Browsing through some of my favourite blogs this morning, I read on one of Iain Dale's twitter updates, the question as to whether you can genuinely be friends with people from other political parties?
My immediate answer is yes, provided you know how to divorce politics from personality. In fact I would go so far as to say that it even helps sometimes because your respect for your opponent helps you to temper your approach in making a critical point i.e.managing to avoid getting too stroppy on occasion and working at trying to persuade your friend/opponent on the merits of your argument. Obviously that sometimes fails miserably, but like all aspects of friendship, worth working on. It's almost like being friends with someone who is passionately against your favourite football team, or does not share your faith (or lack of), or who thinks that the UK's next Eurovision entry is an act of musical genius comparable with the works of Lennon/McCartney!
I suppose my best friend in the Conservative Party is Tim Roll-Pickering. Now I reserve the right to regard Tim's politics as misguided, but we get on on other issues, namely a shared appreciation of Sci-Fi and, as I said before, if he is ever at the same count as me on an election night where Labour win and the Conservatives lose, whilst I would be delighted, I hope I would have the presence of mind to buy him a drink and show a certain degree of empathy. I think he would do the same if the roles were reversed, but I suspect we will both be in Old People's homes if that ever happens ;). In any case it does mean we both actually listen to each other and take on board any points one of us makes that the other thinks is worth considering.
So yes I think you can have friends across the political divide, it's just that, like all friendships, they need to be handled with care :)