Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Throw out the myths about Margaret Thatcher (Guardian)

 

The reality was that Thatcher was neither popular nor successful economically, writes Ken Livingstone. Labour must make a clean break with her policies.

2. How Labour can answer Blair’s seven questions (Times)

To expand Labour's support, Miliband should be bolder on housing, welfare and land taxation, says New Statesman editor Jason Cowley.

3. Sulking Tony Blair should show Ed Miliband some of the loyalty he demanded (Daily Mirror)

Blair may have been the right man to lead Labour at the 1997 election after John Smith’s death but he was past his sell-by date before the 2005 election, says Kevin Maguire.

4. Britain should not go back to the future (Financial Times)

The UK has been left an economy with a remarkably late-19th century look, writes Martin Wolf.

5. Seven lessons from Thatcher for the Tories (Times)

Her failures as well as her successes are worth analysing, says Tim Montgomerie.

6. Thatcher listened to voters – now it’s Farage who hears their despair (Daily Telegraph)

Ukip is no longer a single-issue party, it is widening its scope and enjoys the common touch with core voters that the main parties lack, says Fraser Nelson. 

7. Benefits don't look quite the electoral winner Cameron presumed (Guardian)

Attitudes to welfare change once people understand the detail, writes Polly Toynbee. For all last week's sound and fury, Labour was 10 points ahead.

8. Back-seat driving is a risky business, especially for Tony Blair (Independent)

The former PM was positively Trappist during the Brown years, says an Independent editorial. Not anymore.

9. A prophecy of prosperity after the gloom (Daily Telegraph)

Keynes and Thatcher each knew that growth would return, and soon than others thought, says Jeremy Warner.

10. Margaret Thatcher: Corporation blues (Guardian)

Conservative hostility towards the BBC was a constant theme in the Thatcher era, notes a Guardian editorial. With her death there has been a fresh spike.

Getty
Show Hide image

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.

0800 7318496