Given Iain Dale has tagged me to blog about my first political memory – I cannot resist. The only hesitation I have – is that it somewhat reveals my advanced years!
The first time politics impinged on my secure little childhood was when I was watching television in our lounge in the flat in Highgate that I grew up in – Highpoint. I can’t remember whether they interrupted the TV or whether it was just on the news – but the newscaster in super-serious tones was talking about something to do with Cuba and nuclear war.
I can’t say I truly understood the the whole scenario as I was aged 10 when the crisis began on October 15, 1962. The USA had reconnaissance photos showing Soviet missiles being built in Cuba – hence it became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. The ante was upped, tensions rose and on the point of nuclear war – letters exchanged etc and Krushchev agreed to dismantle the installations on the basis that the US would not invade Cuba.
As I said, most of this passed me by – but I remember being scared by the news. I understood the danger – and I guess it was the tones of the newscaster and the muted exchanges by my parents. It was this singular event that opened my understanding that the world was not stable and that my world somehow depended on men in foreign countries not taking leave of their senses. Clearly – not a lot has changed!
So – not a British political awakening – but certainly an early understanding of international politics!
In turn – I will tag Will Howells (thanks for filming my conference diaries!), Stephen Tall (man in charge at this year’s Lib Dem Blog of the Years awards – and winner last year), Matt Davies (Haringey colleague – councillor for Fortis Green), Martin Bright (of the New Statesman and a constituent of mine) and Paul Walter (the ultra-prolific Lib Dem blogger).
And I was in my first term at university… It was a frightening time, and recent re-appraisals of the crisis reinforce your view about individuals with massive power over life and death.