Morning Call: pick of the comment

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers

1. Labour must act now to replace Gordon Brown (Independent)

The Labour MP Barry Sheerman argues that Brown has failed to improve since the party's dreadful performance in the European elections and must be removed for the good of the country.

2. Britain just might pull off this high-speed railway revolution (Daily Telegraph)

Benedict Brogan says that Lord Adonis's visionary high-speed rail plan deserves to succeed with cross-party support. He calls on David Cameron to adopt a "new kind of politics" and make Adonis his first transport secretary.

3. Threats to Yemen prove America hasn't learned the lesson of history (Independent)

Patrick Cockburn argues that the US is beginning to make the same mistakes in Yemen as it made in Afghanistan and Iraq. He warns that US policy continues unwittingly to aid al-Qaeda.

4. Love Tony Blair or loathe him, only one choice for politician of the decade (Guardian)

Michael White says that despite the calamitous invasion of Iraq, Blair was the dominant force of the decade. Whether posterity will judge him more harshly or more kindly depends on what happens next.

5. Towering ambition always comes before a fall (Times)

Ben Macintyre says that as Dubai's economy totters and sways, the decision to build the Burj Dubai, the world's tallest building, may turn out to be a monumental folly

6. The economic "experts" who stopped making sense (Daily Telegraph)

Edmund Conway explores why, despite the financial crisis, we continue to put our faith in economists. He argues that we have lost confidence in our common sense and are seeking refuge in "apparent certainty".

7. Maybe Tories aren't so stupid after all (Independent)

John Rentoul argues that the Conservatives' opposition to electoral reform isn't as strange as it appears.

8. As threats multiply and power fragments, the coming decade cries out for realistic idealism (Guardian)

Timothy Garton Ash says that strategic co-operation between old and new powers is the best way to tackle terrorism.

9. She knew she was right (Daily Telegraph)

A leader says that the cabinet papers released on Margaret Thatcher's first year in office remind us of the political benefits that accrue from strong leadership.

10. Why 2010 could be an own goal for the Rainbow Nation

Jonathan Steele argues that the ANC is failing poor black South Africans and predicts that hosting the World Cup could backfire on Jacob Zuma.

 

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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.