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. @ Steve Coberman

    “And Ghandi is dead, and Mandela retired. Whither shall I turn? Whence shall I travel?”

    Don’t worry about it – just rejoice at being in a quadrant stuffed with nice people :)

    People like Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, The Dalai Lama…Che Guevara…Trotsky…Lenin…

  2. Barney Crockett

    The CoS was certainly never the Tory Party at prayer.

    Would you agree with me that the CoS has been a generation ahead of the CoE on every social and ethical change in the last 50 years and that even when the protestant middle class were still voting Conservative, there was more principle-led resistance to WMD, hanging and the like, and an earlier softening of attitudes on abortion, pre-marital sex, women clergy, homosexuals, racial equality?

    That is evidence in the populaton at large of a greater respect for Wisdom, Justice, Compassion and Integrity than is allowed to Scottish Labour MSP’s by the London leadership who require them to play party games. That the sole eccentric excused such control is the only survivor of the group who had the judgement to follow Donald Dewar into the Scottish Parliament is no coincidence and no surprise.


  3. @ Jay Blanc

    “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 like my games but with this specific title I’m a bit deterred by the fact that it’s based on an ongoing conflict. I think it would be more appropriate to make this kind of thing allegorical rather than explicit.

    That said, I’m not convinced that this is a reason to censor.

  4. @Barney

    I was interested as it is my ancestral home

  5. @Eoin at 11:16 pm

    My reply to Rob followed two or three days of his baiting on the subject. In hindsight- I am very satisfied with myself for replying to his smears on Burnham. Feel free to go back and read the thread… he slurred AB first.

    Tut Tut Tut- we are ‘a broiling’.

    The discussions of the previous two days to which you have responded so aggressively were to do with:

    1) class- which you admitted you don’t like as a defining socio-economic category/ explanatory device. Indeed you admit you find much to agree with on this matter with @Colin (who believes we live in a classless society where ‘you gets what you deserves based on the efforts you makes’ and class is used by nasty political people to divide us/ separate us apart from each other).

    2) Tacking to the centre in order to win the next general election- the last two days of which were merely the latest instalment of a long running dispute between us on this specific issue, which will run all the way to whenever either of us has our internet connection cut off. You believe in a core vote strategy, or as you put it the other day (I précis) ‘I want the Tories to be on the centre ground and labour to be left wing so that when it’s our turn we actually get a left wing government’. I think- as do others- that this is tragically misguided.

    The AB, DM and JP tantrum this evening of yours was a red herring (dark red)- a side issue to these two main points of debate above.

    To remind you (as I clearly need to *again*) I merely pointed out that AB was clearly in the thick of the events in June 2009 as were DM and JP. I’m not smearing anyone- just reporting what has been reported in many places elsewhere by many other people. Anyone reading through the threads of the last days will observe this easily- so can you please get off your pompous high-horse on this infinitesimal of matters.

    As you already know from previous threads I am voting DM/ EB/ AB and not expressing a 4th or 5th preference. Yes- I am voting for AB. Are you voting for DM ??

    You really need to let this DM obsession go. Otherwise you are in danger of constantly appearing the zealot ( and ‘bómánta fear’ ) who must make everyone believe keep how terrible a human being and unwise a leadership choice DM would be.

    I am not directly responding to any more of your DM rants from now onwards. I am going to await the result and move forward from there.

  6. Sue Marsh

    “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.”

    Why is it then that the truly radical are so often elderly conservatives of an age at which they could have retired with honour?

    F W De Klerk; Charles De Gaulle; N Kruschev; Tito; Harold MacMillan.

    Perhaps it is because they become more reflective as they age and they discover what their principles are. Perhaps it is because of wartime experience. Perhaps it is because they were born in the 19thC.

  7. @micahel V/ @Jay

    ““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.”

    Fox has clearly not heard then, of ‘Armed Assault II: operation arrowhead’ which is an in depth FPS-and-strategy game based in a fake country that is obviously Afghanistan. It also has SP and online MP modes.

  8. @Michael V

    “Hyperbolic is exactly what many of these comparisons are. It was particularly galling to see Huhne, an economist, trying to draw parallels with Greece when he was attacking Labour with Warsi recently.”

    Clegg did it again tonight apparently.

  9. @Howard

    Eoin If you have someone who is too up front on the issues you mention, your lot will not get elected.

    Eternal problem which is why you end up with gaitskells and blairs. If you get Smiths, remember 50% tax (funny that we’ve got it now anyway) you don’t get elected.

