Should UK forces be authorised to bomb so-called Islamic State terrorists in Syria? I may be asked to vote on this issue in the Commons shortly.
As ever, it’s a tough call.
The refugee crisis shows us how desperate things are in Syria. Who can blame those thousands of refugees trying to escape the horrors of a brutal civil war? Most of them are just like us, ordinary people who want a safe and secure life for themselves and their families.
And it truly is a brutal civil war. On the one hand is the Syrian government of President Assad. He has used chemical weapons on his people and still drops massive barrel bombs on to civilians from helicopters. He is a crony of President Putin of Russia. Two bedfellows most welcome to each other.
On the other side is Islamic State, which is neither Islamic nor a state. These are a cruel, brutal, sectarian and above all fascist regime. The UK has a proud history of fighting fascism in Spain and Nazi Germany. There can be no negotiating with IS. We already use military force against them in Iraq. But while we recognise the international border between Iraq and Syria, IS does not. We can attack their fighters in Iraq but can’t pursue them across the border. For me it makes sense that we can take the fight to IS.
But then I ask myself, why always us? Why must it always be the UK to take on this responsibility? At some point, IS will be need to be defeated on the ground, and I am clear that there is no appetite in Britain for us to be involved in a ground conflict.
Indeed, the current situation was caused in part by the failure of the war in Iraq that ousted Saddam Hussein - a war I opposed at the time – to be followed up with proper support to rebuild Iraq. So we have to ask, is another war going to make the situation any better?
If we bomb IS, will we also bomb the Assad government? Is attacking both sides in a civil war going to help? And how do we stop countries, like Qatar, from apparently funding IS?
Even in Chester we can’t ignore this debate. Whether it is helping refugees or facing the threat or terrorism, we can’t duck the issue much longer.