Desert island dinners

What couldn't you live without?

George Monbiot - writer and environmentalist
I'll eat most kinds of road-kill if it's no more than a couple of days old. I have a diverse diet. I grow 40 different kinds of vegetable, and 30 varieties (across seven species) of fruit. I've eaten more than 60 species of wild fungus, and pounce on anything that moves and is in season. I catch crayfish, perch and pike from the river, and mayflies when there's a hatch on. Pity, too, the grasshopper or beetle grub that crosses my path. Basically, I eat everything. Except parsnips. They're disgusting.

Arabella Weir - author and comedian
I start the day with wholemeal toast spread with marg and low-sugar marmalade, all washed down with two cups of decaf Earl Grey tea. I don't "do" lunch. But if I'm out I'll have sushi (I try not to eat bread after breakfast). And if someone else is paying I'll always have pudding. I rarely drink at lunch as I can't stop once I've started. I join the kids for supper, especially if I've cooked risotto. It's less likely if I've made fish fingers and baked beans. I try to eat fish and vegetables for dinner, but usually end up with a packet of oatcakes and a bottle of wine. I couldn't live without pudding, as long as it doesn't wobble or contain bananas - a cooked banana is an abomination. I could happily never eat oysters again. They taste like cold sperm (not great when it's warm either).

Roger Scruton - writer and philosopher
I couldn't live without tomatoes, basil, olive oil, white Burgundy or red Bordeaux, all being essential to my dreams. I would be happy never to eat chocolate ever again, since it is associated with all that I dislike about children, my own included.

Sinclair Beecham - co-founder of Pret A Manger
I'd be hard-pressed to list a typical breakfast, lunch and dinner. I eat everything. I like fish and I should eat more of it, but I eat a lot of green vegetables. I love cabbage. We get our meat from local farmshops in Hampshire. I'm not a great pudding fan - if they were cancelled I wouldn't care. My weakness is a great burger, but they're hard to come by - PJs in the Fulham Road and Caprice are both good exceptions. It's also true that everything tastes great with butter. We probably eat too much butter.

Ann Widdecombe - MP and TV agony aunt
A world without potatoes would be my idea of hell. But I would cheerfully never see another cooked mushroom - ghastly slimy things - or kidney (why must people ruin perfectly good steak pies with them?).

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No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.