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William Hatchett

And what about John Smith and Robin Cook? William Hatchett’s pacey thriller, The New Labour papers, weaves a compelling fiction around the scientist’s departure and explores other convenient events associated with the rise to power of New Labour.

A decade before David Kelly’s death, on the 11th of May 1994, opposition leader, John Smith, made a fund-raising speech at the Park Lane Hotel for Labour followers. The following morning, he suffered a massive heart attack (the same fate that was to befall Robin Cook, eleven years later). Two months after John Smith’s death, Tony Blair became party leader. Even if one does not believe in a conspiracy, the event was a transition from dourness, decency and honesty to the slick social climbing, venality and spin doctoring of the Blair and Mandelson era – the dynasty of New Labour.

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