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Ministers are not being honest with us about the NHS's recovery time

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Rishi Sunak spent much of the Budget telling the House of Commons that he “wanted to be honest” about the scale of the challenge facing the public finances. The Chancellor’s version of honesty turned out to be rather more of a slickly produced affair than brutal assessment of the scale of cuts necessary in time to deal with the costs of Covid to the public purse.

But he is a politician, and they have never been very good at being entirely straight with voters on how much they would really need
to cut or how much taxes would really need to rise in order to balance the books.

Neither have politicians ever been much good at squaring with the public about the National Health Service. On a local level, they have an irrational tendency to do the politically expedient thing and oppose closures to wards and hospitals, even if all the evidence is that fewer people will die as a result of those reforms.

At a national level, they slip into similar turns of phrase as those produced by Sunak yesterday: they talk of the importance of backing “our NHS” without explaining whether that means pouring in more money, reorganising the system once again, or doing the sort of technical things that voters don’t need to understand but which........

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