298 passengers and crew died in Thursday's crash. Photo: Getty.
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The MH17 crash has hardened public opinion towards Russia

Last Thursday's MH17 crash has changed perceptions of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Most voters now think the issue is a matter for the West, and support three specific policies.

The British public has hardened its attitude towards Russia in the wake of the MH17 crash.

YouGov polling conducted last weekend has shown that nearly two-thirds of voters now think the Russia-Ukrainian conflict is something that should concern Britain and the West.

When asked the question in mid-March, fewer than half thought the issue was a matter for the UK.

How should the matter concern us? Three actions now have the support of at least 50 per cent of voters.

• Imposing trade sanctions on Russia

• Freezing Russian assets in Western banks

• Expelling Russia from the G8

More voters voiced support than didn't for the first two policies in March, but a majority now do after the crash.

However the biggest change in public opinion has been for expelling Russia from the G8.

There was more opposition than support for the idea in March, but now 50 per cent support the policy, while just 20 per cent oppose it (for the number-counters, 30 per cent expressed no decisive opinion).

Harry Lambert was the editor of May2015, the New Statesman's election website.

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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.