By Matthew Barrett
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Ed Miliband has often attacked the Government's policies on the NHS, accusing the current administration of either making cuts, or delivering a worse service than Mr Miliband implies Labour would have been delivering had they remained in government.
His attacks have often been undermined by Labour's record on the NHS in Wales. In the devolved administration in Wales, Labour will cut the health budget by £534 million in real terms between 2011-12 and 2014-15, including a cut of £246 million in real terms between 2011-12 and 2012-13, the biggest year-on year cut to the Welsh health budget since devolution began.
As a result, waiting times are higher in Wales, cancer patients are being denied life-prolonging drugs which they would have access to if they lived in England, and spending on medicines has "decreased at a faster rate than elsewhere in the UK", according to the Office for Health Economics.
But now Ed Miliband is being undermined in Scotland. Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has proven to be a more sensible and mature leader than one might have predicted. This morning, she has acknowledged that the current free tuition system for Scottish students is "not sustainable", and contributions must be made towards university education in future.Lamont, a former teacher, also made some hard-hitting criticisms of Scottish school and higher education performance, saying schools had once led the world but have now "fallen behind". She said: "We are no longer top of the table and a smug regard for past glories is damaging and dangerous".
The SNP attacks on Lamont were amusingly devoid of truth. Scottish "education secretary" Michael Russell said:
"Johann Lamont has now shown her true colours and they are Tory blue. There is barely a scintilla of difference between her plan to abolish free education and the disastrous fees regime introduced by the Tories south of the Border."
In stark contrast to Lamont's approach, Ed Miliband has consistently dodged the opportunity to acknowledge that the challenges Britain faces mean that any government in power at the moment would have to take a very serious look at some of the obligations and services the state currently finds itself providing.