Like most people, the first time I marked my cross on a ballot paper I was not long out of school. I’ve never forgotten the hustings in Northampton Market Square in 1974. The Labour candidate stood the soap box to the left, handing out hymn sheets for the Red Flag. The Tory didn’t even turn up. Ahead of me the young Lib Dem candidate poured out a passionate argument for going into the European Community because it would end wars in Europe. I wanted to vote for that. I believe that war is sometimes necessary. Winning war is heroic but it is never a success. Our failure is in preventing war. I was passionately against nuclear weapons. I still am. This was my first vote. In complete buggeration, my father had not included me when he returned the family polling card to the town hall.