I’ve said in my previous blog that I generally like Mona Siddiqui’s contributions to ‘Thought for the Day’ and find them among the best in this often rather irritating genre. However, I had reservations about what she said today in talking about President Trump’s forthcoming visit.
She though that Jeremy C9rbyn and the Speaker were wrong to refuse the invitation to a dinner given in Trump’s honour. We might disagree with his views but he would be a guest and the demands of hospitality require that we welcome him courteously.
Certainly hospitality is an admirable tradition in Islam – I’ve benefited from it myself in the past – but Trump is not just any guest and his visit raises complicated questions. We are extending the invitation for our own (commercial) reasons and he is accepting it for his – presumably not unconnected with his forthcoming attempt to be re-elected. This isn’t something I’d wish to increase the chances of happening.
I don’t know what reasons Jeremy Corbyn and the Speaker have for refusing to meet him, but if they are motivated by a reluctance to demonstrate even tacit support for his political ambition I can see their point. I like the attitude of the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, who initially said he wouldn’t meet Trump but then changed his mind and said he would, in order to tell him why he disagreed with him.
As to what members of the public can do, I’d vote, not for demonstrating in the street but for simply ignoring the visit as far as possible, or alternatively lining the route of his ceremonial progress up the Mall and maintaining complete silence.
Mind you, none of this would have arisen without Mrs May’s ill-advised invitation to Trump made soon after she became PM; just another of her many mistakes, but that’s a different story.