CommentPlus: pick of the papers

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

1. Israel slapped America -- and may have jolted Obama awake (Guardian)

Jonathan Freedland says that the row over Vice-President Joe Biden's visit gives Washington the chance to dispense with endless talks about process, and push for real peace.

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2. Obama must be robust with Israel (Financial Times)

The FT editorial agrees that Israeli politicians have a tendency to take the US for granted, and settlements make the possibility of peace more remote.

3. Obama is bashing on the brick wall of unlogic (Times)

Over at the Times, Giles Whittell thinks that Obama's main problems are the health bill -- if it fails, everyone loses except shameless vested interests -- and opportunist Republicans.

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4. You'd have thought Cameron had learned from Blair's past (Independent)

Wielding power through by a small cabal of chums, apart from providing poor government, is a wildly unpopular idea, says Matthew Norman. The public's preference for a hung parliament shows its desire for decentralised power.

5. Labour has taken 13 years of diabolical liberties with Britain (Daily Telegraph)

Simon Heffer looks at the erosion of civil liberties under Labour, arguing that although individualism and autonomy used to be prized, governance is now about the power to prevent rather than the power to enable.

6. Unite workers! You're in Mr Brown's pocket (Times)

Daniel Finkelstein discusses the long relationship between Labour and Unite, saying that power is what matters to this enormous union, not airy-fairy ideals.

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7. Ground this munificent man and his lobbying machine (Guardian)

Simon Jenkins's take on the British Airways dispute is that the preference given to it by ministers, a hangover from the days when it was a nationalised asset, must be stamped out.

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8. A hung parliament would not be a disaster for Britain (Independent)

The leading article looks at the potential benefits of a hung parliament, saying that it need not result in political deadlock or financial stasis.

9. Towards the empathic civilisation (Financial Times)

Jeremy Rifkin says we are on the verge of a seismic shift -- while the Industrial Revolution was characterised by ideology and nation-state governance, now we must become a global family.

10. Politics ABC (Times)

The Ieading article asks whether it is right to spend more on toddlers (through the Sure Start scheme), in pursuit of social mobility, when a quarter of a million students may be denied a university place this year.

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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.