Which politicians were most talked about this year?

Just four of Labour's frontbench make it into top 50, according to survey of national print media.

How many members of the shadow cabinet can you name? Probably not many, if a new survey of politician's "visibility" is to be believed. Public affairs firm Hanover Communications has totted up the number of mentions accrued by politicians in the national print media this year, and it is sobering reading for the Labour frontbench.

Ed Miliband is the only member of Labour's top command to make it into the top 10:

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The shadow chancellor Ed Balls just about makes it into the top 20, coming in at 18. Just two more Labour frontbenchers make it into the top 50 -- Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper at 24 and Deputy Leader Harriet Harman at 29.

Although the new shadow cabinet is clearly struggling to make waves in the press, David Miliband maintained a solid profile, at number 22, as did Gordon Brown (9) and Alistair Darling (15).

The Labour frontbench -- with the exception of Miliband and Balls -- were all outperformed by Tom Watson, the backbencher closely associated with exposing the phone-hacking scandal. He came in at number 20 after years of tireless campaigning finally came to fruition.

Apart from Watson, the most talked-about backbenchers include Nadine Dorries (41), David Laws (42), Douglas Carswell (43), Dominic Raab (45), Louise Mensch (46) and Priti Patel (49) -- all of whom performed better than half of the shadow cabinet.

 

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for 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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