Observations from a hospital waiting room I

Our political editor files copy from a scruffy North London hospital where he is waiting with his ch

I have now been waiting for half an hour in the drop in clinic for children at the Whittington hospital in north London. Yet to see a doctor or nurse, despite a potentially dangeous diagnosis.

I'm used to this place by now. Both my children were born here and since then we've had our fair share of races to A and E at the dead of night. I have always found the staff here incredibly professional and reassuring despite the immense pressure and grim working conditions.

I know the bewildering layout of this place by now, even when the escalators or the lifts aren't working. When they are, the floors aren't identified by anything as sensible as numbers but by a section of exposed wiring in one case or a hanging piece of polystyrene in another.

But they have now opened up a new entrance, built under PFI and it does look great, if you like airport architecture. There's a beautiful new McColl's newsagents and a swanky food outlet. But the rest of the hospital is still the same old mess. As I look up from writing this, I realise that the waiting room is now full, standing room only. And we still have not seen a nurse or a doctor.

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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