Blow-by-blow on the blogosphere

This week the political blogs are obsessed, not surprisingly, with local elections but some of the e

My promised second part of a council, Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliamentary election-focused blog has morphed into its own feature. But there's still room for the sideways glance - riddled with exposed hypocrisy and campaign blundering - that follows.

A war of words has flared up in the Liverpool ward of Kensington and Fairfield. Labour councillor Louise Baldcock accused the Lib Dems of gutter politics, wasting money and poor hand-writing. She later goads an anonymous poster over the content of the Lib Dems leaflets.

More leafleting troubles in Bristol where Guido Fawkes believes he has exposed a Labour candidate's photoshopped attempt at claiming he was on an anti-Iraq demo to boost his anti-war credentials.

For anyone interested in the minutiae of a council candidate’s campaign trail look no further than Richard Baum, Lib Dem candidate for St Mary's Ward, Bury. Hear
how
Richard confronts rain, borrowing a wayward umbrella from a councillor. Gasp as he tells of his opinions on luxury flats. And bite your lip along with Richard as he recounts his tale of frustration with Orange customer services.

Over in Wales, I found the true identity of one of Welsh politics' top bloggers is someone I regularly play football with. When I found out I told Blamerbell Briefs it was like discovering the true identity of Superman, while he compared it to discovering your father plays battle games in the attic.

He
discovered
Education Secretary Alan Johnson had sent a message of good luck to Plaid candidate Carolyn Evans. While it may be put down to an email blunder, it has been suggested a Lab-Plaid coalition may be more certain than political commentators have hitherto revealed.

North of the border, Richard Havers offers a witty overview of the "torrent, flood, surge, and
veritable plethora of pamphlets from the political parties" he was confronted with when returning from a couple of days away.

The SNP rounded up 100 business types to agree an independent Scotland would be a more financially stable Scotland. In response, an advert appeared in The Scotsman with a trumping 151 signatures warning against Scottish independence which some
have traced back to Gordon Brown.

There is nothing new in political parties seeking endorsement from celebrities and prominent members of society. But sometimes, as Kerron Cross discusses, parties go that extra mile: what would Jesus do?

Owen Walker is a journalist for a number of titles within Financial Times Business, primarily focussing on pensions. He recently graduated from Cardiff University’s newspaper journalism post-graduate course and is cursed by a passion for Crystal Palace FC.
Photo: Getty
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The big problem for the NHS? Local government cuts

Even a U-Turn on planned cuts to the service itself will still leave the NHS under heavy pressure. 

38Degrees has uncovered a series of grisly plans for the NHS over the coming years. Among the highlights: severe cuts to frontline services at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, including but limited to the closure of its Accident and Emergency department. Elsewhere, one of three hospitals in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are to be shuttered, while there will be cuts to acute services in Suffolk and North East Essex.

These cuts come despite an additional £8bn annual cash injection into the NHS, characterised as the bare minimum needed by Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England.

The cuts are outlined in draft sustainability and transformation plans (STP) that will be approved in October before kicking off a period of wider consultation.

The problem for the NHS is twofold: although its funding remains ringfenced, healthcare inflation means that in reality, the health service requires above-inflation increases to stand still. But the second, bigger problem aren’t cuts to the NHS but to the rest of government spending, particularly local government cuts.

That has seen more pressure on hospital beds as outpatients who require further non-emergency care have nowhere to go, increasing lifestyle problems as cash-strapped councils either close or increase prices at subsidised local authority gyms, build on green space to make the best out of Britain’s booming property market, and cut other corners to manage the growing backlog of devolved cuts.

All of which means even a bigger supply of cash for the NHS than the £8bn promised at the last election – even the bonanza pledged by Vote Leave in the referendum, in fact – will still find itself disappearing down the cracks left by cuts elsewhere. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.