Eating throughout the divide: ‘If we had been on a prepare, we wouldn’t have spoken – however we had a lot in widespread’ | Life and elegance


Russell, 37, London

Occupation College lecturer in British and European politics

Voting document Has voted in 5 elections for 3 totally different events, primarily based on who appeared finest on the day, not tribal loyalty

Amuse bouche Ran into Jacob Rees-Mogg in a Home of Commons bathroom and satisfied him they shared a bottle of wine at a Tory convention. Russell has by no means been to a Conservative convention


Zaf, 33, London

Occupation Director of analytics at a big FTSE 100 agency

Voting document Normally Labour

Amuse bouche As a substitute of a midlife disaster, is having a hipster life disaster and fascinating with moustache wax and fixie bikes

For starters

Zaf I had a crab salad and a hen of the woods, which is a mushroom that’s presupposed to style like hen. It did, vaguely. It tasted extra like mushroom, however I like mushrooms.

Russell I had monkfish with – what’s that fancy ham referred to as? – Parma ham. Zaf was affable and pleasant – we received on like a home on fireplace.

Zaf I used to be somewhat intimidated as a result of he has a PhD in political science. However we received on insanely nicely.

Russell and Zaf

The massive beef

Russell My concern over large-scale immigration is that it fuels the far proper. I don’t assume it adjustments the nation or the tradition. But when it’s too quick, we’re going to finish up handing Tommy Robinson the keys to Downing Road. It results in the host nation turning into actually protectionist and nationalist. And I don’t assume that’s distinctive to Britain. If there was speedy immigration into Japan or India, the identical factor would occur.

Zaf The rhetoric proper now could be harmful. I’m a British Asian, the kid of first-generation immigrants, and my dad’s from east Africa, the identical diaspora as Priti Patel’s father. It’s no coincidence that these policymakers are Asian; it’s the primary entrance of legitimacy. I can’t see how they’d be capable of take such a hardline stance in the event that they had been white.

Russell I believed he agreed with open borders, however it was extra sophisticated than that. We each assume the present system is damaged, and must be considerably reformed to accommodate refugees fleeing conditions that we now have triggered. We talked in regards to the full catastrophe of Afghanistan, and the way our authorities screwed it up. After all we must always settle for Ukrainian refugees, however why don’t we now have the identical compassion in direction of individuals who aren’t white?

Zaf Now we have to determine a reliable, authorized route for individuals to use for asylum earlier than we begin shutting off different routes. I’ve expertise in battle areas, and I’ve frolicked with households who needed to flee when the Taliban first invaded and when the Russians invaded. With out exception, your entire household doesn’t make it. They lose a sister, a mom. At what level in that journey had been they meant to use on-line? Till these routes are established, we will’t be turning away individuals.

Russell and Zaf

Sharing plate

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Russell We come from very totally different cultural backgrounds, and totally different non secular and ethnic backgrounds. We ended up agreeing that generally a conflict is preferable to not intervening. Along with his expertise in Kabul and mine of working with Nato, we thought we’d come from completely totally different sides.

Zaf Bizarrely, we agreed on the idea of humanitarian navy intervention. Once I was in Afghanistan, we might see the positives instantly. I used to be in a position to rent ladies, I might see the affect regionally. As quickly as we left, the writing was on the wall.

Russell and Zaf

For afters

Russell We mentioned imperial nostalgia and whether or not that knowledgeable Brexit. He was saying that within the former colonies there’s plenty of imperial nostalgia, however we by no means speak about it. However we will’t change the empire, we will’t change Brexit. We each have the perspective that what’s achieved is completed – we’ve received to play the playing cards we’ve been dealt and transfer on.

Zaf The purpose I put to him, which he agreed on, is why are we not taught in regards to the empire in faculties? Then it defeats racism on the root, as a result of should you’re extra conscious of how Britain was established, you’re a lot much less prone to choose different cultures as alien or overseas once they’re a part of your story.

Russell and Zaf


Russell If we had been on a prepare, we wouldn’t have spoken. But it turned out that we had a lot in widespread. It’s not within the realm of huge politics that British individuals can reconcile. It’s within the little on a regular basis issues. We each love Greggs and Alan Partridge.

Zaf It was extra like a Blind date than Eating throughout the divide. I received his quantity, and we’re going to satisfy up.

Russell and Zaf

Further reporting: Kitty Drake

Russell and Zaf ate at The Chelsea Pig in London.

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