Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. The head will decide Scotland’s future (Financial Times)

Pragmatic arguments will be the decisive factor in the referendum, writes Janan Ganesh.

2. A Lib Dem double backflip now would be madness (Guardian)

A backroom deal to swap Tory-favouring boundary changes for reform of party funding would be suicidal for the Liberal Democrats, writes Polly Toynbee.

3. Scotland, fine. But an EU vote is a huge risk (Times) (£)

Asking the people did for Nick Clegg and may do for Alex Salmond, writes Rachel Sylvester. David Cameron should think twice.

4. Leaders cling to referendums for comfort (Independent)

Considering how few referendums are held, it would be healthier and more honest to stop offering them altogether, argues Steve Richards.

5. Julia Gillard is no feminist hero (Guardian)

She has been praised for standing up to sexism but Australia's prime minister is also rolling back rights, says John Pilger.

6. Cameron must commit to low-carbon economy (Financial Times)

Uncertainty over policy is deterring investment, warns Nicholas Stern.

7. A precious marriage that must survive (Daily Mail)

The Union between England and Scotland is the most mutually beneficial partnership between nations in human history, says a Daily Mail editorial.

8. Squeezed parents cannot afford childcare (Daily Telegraph)

Thanks to Labour, we have a system that is both far too costly and far too cumbersome, says

9. Spain, Britain and the forbidden fruits of independence (Financial Times)

No marriage can survive by declaring divorce illegal, writes Gideon Rachman.

10. Europhiles have only themselves to blame (Daily Telegraph)

Michael Gove speaks for many on the EU – Britain is tired of being pushed around, writes Philip Johnston.

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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.