In Praise of Poland


I was a bit taken aback to find a comment on my blog saying: ”I know you as a party don’t like the Poles, and especially those who come to live and work in the UK”.  It came from someone calling himself Patryk.

I’d be interested to hear quite how Patryk comes by this proposition, as it’s news to me.  We have several Polish colleagues in our parliamentary group in Brussels, and we value them highly.  I’ve never had a Polish staff member, but I’ve hired other Eastern Europeans, including a Czech and a Moldovan.  I have also heard all the anecdotal evidence of the enthusiasm and commitment of Polish workers in the UK, and I believe it to be well-founded.

We used to face a situation where any references to immigration, or any doubts expressed about multiculturalism, were immediately dismissed as “racist”.  Now, at last, both propositions have become mainstream and acceptable.  Voters on the doorstep have real and well-founded concerns about mass immigration, and democratic politicians have a duty to respond to those concerns.  And “multiculturalism”, at least in the simplistic sense, has been a recipe for social division and ghettoisation.  Yet people like Patryk still make the lazy assumption that if UKIP doesn’t like mass immigration, then UKIP doesn’t like Poles.

Let’s say it one more time: UKIP’s concern about immigration is a concern about numbers, not about race, or nationality, or ethnicity, or religion. Excessive immigration has put huge and unacceptable pressures on our schools, our housing, our social services, our education — and our green belt.

There is also a debate to be had about the economic impact of immigration.  Despite the best efforts of the left, they’ve failed to make the case that immigration offers major economic benefits.  It certainly benefits companies that hire enthusiastic, hard-working and committed foreign workers (including Poles) at competitive rates.  But it disadvantages British workers who find there is more competition for jobs and downward pressure on wages.  This issue should be decided democratically in Westminster, not by arbitrary and general EU “free movement” rules.  We need immigration, but the numbers and the skills required should be determined in the UK by democratic processes.

Perhaps Patryk would also tend to assume that UKIP doesn’t like Romanians and Bulgarians either.  Certainly we’ve talked more about them than about the Poles recently, because we’re concerned that from January 2014, just four months away, 29 million Romanians and Bulgarians will be entitled to come to the UK.  Many thousands have jumped the gun and are here already. And no, UKIP isn’t saying that 29 million will come.  But we do expect hundreds of thousands.

It’s worth mentioning that even Romanians already living in the UK may not be enthusiastic about free movement — and may not be opposed to UKIP’s position.  Certainly we’ve heard from Romanians in the UK who are embarrassed by stories of their very poor and unskilled compatriots living rough on the streets of London.

Some Romanians are, of course, very welcome in the UK.  I’m a big fan of Romanian ballerina Alina Cojocaru. If you haven’t seen her “Giselle”, do go and beg, borrow or steal the DVD.

Let me just reprise the reasons why the UK is a magnet for unemployed Europeans.  I have written about it before. We have Europe’s most popular language — English.  We have higher wages and better social and health services than many European countries.  And the EU’s “employment portal” (which we partly pay for)  carries predominantly British jobs, and offers help and advice on applying.

We won’t solve the immigration issue until we control our borders, and we won’t control our borders until we leave the EU.

Romanian ballerina Alina Cojocaru

Romanian ballerina Alina Cojocaru


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22 Responses to In Praise of Poland

  1. Techno says:

    I was just watching a documentary yesterday about Polish airmen in World War II. It was fascinating. They came to Britain, the last free country at the time, because they “knew the British would put up a fight”. They had little patience with British training and just wanted to get into the planes as soon as possible. Once in them, the British were astounded at their bravery and prowess.

    After the war, they were disappointed that Britain delivered Poland into the hands of Stalin at Yalta. Many returned home, were rounded up by the communists, and never seen again. Those who remained in Britain found themselves unwanted, competing for jobs with the native British.

    I also understand that it was the Polish secret service who smuggled a stolen Enigma machine into Britain shortly before Poland was invaded. As we know now, having this machine greatly assisted the codebreakers at Bletchley Park to read secret German messages.

  2. Eric Worrall says:

    I suspect mass immigration is the UK political establishment’s hidden “solution” to the public debt crisis.

    With UK public debts spiralling towards 10 trillion pounds (at least when you don’t use the fancy accounting used by Treasury – ), there is no way Britain will ever pay its way out of this mess without substantial increases in tax revenue.

    The obvious way to increase tax revenue, the way which has always worked, is for people to have kids. But kids are terribly unaffordable these day. So the politicians have turned to plan B – import lots of people from other countries, especially countries which traditionally have large families.

    The political fixers pushing this “solution” couldn’t care less about social disruption or housing pressure – if anything such disruption is an opportunity, for their mates to develop and flog rezoned land (nice little earner for politicians and political organisers if its done in a corrupt way, very difficult to prove that a crime has occurred), and a good excuse to beef up security services, to secure their hold on power.

    The possibility that it might all fall in a heap has simply never occurred to them, or even if it did, it would simply motivate them to scramble to milk the national cash cow even harder, like there was no tomorrow, to build a personal golden parachute in some numbered account before the racket finally fell to pieces.

    Since they’ve never experienced first hand what actually happens when a country collapses, they haven’t planned for what to do if their hold on power falters – they are utterly confident the centre will hold, that they can ride out any storm. After all, haven’t their years of abuse of process demonstrated that they are the ultimate power in the land?

    This is speculation – but from what I have seen of the inner workings of political organisations, I suspect I’m not too far from the truth.

  3. Patryk says:

    Roger, I am both glad and surprised that you have replied to my comment with this post. Let me explain where my assumption that “Ukip don’t like the Poles” came from.

