Ed Balls progresses in Labour leadership race

Former schools secretary just one vote away from making it on to the ballot paper.

Labour has just updated the nominations counter on its website and there's some good news for Ed Balls. After being forced to deny that he would struggle to achieve the required 33 nominations, the former schools secretary is now just one vote away from making it on to the ballot paper.

It's worth noting that Yvette Cooper and John Healey are the only shadow cabinet members to have nominated him.

I expect that Balls's many opponents (inside and outside of the cabinet) will be pleased he's progressing. A large number believe it essential that he is defeated decisively in an open contest.

Elsewhere, David Miliband remains in the lead with 54 nominations, while Ed Miliband has 45. Andy Burnham has 17 nominations, but with 103 votes left to play for, he's still in with a shout of making it on to the ballot. But it doesn't look like either John McDonnell or Diane Abbott will do so. McDonnell has just six nominations and Abbott one (from David Lammy).

Here's a guide to who the shadow cabinet have nominated so far (those yet to nominate in bold):

Douglas Alexander (David Miliband)

Ed Balls (himself)

Hilary Benn (Ed Miliband)

Ben Bradshaw

Nick Brown

Liam Byrne

Andy Burnham (himself)

Yvette Cooper (Ed Balls)

Alistair Darling

John Denham (Ed Miliband)

Peter Hain (Ed Miliband)

Harriet Harman

John Healey (Ed Balls)

Tessa Jowell (pledged to support David Miliband)

Alan Johnson (David Miliband)

Sadiq Khan (Ed Miliband)

Pat McFadden (David Miliband)

David Miliband

Ed Miliband (himself)

Jim Murphy (David Miliband)

Jack Straw

Shaun Woodward

Rosie Winterton (Ed Miliband)

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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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.