Ruth Dudley Edwards: Ted Kennedy loathed Britain - so why did Gordon Brown knight him?





[Ruth Dudley Edwards is an Irish historian and journalist.]

Sometimes it is right to speak ill of the dead. The truth matters, even when it is deeply unsavoury. The truth about Ted Kennedy is certainly unsavoury.

Not that you'd know it from yesterday's tributes, dominated by sycophantic humbug.

'A great and good man,' said a fawning Tony Blair. 'A true and constant friend of the peace process in Northern Ireland,' said Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward.

Gordon Brown was 'proud to have counted him as a friend and proud that the United Kingdom recognised his service earlier this year with the award of an honorary knighthood'.

Proud? He should be ashamed. Kennedy was a formidable and Machiavellian political operator in the U.S., but he was no friend of Britain. In fact, he was one of our most committed and unrelenting enemies on Capitol Hill.

In his anti-British sentiments, he took after his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, who was unable to hide his bigoted views during a shameful spell as U.S. ambassador to Great Britain.

Ted did his father proud. As a politician dependent on Irish-American votes, this master of empty rhetoric had no scruples about spreading the bitter message of Irish republicanism, especially if there was an election at stake.

Indeed, his pro-republican record was unblemished, though he was never in favour of violence. When Northern Ireland descended into violence, it was Kennedy who, in 1971, gave aid and comfort to the IRA by comparing British attempts to prevent civil war with the U.S. invasion of Vietnam.

He, like the IRA, supported the republican Troops Out movement, and demanded that Ulster Protestants opposed to a united Ireland should 'go back to Britain'.

He also blamed the 1981 hunger strikes on the 'insensitivity' of the Thatcher government rather than cynical republican leaders sacrificing prisoners for electoral advantage.

Later in life, as he came under the influence of the Irish government, he began to moderate his stance on Northern Ireland. But he remained a vociferous critic of the British government and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

It was never enough that he occupied a safe Senate seat, 'inherited' from his father, who had bought it with a fortune made from bootlegging.

He believed he was entitled to the U.S. presidency, too. And had he not caused the death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick in 1969, he may well have been able to ride his brothers' reputations all the way to the White House.

While it cost him the presidency, it failed to dampen his obscene sense of entitlement...


comments powered by Disqus