Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin

A match made in heaven

 

Ah, this is a beautiful thing. Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin (our cover story), facing each other on Fox this week, the Statue of Liberty looming in the background. About halfway through the clip, Glenn Beck leans across to Palin and searches for a personal connection:

You and I both were, I think, the number one and number two Halloween costumes of the year.

He carried on:

Did you know that? We both have been nailed on Saturday Night Live as being stupid. We are also both just recently voted on the Most Admired list of people in the world. We both have been on the cover of major magazines in the last year. We're both probably top five Most Hated People in America.

It's one way to bond. But this interview, if you watch it, is really the most amazing example of vague paranoia. They talk for the first ten minutes in the most part about "trust", the fact that there's no one you can trust, the moment they both realised that they could trust ANYONE AROUND THEM. I think they use the word trust approximately 48 times in the space of ten seconds.

Then there's the "system". Don't, for God's sake, get them started on the "system". Can you survive out of the "system", wonders Beck. "The system is broken," responds Palin. Not only that:

The system creates disenchantment with the people looking at the political system saying we don't like that.

The people! I nearly forgot about the people. Beck and Palin seem to have a hotline to the people. The people, all of them, seem to like exactly what they like and hate exactly what they hate. Why do they bother having elections when you could just ask these two?

 

 

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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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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