Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

  1. Why these cults of hate beguile the lost boys (Times)
    Whether it is radical Islam or street gangs, powerless, alienated teenagers need protection from false certainties, writes Janice Turner
  2. Tim Cook: Apple’s quiet leader (Financial Times)
    A defence of the tech group’s tax affairs has boosted the chief’s profile, writes Tim Bradshaw.
  3. Woolwich attack: When killers strike, should we listen to what they say? (Guardian)
    Just as Breivik's views on Islam did not deserve a hearing by the right, so the left should not use Woolwich to make its case on foreign policy, writes Jonathan Freedland.
  4. Dave must move against the Tory dark forces (Times)
    Every time the PM moves to the Right, they want more. Unless he makes an example of a malcontent he is doomed, writes Matthew Parris
  5. The West is fighting on behalf of ordinary Muslims – and winning (Telegraph)
    Our enemies are utterly misguided in their denunciation of Britain’s interventions overseas, writes Con Coughlin.
  6. Nigel Farage bombed in Edinburgh – what does that really tell us about Scottish antipathy to the English? (Guardian)
    It could be to do with class more than nationality, writes Ian Jack
  7. Dogma will always lead to murder. In the end, scepticism is the only answer (Independent)
    The Woolwich killers were certain that faith supported their actions, writes A C Grayling.
  8. The fate of Sally Bercow suggests it's all to easy to side with the baying mob (Telegraph)
    The ill-judged clamour over Lord McAlpine swept many of us to a false conclusion, writes Graeme Archer.
  9. Farewell, Shameless. Your heirs have work to do (Independent)
    The undeserving poor – the feckless, the workshy, the scrounging – are the exception, not the norm. If only our television screens reflected that, writes Owen Jones.
  10. Britain is at risk of creating another housing bubble (Financial Times)
    The chancellor should be working to build homes, not push prices up further, writes Chris Giles

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Why Theresa May won't exclude students from the net migration target

The Prime Minister believes the public would view the move as "a fix". 

In a letter to David Cameron shortly after the last general election, Philip Hammond demanded that students be excluded from the net migration target. The then foreign secretary, who was backed by George Osborne and Sajid Javid, wrote: "From a foreign policy point of view, Britain's role as a world class destination for international students is a highly significant element of our soft power offer. It's an issue that's consistently raised with me by our foreign counterparts." Universities and businesses have long argued that it is economically harmful to limit student numbers. But David Cameron, supported by Theresa May, refused to relent. 

Appearing before the Treasury select committee yesterday, Hammond reignited the issue. "As we approach the challenge of getting net migration figures down, it is in my view essential that we look at how we do this in a way that protects the vital interests of our economy," he said. He added that "It's not whether politicians think one thing or another, it's what the public believe and I think it would be useful to explore that quesrtion." A YouGov poll published earlier this year found that 57 per cent of the public support excluding students from the "tens of thousands" target.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, has also pressured May to do so. But the Prime Minister not only rejected the proposal - she demanded a stricter regime. Rudd later announced in her conference speech that there would be "tougher rules for students on lower quality courses". 

The economic case for reform is that students aid growth. The political case is that it would make the net migration target (which has been missed for six years) easier to meet (long-term immigration for study was 164,000 in the most recent period). But in May's view, excluding students from the target would be regarded by the public as a "fix" and would harm the drive to reduce numbers. If an exemption is made for one group, others will inevitably demand similar treatment. 

Universities complain that their lobbying power has been reduced by the decision to transfer ministerial responsibility from the business department to education. Bill Rammell, the former higher education minister and the vice-chancellor of Bedfordshire, said in July: “We shouldn’t assume that Theresa May as prime minister will have the same restrictive view on overseas students that Theresa May the home secretary had”. Some Tory MPs hoped that the net migration target would be abolished altogether in a "Nixon goes to China" moment.

But rather than retreating, May has doubled-down. The Prime Minister regards permanently reduced migration as essential to her vision of a more ordered society. She believes the economic benefits of high immigration are both too negligible and too narrow. 

Her ambition is a forbidding one. Net migration has not been in the "tens of thousands" since 1997: when the EU had just 15 member states and the term "BRICS" had not even been coined. But as prime minister, May is determined to achieve what she could not as home secretary. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.