had actually ended. They didn’t have internet in those days.

    Japan and Al Queda did invade us. Germany didn’t really invade us, though they did declare war on us first in 1941. I forget which nation declared war first in 1917. But throughout World War I and World War II before the U.S. entered the war, Germans did continually attack our merchant vessels. I don’t think that really counts as an invasion though.

  38. @Eoin

    ‘dreary dreary me’ part too-many

    “5th June 23:25: According to Alex Smith, on Labour List, rumours are now circulating within the Labour party that it’s Culture Secretary Andy Burnham who we’re likely to see resigning in the next few days. So, Purnell. Now Smith? Miliband? Anyone else want to throw their hat in tonight?”

    The Labour list entry said

    “UPDATE: David Miliband will not resign and does not agree with James Purnell’s decision, he’s said in a statement.

    Rumours are spreading within the Party tonight that Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, is likely to resign from the cabinet over the next few days. He would be the sixth minister in as many days to step down after Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell left the government tonight.

    Meanwhile, Radio 5 and Sky News are both strongly hinting that David Miliband may also step down in the next few days.

    Burnham and Miliband were both staunch Blairites during the 1990s.”

    “We don’t know whether James Purnell acted alone. What is clear, however, is that he was left high and dry when other potential rebels, such as David Miliband, Andy Burnham and Alan Johnson chose to remain in the Government.” Crick on snoozenight which backs up the mail and ES reports quoted to Amber and which you scoffed at earlier.

    This one from the Independent is just hysterically funny.

    The Primrose Hill Set

    Capofamiglia: David Miliband

    Sottocapo: James Purnell

    Consigliere: Andy Burnham

    Capodecina: Liam Byrne

    Uomini d’onore: Jim Murphy, Pat McFadden

    OK that’s more than enough proof for me now that they were all involved. But as @Sue says- that’s the past.

  39. Interesting section on political compass about where parties and governmetns rank on their scoring, mostly right wing econimcally.

  40. @ Rob S

    What is clear, however, is that….
    ————————————-
    ……Clarke, Hoon & Hewitt were ‘confiding’ all sorts of nonsense to anybody in the media who would listen to them.
    8-)

  41. @ GrahamBC

    I noticed that. Brown to the left of Sarkozy but to the right of Merkel. 8-)

  42. @Amber

    “Labour List” ????

    :-)

  43. @ Rob S

    Labour List & Labour Uncut etc. like rumour & gossip as much as anybody else – perhaps moreso; they look out of the loop if the mainstream media have Labour gossip that List & Uncut haven’t had 1st. 8-)

  44. @ Roland

    “….Its time for some straight talk to these people who very good at being sexually active, but bloody hopeless with the result.”

    I trust you’re including the erstwhile Mr Conway, former Tory MP and father of those fine offspring who financed their university education via the British taxpayer. And while we’re at it, let’s say a word in passing to Mrs Thatcher and her wonderful son Mark, busy generating wealth for this country whilst financing armed insurrections overseas. Bad and feckless parenting crosses all social classes.

    Again, a word of advice. Be very careful before you mount that infamous old horse called piety, sanctimony and humbug. Dangerous beasts indeed!

    I wish you all goodnight while I continue to grieve about Villa’s lamentable performance and result at Newcastle tonight!

  45. Rob – You’re just trying to prove that a perfectly good candidate has a past, just as Eoin was maintaining with another candidate.

    You both just smear what has been a good debate.

  46. @Amber

    yes to labour uncut per your description. But I’ve not used them.

    But labour first is an officially accepted organisation- the main/ key Labourite grassroots organisation.

    I’d prefer to source party information from labour list any day as opposed to the Torygraph- as Eoin did: twice (but from the same single story).

    Although at least he did provide some counterpoint- you have not produced anything- apart from a lot of smiley’s-with-sunglasses ;-)

  47. @Sue

    Nope- I am just pointing out that (with respect to the June 2009 coup attempt) the three of them were ‘all in the same plague pit together none of the them having clean hands’ to quote TTOI.

    What I am not doing is painting a dirty smeary picture of one of them whilst painting saintly-white of the other.

  48. Someone asked AW earlier to smuggle in a Q in YG about who should be Labour leader.

    If such should occur I hope the option ‘don’t care ‘ is included.

  49. @ Rob S

    you have not produced anything- apart from a lot of smiley’s-with-sunglasses
    ——————————
    It’s what I do best. ;-)

    Oops, nearly let the side down there. 8-)

  50. howard

    amen to that

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