Me, me, me, me, me

Is this this most egomaniacal blog post ever?

I'm often mocked by colleagues in the NS office for the rather egomaniacal and self-centred headlines I deploy on blog posts, eg:

Melanie Phillips, Michael Portillo and me

Obama, Bush, Frodo, Jon Stewart and me

Andy Burnham's dad is upset with me

Me, me, me, eh? Then again, why hide the fact that we columnists/bloggers have oversized egos, often in need of massaging? Why else do we do what we do? To get noticed, to have people read us, discuss our views and opinions, blah, blah, blah.

So, under the wafer-thin and rather transparent pretext of thanking you all for voting for me, let me egomaniacally draw your attention to three online polls/surveys released in the past week.

** This blog was ranked as the tenth-best media blog in the Total Politics Annual Blog Poll.

** And it was ranked as the 22nd-best left-wing blog (in the same poll of more than 2,200 people).

** Meanwhile, Left Foot Forward (which topped the list of left-wing blogs!) has compiled a list of the 50 "most influential left-wingers", based on suggestions from readers, in which I bizarrely appear alongside the likes of Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair and Noam Chomsky. (If you're crazy enough to believe that I merit a spot in the top five (!) than you can vote for me here.)

Self-promotion over. Back to work . . .

Oh, and thanks again! :-)

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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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.