Dining across the divide: ‘I’d love to see her again. I’ve got her in my phone as Lefty Lucy’

She’s a Labour supporter; he’s politically aligned with Boris Johnson. Can they find common ground on trans rights and tax?

Lucy, 39, London


Occupation Joint CEO of a media advocacy group for the LGBTQ+ community

Voting record Always Labour. Remain in the EU referendum

Amuse bouche Lucy’s great-grandparents introduced the banana to Glasgow in 1923

Paul, 55, London


Occupation Paul works in finance and is a part-time barman

Voting record Always Conservative. Leave in the EU referendum

Amuse bouche Is a qualified paraglider

For starters

Lucy He works in a pub even though he’s a finance guy, and I thought: “If he’s willing to slum it with us plebeians on a Friday night, then I don’t believe he’s not a fairly decent human being.”

Paul I think she might have come in with the idea that I would be some sort of hang ’em and flog ’em zero-welfare extremist. I did come out wholeheartedly in Boris Johnson’s defence. I read the Telegraph for his entertaining articles. My political outlook is broadly aligned with his.

Lucy The fact he still likes Boris I find perplexing. We talked about the comment about women in burqas looking like letterboxes.

Paul Actually, it was against banning the burqa in Denmark, if you read the article. I don’t think he’s racist. People get told things and go: “That’s the truth, I’ll run with it” without a deeper exploration of the facts.

Paul and Lucy

The big beef

Lucy We are on different points of the political spectrum. As a liberal, I’d like to see the welfare state beefed up. I want someone to pump money into education, mental health support and give people a bit more universal credit so the pressure cooker of life is eased.

Paul If you make welfare very high, when somebody gets a job, not only do they lose welfare but they also pay tax, so the amount of money that ends up in their pocket for every extra pound earned is very small.

Lucy For me, creating work and jobs and opportunities comes from supporting people’s welfare and educating them.

Paul We live in a cultured, dynamic, progressive economy. It’s not right that people should live too low down the poverty line, but it’s not necessarily just the government’s job to bring them up the scale. They have to be incentivised to do it themselves.

Paul and Lucy

Sharing plate

Lucy I told him I run an advocacy group for the queer community in advertising, and that I’m bisexual.

Paul We had an interesting conversation on sexuality. Being a sheltered northerner I haven’t met many people of her orientation.

Lucy He was like: “But you’re married to a man!” Newsflash: you can have a monogamous heteronormative relationship and still be bisexual. My husband and I walk down the street fancying the same women.

Paul I don’t think I’ve met someone who’s so able to explain. I’m fully prepared to accept it – we are over our queasiness about different sexual orientation in this generation.

Paul and Lucy

For afters

Lucy We talked about trans rights. My stance is very much that self-identification is where it’s at. If someone tells me they’re a woman, they’re a woman. You don’t have to have genital dysphoria or gender reassignment surgery to be a trans woman or a trans man.

Paul What about the unisex toilets? What about the transgender swimmer who was barred from competing?

Lucy Up to 50% of trans people have tried to take their own life. So feeling a bit of discomfort about sharing a faucet with a trans person is down the priority list. Sport is the most complex part, but not all trans people are at a biological advantage.

Paul Anything to prevent suicides and include people in society should be considered – I came round to that.

Paul and Lucy


Lucy It was one of the most exhilarating and deep conversations I’d had for a long time. I think it’s a really good experience for anyone – to challenge themselves, their beliefs, and not come away angry.

Paul In my world, I would never come across a Lucy. It’s hugely valuable to listen to people on the other side of the argument. I’m struggling to get to the point where I’m going to start to buy the Guardian – it didn’t convert me. But I’d love to see her again. I’ve got her in my phone as Lefty Lucy.

Paul and Lucy

Additional reporting: Sarah Hooper

• Lucy and Paul ate at Dai Chi in London

• This article was amended on 30 September 2022. An earlier version referenced “gender dysphoria” when genital dysphoria was meant. This has been corrected.

Want to meet someone from across the divide? Find out how to take part


Sam Wollaston

The GuardianTramp

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