Ed Miliband now bookies’ favourite to win Labour leadership

Both the punters and the pollsters now predict an Ed Miliband victory.

The votes may be in and counting may have began, but with the result of the Labour leadership election just a day away, Ed Miliband is gathering some final momentum.

Within the past few minutes, it's emerged that he is now the bookies' favourite to win the contest, the first time the markets have put him ahead of David. The news means that both the pollsters and the punters are predicting an Ed Miliband victory on Saturday.

Below are the latest odds from Political Smarkets:


Over at PoliticalBetting, Mike Smithson is calling it for Ed, noting that the younger Miliband appears to have gained ground in the MP/MEP third of the electoral college.

Elsewhere, the Guardian reports that David will serve under Ed if he loses the election, a sign that the elder Miliband's camp is at least preparing for the possibility of defeat.

Meanwhile, the other candidates are beginning to take stock of their campaigns. Ed Balls all but concedes defeat, suggesting that his close association with Gordon Brown proved fatal.

He says:

Gordon lost the election, and I was the person most associated with his leadership. Early on in the crucial first few months everyone was looking backwards to Brown, and saying it was time to move on . . . A lot of people have said to me: "You have fought the best campaign, but this is a two-horse race." It was very hard to break through that.

Andy Burnham criticises the electoral college system and calls for its replacement with a one-member-one vote system. He points out, as I have done before, that the vote of one MP is worth 600 times the vote of an ordinary party member. Whoever wins the leadership should put reform of the voting system on their agenda.

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.