Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. A new populism is shaping politics in Britain and beyond (Financial Times)

There is a profound ignorance among the powerful as to the depth of anti-elite feeling, says John McDermott

2. The 'white widow', like the black, looms larger in the imagination than in fact (Guardian)

Samantha Lewthwaite is 'world's most wanted' despite any hard evidence. How Clouseau-like we must seem to al-Shabaab, says Marina Hyde

3. Free societies can never be completely safe (Times)

We cannot protect every local school and shopping centre from terrorists — and we should not try, argues Janice Turner

4. Labour's energy price freeze chimes with the spirit of 1997. It's not 'back to the 70s' (Guardian)

Our plans are in line with the hugely popular windfall tax on privatised utilities. The Tories scorned that too, says Douglas Alexander

5. Make Sochi 2014 the gayest Olympics ever (Times)

If we are going – if our solidarity is in our very presence – how can we ramp up that solidarity to the max, asks Caitlin Moran

6. To win the battle for the consumer, Cameron must cut taxes soon (Daily Telegraph)

Labour’s complaints about the high price of energy should prompt a bold free-market response, says Charles Moore

7. Cameron’s patronising attitude towards women will cost him the election (Independent)

Ninety five years after women got the vote, the Tory Conference will see 128 fringe meetings at which not a single woman is due to speak, says Chris Bryant

8. The new Pope is bringing glasnost to the Vatican (Financial Times)

No one knows how his ideas will fare – but everybody senses they challenge conservative power says David Gardner

9. Ed Miliband's new populism doesn't have to end with energy prices (Guardian)

Jonathan Freedland: From banks to railways, even welfare and immigration, Labour can go much further and still keep the public onside

10. Global lukewarming need not be catastrophic (Times)

There’s a middle way between those who deny climate change is real and those who say it’s disastrous, says Matt Ridley

 

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