Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham speaks at the Labour conference in Manchester earlier this year. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Labour to turn focus to health with 10-year NHS plan in January

Having addressed the deficit and immigration, the party plans to focus on its greatest strength. 

Labour has spent much of the last fortnight addressing its political weaknesses. Ed Miliband has made high-profile speeches on the deficit and immigration (the two subjects he forgot to mention in his conference address) and has announced general election pledges related to both. On the former, Labour has promised to reduce borrowing every year and to avoid unfunded manifesto commitments. On the latter, it has pledged to control immigration with "fair rules", to ban migrants from claiming benefits for two years after their arrival and to make it illegal for employers to undercut wages by exploiting workers. Both are aimed at providing the party with the protective cover it will need during the election campaign. 

Having "cleared away the undergrowth", in the words of one strategist, Labour now plans to focus on maximising its strengths: living standards and the NHS. January will be the party's "health month" with the conclusion of its mental health taskforce and the publication of a 10-year plan for health and social care by Andy Burnham. The party rightly regards the NHS, the issue on which it enjoys its biggest poll lead, as central to election victory. Voters consistently rank it at as one of the most important policy areas (or even the most important) and the role it played during the Scottish referendum (despite health being a devolved issue) was a reminder of the public's affection for our national religion. 

The Tories' recent panicked pledge to spend £2bn more on the NHS was aimed at neutralising Labour's attack. But the deteriorating state of the health service, and the blame the Conservatives have incurred as a result of their reorganisation, means they will struggle to reduce the opposition's advantage. Labour's lead on the issue has remained stubborn despite the Tories' repeated attacks over Mid-Staffs and Wales. Indeed, one aide recently told me that every time Cameron mentions the NHS, Labour benefits as the subject rises up the agenda. Expect Miliband to now focus on ensuring that the health service, as he put it at a recent PMQs, is "on the ballot paper" in May. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.