Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Ed, you can’t remain a Medium-Sized Beast (Times) (£)

The Labour leader is surrounded by grumblers. He needs to wield the knife and assert himself as leader of the pack, writes Rafael Behr.

2. Our sepia-tinted self-image is consoling, but it hinders NHS change more than anything else (Independent)

In its organisation and buildings, it is stuck in several time-warps and only the philosophy – a universal service, free at the point of delivery – remains valid, argues Mary Dejevsky.

3. Britain's booming population is a blessing, not a curse (Guardian)

The birth rate, at its highest for 40 years, is a great opportunity for our economy and wellbeing – if we make the right choices, says Polly Toynbee.

4. How Jeremy Hunt is following head boy Michael Gove’s lead (Telegraph)

The Health Secretary’s intolerance of failure in the NHS is inspired by the Education Secretary’s example, writes Isabel Hardman.

5. Cameron delights delegates with Lib Dem jokes (Daily Mail)

Prince William, Liz Hurley and David Cameron all make a showing in Ephraim Hardcastle's diary.

6. Focus on inflation, Mr Carney. Nothing else (Times)

Disaster follows when interest rates are set to control the exchange rate or unemployment, says Steve Davies.

7. Give David Cameron his due for unleashing Tory animal spirits (Telegraph)

The Conservative Party’s fortunes are improving, but its leader’s critics remain hobbled by the past, writes Bruce Anderson.

8. The west’s errors in Afghanistan – strategic, political and military – are too legion to list (FT) (£)

The west’s errors in Afghanistan – strategic, political and military – are too legion to list, says Philip Stevens.

9. Britain's hypocrisy towards Nigeria (Guardian)

Rather than open our doors to this potential superpower, we bar invited guests and throw money at its kleptocratic elite, says Ian Birrell.

10. Cameron has a point: negative coverage for social media can prove disastrous (Independent)

Users have woken up to the power of the boycott. These sites may be free to use, but if they lose users, they will also lose advertising revenue, writes Natalie Haynes.

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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.