Superb eulogy to Ted Kennedy

I’ve just watched President Obama’s eulogy at Senator Ted Kennedy’s funeral. It’s not often you see a standing ovation at a funeral, but on this occasion it was perfectly appropriate. Obama gave a moving, dignified and informative tribute which was superb in summing up the remarkable life of this towering figure.

Here it is on YouTube:

These exam results are the first for children educated solely under a Labour government

The exam results we are seeing come out at the moment are historic. The children who are getting their exam results this summer are the first set of children to be solely educated under a Labour government. They would have started school aged four (or shortly afterwards) in 1997 and are now sixteen.

That’s the first time that has happened – a full school career under a Labour government.

I know. I am a member of the last generation which was largely (but not entirely) educated under a Labour government. I went to primary school aged five in 1964 when Wilson’s government came to power. I left school in 1977 during Callaghan’s government. Unfortunately, Heath’s pesky Conservative government from 1970 to 1973 ruined everything, but did mean that I enjoyed school during the three-day week including black-outs from 8pm onwards. (So we had early cocoa and I ended up making friends with a boy who happened to have a torch – a useful alliance, that was.) I also ought to mention that I went to a public school for my secondary education, so the link to the Labour government was somewhat indirect perhaps. But then again, I think the Labour government in those days encouraged a generous “Direct grant” system for pupils whose parents could not afford the full fees, from which I benefited (as I also did from a jammy scholarship examination. My benevolent primary school Headmaster helped me out with the first question on longitudes and latitudes – which was nice of him. The lad who I beat into second place never let me forget that.).

Tributes to Ted Kennedy

The best tribute to Ted Kennedy I have read is this one from Michael Tomasky in the Guardian, entitled, simply, “Ted Kennedy made the US a better place”:

There are and will be more Kennedys, but the Kennedy era is over now. Teddy was imperfect enough that some Americans will say amen to that. Let them. The rest of us know what a dramatically better place this country is because of him.

The Boston Globe has an excellent series of videos on You Tube which relate Ted Kennedy’s life story. The series includes this video about the 1980 CBS interview with Roger Mudd, when Ted Kennedy had trouble answering the simple question: “Why do you want to be President?” It is perhaps an object lesson in how to get the truth out with a simple question:

Here also is the text of Kennedy’s superb speech from the 1980 Democratic convention (thanks to Tony Ferguson for the link). You can hear the speech in two parts here , here, here and here. It is covered in a Boston Globe video here:

Senator Ted Kennedy RIP

I was very sad to hear of the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. He achieved more as a Senator than some US Presidents achieved in office. A towering figure in the US. He was a benchmark “liberal”. In the USA that term is often used an insult but Ted Kennedy gave it a proud respectability by doggedly but eloquently holding his views, while, most importantly, working “across the aisle” to achieve progress. His was a great example to us all of a life of distinguished public service based on rock-solidly held principles.

Daily Kos gives this excellent tribute:

Kennedy was a liberal fighter in the old mold. The plethora of legislation he helped pass made life better for children, for the poor, for African-Americans, for immigrants, for workers. He didn’t just give lip service to the rights of workers, he stood in their corner. He fought for access to health care and for quality education. And he opposed the likes of Robert Bork and others who wanted to trash the gains American women, workers and minorities had made over the years.
He will be sorely missed.

The Financial Times has a obituary here.

On BBC Breakfast their US correspondent suggested that Kennedy lost the 1980 Democratic nomination race against Carter due to the spectre of the Cappaquiddick accident. However, the more immediate cause was Ted Kennedy’s disastrous interview with Roger Mudd of CBS, which Kennedy embarked upon without aides. Even the easy question “Why do you want to be president?” met with a response which was variously described as “unprepared”, “rambling”, “incoherent”, “vague” and “repetitive”. After that interview, it was down hill all the way as far as Kennedy’s battle against Carter was concerned.

Indeed, Wikipedia observes:

Broadcaster and blogger Hugh Hewitt and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson have used the term “Roger Mudd moment” to describe a self-inflicted disastrous encounter with the press by a presidential candidate.

And finally Esther…#2

A couple of straws in the wind regarding Esther Rantzen:

Linda Jack tweeted at the weekend thus:

At Love Luton Hate Racism – Esther Rantzen spoke – vry short sed nothing at all, not even 2 condemn fascism!

And from last night’s Jam and Jersualem comedy drama, spoken by David Mitchell as Dr James Vine (who is a budding Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate in the story):

If the only alternative to politicians is Esther Rantzen then God help us all.

Oh go on then…

There is a disadvantage to going on a camping holiday to the most beautiful place on earth (Fowey, since you ask). Or perhaps I should rephrase that. There is a disadvantage as a Vodafone subscriber going on holiday to the…. One likes to keep up with the news. But with Vodafone, one finds oneself holding up one’s phone just to get one bar for two minutes to surf the interweb thingey. Then you go into the local garage and the girl behind the counter says: “Oh no, you need Orange for Cornwall”. And you go into the Fishing tackle shop and the bloke behind the counter says “Oh no, you need 3 here”. And as you leave their premises you can hear their snorts of derision..”Another Emmet who thinks Vodafone will do in Cornwall”.

This is by way of an extended apology for missing Jo Swinson’s excellent article on “Real Women” on LibDem Voice. Jo has provided all the argument and links to evidence (mainly from GirlguidingUK) which I need to now wholeheartedly support the ‘Real Women’ proposal to “Protect children from body image pressure by preventing the use of altered and enhanced images in advertising aimed at under 16s, through changes to Advertising Standards Authority rules. We would work with industry regulators and professionals to find ways to ensure that children have access to more realistic portrayals of women (and men) in advertising.”

Well done Andrew Strauss and team!

Many congratulations to the England cricket team on winning back the Ashes! I can hardly believe it! I had to ignore this particular match because I was afraid of disappointment. Special mention must go to Andrew Strauss who has proved himself as a superb captain. Also well done Monty Panesaar for his last stand at Cardiff which was perhaps the most crucial point of the series.