Students pose for their official group photograph at the University of Birmingham as they take part in their degree congregations. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Why graduates are the biggest obstacle to Ukip's advance

Sixty per cent believe immigration has benefited Britain and are much more likely to be pro-EU.

British attitudes on immigration have hardened – who knew? That is the utterly predictable headline from today’s British Social Attitude Survey. Only 27 per cent now think that legal immigrants who are not British citizens should have the same rights as British citizens, down from 40 per cent in 2003. More people also think that an influx of immigrants leads to an increase in crime rates.

So far, so unsurprising. But there is a more significant finding, and it is one that Ukip will not relish. Anti-immigration feeling may have peaked.

The notion that Britain is united in anti-immigrant hostility betrays Ukip’s inconvenient truth. The Britain of tomorrow stubbornly clings onto the unfashionable view that immigrants tend to be culturally beneficial, hardworking and help the perilous finances of UK PLC: they bring in more than they take out.

London is often described as the Britain of tomorrow, and the local elections exposed how little Ukip’s message resonates there. London presents a simple problem to Ukip: it is too “cultural, educated and young”, as Ukip communities spokeswoman Suzanne Evans admitted in a moment of unintentional candour.

The British Social Attitudes Survey emphasises Ukip’s lack of traction in the capital. Fifty four per cent of Londoners believe that immigration is good for the economy, compared with only 28% of people around the rest of the country.

Of course, it is now a challenge to finish a sentence containing "Londoners" without shoe-horning ‘metropolitan’ and ‘elite’ in there too. But actually London is really emblematic of Ukip’s most fundamental problem. It has a huge problem with graduates. Sixty per cent of graduates think immigration has benefited Britain economically, compared with 17% of those with no qualifications. Graduates are also much more likely to be pro-EU.

When Tony Blair appeared on Today recently, Twitter was overflowing with those lamenting that there existed no comparable figure to take on Ukip today. That may be true. Yet Blair has already done more than anyone to counter Ukip. His government’s target that 50 per cent of all young people go to university may be questionable on many levels. But it acts as the single greatest roadblock to Ukip developing support among the young.

Tim Wigmore is a contributing writer to the New Statesman and the author of Second XI: Cricket In Its Outposts.

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Inside a shaken city: "I just want to be anywhere that’s not Manchester”

The morning after the bombing of the Manchester Arena has left the city's residents jumpy.

On Tuesday morning, the streets in Manchester city centre were eerily silent.

The commuter hub of Victoria Station - which backs onto the arena - was closed as police combed the area for clues, and despite Mayor Andy Burnham’s line of "business as usual", it looked like people were staying away.

Manchester Arena is the second largest indoor concert venue in Europe. With a capacity crowd of 18,000, on Monday night the venue was packed with young people from around the country - at least 22 of whom will never come home. At around 10.33pm, a suicide bomber detonated his device near the exit. Among the dead was an eight-year-old girl. Many more victims remain in hospital. 

Those Mancunians who were not alerted by the sirens woke to the news of their city's worst terrorist attack. Still, as the day went on, the city’s hubbub soon returned and, by lunchtime, there were shoppers and workers milling around Exchange Square and the town hall.

Tourists snapped images of the Albert Square building in the sunshine, and some even asked police for photographs like any other day.

But throughout the morning there were rumours and speculation about further incidents - the Arndale Centre was closed for a period after 11.40am while swathes of police descended, shutting off the main city centre thoroughfare of Market Street.

Corporation Street - closed off at Exchange Square - was at the centre of the city’s IRA blast. A postbox which survived the 1996 bombing stood in the foreground while officers stood guard, police tape fluttering around cordoned-off spaces.

It’s true that the streets of Manchester have known horror before, but not like this.

I spoke to students Beth and Melissa who were in the bustling centre when they saw people running from two different directions.

They vanished and ducked into River Island, when an alert came over the tannoy, and a staff member herded them through the back door onto the street.

“There were so many police stood outside the Arndale, it was so frightening,” Melissa told me.

“We thought it will be fine, it’ll be safe after last night. There were police everywhere walking in, and we felt like it would be fine.”

Beth said that they had planned a day of shopping, and weren’t put off by the attack.

“We heard about the arena this morning but we decided to come into the city, we were watching it all these morning, but you can’t let this stop you.”

They remembered the 1996 Arndale bombing, but added: “we were too young to really understand”.

And even now they’re older, they still did not really understand what had happened to the city.

“Theres nowhere to go, where’s safe? I just want to go home,” Melissa said. “I just want to be anywhere that’s not Manchester.”

Manchester has seen this sort of thing before - but so long ago that the stunned city dwellers are at a loss. In a city which feels under siege, no one is quite sure how anyone can keep us safe from an unknown threat

“We saw armed police on the streets - there were loads just then," Melissa said. "I trust them to keep us safe.”

But other observers were less comforted by the sign of firearms.

Ben, who I encountered standing outside an office block on Corporation Street watching the police, was not too forthcoming, except to say “They don’t know what they’re looking for, do they?” as I passed.

The spirit of the city is often invoked, and ahead of a vigil tonight in Albert Square, there will be solidarity and strength from the capital of the North.

But the community values which Mancunians hold dear are shaken to the core by what has happened here.

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