Opinionomics | 28 March 2012

Must-read comment and analysis. Featuring Robert Peston taking on the Bank of England.

1. Did the Bank of England cause the boom and bust? (BBC News)

How much were central banks to blame for the financial boom and bust, asks Robert Peston.

2. Heathrow's third runway is not happening – move on (Guardian)

John Stewart writes that the aviation industry's tired third runway campaign ignores the facts of the future of air travel, and a total lack of political will.

3. Focus: The middle-income trap (Economist | Graphic Detail)

The Economist examines economic growth relative to the United States, and finds remarkable – depressing – stability.

4. BUNDESBANK COMES OUT AGAINST WOMEN, WAR ON ALL GOOD THINGS CONTINUES. PUPPIES AND ICE CREAM TARGETED NEXT (FT alphaville)

Lisa Pollack looks in depth at the "women bankers riskier" story from yesterday.

5. Ireland Deserves Breathing Room on Debt to Revive Economy (Bloomberg View)

Bloomberg calls for Ireland to be given time off repaying its debts to the ECB.

A counterfeit €100 note is presented to the Bundesbank. Credit: Getty

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn bids for the NHS to rescue Labour

Ahead of tomorrow's by-elections, Corbyn damned Theresa May for putting the service in a "state of emergency".

Whenever Labour leaders are in trouble, they seek political refuge in the NHS. Jeremy Corbyn, whose party faces potential defeat in tomorrow’s Copeland and Stoke by-elections, upheld this iron law today. In the case of the former, Labour has already warned that “babies will die” as a result of the downgrading of the hospital. It is crude but it may yet prove effective (it worked for No to AV, after all).

In the chamber, Corbyn assailed May for cutting the number of hospital beds, worsening waiting times, under-funding social care and abolishing nursing bursaries. The Labour leader rose to a crescendo, damning the Prime Minister for putting the service in a “a state of emergency”. But his scattergun attack was too unfocused to much trouble May.

The Prime Minister came armed with attack lines, brandishing a quote from former health secretary Andy Burnham on cutting hospital beds and reminding Corbyn that Labour promised to spend less on the NHS at the last election (only Nixon can go to China). May was able to boast that the Tories were providing “more money” for the service (this is not, of course, the same as “enough”). Just as Corbyn echoed his predecessors, so the Prime Minister sounded like David Cameron circa 2013, declaring that she would not “take lessons” from the party that presided over the Mid-Staffs scandal and warning that Labour would “borrow and bankrupt” the economy.

It was a dubious charge from the party that has racked up ever-higher debt but a reliably potent one. Labour, however, will be satisfied that May was more comfortable debating the economy or attacking the Brown government, than she was defending the state of the NHS. In Copeland and Stoke, where Corbyn’s party has held power since 1935 and 1950, Labour must hope that the electorate are as respectful of tradition as its leader.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.