Vince Cable at the Liberal Democrats' spring conference in Liverpool earlier this year. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Vince Cable loses seat on a terrible night for the Lib Dems

Business Secretary is the biggest of the Lib Dem beasts to fall.

It just gets worse for the Lib Dems. In the biggest shock result of the night, Vince Cable has lost his Twickenham seat to the Conservatives. The Business Secretary was expected to survive on the basis of his personal popularity. But such is the scale of the swing against his party that the much-touted "incumbency advantage" counted for little. The Tories, for whom Cable became a hate figure in recent years, will relish this victory.

Cable is the biggest of the Lib Dem beasts to fall: Simon Hughes, Lynne Featherstone and Ed Davey have also been decapitated. The party's decision to enter coalition with the Tories has proved electorally ruinous. As Angela Merkel once remarked to David Cameron of coalition governments: "The little party always gets smashed!" Having won 57 seats in 2010, the Lib Dems will be lucky to hold more than 10 tonight. For the Tories, conversely, the decision to enter coalition in 2010 now looks like an electoral masterstroke. It is taking scores of seats from the Lib Dems but Labour is still struggling to make gains despite the collapse of its centre-left rival. While he has retained his own Sheffield Hallam seat, it is doubtful whether Nick Clegg can remain leader after a humiliation on this scale. Should he resign, it is Tim Farron, the activists' darling, who represents the safe seat of Westmorland and Lonsdale who will take over.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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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.