What happens when two strong-minded individuals from opposite sides of the political debate sit down for dinner? To find out, the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme has organised a series of political first dates for the general election campaign.
Made in Chelsea star Toff, real name Georgia Toffolo, says she had a privileged background and is a Conservative Party member.
Political campaigner and food blogger Jack Monroe, who at one time was unemployed and unable to afford food, has been a member of several parties, including the Labour Party.
They went into the meal without knowing who they would be meeting.
But did they get on?
Describe yourself: I’m Jack Monroe, aged 29, and I’m a food writer and political commentator.
Background: I used to be a 999 call-handler. I got pregnant with my son, and when I went back to work I couldn’t work the shift patterns any more. I ended up in a shoddy personal situation – I didn’t eat for three days in a row to feed my child. I started to write about being a single mum on the dole and it seemed to strike a chord with people. Then I got offered a recipe book deal and life went stratospheric.
Political beliefs: I’ve been a member of the Labour Party on and off for the past few years, about six or seven years, eight maybe. I’ve also been a member of the Green Party at that time. I’m also a member of the Women’s Equality Party and the National Health Action party.
How was your date?: I think it went well. It was nice to meet Georgia and talk to her and try to understand her point of view a bit more.
First impression: I have seen Made in Chelsea, but not for a couple of years. I thought she was fun, she was very, very nice. I was surprised at how young she was because she seemed quite firm in her beliefs, she seemed very politically aware.
What did you agree on?: Her most convincing argument, the one I agreed with, was about national security. She was quite strong about armed police and how there is a rise in that and how we all have to adjust to it and and the reasoning behind that.
What did you disagree on?: I found some of her views on welfare difficult to listen to as someone who had quite a difficult time on benefits. To hear her saying, ‘Oh the Conservatives are taking money from people who don’t need it’, and you’re like, ‘No they’re not, they’re taking money from people like me’.
Best thing: I thought she was really, really friendly and just very nice and she was very good at listening. She asked lots of questions and she just genuinely seems like a warm, friendly human being.
Worst thing: I did find her views on fox hunting quite difficult to swallow.
Did you change her mind?: We both seemed to have shifted slightly closer to the centre by the end of lunch. I don’t think she’ll be going home and telling all her friends to vote for Jeremy Corbyn but I’d like to think that we’ve both given each other something to think about.
Did she change your mind?: I think my views are quite strongly held. I wouldn’t say that she’d drastically changed my mind about anything but it certainly put a human face to some of the things that I consider to be more radical Conservative beliefs.
Second date: I’d love to see her again. Genuinely would. I thought she was fun, I thought she was engaging. I think I’d have a much more interesting life with her in it.
Find out more
Watch the Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 BST on BBC Two and the BBC News Channel.
Thursday’s election blind date will be classicist Prof Mary Beard and nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow.
Describe yourself: My name is Georgia Toffolo, I’m 22, best known for being on a TV programme called Made in Chelsea and I really love politics.
Background: I’m very lucky I went to a nice school and I live in a very lovely part of London.
Political beliefs: I’m a member of the Conservative Party and I have been for about eight years now. I believe that the traditions of our country should be upheld and I’m a real advocate of business. I can’t comprehend why someone my age would support the Labour Party.
How was your date?: I actually enjoyed it so much and I’m a bit surprised because for someone that has different views to me, it was amazing. She could tell me why I was wrong, which is so good, and it’s actually kind of made me think a little bit more about where I stand. It hasn’t changed my political ideology, but maybe a little bit more understanding of people who have had hard times.
First impressions: She was very different to me. Not the stereotypical Labour voter.
What did you agree on?: I actually agreed with her a lot on our views on national security. We also agreed on LGBT rights, which is fantastic.
What did you disagree on?: The thing that angered me the most is our differing views on tax. I just cannot comprehend how anyone could have her views on taxation. The lower the better.
Did you win any arguments?: I think I did convince her a little bit because when we looked at our political spectrum again she moved a little bit more centre.
Best part: Jeremy Corbyn-bashing. It’s my favourite activity.
Awkward moments: I found the most awkward part talking about benefits, because she had some fantastic points, but I believe what I believe in. But some of her arguments were quite deep ones where it threw me a bit, because what can you say when someone says, “Oh you know I was starving for three days”?
Could you be friends?: I actually think we could be friends. I hope we stay in touch, I had such a lovely time. I need to get the next lunch.