The case for AV: it'll make people smile, says Mehdi Hasan

Forget Clegg. Do you want to put a smile on these people's faces?

Lots of lefties and Labour Party supporters tell me that they plan to vote against the Alternative Vote (AV) in order to give Nick Clegg a "bloody nose" on 5 May. In the words of "Phil", a commenter on the Staggers blog:

"Would a no on AV make Nick Clegg p***ed off?"

Answer: Yes.

So I'll be voting to wipe that smile off his smug face

Sorry to break it to you, chaps, but AV isn't all about Nick Clegg. If we're going to get all schoolgroundish about it, I'll be voting for AV - not just because our existing first-past-the-post system is undemocratic, unfair, biased and broken - but because I'd rather wipe the smile of these people's faces [below]. Wouldn't you?

David Cameron

A

Rupert Murdoch

A

George Osborne

A

Nick Griffin

A

David Blunkett

A

John Reid

A

Andrew Roberts

A

Richard Desmond

A

(All pictures Getty Images)

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.

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.