Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Clinton is proving that a feminist foreign policy is possible – and works (Guardian)

The US secretary of state has placed women's needs at the heart of US thinking about long-term security, says Madeleine Bunting.

2. Watch out, Dave. Red Ed's making a cynical grab for your Big Society (Daily Mail)

Miliband speaks the language of "small-c conservatism" but his promotion of "community organisers" is an attempt to subvert western values, argues Melanie Phillips.

3. A daft way to tackle America's debt (Financial Times)

The Republicans need to moderate their zeal to cut spending too much and too soon, says Clive Crook.

4. Getting beaten up in cyberspace does no one much harm (Daily Telegraph)

The internet has enabled journalists to be held accountable by their readers, writes Boris Johnson.

5. John Maynard Keynes: the master and the doctor (Guardian)

Vince Cable provides better intellectual cover for coalition economics than David Cameron, says a Guardian editorial.

6. Tunisia heralds a long battle for Arab reform (Financial Times)

A slow transformation of much of the rest of the Arab world is likely to follow, writes Rami Khouri.

7. Britain will suffer if it doesn't help the euro (Times) (£)

We're all in the European debt crisis together, like it or not, writes Bill Emmott. The Prime Minister doesn't seem to realise this.

8. The Tory embrace may well split the Lib Dems in two (Guardian)

Many social democrats can't stand what is happening to their party and will be tempted by Ed Miliband's repositioning of Labour, writes Jackie Ashley.

9. It's not only the old who are getting bullied off the screen (Independent)

The case of Miriam O'Reilly remind us that foolish and obtuse decisions are made every day by those in charge, says Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

10. Not even Silvio can get away with this (Independent)

Even for the oh-so-broad-minded Italians, Berlusconi's exploits are becoming a bit creepy, writes Peter Popham.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

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.