Sadly conflict and terror has centre stage again. The despicable use of poison gas against civilians in Syria should be universally and unequivocally condemned. Amongst the horrors in that war torn country this is the greatest of horrors and takes us back 100 years to the devastating use of chemical weapons in the First World War.
The United Nations should be strong and impartial enough to act against the aggressor. Sadly Russia's misuse of its veto makes that challenging to achieve. The UN investigated the attack a year ago in Khan Shiekhoun and concluded that the Assad regime had used sarin gas.
Whilst the brutal regime is sheltered from accountability by Russia it is very difficult for the UN to act. And with an American President who seems to shoot from the hip the world is an ever more dangerous place.
The ability for parliament to consider how the UK should respond to such a dire situation helped focus the nation's collective mind back in 2013 and 2016. On both occasions I agonised over the very difficult choice - because either action or no action carry risks. There is no risk free option. There is no magic wand to stop this killing and inhumanity.
In 2013 parliament said no to action and in 2016 it said yes. On both occasions I cast my vote against extending the UK's involvement because on both occasions I was not convinced that UK action would improve the situation. Having acted without parliamentary approval the PM now needs to act within the United Nations to support UN investigators in carrying out their work and all members of the UN including Russia and the US need to bring the perpetrators of chemical weapons violations to account.
Last week I was on a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association visit to New Zealand, which is a long way away!!! But as one of our key security allies through the Five Eyes alliance, that includes Australia, the United States and Canada as well, it was a reminder of how important working together and sharing information is to ensure our safety and security in an ever changing world.
With Anzac Day approaching it was a poignant reminder of the sacrifice made in two world wars from across the world to preserve our freedom and way of life when we laid tributes at the New Zealand war memorial. We met the wonderfully charismatic Kiwi PM, Jacinda Ardern who shared our view that it is better to resolve issues through diplomatic pressure if at all possible, whilst recognising that sometimes it isn't.
With the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, United Kingdom this week it is a massive reminder of the power of nations working together for the common good. We learnt a lot about doing trade deals after we leave the EU from the Kiwis who have developed a huge expertise in doing trade deals over the last few decades. Indeed it is a New Zealander who has been appointed as our top trade negotiator. I came away with the very strong feeling we should be able to do a trade deal with New Zealand if we can do one with anyone. They are very like us. But they are a small country a long way away so the deal will be more symbolic than anything else.
The other thing that was clear to me is that UK agriculture is in for a shock post Brexit as it tries to compete in a world with fewer subsidies. And it might not be a world that people in agriculture voted for - but it is probably the right thing! All of these things will be buzzing round my head as I pound the streets of London to raise money for pancreatic cancer charities, Scunthorpe & District Mind and Scunthorpe Foodbank. A massive thank you to everyone who has kindly sponsored me onhttps://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicholasDakin