Bill, 62, Edinburgh
Profession IT consultant
Voting record Bill has predominantly voted Conservative, but describes himself as a “liberal Conservative” rather than “a hang-’em-high, shoot-’em Conservative”. In the referendum he voted leave
Amuse bouche Bill has walked the glaciers of Mont Blanc
Helen, 56, Roswell, Midlothian
Occupation Lecturer in mental health nursing
Voting record Helen, originally from Sunderland, describes herself as “very left-leaning”. In the last general election she voted Labour. In the referendum she voted remain
Amuse bouche In 2016 Helen went on – and won – Think Tank, a BBC quizshow
Helen He told me he’d just got two rescue cats so I immediately warmed to him. I support a charity that rehabilitates disabled animals that have been hit by cars in places like Romania, brings them over here and makes little wheelchairs for them.
Bill Helen is a far more generous person than I am; she’s just one of life’s good people. She does good stuff.
The big beef
Helen It was a veggie place – I had the veggie haggis, which was fab. He had hummus and olives, then the risotto. I’m vegetarian, and think it’s cruel to slaughter animals for meat when we don’t need it.
Bill I enjoy meat. So long as the animal is well cared for, and killed humanely, then I’m fine eating it.
Helen We had a conversation about battery hens. I think it’s appalling – all hens should be free to roam.
Bill It would be better if hens were free range. But if you ban battery farming – which is obviously cheaper – you take away choice from poorer people, who then can’t afford so many eggs. As a liberal Conservative, I like choice.
Helen I would ban hunting altogether. There’s something unhealthy about people getting dressed up and having rituals and killing something; it’s like some bizarre cult.
Bill Hunting is part of controlling vermin, and animals that prey on farm animals. You want to control foxes, because they worry sheep and chickens.
Helen We have built on land the animals used to run about on. There are urban foxes because we’ve taken their land away – they have nowhere else to go.
Bill There is a balance in nature, and these activities are part of maintaining that balance in the most natural way.
Helen I’m totally opposed to Trident. We need to take a pacifist stance. I’m a member of the Peace Pledge Union. This mutually assured destruction stuff we had in the 80s – “I’ve got more nuclear weapons than you, I can blow up the world six times, you can only blow it up three times” – they just need to listen and realise how ridiculous it is.
Bill If I thought we had the choice not to have them, I wouldn’t. But if we withdraw from the debate we weaken the broadest thing we stand for, which is the western way of life. Not the Chinese way of life, not the Russian way of life – they are not democracies. If we had to defend our democracy I would rather have them than not have them. Trident is a necessary evil.
Helen We talked about nuclear power, too. I know we can’t just close all the nuclear power stations overnight, but instead of building new ones we should put the money into renewables. I’ve got solar panels on my roof.
Bill Great – but we live in Scotland where the sun goes down at 3.26 in the afternoon and doesn’t come up till 8.40 in the morning.
Helen We are always going to have wind and waves – we need to develop a system where we can store that power.
Bill I agreed that the real challenge is storage. I have invested in some companies that generate hydrogen from renewables for that very reason.
Helen We had very little in common, but were respectful of each other. The food was good. He said he really enjoyed the meal. That’s how you get through to people: you don’t scream at them outside supermarkets, you take them for a veggie meal!
Bill We live in completely different circles. Helen is far more virtuous than I am. But the easiest thing to do is to sit in your bunker and reinforce your already set beliefs. Don’t. Get out there and talk to people – it’s a vital part of human society, and better than throwing bricks.
Additional reporting: Naomi Larsson
Bill and Helen ate at Hendersons, Edinburgh
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