Show Hide image

Daily Beast in talks with Newsweek for merger

The two parties are having "interesting discussions".

Daily Beast founder and editor Tina Brown on Wednesday said the news and opinion site was having "some interesting discussions going on with potential partners" about the site's likely merger with Newsweek.

Brown and Sidney Harman, who recently bought the US news magazine from the Washington Post Company, are reportedly discussing the merger.

A series of documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on the sale of Newsweek by the Washington Post has confirmed that Sidney Harman purchased the title for $1 and has assumed its liabilities totalling more than $47 million, according to Folio.

The news site's recent hire of Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz has revived speculation about the merger with the Daily Beast.

Talking about what the site could be a year later, Brown said the Daily Beast would be "still romping along learning and adapting to our fast and furious world with a speed that stays smart, helped by the insights of our vibrant Beast community."

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.