Debate on the holding of a Grand Prix in Bahrain is confusing. Some say it is about the safety of the teams, some about whether we should be encouraging the pernicious regime of the Al Khalifa family.
As to the first, the Bahraini people have a supportable grievance: they began Arab Spring-type uprisings against the regime but these were brutally put down with assistance from Saudi Arabia (Bahrain, connected to Saudi via a causeway, is a place for wealthy well-connected Saudis young and old to buy cocaine, get drunk and find a prostitute). This uprising needs the oxygen of international publicity and so it seems quite likely there will be some trouble at the event, and equally likely that it will be brutally put down by the regime.
Formula 1 is, more than any other sport, a business, and I rather think that it can look after itself on security matters. If they want to go and the teams agree, that's that.
The other aspect is whether we look complicit in all this (we, the West, and we, the British since several of the teams are located in England).
I remember the 1980 Olympics in Moscow which America boycotted and Britain wanted to boycott, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (times do change, don't they?). The unpleasant dwarf (I knew him at university) Colin Moynihan was a government minister but insisted on going to the Olympics (being only 2ft high and having a loud voice he was cox to the rowing VIII, or possibly the mascot). In the end Mrs Thatcher let him.
What we thought then was that a sporting event bestowed kudos on, or at least acceptance of a regime and we shouldn't participate with Russia (or, of course, South Africa at the time, as you will remember). I'm not sure I do think that, now. It looks as if Bernie Ecclestone just wants to make money out of the Bahrainis, not endorse their government.
And I am quite sure that this is no business of the state. The British Foreign Office should make it clear to Bahrain and Saudi what we think of what is going on there and that's all.
Not that it will make any difference.