Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Osborne has been disproved on austerity (Financial Times)

Nobody thought a recovery would never happen – merely that it would be delayed, says Martin Wolf.

2. Ed Miliband is no more 'red' than the Tony Blair that won the 1997 general election (Independent)

The Labour leader’s temporary freeze on energy bills is a fair and moderate step, says Andrew Adonis.

3. The scale of Ed’s ambition is both breathtaking and terrifying (Daily Telegraph)

The Labour leader’s socialist ideas on energy prices and housing shortages are radical, coherent and – worst of all – popular, says Fraser Nelson. 

4. David Cameron's least favourite question: whose side are you on? (Guardian)

There is no vacancy in the fabled centre ground, writes Polly Toynbee. Labour occupies it, and voters may no longer be fooled by red scaremongering.

5. Good news – foreigners are buying up Britain (Daily Telegraph)

The present phase of globalisation is painful for the west, but we should see it through, writes Jeremy Warner.

6. Ed can win from here. But he can’t govern (Times)

At last Miliband has defined what he stands for — it is not challenging his party’s comfort zone, says Philip Collins.

7. Only talks can reset Iran’s atomic clock (Financial Times)

The US must take risks or accept a stand-off, with Iran trundling further towards the bomb, writes Philip Stephens.

8. Beyond Europe (Times)

Senior Tories need to talk more about bread and butter issues like housing and pay, says a Times editorial.

9. 'Mental patient' fancy dress shows how deep offensive stereotypes go in society (Guardian)

Tesco and Asda have done the decent thing, says Alastair Campbell. But we must work to end the stigma about mental health in work, communities, friends – even the NHS.

Where are the  Islamic voices raised in protest at the abuse of the system, asks Peter Popham. 

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Today's immigration figures show why the net migration target should be scrapped

We should measure different types of migration separately and set targets that reflect their true impact.

Today’s net migration figures show, once again, that the government has raised expectations of tackling migration and failed to deliver. This is a recipe for disaster. Today’s numbers run far in excess of 300,000 – three times over what was pledged. These figures don’t yet reflect the fallout from Brexit. But they do show the government needs to change from business as usual.

It has been the current strategy, after all, that led the British public to reject the European Union regardless of the economic risks. And in the process, it is leading the government to do things which err on the side of madness. Like kicking out international students with degrees in IT, engineering or as soon as they finish their degrees. Or doubling the threshold for investor visas, and in the process bringing down the number of people willing to come to Britain to set up business and create jobs by 82 per cent. Moreover, it has hampered the UK’s ability to step up during last year’s refugee crisis - last year Britain received 60 asylum applications per 1,000 people in contrast to Sweden’s 1,667, Germany’s 587 and an EU average of 260.

The EU referendum should mark the end for business as usual. The aim should be to transition to a system whose success is gauged not on the crude basis of whether overall migration comes down, irrespective of the repercussions, but on the basis of whether those who are coming are helping Britain achieve its strategic objectives. So if there is evidence that certain forms of migration are impacting on the wages of the low paid then it is perfectly legitimate for government to put in place controls. Conversely, where flows help build prosperity, then seeing greater numbers should surely be an option.

Approaching immigration policy in this way would go with the grain of public opinion. The evidence clearly tells us that the public holds diverse views on different types of migration. Very few people are concerned about investors coming from abroad to set up companies, create jobs and growth. Few are worried about students paying to study at British universities. On the other hand, low-skilled migration causes concerns of under-cutting among the low paid and pressure on public services in parts of the country that are already struggling.

The first step in a new approach to managing migration has to be to abolish the net migration target. Rather than looking at migration in the aggregate, the aim should be to measure different types of migration separately and set targets that reflect their true impact. In the first instance, this could be as simple as separating low and high skilled migration but in the long term it could involve looking at all different forms of migration. A more ambitious strategy would be to separate the different types of migration - not just those coming to work but also those arriving as refugees, to study or be reunited with their families.

Dividing different flows would not only create space for an immigration policy which was strategic. It would also enable a better national conversation, one which could take full account of the complex trade-offs involved in immigration policy: How do we attract talent to the UK without also letting conditions for British workers suffer? Should the right to a family life override concerns about poor integration? How do we avoiding choking off employers who struggle to recruit nationally? Ultimately, are we prepared to pay those costs?

Immigration is a tough issue for politicians. It involves huge trade-offs. But the net migration target obscures this fact. Separating out different types of immigration allows the government to sell the benefits of welcoming students, the highly skilled and those who wish to invest without having to tell those concerned about low skilled immigration that they are wrong.

Getting rid of the net migration target is politically possible but only if it is done alongside new and better targets for different areas of inward migration – particularly the low-skilled. If it is, then not only does it allow for better targeted policy that will help appease those most vocally against immigration, it also allows for a better national conversation. Now is the time for a new, honest and better approach to how we reduce immigration.

Phoebe Griffith is Associate Director for Migration, Integration and Communities at IPPR