My apologies to Stanley Johnson

Fears I may have offended Pater Johnson, reports from inside China and Burma plus what's going on in

I fear I may have offended the amiable Stanley Johnson - father of London's new mayor. Stanley - a one-time Tory MEP and their enthusiastic if unsuccessful candidate for Teignbridge at the last general election - has expressed a desire to succeed his Bozza as MP for the über-safe Tory seat of Henley.

The news prompted me to fire off a rather cheeky email to Pa Johnson who occasionally contributes to newstatesman.com.

It read: "So Stanley, what's the plan? You going to run in Henley and if so how will you still rumours that you are merely keeping Boris's seat warm?"

Back came a very prompt reply:

"Hello, Ben,

If you look at Wisden you will see that there are plenty of night-watchmen who have gone on to score a century!

all best

Stanley"

And although I never want a Tory to win, I do hope they give him a chance because - let's face it - if Henley insists on voting Conservative (AND when things are going so badly for Lexus Dave, Oik and the crew!) we might as well have someone with a bit of wit and colour about them up the road in Westminster!

The lovable Kate Hoey and charismatic Frank Field excepted of course.

So apologies Stanley - no offence meant.

Anyway moving on.

Lindsey Hilsum - our woman in China - is going to be filing from Sichuan and the absolutely devastating earthquake which has taken the lives of thousands.

We're also getting regular reports from inside Burma and some of the few Western aid workers operating in the cyclone-hit country. We've already heard from Save The Children child protection advisor Katy Barnett. You can donate and find out more about Save the Children's work in Burma by clicking on their website or give by going to the Disaster Emergencies Committee.

More from Katy later.

We're also going to hear from Victor Hulbert, of the Adventist Development Relief Agency.

Other than that, this week we've had an article from India about the mistreatment of India's hajiras – the 200,000 or so male to female transsexuals who often are subject to appalling harassment.

Deepa, a 72 year old hijra living in Mumbai, said: “Nobody says, 'I’d love to be a hijra!' Not if they know what happens to us. But what else can we do? A hijra has a man’s body, but the soul is a woman.” In order to scratch a living many hijras end up in prostitution. Others perform as wedding dancers and, in one region, as tax collectors. Check out this extraordinary story and find out how things may be changing for these people.

Bryan Gould, ex-Labour leadership hopeful, writes on what Gordon Brown must do if he is wants to win the next election.

In blogs we've got Sian Berry already thinking of her next campaign, Scotland's foremost writer AL Kennedy, plus Paul Rodger's Science Decoded and much more.

Ben Davies trained as a journalist after taking most of the 1990s off. Prior to joining the New Statesman he spent five years working as a politics reporter for the BBC News website. He lives in North London.
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How Theresa May laid a trap for herself on the immigration target

When Home Secretary, she insisted on keeping foreign students in the figures – causing a headache for herself today.

When Home Secretary, Theresa May insisted that foreign students should continue to be counted in the overall immigration figures. Some cabinet colleagues, including then Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne wanted to reverse this. It was economically illiterate. Current ministers, like the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, also want foreign students exempted from the total.

David Cameron’s government aimed to cut immigration figures – including overseas students in that aim meant trying to limit one of the UK’s crucial financial resources. They are worth £25bn to the UK economy, and their fees make up 14 per cent of total university income. And the impact is not just financial – welcoming foreign students is diplomatically and culturally key to Britain’s reputation and its relationship with the rest of the world too. Even more important now Brexit is on its way.

But they stayed in the figures – a situation that, along with counterproductive visa restrictions also introduced by May’s old department, put a lot of foreign students off studying here. For example, there has been a 44 per cent decrease in the number of Indian students coming to Britain to study in the last five years.

Now May’s stubbornness on the migration figures appears to have caught up with her. The Times has revealed that the Prime Minister is ready to “soften her longstanding opposition to taking foreign students out of immigration totals”. It reports that she will offer to change the way the numbers are calculated.

Why the u-turn? No 10 says the concession is to ensure the Higher and Research Bill, key university legislation, can pass due to a Lords amendment urging the government not to count students as “long-term migrants” for “public policy purposes”.

But it will also be a factor in May’s manifesto pledge (and continuation of Cameron’s promise) to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Until today, ministers had been unclear about whether this would be in the manifesto.

Now her u-turn on student figures is being seized upon by opposition parties as “massaging” the migration figures to meet her target. An accusation for which May only has herself, and her steadfast politicising of immigration, to blame.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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