Where were you on 9/11?

It is an event etched into our collective memory. We asked writers, politicians, and activists to re

The events of 11th September 2001 changed the course of history. As last week's leader puts it: "Everyone of a certain age can remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard about the al-Qaeda attacks on the Pentagon and Pennsylvania and the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City." The sheer scale and audacity of the attack presented a new kind of threat for the globalised age, as did the shock of something happening on American soil, previously seen as untouchable.

In the New Statesman's 9/11 special, we asked writers, politicians, and activists to remember where they were when they heard the news. Here are their responses. Please feel free to share your own memories in the comment box below.

Elizabeth Turner, author of The Blue Skies of Autumn

Jonathon Powell, former chief of staff at 10 Downing Street

Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief, AOL Huffington Post Media Group

Stephen Evans, BBC journalist

Omar Bin Laden, son of Osama

Louis Susman, US ambassador to the UK, 2009 to date

Kay Burley, Sky News presenter

Ken Livingstone, former mayor of London

Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and The Border

Moazzam Begg, former Guantanamo Bay detainee

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Libery

Abdel Bari Atwan, editor, al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper

Joan Bakewell, broadcaster

Clive Stafford Smith, human rights lawyer and director of Reprieve

Jason Burke, journalist

Sherard Cowper-Coles, former UK ambassador to Afghanistan

Amira Hass, journalist, Haaretz

David Blunkett, former home secretary

George Galloway, former MP

Jarvis Cocker, musician

Tariq Ramadan, professor of contemporary Islamic studies, Oxford University

 

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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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