Jody, 44, Hastings
Voting record Mainly Labour; after the Iraq war, Lib Dem; then back to Labour under Corbyn. Now Jody is considering George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain. He voted leave in the EU referendum, but is pro-immigration
Amuse bouche Jody is related to David Attenborough. He needs to explore his family tree to find out exactly how, but his grandma’s maiden name was Attenborough
Michael, 43, Hastings
Occupation NHS manager
Voting record A mixture of Labour, Lib Dem and Green in national and local elections. Michael voted remain in the EU referendum
Amuse bouche An elephant once barged into his mum’s garden. There were elephant rides taking place in the local park, the elephant got loose and took out a fence panel
Jody He seemed all right. Clever chap. I was expecting to get a “soy boy”. You know, someone who drinks a lot of soya milk, vegan, Ukrainian T-shirt on, European Union hat, one of those.
Michael I’m not sure what he’s told you, but I got hammered so the recall might be a bit slow. We got on pretty well, I think. The food was delicious.
The big beef
Jody We disagreed about positive discrimination. Positive discrimination is still discrimination.
Michael We agreed on the lack of fairness, the lack of a level playing field. But I think, whether it’s on race or gender or sexual orientation or any other characteristic you choose to name, positive discrimination to address that imbalance is not only justifiable but a desirable thing.
Jody I came to the conclusion that if it’s done for class, giving a leg up to poor people, then I’m pro. But when it comes to racial or sexual or any of these other kinds of arbitrary division, it gets a bit skewed. If you take black kids and white kids in the inner city, they’re both going to get the same disadvantage – it’s not the colour of their skin, it’s the fact they’re both poor.
Michael He said he’s colour blind, that he doesn’t care if someone’s a man or a woman – he’ll treat them all equally, and if everyone did that it would be fine. I have gone through a process, from pretty much believing the same thing to thinking that, because we’re in such a difficult place, if you’re any kind of minority there’s a need to actively do something good to redress that balance. Whether it’s things such as, in an interview process, removing somebody’s name or educational history to take out as many indicators of unconscious bias as possible, then that’s a worthwhile thing to do.
Jody I’m all for free movement. I like the idea of genetic mixing, a bit more of a healthy gene pool.
Michael I don’t believe in the notion of a state, I don’t believe in borders. I think these things are completely artificial.
Jody There were something like 400,000 civilian deaths in the “war on terror” – Afghanistan, Iraq and other wars. Ukraine has had about 4,000 civilian casualties. So what the west has done is so much worse than what Putin’s doing right now – but while Putin is a pariah, worse than Hitler, Tony Blair is roaming the Earth. And the refugee thing, everyone’s like: send these Syrians to Rwanda, but yeah we’ll bring a Ukrainian into the house. It’s dripping with hypocrisy.
Michael I was thinking maybe he’s pro-Russia, but his feeling was not that we shouldn’t be unhappy about Russia’s actions, more that it was hypocritical to make a fuss about Ukraine when there’s much less mention of Yemen, for example. A lot of where we had divergence was around this real scepticism he’s got about what he reads in the media. I don’t think Ukraine has been overreported, more that other things are underreported.
Jody It’s weird when you meet a stranger, sitting down, both putting the effort in – you try to find common ground. Online, you’d be at each other’s throats.
Michael It was interesting to see how different our worldviews were, but that eventually led us to a number of similar conclusions. It made me reflect on the importance of understanding people’s motivations for saying and doing things, rather than reacting on a superficial level to what they say and do.
Additional reporting: Naomi Larsson
Jody and Michael ate at The First In Last Out in Hastings, East Sussex
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