Dining across the divide: ‘Soon there won’t be any leftwingers in Labour, just Keir Starmer clones’

Clive, 65, London

Occupation Part-time advisory teacher

Voting record A natural Labour supporter, though not during the Blair years. Describes himself as “broadly socialist with some anarchist leanings”

Amuse bouche Clive is a spoken-word artist and appears at open-mic events. “I like the immediacy of performing”

Jayne, 62, Worcestershire

Occupation Retired college lecturer

Voting record Always Labour

Amuse bouche After retiring, Jayne retrained as a dog groomer. She has converted her shed into a grooming parlour. “I love it, just me and the dogs”

For starters

Clive It was a really swanky restaurant with a sommelier who matched the wines with each course. Everything was beautiful, it almost felt criminal to eat it.

Jayne We both had a beetroot dish, and for mains, I had cod and Clive had a cabbage dish. The food was lovely. Clive looked like someone who, 40 years ago, I would have been on a march with – someone I would get on with.

The big beef

Clive I’m not going to vote Labour in the general election. I feel Keir Starmer has been totally undemocratic. He stood on a campaign involving various pledges and many have been broken, not least of which was uniting the Labour party – well, he’s united it by making it smaller and chucking people out.

Jayne A lot of the things Starmer put on his list a couple of years ago have been crossed out, and that has been disappointing. But I’m being pragmatic. I am going to vote Labour because it’s the only way to get a change of government. I don’t hate Starmer, I just think they’re terrified of not winning.

Clive Starmer has stitched it up so much, the selection of candidates; soon there won’t be any leftwingers, just Starmer clones. There’s nothing about Starmer or the Labour frontbench to suggest that once they’ve hoodwinked Daily Mail readers into voting Labour they’re suddenly going to embark on this radical programme. I mean, Rachel Reeves is ex-Bank of England, for goodness sake.

Jayne I think we’ll see a baby-steps return to a more leftwing agenda. If you win 400 seats, then you have a lot of resources to make changes. A huge-majority Labour government would be a great thing, and could take us back the other way faster – that’s my hope. On Rachel Reeves, I think she will be a steadying force, and they have to have that because one of the things that the public won’t put up with is if things go skewwhiff financially.

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Sharing plate

Clive Starmer, David Lammy, and the whole frontbench’s position on Gaza – they still insist on calling it a humanitarian crisis as if it was an earthquake or something. Starmer should know better – he’s an international human rights lawyer – but he just asserted Israel’s right to deprive Gaza of water. That’s untenable and unforgivable.

Jayne We were pretty much on the same page on Gaza. I do think Starmer should have called for a ceasefire before David Cameron did. Israel has been funded and propped up by the west for ever, and this is just a continuation of that. What we’re seeing is heartbreaking.

For afters

Clive I’m really concerned that Labour are not hiding the fact that they’re going to further privatise the NHS or bring the private sector in – that would be a costly disaster. It used to be that the NHS was untouchable – you can’t get rid of it, you can’t privatise, you can’t bring in private finance. It’s a fact of life that successive governments are not allowed to tamper with.

Jayne If that does happen – and I think it will because Wes Streeting has made no secret about it – and we end up with a sort of combination service supported by the private sector, I won’t have a problem with that so long as the NHS remains in charge. We’re not Russia: our country is made up of the public and private sectors.


Clive I was worried that I wouldn’t have a strong argument, or remember anyone’s name, that it might be a slightly intimidating experience. But it was a very enjoyable way to spend an afternoon – a good political discussion over some really nice food.

Jayne Clive was a very nice guy, easy to talk to. Neither of us were ranting. We shared a taxi for part of the way home, shook hands and said, “Thank you.”

Additional reporting: Kitty Drake

Clive and Jayne ate at Simpsons in Birmingham.

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