The Returning Officer: Portsmouth Sth IV

The Revolutionary Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) stood here in both 1974 elections, recording their highest vote when A D Rifkin won 612 votes in the October contest.

In the 1983 general election and the 1984 by-election, Alan Evens stood as an Independent Liberal. In 1983, he finished ahead of the National Front and the suspiciously named D W Fry of the Traditional English Food Party. Evens was still standing in local elections in Central Southsea 24 years later. In 1987, Martyn “Docker” Hughes stood for the 657 Party – representing Portsmouth’s football hooligan crew. His speech at the count featured in a documentary, on which the researcher was Phil Woolas, later MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth.

This article first appeared in the 17 September 2014 issue of the New Statesman, Scotland: What Next?

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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.