Unless Labour learns the Tory virtue of ruthlessness, it will continue to be led by failures and liabilities

There has always been a reluctance among Labour types to admit that their chief opponents do anything better than them. In our confrontational political system, this is understandable. But as Labour starts the long drawn out process of electing a new leader and picking up the pieces of its last general election defeat, it could do far worse than taking a few tips off the Conservatives.

First of all, it should be pointed out that ever since Alec Douglas-Home bequeathed to his party a new and democratic system for electing the leader (replacing the previous opaque system in which a candidate “emerged” from the private counsels of the establishment, including the Crown), the Tories have always been…

The complexity of the care system is only making life harder for the elderly

Our reports about how NHS contractors are offering their paid consultancy services to people trying to navigate their way through the care system will have touched a chord with many readers in similar positions.

In some cases the advisers are part of the health service teams whose job is to assess whether elderly, sick individuals qualify for state help. They charge up to £300 a day to relatives who may have been turned down by the very same outfit.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has asked NHS chiefs to report on whether this is a loophole that needs to be closed. But the question they should be asking is why the system is so labyrinthine that finding a way through without expert guidance…

Letters: Our Byzantine healthcare system prevents GPs from doing their job

SIR – The NHS wants to do everything on the cheap, with the result that we have an overstretched, inaccessible system that is deteriorating year on year (Leading Article, December 23).

One of the problems in primary care is the number of non-clinical layers that patients have to navigate in order to see someone capable of assessing their problem. The patient is often frustrated by the time they reach a GP, having been inadequately assessed by NHS 111, nurse-led urgent care centres, triage, pharmacists and paramedics.

When the patient does get to see a GP, the service they receive is second best. There is too little consultation time, and insufficient resources for near-patient testing. Long waits…

Britain’s absurd sentencing system needs a radical overhaul

The fact that Usman Khan, a convicted terrorist and a dangerous Islamist extremist, was free to murder two people and injure others reflects a catastrophic institutional failure. The Prime Minister, who has pledged to end the automatic early release system, is absolutely right to be “angry”. Boris Johnson’s instincts are the most radically pro‑law and order that we’ve heard from a PM in years, and they are very welcome indeed. Britain needs to dramatically rethink and overhaul its broken sentencing regime.

Khan was more than just known to the security services: this despicable individual went to jail in 2012 for his role in a plan to bomb the London Stock Exchange, the American embassy and the…