I always read the Simon Heffer column in the Daily Telegraph. I rarely agree with his views but I like the way he tackles issues and states his beliefs in a forthright manner. No waffle there.
On Saturday, surprise, surprise, we were of like minds.
He cited the extraordinary decision of Prime Minister Gordon Brown to announce in his speech to a joint assembly of the US Senate and Congress that Ted Kennedy was being honoured with a knighthood.
As the conferring of this honour was not publically discussed in the UK ahead of the event I can only presume it was for US consumption and designed to grease Brown’s path to receiving a rousing cheer from America’s elected representatives.
Now Ted Kennedy is one of the three brothers that made such a mark on US Politics. Alongside JFK and Bobby he is the youngest and the least. Their father, Joseph, was a “bootlegger” then US Ambassador to the Court of St James in the years leading up to World War II and was no friend to Britain.
Ted was expelled from Harvard for cheating in his Spanish exam and later on the night of July 18, 1969, Kennedy drove off a bridge in Chappaquiddick Island after attending a party for women who’d helped in Bobby’s election campaign. In the car with him was Mary Jo Kopechne. I am sure you remember as well as I that Ted escaped and swam to safety, but Kopechne died in the car. Kennedy left the scene and did not call authorities until after Kopechne’s body was discovered the following day.
I accept that in the intervening years Ted Kennedy has distinguished himself in public service in the USA. I also felt sorry for him when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. However, as Simon Heffer rightly points out, Teddy was a staunch supporter of the Republican cause during the 1980s and 1990s during which period he welcomed IRA assassins to numerous St Patrick’s Day parades. So somebody explain to me, please, why Kennedy has been honoured for his contribution to US-British-Irish relations?
As the US has painfully learnt since 9-11 terrorism is no laughing matter especially when it strikes at the heart of one of your major cities. The honour for Teddy Kennedy on that citation is an insult not only to the victims of the IRA but to every one of us. We shouldn’t be surprised that Gordon Brown insults our intelligence but with two British soldiers gun-downed in cold blood this weekend, by the same IRA gang that Kennedy supported in the past, the Prime Minister owes us yet another apology.