Morning Call: pick of the comment

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

1. Lessons from Chilcot on the Atlantic alliance (Financial Times)

Max Hastings says the Chilcot inquiry has confirmed that the Atlantic alliance was the central cause of Britain's involvement in the Iraq war. But the two main parties still prefer subservience to Washington to the uncertainties of a lonely freedom.

2. Jack Straw demonstrates the flaws of the principled political careerist (Guardian)

In putting the survival of the government above any single cause, Jack Straw has allowed many policy wrongs to take place, says Julian Glover.

3. A pact with France will keep us fighting fit (Times)

Malcolm Rifkind argues that in order to remain a global power, the UK must engage in serious defence co-operation with France. A new entente cordiale is required 100 years after the declaration of the last one.

4. Here lies New Labour -- the party that died in Iraq (Guardian)

Jackie Ashley says that Iraq destroyed progressive politics in Britain for a generation. In disgust at Blair's war, countless numbers of people lost heart and turned away from public life.

5. Which capitalism? (Times)

A leader in the Times says that the World Economic Forum in Davos proved that the critical divide is no longer between capitalism and socialism, but between the liberal capitalism promoted by the west and the authoritarian capitalism favoured by the east.

6. Into economy class, Mandy, and bring your spendthrift chums, too (Daily Telegraph)

Boris Johnson writes about a plane journey in which he sat in economy while Lord Mandelson reclined in first class. Such taxpayer-funded perks should be abolished, he says. The servants of the people should travel with the people.

7. How the British empire is striking back (Independent)

The Chilcot inquiry has shown itself to be imperialist by failing to invite a single Iraqi to testify, argues Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. It should have called in some of the exiled Kurds and Iraqis who backed Bush and Blair, and should have questioned them about the advice they gave.

8. What the eurozone must do if it is to survive (Financial Times)

The eurozone is entering the most dangerous phase in its 11-year history, warns Wolfgang Münchau. If it is to survive, EU leaders must find greater political will.

9. No relief for the Palestinians while Israel enjoys impunity (Independent)

The west should consider imposing cultural and economic sanctions on Israel, argues Andrew Phillips. Nothing else has worked and time may be short.

10. Beijing raises its voice (Guardian)

Martin Jacques says that China's fierce protest over US arms sales to Taiwan reflects the migration of power from west to east.

 

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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.