Today saw the end of an era with the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. He was the last direct link with the powerful Kennedy clan that, at the start of the 60’s, had looked to be the future of American politics. Their father, Joseph, had hopes that all three brothers could rise to the ultimate position in US politics.
Edward entered the Senate as the replacement for JFK, assuming his seat after JFK became President. Yet, within 10 years, 2 brothers would be dead and Edward faced with a career limiting scandal. The Chappaquiddick accident left a stain that would follow him for the rest of his political career and destroy his hope of becoming President or Vice President.
Yet he managed to become a “big hitter” in the Democratic party and helped to bring about many major changes in American society in the next 35 years. This included working with the Republicans where it was necessary in order to get a piece of legislation through both Houses.
With the death of younger members of the family he is the last real link between the Camelot and hope of his brother’s Presidency, the promise of Bobby’s candidacy and the modern Democratic Party.
The New Dawn?
Well today Network Rail announced the preferred route for High Speed 2 – the hoped for new dawn for rail travel. If it goes ahead we could see rail journeys from London to Glasgow being cut to 2.5 hours or London to Birmingham in 45 minutes.
Of course that means spending £34bn+ for the full line and no one knows whether or not we can afford this. It would be easy enough for the current government to say that they will give the go ahead, knowing full well that they are likely to be out of power next year.
The Conservatives have stated that they will definitely commit to building HS2 from London to Manchester and then onto Leeds, at least. Personally I think that the whole thing should be built to Glasgow/Edinburgh plus the extension to Leeds and then Newcastle.
Doing this would reduce the need for short haul flights and congestion on the motorways. Yet it must, more than anything, allow affordable travel to all. Not the way things are now with very high fares for a poor service.
Hopefully the present, and future, government will commit to the project and that we’ll see the great leap forward in public transport that this country needs.
We also need to look at the future and High Speed 3. Maybe we could see a link into Wales and the South West to allow a truly national High Speed network. This would give us a far more enivronmentally friendly way to travel across the country.
Yet I think we all know what is likely to happen though….