Forget Tatler’s ban on Brexit chat, if you want to host a proper dinner party then politics should not be off the menu. Instead it should be the focus of the whole event.
The Tatler approach, as outlined in the Daily Mail, suggests that ‘in these troubled times it is advisable to impose a Brexit moratorium’. Whilst ‘nothing else is out of bounds’, to ban Brexit would be to curtail discussion on a whole range of political and social issues.
Accepted, there may be a level of boredom with Brexit but the decision says a lot about the type of place the UK wants to be and our place in the world. Trying to escape any aspect of Brexit seems not just a tall order but also rules out a lot of very valid discussions. The referendum result could be something to avoid but what about the prospect of a second one?
It is the only thing that Cabinet Ministers are talking about. Sometimes this is for their own career prospects but for others it is simply because cannot escape it. The media is full of discussion of what might and might not happen. This is partly as a consequence of the lack of real insight into the negotiation process but also because No 10 has to have a day-to-day rebuttal operation on what Brexiteers and Remainers champion through the media.
Dinner party guests should ideally come from a range of background, jobs and political views. In these days of ‘echo chamber’ politics, the more that we can also listen a little more could do politics a whole lot of good. So dinner parties could be seen as the fightback against social media politics forcing everyone to listen, consider and no react immediately with abuse or complete derision. It would be ‘slow politics’.
Now I am not advocating the approach of my late grandfather who, according to family stories, would delight in making a political assessment of the people on his table at gatherings and then play his favourite game of ‘harangue the Tory’. That may be considered a little too combative for some (but good sport for others!). Instead, dinner parties offer a space to try to overcome the divisions over Brexit that still appear very raw and will not heal unless urgent action is taken.
Whilst we are at it, the dinner party could also tackle some of the other big issues of the day as well. Social care needs some attention.
People can still disagree and get on. Although maybe if you are of Laura Pidcock MP’s view of the world and think that you cannot be friends with someone from the opposite side of the political spectrum then that isn’t the case. Single political party events might be acceptable if you really want to explore their problems but the idea that a Momentum / Blairite love-in might occur is even less likely than an orderly Brexit transition within the Conservative Party.
Why Tatler should feel the urge to ban Brexit talk but not other controversial issues is unclear. It could either make for a really dull evening or mean that there is simply a dust-up over, for instance, standards in schools or Michael Gove’s reform of SATs.
If you are going to ban Brexit then maybe there should be a list of banned politicians as well?
Maybe Tatler is right and dinner parties are making a comeback. But they will only continue to thrive if they reflect the issues people want to talk about. That is to say nothing of the need to actively cater for vegetarians and vegans, providing the food and drink, people want rather than expecting them to pre-load on falafel before they arrive.
A ban on any issue could even prevent many people from talking to their own families. Look how Brexit and the Scottish independence referendums have caused last damage to relationships.
Dinner parties offer the antidote to current politics but only if nothing is off the table.