Corbyn's refusal to take tea with Trump shows why he can never be Prime Minister

PUBLISHED: 11:00 04 June 2019 | UPDATED: 20:15 04 June 2019

Jeremy Corbyn should go to the state banquet, argues James Marston Photo: Rick Findler/PA Wire

Jeremy Corbyn should go to the state banquet, argues James Marston Photo: Rick Findler/PA Wire

James Marston suggests that by refusing to listen to people whose views he disagrees with, Jeremy Corbyn would struggle as leader

If Jeremy Corbyn comes round mine for tea I wouldn't boycott him. I'd want to hear what he has to say, if the opportunity arose that is.

I don't know about you but I don't think much to his latest protest of snubbing the state banquet in honour of the US president. I think it is, at the very least, unwise.

Maybe I ought not to say it but I fear a Corbyn government will be far more dangerous than any Brexit deal or no deal, I can't help feeling he's treated the Queen a little shabbily.

It's not as if she can decide whether or not to go to the state banquet because she might not like some of the people there very much, she has no choice. But she always does her duty and never lets us down.

Mr Corbyn might love a protest and to hit the headlines but surely dialogue - talking to people one doesn't much like - is far more sensible than ignoring or refusing to engage with someone at all. Without talking and getting to know someone and their world view, positions just become more entrenched and more polarised.

Confusingly, yesterday Mr Corbyn seemed to accept the point saying he was prepared to have a dialogue with Mr Trump, but by then the moment had gone, and Mr Trump said no thanks. It was too late, and the result is a media spat - increased division, not less.

Yet talking to one another is a basic fact of how we conduct human and political relationships. Indeed, Where would we be if we didn't deal or talk to the oil sheikhs or China or the European Union? How can we raise our concerns or get our point across or learn anything about anyone if we haven't got the decency to sit down and talk?

Mr Corbyn's boycott and his apparent determination to protest rather than engage begs the question; would he take the trouble to find out about people or talk to anyone he disagrees with if he were Prime Minister? Or would he simply protest? It's a scary thought as to do so would leave little room for listening. It is people like Mr Corbyn who seem to demand everyone else listens but seem unwilling to do so themselves.

Listening is not the same as hearing, as listening requires different skills of concentration and communication.

As a journalist my job isn't so much to write things as it is to listen to what people say, and observe how they say it in order to write the things I write.

I don't always get it right but it is from listening that we learn, and from learning that we can understand, and when we understand ideas and people we can engage with them in far more effective ways.

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When I was growing up there was a political mantra, particularly in relation to the troubles in Northern Ireland that we don't negotiate with terrorists. But this has never been the case. In order to find something even approaching the peace and reconciliation of the Good Friday agreement, the Major and Blair governments began by listening and talking with the people whose views they disagreed with, and may have even found offensive.

Of course the trouble is that these days politicians are not only unable to deliver on what they promise but they are increasingly divorced from the reality of the lives of the voters who put them there. The inherent and tacit compliance of the governed with those in authority is stretched and under pressure - and while that relationship will likely and eventually heal a refusal or inability to listen in the meantime, especially by politicians, is not helpful, nor is it wise.

James' Mailbag

Dear Mr Marston

I wonder whether you are aware of The Bilderberg Group?

This is made up of top politicians and businessmen, who are all under the impression that they rule the world. I can only imagine what sort of pressure Theresa May may have come under from her colleagues in this group, besides the opposition across the channel. Having watched the Behind the Scenes programmme about Brexit from the EU side of things, it has become very obvious that all our negotiators are just selling us down the river.

The Irish Backstop is the only "legally binding" part of the Treaty Theresa May signed up to. When triggered, which Spain, France and now Ireland have all said they would trigger this immediately, we would permanently lose our fishing waters to the EU, from which France alone makes €179 billion every year.

Just imagine this sort of income being earned by our much reduced fishing fleet. Besides this, we would be tied to the EU for ever, with their hands deeply in our financial pockets.

Yours sincerely

J. Willard


What is the Bilderberg group? Is Corbyn wrong not to listen? What do you think? Write to James at

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