When David Cameron has finished worrying about the potential break-up of the UK, the threat from UKIP and the return to politics of leadership rival Boris Johnson, he has the small matters of impending war in Ukraine and the rise of Islamic fundamentalists to concern him.
American president Barack Obama is equally caught up in those latter two issues, having been caught on the hop earlier in the month when he said the US “didn’t have a strategy” to deal with the threat of Isis. Having hoped to be the President that would withdraw the US from its role as the world’s policeman, last night he made a TV address to the nation saying that military action could be necessary in Iraq and Syria.
Iraq and the Ukraine are probably top of the agenda for most world leaders, in fact. Both conflicts have been constants in the newspapers and on TV news bulletins throughout the summer, with the death of two Newcastle United fans in the Ukraine plane attack and the beheading of Western hostages by an apparently British jihadi bringing both situations closer to home than ever.
What options are open to the West to resolve either situation is a matter of debate, however. Economic sanctions against Russia have been increased and increased as the Ukraine crisis deepens, but the chances of Nato getting involved in a direct conflict with Russia - or even arming Ukraine - seem slim. Similarly, world leaders will need to be highly persuasive to convince politicians and the public that their armed forces should return to Iraq to counter the threat of Isis.
When, last September, MPs forced Mr Cameron to pull back from the threat of military intervention in Syria, a Journal poll showed that the majority agreed with that decision. The survey conducted by Northumberland-based research specialists Other Lines of Enquiry showed that, nationally, 60% were against intervention in the country, a figure that rose to 63% in the North East.
A year on, we have returned to the pollsters to ask people questions about the response to what it happening in the Ukraine and the Middle East, with the results showing how much things have changed in 12 months.
North East poll: Should the UK Government do more to counter the threat of Islamic militants?
Asked whether the Government should be doing more to counter the threat of Islamic militants, a resounding 77% nationally and 80% in the North East said yes.
But when asked what Ministers should be doing, the public’s opinion was much more divided.
In our poll, the most popular action (at 34% of those questioned) was for supporting Nato military action, but 19% favoured UK military action, 14% preferred increased diplomacy in the area and 19% simply didn’t know.
We also asked people whether the Government should be doing more to help Ukraine against the threat from Russia and here the results were even less clear cut. Nationally, 40% of people wanted Ministers to do more but 36% didn’t and 25% counted themselves as “don’t knows”. (A fairly similar split was seen in the North East, though in this region the No vote came out on top by 39% to 32% of people saying yes.)
North East poll: Should the UK Government be doing more to help Ukraine against the threat from Russia?
Asked what the Government should do, there was an even split between supporting Nato military action (27% nationally, 20% in the North East), increased economic sanctions (27% both and in the North East) and doing nothing (20% across the UK and 28% in the North East.