When politics matters...
If anyone ever suggests to me that politics doesn't matter, I tell them to remember 9 November. It's a day I will never forget.
Not just because I was lucky enough to stand on top of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago.
Not just because I will never forget the moment I watched a young Berliner jump off the wall into East Germany to hand a flower to one of the troops who, just days before, would have been under orders to shoot on sight anyone who dared to do such a thing.
Not just because when people say the word "freedom", I think of the spontaneous applause which followed and the smiles which broke on the troops' faces.
But also because of a less happy German anniversary. Today marks 71 years since Kristallnacht - the Night of Broken Glass - a night of co-ordinated Nazi attacks on German Jews on which synagogues, homes and businesses were ransacked, dozens of Jews were murdered and thousands arrested and sent to concentration camps.
Luckily, my grandparents - who were German Jews - had fled Berlin already.They taught me that politics mattered.
...and when it risks looking like it doesn't
Much heat has been generated by the front page of today's Sun which highlights the anger of a grieving mother who felt insulted by a handwritten letter of condolence from Gordon Brown which misspelled her son's name. What light is shone by this row?
First, that with grief comes anger.
Second, that there is widespread anger with Gordon Brown in the military.
Third, that the Sun is willing to channel that anger as part of its campaign to be seen to be standing up for "our boys" and to remove Gordon Brown as our prime minister.
Fourth, that Gordon Brown has scruffy handwriting and uses a large black felt pen because he has poor sight in his one functioning eye.
Fifth, that the Downing Street operation has let its boss down by letting this letter leave the building instead of ensuring it was re-written.
So far, so unremarkable.
The reason this is a story is because of the widespread sense of doubt about the continued value of British forces fighting and dying in Afghanistan. The row about this letter and the one about the PM's apparent failure to bow his head at the Cenotaph are proxies for the much wider and much more important debate about whether "our boys" are fighting and dying in vain.
On 9 November of all days, we'd do well to remember that.