Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The nasty babble which stigmatises depression (Guardian)

Mental health debate is like a pre-Enlightenment scream in its ignorance, writes Tanya Gold.

2. It is Mitt Romney’s 'gaffes’ that should win him the election (Telegraph)

The Republican best represents his country’s ability to renew itself for each generation, writes Charles Moore.

3. Jimmy Savile was an emperor with no clothes – and a celebrity cloak (Guardian)

Savile's invisible but dazzling cloak of fame stopped everyone from suggesting he was exactly the scary, child-catching creature he seemed to be, writes Deborah Orr.

4. US election: whoever wins on Tuesday, the impact will be profound (Guardian)

It's totally wrong to think there's little difference between Obama and Romney. We should all remember Gore v Bush, writes Jonathan Freedland.

5. The United States: a struggling nation that is polls apart (Telegraph)

America is divided as never before on class, gender, race and economic lines – but voters agree on the big issue, writes Niall Ferguson.

6. A land worth fighting for (Telegraph)

Fifty years on, we still say that adequate housing should not mean concreting over the country, writes the Telegraph.

7. UK rushes needlessly towards the EU exit (Financial Times)

The EU is in an era of transformation, writes Martin Wolf.

8. George Lucas: The director strikes back (Financial Times)

Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm is the end of an unlikely Hollywood story, writes Nigel Andrews.

9. It took Sandy for the US to debate science (Financial Times)

The superstorm has given climate change the importance it deserves, writes Clive Cookson.

10. Heseltine or Redwood? I say firmly: ‘Yes’ (Times)

 

The important Tory divide is not over Europe, but between believers and disbelievers in the magic of state action, writes Matthew Parris.

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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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