A survey conducted by British newspaper The Mail showed that 43% of people polled believed Blair should resign over the affair. Only 42% believed he should stay in office while 15% remained undecided.
The poll results is a blow to the Prime Minister, who up until the war with Iraq, had a huge following, making his majority seem unassailable. Since then, his trust ratings have slumped and a number of his most loyal ministers have quit in protest.
The survey was taken the day after Lord Hutton, leading the inquiry into Kelly’s death, adjourned proceedings for 10 days.
Kelly spoke to a British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) reporter soon after the start of the war in Iraq and expressed his doubts about the veracity of government claims that supported their push for war.
His name was leaked by the government as the source of the BBC report. Kelly apparently slit his wrist in a forest near his home two days after a humiliating public cross-examination by a parliamentary committee.
“Beneath (Blair’s) smiling demeanour (is) a ruthlessness that is accompanied by a lack of respect for proper procedure, and a willingness to be economical with the actuality”
Clare Short, Ex-International Development Secretary
Blair recently said that if charges that his government had “sexed up” Iraq weapons reports were proven, he would resign.
Blair is also coming under increasingly savage attack from erstwhile political allies.
Former International Development Secretary Clare Short, who quit her post in May over the war in Iraq, wrote in the Independent on Sunday newspaper that Blair should stand by his own words over the Kelly’s affair, AFP reported.
Blair’s communications chief Alastair Campbell was forced to resign a week ago, after being accused of masterminding claims that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes.
These claims remain unproven four months after the end of the war.
Short’s attack came close on the heels of an article written by former Environment Minister Michael Meacher, who left the cabinet in June.
Meacher claimed, in the article published in the UK and US, that Blair blindly followed a US administration set on invading Iraq long before 11 September 2001.
He cited a paper written by the Project for the New American Century, a neo-conservative think-tank set up by US Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld in 1997.
The paper, called Rebuilding America’s Defences, talks of a US presence in the Middle East being of the utmost strategic importance in securing oil supplies to the world’s largest economy.