Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. In language and action, there's a new brutalism in Westminster (Observer)

George Osborne is not interested in helping people, writes Will Hutton. His purpose is political positioning.

2. Foreign media portrayals of the conflict in Syria are dangerously inaccurate (Independent on Sunday)

It is naive not to accept that both sides are capable of manipulating the facts to serve their own interests, writes Patrick Cockburn.

3. Nelson Mandela taught the Tories the value of trust in politics (Sunday Telegraph)

The Conservative Party’s shifting relationship with the great South African leader reflects a significant change in its style and attitude, writes Matthew d'Ancona.

4. Osborne has turned an omni-shambles into an omni-rout and buried 'borrow more' Ed Miliband (Mail on Sunday)

The Chancellor cemented the Tories' victory in the battle of ideas, and opened a new political era, says Michael Portillo.

5. Labour's big problem isn't being different: it's how to look credible (Observer)

Voters won't doubt that the Eds would change things, writes Andrew Rawnsley. They do need persuading that their sums would add up.

6. The election will be fought on benefits (Independent on Sunday)

The Chancellor and his shadow are manoeuvring skilfully for the vote-winning position between social justice and fiscal prudence, writes John Rentoul.

7. George zips ahead but his young friends will pay (Sunday Times)

The Tories shouldn't take false comfort from the Spending Review, suggests Adam Boulton.

8. Hate porn, sure, but be wary of banning it (Observer)

The principle that consenting adults are free to watch what they want is worth defending, says Nick Cohen.

9. Dear Sir Humphrey, Please stop churning out pompous, windy letters. Yours sincerely, Michael Gove (Mail on Sunday)

Every minister has something they are punctilious about, says James Forsyth. For Michael Gove, it is how letters are written.

10. It’s no longer unthinkable to shrink the state (Sunday Telegraph)

The political parties are having to scramble to keep up with the realism of most voters, says Janet Daley.

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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.