The New York Times attacks Cameron's riots response

Cameron's measures risk "long-term damage to Britain’s already fraying social compact".

Today's New York Times features a thunderous editorial attacking David Cameron's response to the riots. You can read the paper's leader in full here but I've pulled out some of the most notable passages below.

On Cameron's double standards:

Mr. Cameron, a product of Britain's upper classes and schools, has blamed the looting and burning on a compound of national moral decline, bad parenting and perverse inner-city subcultures.

Would he find similar blame -- this time in the culture of the well housed and well off -- for Britain's recent tabloid phone hacking scandals or the egregious abuse of expense accounts by members of Parliament?

On rioters' benefits and social networks:

He talks about cutting off government benefits even to minor offenders and evicting them -- and, in a repellent form of collective punishment, perhaps their families, too -- from the publicly supported housing in which one of every six Britons lives.

He has also called for blocking access to social networks like Twitter during future outbreaks. And he has cheered on the excessive sentences some judges have been handing out for even minor offenses.

On Cameron's populism:

Such draconian proposals often win public applause in the traumatized aftermath of riots. But Mr. Cameron, and his Liberal Democrat coalition partners, should know better. They risk long-term damage to Britain's already fraying social compact.

The Grey Lady also criticises the coalition's economic strategy, warning that the government's "wrongheaded austertity policies" have hit the poorest hardest. What Britain's stagnant economy needs, the NYT argues, is "short-term stimulus", not more budget cutting.

It concludes: "Fair play is one traditional British value we have always admired. And one we fear is increasingly at risk."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Getty
Show Hide image

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.

0800 7318496