Boris Johnson speaks at the Conservative conference in Manchester last year. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Why Boris won't stand in Sir Peter Tapsell's seat

If the Mayor returns to parliament in 2015, he will need a London seat.

The coincidence of Peter Tapsell announcing that he's standing down at the next election with David Cameron encouraging Boris Johnson to run for parliament in 2015 (and a coincidence it is; Tapsell has been planning to stand down for months) has led some to suggest that the mayor could be in line to inherit his constituency. It was the Father of the House (Tapsell is 84) himself who started the rumour when Tory MPs overheard him telling David Cameron that he was "keeping his seat warm" for Johnson.

Tapsell, however, later confirmed to a Conservative parliamentary meeting that the remark was intended as a joke. And while Louth and Horncastle has many attractive features (not least a Tory majority of 13,871), it is too far from London for Johnson. If he chooses to serve in parliament while still in City Hall (as Ken Livingstone did when he remained MP for Brent East until 2001), he will need a seat in the capital to pull the juggling act off. And as Tapsell himself said, "My seat is a long way from the TV studios. Boris would want to be closer to them."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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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.