LIKE BANQUO’S ghost in Macbeth, the death of government scientist Dr David Kelly is set to haunt Tony Blair.
Following the scientist’s suicide, Blair sought to minimise the political damage over the affair by appointing Lord Hutton to conduct a public inquiry. But whatever the limitations of the inquiry, many people see the hand of Blair behind Kelly’s death. Only 24% of people still trust New Labour in a YouGov poll, a mere 3% ahead of the discredited Tories.
The sequence of events leading to the current inquiry is convoluted but essentially one of government skulduggery.
It was Tony Blair as George Bush’s trusted lieutenant who argued that war with Iraq was necessary because Saddam Hussein’s regime was in possession of weapons of mass destruction which posed an immediate threat to Britain and the world (’launch capability within 45 minutes’).
Last September the Blair government published a "dodgy dossier" including this threat based on information reportedly furnished by the security services. In fact the material had been cobbled together by Downing Street and, in the words of Dr Kelly, according to BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan, the dossier had been deliberately "sexed-up".
To cover this up the government it seems contrived to make Kelly the fall guy. Pressure was applied to Kelly’s employer, the Ministry of Defence, to name and shame him. The implication is that defence secretary and cabinet member Geoffrey Hoon acted on behalf of Blair’s spin doctor, Alistair Campbell. Gilligan quotes Kelly as saying that Campbell inserted the ’45-minute launch threat’ into the dossier.
This tangled web of deceit is now unravelling. The head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove, responsible for compiling the dossier, has now announced his retirement. Evidence perhaps of a falling out between Number 10 and the spychief. And even before Kelly had been buried, Blair’s press officer attempted to rubbish Kelly as a Walter Mitty-type fantasist.
In a sense none of this should come as any surprise. Governments lie and they use their spies to spread disinformation. The British state waged war on Iraq to assist the US to secure its strategic aims, namely, control of important oil reserves and to impose its political domination on the region in order to further its capitalist interests.
The suicide of David Kelly has focused media attention on the government’s manipulation of events but socialists must expose the broader issue of imperialism in the 21st century.
The deaths of Iraqis, the destruction of that country’s infrastructure, the unemployment and deepening poverty, the anarchy, the political instability, the lack of rights and democracy, the ethnic and religious tensions, are all the consequences of an imperialist war. This is the key issue for the working class, not simply how the government pushed an employee over the edge.
Moreover, the political lessons are clear. The Labour Party is an establishment party representing capitalism and, in its foreign policy, an adjunct of the White House. Like the killer android in The Terminator film it has no humanity and it cannot be reasoned with. Also, it cannot be tamed to represent the interests of the working class in Britain or internationally.
Only a new party founded by trade unions and campaigning organisations of working people, and fighting for socialist ideas, can offer an end to the horrors of capitalism and imperialism.