Conspiracy theorist enters government shock!
The most interesting news to come out of yesterday’s reshuffles (apart from the promotion of Tristram Hunt to Shadow Education Secretary) is the elevation of Norman Baker to a government position at the Home Office. Baker is best known as the Lib Dem backbencher who took a year out of his parliamentary career to write a book claiming that Dr. David Kelly’s death in 2003 was not suicide and was instead murder by people who wanted him silenced.
This has lead to many of today’s newspaper headlines declaring that a conspiracy theorist has entered the government. Baker clearly is a conspiracy theorist of a sort – he apparently also has doubts about the death of Robin Cook, which is borderline bonkers. But he can’t be a classic conspiracy theorist in the sense that his suspicions about government involvement in Kelly’s death have lead him to imagine an all-pervasive conspiracy enveloping public life. No one could survive and indeed prosper in public life who thought that. So Baker must know where to draw the line, at least in his public pronouncements. He is also well known as a tenancious campaigner, whose investigations helped prompt Peter Mandelson’s second resignation from the government and revealed early on the widespread abuse by MPs of their expenses claims. Even conspiracy theorists can be right some of the time.
More striking is what his promotion (to the Home Office of all places!) says about the goings on within the Coalition. Nick Clegg demanded it and apparently Home Secretary Theresa May is ‘spitting tacks’ as a result. From the outside it looks pretty peculiar – Clegg must be playing a complicated game to want someone like Baker causing trouble inside the tent rather than out. When a conspiracy theorist enters the government, it is tempting to think a conspiracy must be at work.