9/11 memories: Elizabeth Turner

We asked the author of The Blue Skies of Autumn: where were you on 9/11?

I stood quietly on my own, watching the TV screen in my office at Channel 4 Television. I couldn't quite understand what had happened, but the "Breaking News" tagline on Sky News was telling the world that a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York. I thought it was a small aviation accident but I watched in disbelief as a small black dot flew into the second tower and burst into a huge fireball. Everything around me moved into slow motion. I was aware of the rush of sheer terror that washed over me in that one, single moment. As quickly as it came, I pushed it away. I didn't dare believe the impact of what had just happened. Even though I was seven months pregnant and knew that Simon, my husband, was hosting a conference on the top floor of the North Tower in the World Trade Center, I kept telling myself that this sort of thing only happens to other people. My husband wasn't going to die in a terrorist attack when I was pregnant with our first child.

Simon Turner died on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001

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This article first appeared in the 05 September 2011 issue of the New Statesman, 9/11

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.