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Banned from the G20

I was supposed to be writing from inside the G20 summit exclusively for the New Statesman but last n

Now being banned is not new for the World Development Movement. In 2006, the Singapore government banned us from attending the World Bank annual meeting after we called for the World Bank and IMF to be abolished. The Singapore government has a track record of stifling voices of opposition and the ban was subsequently overturned after protests from around the world, including from UK MPs and even the World Bank itself.

This ban by ‘Number 10’ is inexplicable. The World Development Movement is one of the coordinators on the Put People First alliance. And as such on Saturday, I was part of the Put People First delegation that met with Ed Miliband, Gareth Thomas and Stephen Timms at 'Number 11' before the march for jobs, justice and climate.

There is an understandable desire by the organisers of the G20 to ensure that outcomes of the summit are as positive as possible. However they need to avoid the perception that the stage management of such events does not prevent voices of dissent and disagreement from being heard. And the banning of the World Development Movement and War on Want, two organisations that are typically critical of the government’s free trade agenda that does not benefit the poorest people in the world certainly does not help with this perception.

The Put People First alliance is a uniting of unions, environmental groups, trade justice groups, religious groups uniting for the first time around a common manifesto. As the G20 leaders gather today spin will be no replacement for action. A communiqué that doesn’t signpost radical change to set the global economy on course for decent jobs, economic justice and low-carbon development will be judged as a bitter disappointment and just be tomorrow’s recycled toilet paper.

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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.