As the Leader of the Opposition it’s sometimes hard to do the right thing and stick to your principles. Say for example when a controversial political figure is invited on a state visit and you’re asked to go to a celebratory banquet marking the occasion.

You really don’t want to attend as quite frankly you find the prospect so abhorrent that you’d even prefer to go to The Spice Girls reunion show or a Michael McIntyre gig.

But how do you get out of such a sticky situation while retaining what little remaining dignity you have in the eyes of the public? A head-on refusal, although very worthy and laudable, sadly won’t win you much praise from the press as you’re currently finding out.

OK, fair play to you, you handled it your own way but you could’ve been subtler in how you dealt with the media, so NewsBiscuit is pleased to offer the following helpful advice should such circumstances befall you again.

1. Deny you ever received the invitation. Consider corroborating this with supplementary evidence such as ‘the dog must’ve eaten it’ or ‘our postie is so bloody lazy that he probably didn’t even bother his arse trying to put it through the letterbox in the first place’.

2. Write back saying you’d be delighted to attend but sadly you can’t because the date clashes with a particularly important beard-sculpting consultation.

3. Accept the invitation but on the morning of the banquet call the Prime Minister, and in an I’ve-got-man-flu-put-on-voice say: ‘Ibe vebby sobby Pribe Mibbister, but Ibe come dowb wibb a tebbible coabd and Ibe now tucked up ib bed wibb a hop wobber bobble, paracetabol and a box ob Leb-sip. Really truly sobby…’

4. If you feel you can’t pull off (3) convincingly then get Diane Abbott to call in on your behalf and in a sad plaintive voice tell the organisers just how bad you’re feeling. If she doesn’t think the story is washing well then authorise her to augment your man-flu symptoms to include a bout of raging diarrhea.

Tell her, if necessary, to deploy the phrase ‘yes it’s so bad he could shit through the eye of a needle at thirty yards with his chocolate laser’. That should kill any further discussion stone-dead and do the trick.

And there you are, instead of having to go and grovel around one of the world’s biggest narcissists, who has neither the wit or intelligence to even tie his own shoelaces, or worse still, maybe next time it could be a ruthless despotic perpetrator of genocide and suppressor of human rights, then instead you can enjoy a lovely Summer’s evening at your allotment, with a nice pot of tea and a well-thumbed copy of Razzle that you found behind old Bert’s tomato plants.