The Returning Officer: New Ross

Colonel C G Tottenham fought the seat of Wicklow East as a Tory in 1885, losing to the Nationalist William Corbet. Tottenham lost again in 1886, 1895 (when Corbet regained the seat he had lost in the Parnellite split) and an 1895 by-election.

He had previously sat for New Ross (1878-80), as had similarly named ancestors since 1802 in the UK parliament and 1727 in the Irish parliament. In 1731 one ancestor earned the name “Boots”, after riding all night to Dublin to cast a vote ensuring that a budget surplus was held in Ireland and not returned to England.

In 1900 the Irish author Alice M P Cooke dedicated her novel His Laurel Crown to Colonel Tottenham, later writing “Irish Heroes in Red War”, poems about the Irish regiments who fought in the First World War.

This article first appeared in the 23 October 2013 issue of the New Statesman, Russell Brand Guest Edit

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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.