Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Don't get mad about the Mail's use of the Philpotts to tarnish the poor – get even (Guardian)

30 years of widening inequality have built a Tory Narnia riven by distrust, writes Zoe Williams. It doesn't have to be like this.

2. The PM's critics are wrong. He’s on the verge of something great (Daily Telegraph)

A revolution is under way in health, welfare and education that may change Britain forever, says Peter Oborne.

3. We can’t limit free speech. Even for Di Canio (Times)

Once I proclaimed ‘no platform for fascists’, writes David Aaronovitch. Now I can see that toleration is a far more potent weapon.

4. We need a nuclear deterrent more than ever (Daily Telegraph)

A credible and continuous independent nuclear deterrent remains a crucial component of our national security, argues David Cameron.

5. Trident: the nuclear jobcentre (Guardian)

Treating Trident as an employment scheme will leave Britain ill equipped for the real threat: terrorism, says Richard Norton-Taylor.

6. Gove and the unions are betraying our children (Independent)

Their noisy debate leaves parents aghast at what awaits our children in the classroom, writes Jane Merrick.

7. Cleaner politics in France (Financial Times)

Hollande’s move to raise standards is overdue, says an FT editorial.

8. Real Time Information may be a reform too far (Daily Telegraph)

Whitehall’s record does not fill us with confidence that a major IT reform to the PAYE system will be handled well, says a Telegraph editorial.

9. Financial reform is coming to America (Financial Times)

It is no longer in the interests of Obama’s critics to delay, writes Barney Frank.

10. Don't make a martyr of Bradley Manning (Guardian)

The US should be a beacon of justice, not a bully, writes PJ Crowley. Any further pursuit of Manning is a propaganda gift to the country's enemies.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

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.