Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Tim Wilkinson's lively critique of David Aaronovitch's article in
Saturday's 'Times' (14 August 2010)

'There is no mystery over David Kelly's death' proclaims the headline. Well, in one sense you might say that: no mystery, no esoteric ineffables, no transcendent unknown. Of course that is not the sense in which the headline is supposed to be taken - not officially - but it sounds a lot more plausible that 'no room for doubt', 'no stone left unturned, or 'no unresolved issues'.....


Anonymous said...

Terrific takedown of a malicious article. Why does Aaronovich go to such lengths (articles and a book) to rubbish even the mildest requests for an investigation. Any ideas? Also, I haven't read his book - but does anyone know if he refutes a single point that Norman Baker has made in The Strange Death of David Kelly?

Tim Wilkinson said...

Apart from anything else, it's because he operates in a binary world where every question is a matter of two opposing sides.

He likes debating, which generally involves that kind of approach. You know the kind of thing: 'Sausages: wonder food or poisonous filth?' or whatever.

That's also a common feature of journalism (every story has two - and only two sides). It's obviously even more prevalent in the comment columns where Aaro dwells.

He's lined up with Blair, the Iraq War, and more generally the lazy received opinions of sneering pseudo-rationalists about, among other things 'conspiracy theories'. So his stance is predetermined, his craft being only to present it in a skilful way.

He is indeed quite skilful in that respect. While he's happy to smear and belittle to some extent (and does so very freely in private), he's pretty good at calibrating the degree of contempt he can get away with in any given case. He's also better than many others at doing it with a reasonably light touch.

Aaro's book chapter on Baker ('Mr Pooter'), contains most of the same stuff as is trotted out in the Times piece.

Apart from that, it concentrates on (a) personal attacks and (b) ridiculing carefully selected speculative asides from Baker's hastily-written book, generally by presenting them as though they were both firmly endorsed convictions and essential to his argument.

For example he goes on at great length about the likelihood of Kelly being suicidal - an utterly intractable topic on which no-one can conclusively contradict him.

In terms of Baker's central - and straightforwardly factual, checkable - assertions, which speak for themselves, he doesn't refute any of them (unsurprisingly, since they are basically all true).

Anonymous said...

I find it rather odd that Home Office Patholgist Nicholas Hunt is being wheeled out now (more likely than of his own accord - "got clearance from the government") and even odder that he says he wishes he could have found something untoward!
Nicholas Hunt says it was a textbook suicide, but how common is this method of death even to get into a textbook? (or was the suicide faked with a textbook dramatic scene?) It was reported that such a "textbook" method of death was only used by Dr Kelly in that whole year!
Can a suicide faked by a third party be distinguished from a genuine one? Isn't that what one ought to be looking at? Was the apparent Ulnar arterial bloodbath observed by Hunt caused by Dr Kelly's own blood?
And suddenly we are back to a heart condition killing him (unscripted and inconvenient, perhaps?) What a weird old case.
A proper inquest is the only way forward

Anonymous said...

Interesting reading - thanks.

What faith do you have in an inquest? Has there ever been a state-sponsored/out-sourced assassination exposed in one? Certain political events or parapolitical events are 'off the table' unless you wield some political power separate from the axis of the state.Who does? There is an American glove over the mouth of the British establishment here,too.

Anonymous said...

Why does Aaronovitch go to such lengths? Apart from the fact he's an extreme right-wing, hate-filled creature who supported Blair's illegal war presumably because it was supported by Israel, is any other eason needed? He would wouldn't he? Wonder how his bank balance is.