The part of the Blair piece the Tories don't want you to read

In his NS article, Blair says Labour is right to reject the argument that it "created" the crisis by overspending.

As you'd expect, the Tories have seized on Tony Blair's declaration that Labour must not "tack left on tax and spending". Conservative chairman Grant Shapps said:

Tony Blair is right to warn that Labour aren't a credible party of government under Ed Miliband. Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have opposed every single difficult decision this government has taken to fix the problems that Labour left behind - on welfare, on immigration and on the deficit. The only plan Labour have is more of what got us into this mess in the first place - more spending, more borrowing and more debt.

It is worth noting, however, that in his piece Blair explicitly rejects the argument that it was overspending by Labour that "got us into this mess". While conceding that there was a case for "a tightening around 2005", Blair argues that Labour is right to be "very robust in knocking down the notion that it 'created' the crisis." As he points out, the current structural deficit was less than 1 per cent in 2007/08 and the national debt was lower than in 1997. It was the crisis that caused the deficit, not the deficit that caused the crisis. 

Conservative chairman Grant Shapps speaks at last year's Conservative conference in Birmingham. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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The big problem for the NHS? Local government cuts

Even a U-Turn on planned cuts to the service itself will still leave the NHS under heavy pressure. 

38Degrees has uncovered a series of grisly plans for the NHS over the coming years. Among the highlights: severe cuts to frontline services at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, including but limited to the closure of its Accident and Emergency department. Elsewhere, one of three hospitals in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are to be shuttered, while there will be cuts to acute services in Suffolk and North East Essex.

These cuts come despite an additional £8bn annual cash injection into the NHS, characterised as the bare minimum needed by Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England.

The cuts are outlined in draft sustainability and transformation plans (STP) that will be approved in October before kicking off a period of wider consultation.

The problem for the NHS is twofold: although its funding remains ringfenced, healthcare inflation means that in reality, the health service requires above-inflation increases to stand still. But the second, bigger problem aren’t cuts to the NHS but to the rest of government spending, particularly local government cuts.

That has seen more pressure on hospital beds as outpatients who require further non-emergency care have nowhere to go, increasing lifestyle problems as cash-strapped councils either close or increase prices at subsidised local authority gyms, build on green space to make the best out of Britain’s booming property market, and cut other corners to manage the growing backlog of devolved cuts.

All of which means even a bigger supply of cash for the NHS than the £8bn promised at the last election – even the bonanza pledged by Vote Leave in the referendum, in fact – will still find itself disappearing down the cracks left by cuts elsewhere. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.