Douglas Carswell and Nigel Farage have differing views on NHS spending. Photo: Getty
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Ukip confusion over the NHS budget as Douglas Carswell supports more spending

The Ukip MP backs a funding boost for the health service, but that's not his party's line.

On the BBC's Daily Politics this afternoon , the Tory-turned-Ukip MP for Clacton, Douglas Carswell, backed the idea of increasing spending on the NHS.

He said:

We are going to have to spend more as a society, for the simple reason that people are living longer, technology means that we can spend more, invest more in health. We’re going to have to do it . . . I think we are going to have to increase spending because the fact is that people are living longer, people expect better health care and they are not getting it. And they are going to have to have, I think more of our resources as a country spent on health care.

Carswell also admitted on the programme that he had "got it wrong" by voting in favour of the government's NHS reforms in 2012.

On the surface, Carswell's comments are unsurprising, considering all the other main Westminster parties have made pledges on health spending, and that A&E departments are suffering their worst period in a decade. However, it is telling that the MP's comments do not toe Ukip's party line.

Nigel Farage has in the past called it "ridiculous" to protect the NHS budget from spending cuts. In January last year, he told the Telegraph:

We take the view that the greatest boom in Britain has been the growth in the cost of the public sector. The growth of the public sector has placed a massive cost on this country. We will come up with a plan, a fairly radical plan, about how government spending should be cut.

He said the ringfencing of certain budgets, such as on the NHS, is based on "ridiculous arguments". And he would not support protecting the NHS budget when speaking on BBC News later last year, because, "I want to see us get better value for money". Recently, in an interview on Sky News' Murnaghan programme, he dismissed "all this nonsense about ringfencing" the NHS, saying the service could be "more efficient" and that money can be saved on it, "without any shadow of a doubt".

This is just the latest development in Ukip's protracted confusion over its stance on the health service. Spreading its wings to envelope former Labour supporters, it has had to come up with a more left-friendly stance on health spending, and this new direction has caused key party figures to contradict one another. It is also another instance of Carswell swerving away from the party line, a recent example being his call for Ukip not to tolerate "pejorative comments about people’s heritage" and for the party to start showing it has a "serious internationalist agenda".

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

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An alternative Trainspotting script for John Humphrys’ Radio 4 “Choose Life” tribute

Born chippy.

Your mole often has Radio 4’s Today programme babbling away comfortingly in the background while emerging blinking from the burrow. So imagine its horror this morning, when the BBC decided to sully this listening experience with John Humphrys doing the “Choose Life” monologue from Trainspotting.

“I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got Radio 4?” he concluded, as a nation cringed.

Introduced as someone who has “taken issue with modernity”, Humphrys launched into the film character Renton’s iconic rant against the banality of modern life.

But Humphrys’ role as in-studio curmudgeon is neither endearing nor amusing to this mole. Often tasked with stories about modern technology and digital culture by supposedly mischievous editors, Humphrys sounds increasingly cranky and ill-informed. It doesn’t exactly make for enlightening interviews. So your mole has tampered with the script. Here’s what he should have said:

“Choose life. Choose a job and then never retire, ever. Choose a career defined by growling and scoffing. Choose crashing the pips three mornings out of five. Choose a fucking long contract. Choose interrupting your co-hosts, politicians, religious leaders and children. Choose sitting across the desk from Justin Webb at 7.20 wondering what you’re doing with your life. Choose confusion about why Thought for the Day is still a thing. Choose hogging political interviews. Choose anxiety about whether Jim Naughtie’s departure means there’s dwindling demand for grouchy old men on flagship political radio shows. Choose a staunch commitment to misunderstanding stories about video games and emoji. Choose doing those stories anyway. Choose turning on the radio and wondering why the fuck you aren’t on on a Sunday morning as well. Choose sitting on that black leather chair hosting mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows (Mastermind). Choose going over time at the end of it all, pishing your last few seconds on needlessly combative questions, nothing more than an obstacle to that day’s editors being credited. Choose your future. Choose life . . .”

I'm a mole, innit.