Dining across the divide: ‘He supports a new Heathrow runway – we should invest in trains’

Jasper, 26, London

Portrait of Jasper

Occupation Architect

Voting record Jasper, who was born and brought up in south Wales, describes himself as left-of-centre and has always voted Labour. He voted remain in the EU referendum

Amuse bouche Jasper once had a pet turkey called George Bush

Miles, 27, London

Portrait of Miles

Occupation Campaign organiser

Voting record Mostly Conservative. Miles used to be the chair of his local Young Conservatives. In the EU referendum he wanted to vote leave but didn’t think it would be good for the City and foresaw problems with the Irish border

Amuse bouche Miles says he once told Theresa May a joke: “I said the only problem with being a Tory is when you go on dates, you end up going home alone. She thought that was hilarious”

For starters

Jasper He seemed like a nice bloke. I was slightly surprised. I was expecting someone from a fee-paying school, maybe dressed in Harris tweed. He did say he considered wearing tweed. I think he was relieved I wasn’t some super-duper activist – he kept joking that I hadn’t glued myself to the table.

Miles I was worried he was going to be a complete weirdo. We bonded over Wales. I’ve lived in London all my life, but my dad is from Cardiff.

Jasper I thought I was middle-class in south Wales where I grew up, but when I moved to London, suddenly I wasn’t. I met a lot of quite posh people and I was the roughest person they’d met.

Miles A teacher at school showed us an Ed Miliband speech and I just felt: you don’t get it, you don’t get people. One of his lines was: “Labour wants the best for Britain” and I thought: that sounds like someone who doesn’t leave north London, and someone has told him this is what people in the sticks want to hear.

Jasper The current lot only have their self-interest at heart. People used to go into government because they wanted to serve their country. Now it seems they do it because they want to become multimillionaires afterwards. Or while they’re in office.

Jasper and Miles sitting at a restaurant table against a white-painted brick wall

The big beef

Miles We should open the coalmines. Closing them permanently damaged communities; deindustrialisation in this country has made millions of people feel aimless and depressed. Opening the coalmines in the Welsh valleys isn’t going to make climate change any worse.

Jasper That’s not forward-thinking if burning coal is going to be banned in 20 years. He talked about emissions in other countries, but we had the Industrial Revolution much earlier.

Sign up to our Inside Saturday newsletter for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of the magazine’s biggest features, as well as a curated list of our weekly highlights.

Miles You can’t get countries like India and China to stick to targets – you can’t say they can’t grow their economies, get more people into cars, use electrical goods, etc. Jasper was in favour of flying less, changing our living habits to fight climate change. I said, “We need to focus at the top and build more nuclear power stations.”

Jasper Miles supports the new Heathrow runway. Heathrow expansion is clearly a bad idea – we should be investing in trains.

Jasper and Miles sitting at a restaurant table against a white-painted brick wall

Sharing plate

Miles We agreed on the need for proportional representation. And I agreed with him that all the levelling up is focusing on northern England, not Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales. I’m in favour of any measure that will keep the union together.

Jasper We both thought austerity was a tragedy. For many people I know, it’s one of the reasons they could never vote Conservative.

Jasper and Miles sitting at a restaurant table against a white-painted brick wall

For afters

Miles I’m in favour of putting troops on the ground in Ukraine. It’s not just about Ukraine, it’s about Europe and about Russia’s worldview. It was basically a proxy attack on us, and we should have demonstrated to Putin that we knew that.

Jasper I wouldn’t go and fight there. And I don’t think world war three is the best idea. There’s a risk of turning up and then pulling out like in Afghanistan, where it is flooded with weapons from the west and no one takes responsibility. It would be saturating Europe with arms.

Jasper and Miles sitting at a restaurant table against a white-painted brick wall


Miles It’s useful to listen to people who can challenge your views and make you think a bit harder. Face-to-face is definitely more intense – you have to be challenging but gentle as well.

Jasper My main takeaway was shock about his idea of sending the army into Ukraine. That overshadowed most things for me as I was walking home.

Jasper and Miles sitting at a restaurant table against a white-painted brick wall

Additional reporting: Naomi Larsson


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.