    My maxim is ‘get elected then do what you want’ like GB did.

    Absolutely spot on ;-)

  10. John B Dick

    I was actually amused by the small amount I “beat” Amber by – 0.04. The combined score of course is nonsense, it actually goes against the whole point of the two dimensional assessment. Interesting though that the three highest scorers are two Scots and a Manxman.

    To your “old men in a hurry” list add Paisley senior and Eisenhower denouncing the Military-Industrial complex. And the grandaddy of them all – Gladstone.

  11. My Political Compass

    Economic Left/Right: -6.75
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.69

    h ttp://

    h ttp://

    Drfafted American Libertarians they don’t tend to put leftists in the authoritarian camp as much as ‘compass’ tends to do.

    As yankee constructs ‘libertarian’ is very much a rightist creed; liberalism a leftist creed…..:-)

  12. The combination of scores on two factors, Economic and Social, reminds me of the results of research I read in the academic year 1960/61.

    It was titled “The Moral Responses of Children” or something of that sort, and written by amarried couple called Williams.

    They asked a number of questions of small children “Is it wrong to hit your little sister and make her cry” and categorised the responses into about 13 categories. They wern’t interested in wrong/not-wrong.

    The answers were classed as Authoritarian/Libertarian and altruistic/selfish.

    I’d like to locate it if anyone knows how.

  13. Nature or Nurture

    Maybe W S Gilbert got it rightwhen he wrote:

    I often think it’s comical – Fal, lal, la!
    How Nature always does contrive – Fal, lal, la!
    That every boy and every gal
    That’s born into the world alive
    Is either a little Liberal
    Or else a little Conservative!
    Fal, lal, la!

    When in that House M.P.’s divide,
    If they’ve a brain and cerebellum, too,
    They’ve got to leave that brain outside,
    And vote just as their leaders tell ’em to.

    But then the prospect of a lot
    Of dull M. P.’s in close proximity,
    All thinking for themselves, is what
    No man can face with equanimity.

  14. John B Dick – Perhaps it’s guilty conscience?

  15. A little bit late to the poltical compass assessment thingy, but here is mine:

    Economic Left/Right: -5.62
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.10

  16. Rob,

    Let the Dm thing go? I had not mentioned him for a week. I invite you to show me a post where I had….

    I do not recall any discussion with you on class- I did not know you had an opinion on class.

    Your views on AB were plucked out of thin, in fact I do not recall ever mentioning AB to you.

    Dont make me go back and cite you, posts where you brought these topics to me…

    Off the top of my head, their was a bete noir citation two days ago, presentations poltics post yesterday, I woke up to a hard left accusation yesterday. and then there was a ‘chum dig.

    I ingored the bete noir one
    I ignored the presentation one
    I responded to the hard left one

    In my response to the hard left one I did not mention DM

    I ignored the chum one

    None of these 4 posts from you brought a mention of DM from me….


    You then pipe up with your AB fallacy, which I disproved.

  17. And…am I the only one who thinks it is unfortunate that left wing and libertarian views are associated with negativity whereas right authoritarian are depicted as positive?

  18. @ Richard in Norway

    Agreed. A society whose class structure is rigid and inflexible will not survive. What’s needed are class boundaries that are strong but permeable – allowing restricted movement in both directions. But make the class boundaries porous or eliminate them altogether (as John Major wanted to do with his “classless society” ) and the society will collapse completely.

    @Amber Star

    Even some major religions nowadays accept Darwin’s teaching that human beings are products of nature and part of it. So they cannot “transcend nature”, as you put it.

    Certainly, groups of humans do naturally cooperate in classes as, indeed, do other species. My point is that cooperation in classes is an important Darwinian mechanism through which classes struggle against each other for survival of the fittest.

    Without class boundaries there would be no class competition. That would lead to weakness and the eventual collapse of the society. Classes keep society strong.

  19. Mike N – Italian for left is “sinistra” from the word sinister.

  20. Sue – yes, indeed.

    But arguably those righties are the sinister/wrong lot, aren’t they?

  21. My score on Political Compass
    Economic – 6.88
    Social – 2.51

    I tried “the advocates” and came out personal 70 economic 30. It said I was Liberal – so I am away to lie down in a darkened room for a while!
    8) :)

  22. h ttp://

    This was one of the things I was most interested in during the debates. I was astounded to hear a Con leader talk of re-hab and treatment, and I’m pleasantly surprised to see some follow through.

    With one enormous caveat.

