In this week’s New Statesman: The Milibands face off

Why Ed Miliband should lead Labour | Jon Cruddas: Why I’m supporting David Miliband | Stephen Mercha

Face/Off

As the marathon Labour leadership contest enters its final stretch, this week's New Statesman looks at the struggle between the Miliband brothers for one of the biggest prizes in British politics.

In our leader, we endorse Ed Miliband for the leadership and argue that, of all the candidates, it is he who has been most prepared to challenge the orthodoxies of New Labour. In a guest column this week, the man himself sets out his vision of a more equal country and offers a progressive alternative to the coalition.

Elsewhere, in a big boost for Ed's brother, David, the influential Labour MP Jon Cruddas talks exclusively to the NS editor, Jason Cowley, about why he's backing the elder Miliband for the leadership.

Also this week, Mehdi Hasan argues that Ed Miliband has the common touch needed to win over voters, and Irwin Stelzer says that Ed Balls is the only one of the candidates with a solid grasp of economics.

All this, plus Edward Platt on the Hamas prisoners of East Jerusalem, Will Self on folk revivalists, and an interview with the Office creator Stephen Merchant.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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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.