Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. China has thrown down a gauntlet (Financial Times)

Beijing has turned control of the air space around the Senkaku Islands into a test of the US, writes Philip Stephens. 

2. Misery looms for the 'have-it-all' generation (Daily Telegraph)

As the baby boomers approach retirement, many face a retirement crisis, thanks to QE, writes Jeremy Warner.

3. Energy's big six: the more we learn, the worse they look (Guardian)

Cutting the 'green crap' from energy bills is a damaging electoral sweetener – the signs are voters will not be fooled, says Polly Toynbee.

4. The case for the Union is still strong – so why does the government not make it? (Daily Telegraph)

Alex Salmond and the SNP are being given a free hand to blame London for their own mistakes, says Fraser Nelson. 

5. Tories and the cult of home ownership (Financial Times)

Promoting house-buying is a form of stimulus that does not overtly add to the fiscal deficit, writes Samuel Brittan. 

6. There is no link between porn and sex crime (Times)

Rape and violence are about power and the male nature, writes Philip Collins. Moral panic about legal images is pointless.

7. The U-turning Tories are making their lack of conviction obvious (Daily Telegraph)

Not knowing what they believe makes for messy messaging for the Tories, says Isabel Hardman. 

8. Leveson: Britain's press needs to learn humility – I should know (Guardian)

As a former Sun editor, I know newspapers are dictatorships, says David Yelland. Their hysterical reaction to Leveson proves it.

9. If I were young and Scottish, I would vote yes to independence (Independent)

The country is certainly strong enough to stand on its own, writes Mary Dejevsky. 

10. Why the assault on cigarette packets? They already look like props in a horror movie (Guardian)

I hate smoking, writes Simon Jenkins. But I also hate being told by the government how to look after my body. Cameron should leave smokers.

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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.