Attack of the academics

Profs turn on the Tories.

Colin Talbot, professor of public policy and management at Manchester Business School, has told the FT and BBC Radio that Conservative plans to save up to £2bn of government spending by controlling public-sector recruitment would translate roughly as cuts of up to 40,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, Tim Besley, the professor of economics at the LSE who back in February co-ordinated a letter by "deficit hawks" to the Sunday Times supporting spending cuts by the Tories, told the Guardian that too much "election froth" over tax reduction risked distracting voters from the importance of "deficit reduction".

And in a letter to the Independent, 22 leading British scientists praised Labour's "strong record of commitment to science and science-based enterprise", adding:

The international science journal Nature . . . recently called the Conservatives a "vision-free zone". The Conservatives' continuing failure to address this critique is making us concerned that this lack of vision actually reflects a lack of commitment.

Those of us who have long pointed out that the Tories have no policies on certain vital issues, and contradictory and ill-conceived policies on others, now seem to have the backing of some of the country's leading academics. Nice.

(Hat-tip to Left Foot Forward for the references.)

 

UPDATE: On the specific issue of the Tories and their business friends tying themselves up in knots over deficit reduction versus tax reduction, I think Dan Roberts made the right point in the Guardian: "Until recently many business leaders were united around Tory calls for more fiscal discipline and belt tightening. Now they appear to favour lower taxes over lower deficits -- a contradiction that has been slow to filter through the growing political noise."

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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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.