Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The Prime Minister's speech on the economy asserted the incredible in defense of the indefensible (Independent)

There are many credible alternatives to the current stance of economic policy, which would deal with the deficit while promoting growth, argue David Blanchflower and Adam Posen.

2. Theresa May-nia won’t become contagious (Times) (£)

The Home Secretary has the grit to be an accomplished PM but her lack of warmth will stop her reaching No 10, says Tim Montgomerie.

3. Cameron's days at No 10 may be numbered, but the national agenda is still set by the right (Independent)

The Prime Minister is surrounded by ideological crusaders and they've succeeded in turning the politically impossible into the politically inevitable, says Owen Jones.

4. Britain needs an activist chancellor (Financial Times)

The coalition government should do more to boost growth, says an FT editorial.

5. The Falklands: a vote with no purpose (Guardian)

Britain is alone in the world if it thinks that the Malvinas referendum will decide this dispute, writes Alicia Castro.

6. A good engineer who knows his own limits (Financial Times)

Ben Bernanke’s Fed has been the only serious US economic actor, says Edward Luce.

7. David Cameron may last even as he leads his MPs to their doom (Guardian)

Tory backbenchers fear a repeat of 1997 at the next election. But that doesn't mean any of them have the courage to act on it, writes Gaby Hinsliff.

8. Ed dreams of win... don’t let him in (Sun)

David Cameron has plenty of room for manoeuvre, says Trevor Kavanagh. But he cannot count on the unpopularity of Ed Miliband to hand him victory.

9. Justice is put to the sword by Moscow’s greed and corruption (Daily Telegraph)

The ludicrous 'trial’ of a whistleblower killed for his pains ranks among Russia’s darkest hours, writes Boris Johnson.

10. Liberal Democrats: heartlands (Guardian)

Nick Clegg still feels the sacrifices are worth it, but this is becoming an increasingly difficult line to sustain, says a Guardian editorial.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.