Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Enough of playing Hamlet: Obama needs to act now (Guardian)

The indecisive US president has shown that he is as torn as the rest of us over intervention in Syria, writes Jonathan Freedland. But his credibility is at stake.

2. Not even IDS faced the venom confronting Ed Miliband (Daily Telegraph)

Labour’s leader may be reviled, but David Cameron’s arrogance is to blame for the botched Syria vote, says Mary Riddell. 

3. Syria is following Afghanistan’s path (Financial Times)

While international engagement is ever less popular, it is increasingly necessary, writes David Miliband.

4. ‘Lessons from Iraq’ are not lessons at all (Times)

When it comes to Syria we cannot look back to 2003 and be certain what the endgame should be, writes Daniel Finkelstein.

5. Two quarters of growth don't mean George Osborne's policy has worked (Guardian)

Talk of an economic recovery rings hollow to ordinary families in Britain, who are still seeing their living standards fall, says Ed Balls.

6. Export obsession is crushing Germany (Financial Times)

The country’s recent success has been based on cutting wages, writes Adam Posen.

7. Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange: our new heroes (Guardian)

As the NSA revelations have shown, whistleblowing is now an essential art, writes Slavoj Žižek. It is our means of keeping 'public reason' alive.

8. 'Scotland versus Salmond' could be the way to win (Daily Telegraph)

The SNP's programme shows the First Minister's focus on independence ignores his country's problems, writes Alan Cochrane. 

9. Here’s how a ‘good’ bank could operate (Independent)

The near-bankruptcy of the Co-op bank is an awful warning of what can go wrong, writes Andreas Whittam Smith. 

10. Merkel may not be the friend Cameron thinks (Times)

The German leader is sure to be re-elected but Britain cannot count on her, says Roger Boyes.

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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.