The funniest press release of the year

Some people on the right still don’t “get it”: their economic model failed.

I just received this press release (below) and I wasn't sure whether to laugh out loud, pinch myself or consult a calendar to check if it's 1 April.

It's from the Institute of Economic Affairs:

In a new research paper released today, the Institute of Economic Affairs argues the coalition's proposals on financial reform will do little to improve the quality of financial regulation in the UK.

The coalition is proposing to abolish the FSA and reallocate its functions between a series of new quangos and the Bank of England. Instead Does Britain need a financial regulator? (authored by Philip Booth and Terry Arthur) suggests the regulation of investment markets, financial products, insurance companies and other financial institutions, currently carried out by the FSA and the Pensions Regulator, should be stopped and these sectors should instead be allowed to self-regulate within a framework of limited primary legislation.

Self-regulate? The bankers?! Have the guys and gals at the IEA been in a coma for the past two years? Or are they really the evidence-denying, bank-defending, free-market fanatics that this press release suggests?

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.