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Watch: Comedian Jo Brand endorses Labour in a party election broadcast

"I'm choosing Labour".

Jo Brand, the comedian who used to be an NHS nurse, has backed Labour in a party election broadcast. The central message is protecting and improving the NHS. 

The clip features a voiceover by Doctor Who and Broadchurch actor David Tennant, who also spoke in Martin Freeman's broadcast.

The full transcript is below:

JB:                  There’s an election coming up. You might know that and we all have our own personal axes to grind. Mine if what’s going to happen to the NHS, not because of my undeniable status as a national fitness icon, but because once upon a time I used to be a nurse. And by the way, I’m sick of the way nurses get slagged off all the time in the press. I mean, come on, the vast majority of them are hard-working, committed, amazing human beings. Because to my mind a decent civilised society looks after its people when they’re ill and doesn’t present them with a bill at the end of it. But what I’m seeing now is little by little the NHS being pulled apart. By whom you might ask? A clue; it’s not the Labour Party. They started the whole thing. If you’ve tried to get an appointment with your doctor or been to an A&E recently you’ll know things are in a right mess.
                        What’s that mess all about? For a start a tonne of money wasted on a reorganisation so big you could see it from space and so hard to understand you’d have to be Professor Stephen Hawking to get your head round it. I give you the Tory Party. Let’s be honest about it, if they get back in the NHS as we know it wouldn’t survive the next five years.
                        Why? Because they’re planning even more extreme cuts; we know that. They don’t want to talk about it but it’s not hard to guess. What it boils down to is this: do we want a government that will back our NHS or not? I want to see our NHS make it to its 100th birthday and get its telegram from the Queen. Because that’s what it is, by the way, the NHS; it’s ours. It belongs to us all. We paid for it with our taxes and we want to keep it safe in our hands, not theirs. And that’s why I’m choosing Labour. 
Voiceover:     This election is a choice between the Tories’ failing plan and Labour’s better plan for working families. Britain succeeds when working people succeed. Vote Labour on Thursday May 7th        
Photo: Getty Images
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Autumn Statement 2015: George Osborne abandons his target

How will George Osborne close the deficit after his U-Turns? Answer: he won't, of course. 

“Good governments U-Turn, and U-Turn frequently.” That’s Andrew Adonis’ maxim, and George Osborne borrowed heavily from him today, delivering two big U-Turns, on tax credits and on police funding. There will be no cuts to tax credits or to the police.

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that, in total, the government gave away £6.2 billion next year, more than half of which is the reverse to tax credits.

Osborne claims that he will still deliver his planned £12bn reduction in welfare. But, as I’ve written before, without cutting tax credits, it’s difficult to see how you can get £12bn out of the welfare bill. Here’s the OBR’s chart of welfare spending:

The government has already promised to protect child benefit and pension spending – in fact, it actually increased pensioner spending today. So all that’s left is tax credits. If the government is not going to cut them, where’s the £12bn come from?

A bit of clever accounting today got Osborne out of his hole. The Universal Credit, once it comes in in full, will replace tax credits anyway, allowing him to describe his U-Turn as a delay, not a full retreat. But the reality – as the Treasury has admitted privately for some time – is that the Universal Credit will never be wholly implemented. The pilot schemes – one of which, in Hammersmith, I have visited myself – are little more than Potemkin set-ups. Iain Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit will never be rolled out in full. The savings from switching from tax credits to Universal Credit will never materialise.

The £12bn is smaller, too, than it was this time last week. Instead of cutting £12bn from the welfare budget by 2017-8, the government will instead cut £12bn by the end of the parliament – a much smaller task.

That’s not to say that the cuts to departmental spending and welfare will be painless – far from it. Employment Support Allowance – what used to be called incapacity benefit and severe disablement benefit – will be cut down to the level of Jobseekers’ Allowance, while the government will erect further hurdles to claimants. Cuts to departmental spending will mean a further reduction in the numbers of public sector workers.  But it will be some way short of the reductions in welfare spending required to hit Osborne’s deficit reduction timetable.

So, where’s the money coming from? The answer is nowhere. What we'll instead get is five more years of the same: increasing household debt, austerity largely concentrated on the poorest, and yet more borrowing. As the last five years proved, the Conservatives don’t need to close the deficit to be re-elected. In fact, it may be that having the need to “finish the job” as a stick to beat Labour with actually helped the Tories in May. They have neither an economic imperative nor a political one to close the deficit. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.