    Treatment is very expensive and residential places woefully inadequate.

    If this government are prepared to commit to treatment, they will need to spend spend spend. Can you compel and addict to give up an addiction? All experts say no. How long will the addict have to stay clean for the treatment centre to get paid? Why would they stump up the cash for the 7 or 8 people who will not stay clean in order to be paid for the 2 or 3 who do? However, providing places for those who show a desire to no longer be addicted would be a great step forward.

    One further thought : If council house tenants are to be compelled to downsize or move to areas of employment, drug addicts are compelled to take treatment, the sick and unemployed are compelled to take work etc etc, how does this sit with Liberalism? Or does Liberty only apply to the middle classes, the good and the capable?

  23. @ Mike N

    It’s because it’s an American survey. They don’t like liberals over there. For some reason it’s associated with communism.

    For example answering ‘strongly agree’ to that question about whether MNC’s should have a higher social responsibility, than just the profit margin, will punt you into the ‘communist’ region of the chart.

  24. @Billy
    I felt when answering the Qs that some were more attuned to America and some more to Great Brit.

    I wonder how much weighting is given to answers, as this would reflect where zero is in terms of viewpoint.

  25. @ Roger Mexico

    I was actually amused by the small amount I “beat” Amber by – 0.04. The combined score of course is nonsense, it actually goes against the whole point of the two dimensional assessment. Interesting though that the three highest scorers are two Scots and a Manxman.
    I agree that it is the illustration of the positions of people posting that was interesting & relative to one another they looked reasonably accurate.

    Your ‘highest’ score (on the ‘sinister side’) had a smaller economic component & higher social liberal component than mine.

    I believe I am not liberal about pornography.
    Another question asked about the state & what goes on in people’s bedrooms; that likely lost me a few points. I was thinking of AIDS & suchlike in my response to it. I may have put more thought into my response than they put into the question!

    Obviously, this is meant to be a bit of fun but somewhere along the way, I have taken it too seriously. I should ‘get a life’. 8-)

  26. @ Mike N

    I imagine that all the questions are weighted based on whether its a simple agree, disagree or strongly agree, strongly disagree. Then points will be added, subtracted based on answers elsewhere.

    But the science behind these surveys always goes over my head – like with IQ tests and how the number is assigned.

  27. @ Billy

    Have you ever done a personality test? These seem to me to comprise a few question types but repeated many times in different scenarios.

    I don’t like them, perhaps because they pigeon-hole people.

  28. A reasonably balanced biography of Ed Balls for those interested…

    I like that he cooks.

    h ttp://

  29. Better late than never.

    Economic -7.12

    Social Lib -3.28

  30. testing


  31. 3-)

  32. Valerie

    I’ve tested a few of those smiley thingys mostly without success.

    There is a brilliant one I found on another site which blushes periodically. Unfortunately it seems as though it needs some coding on the site to make it happen.

  33. Thanx Mike.

    I’ll keep experimenting! :-)

  34. Valerie – <3 makes a heart on Facebook, but sadly doesn't work on UKPR :(

  35. Valerie – <3 makes a cute little heart on Facebook, but sadly, doesn't seem to work on UKPR :(

  36. Hello???

  37. Weird. I posted (twice) to Valerie that <3 makes a nice little heart on Facebook but doesn't seem to work on UKPR, but the post didn't appear either time!!

    Third time lucky……

  38. Oooooh, I’ve found a conspiracy!!! Valerie, I was trying to tell you a code for a heart, but every time the post disappears!!!


  39. <3

  40. Sue, of course (see below)

    Caroline Lucas (not flint grr) as minister for housing
    Charlie K as Defence secreatary
    DM as foeriegn
    Yvette as chancellor
    AB as PM
    Ed B as Education minister
    Gordon B as secretary for Scot wales & NI
    Ed B as Home office
    Diane Abott as equalities
    Hatty Harmon as shadow of commons
    Sadiq Khan as justice minister

  41. Sue,

    Ed M as Home Office

  42. Sue –

    It would appear that it doesn’t just not work, the system also decides it’s spam and casts it into outer darkess!

  43. :eek:

  44. :oops:

  45. Well Julian, you smiley guru, you.

    DO tell how to do the blushing!!

    Thanks Eoin, I put EM in at the environment though.
    TJ at the Home Office.

  46. Hey. We’ve all got to be good at something.
    Take a look here;
    h ttp://

  47. 80

  48. 8-0

  49. :oops:

  50. 8O

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