    Ukip pride themselves in opening the debate on immigration, and the policies on this topic are written into your manifesto. Fair enough. The problem is that a lot of people don’t read manifestos, they remember what leaders say in the media. And whenever you hear Nigel Farage talk about immigration, it’s “immigration” or “Eastern European immigration”. He never mentions “African immigration” or “Asian immigration” or “Australian immigration”. All this despite the fact that, as I read somewhere, EU immigration constitutes only 30% of total immigration to thic country. To prove a point, have a look at this video, particularly from 25:49:

    Can you hear what Farage says? That actually he wouldn’t have a problem with French or Germans travelling freely to the UK to work (wouldn’t they take British jobs?) but Poles and Romanians come here only for benefits, free health service and free education. How does his speech compare with your point that this isn’t about “race, nationality, ethnicity or religion”? Secondly, this is a false claim about our reasons for immigration.

    And on top of this comes this book by Ukip’s Hugh Williams in which he apparently claims that the WW2 was caused by Polish aggression.

    This is why I stated, perhaps with a bit of exaggeration, that UKIP doesn’t like the Poles. You (as UKIP, not Roger Helmer) may not state it directly but this is the message that comes through.

    I would be interested in hearing your view if you now think that my claim has some basis in the evidence provided.

    Kind regards

    • I think it’s reasonable that Nigel (and UKIP) would draw attention to the problem areas we see. Romania and Bulgaria are a special problem, not because we don’t like Romanians and Bulgarians, but because the relative wage and social security differential is so enormous. On Hugh Williams, he’s entitled to his opinion, but it doesn’t make sense to me. Glad you came back on this one — thanks.

    • Chris says:

      The difference between immigration from the EU and outside the EU, is that the UK has control of non-EU immigrants. We can apply conditions such as skills and education. We cannot do this to EU citizens. That’s why we have so many East Europeans working in hotels, bars, restaurants and farms i.e. low skilled jobs.

      I have no issue with Europe. I like the continent and its people. I just don’t like open borders.

  4. Kevin Algar says:

    There is no doubt that UKIP’s anti immigration rhetoric incites resentment and attracts racists to its course.

  5. limogerry says:

    Poland is very bravely standing up to the EU and moving ahead on two coal powered generators. They’re going the right way about developing their economy, and if they can fend off the EU’s attempts to stall the project won’t need anybody’s help.

    • I agree (and I think I Tweeted in support of Poland). I’ll also be blogging (in positive terms) about Estonia shortly.

      • ex - Expat Colin says:

        I read (D. Teleg) the other day that Poland was being undermined (oh dear) by various (Russia/EU), regarding fracking. That includes some bad drilling I understand.

  6. Sue says:

    As with all immigration, the problem for the UK are numbers. We welcome skilled migrants, especially those in the sciences. As far as unskilled are concerned, we have enough unskilled people on benefits that should be made to fill those positions (especially in the farming, hospitality and caring industries). We also have a problem with an unprepared infrastructure (the sewers in London are at bursting point). We don’t have enough schools, hospitals or money to support any more people no matter where they come from. The rate of immigration has been too high for too long and now many people, both immigrants and the indigenous are living on the streets at the mercy of any charity willing to help.

    The worst of it is, it causes tension. Many Britons feel as though they have been invaded. They feel they’re wishes have been ignored. Lets be honest here, if we had been asked about importing migrants, the majority would have voted “NO” unless we needed them. The tension will get worse and its the migrants that will suffer in the end, especially those who do not want to integrate into our society.

    Its purely about numbers, we are a tiny island compared to most of the other EU countries and we should be attempting to keep the numbers to a manageable level.

    • Not sure where this is going. I have nothing against Muslims as such, and there are many perfectly decent British citizens who happen to be Muslims. But I hate the kind of fundamentalism that drives the taliban. Theocracy and Fascism have two things in common. They are each commited to the rule of a single ideology, and they are each intolerant of dissent.

      • ex - Expat Colin says:

        As ex – military I know where its going. To summarise though, it is knee jerk. By the jerk* in power.

        Perhaps the police might go in to schools and tell the kids about how they get to be naughty men/women too often.

        Get them when they are young and….?

  7. Jane Davies says:

    Roger, will you next be taken to task because you are encouraging people to steal?!!

    • Probably! It’s amazing how the bad guys totally lack any sense of humour. They pick on any light-hearted and humorous remark and dissect it to pieces. I once suggested, tongue-in-cheek, that the proposed badger cull might bring down the outrageious price of shaving brushes — and I never heard the end of it!

      • Jane Davies says:

        Love it Roger!! It could be that “foreign folk” don’t get the British sense of humour. I know some of my funnies fall on stoney ground here in Canada!

  8. Mike Stallard says:

    I am trying to learn Polish – in vain! What a language! But we have some lovely Poles here, although most have gone home.
    Lithuanians and Latvians, though much more serious and sombre, are good value too.
    We have several Indians from Kerala who are lovely, family people.
    We had one tragic African family, and one Angolan who actually went mad, but we have a couple more from Nigeria who are great fun – always ready with a witty come-back. The point I am making is that not all immigrants are the same.
    So “numbers of immigrants” covers up a lot of difference.
    The Irish travellers, who know their rights, who are brilliant victims, and who start huge new slums all over the fields are another thing altogether.
    The Romanians whom I have met and the Bulgarians (what lovely women they have!) are well up there with the Poles.
    The Russians are actually a real problem, often drunk, often in fights, often homeless, they need a firm hand and a lot of support. Then, for a time, they are OK. But, again, there are some very nice ones too. Mixed with the very few dud Poles, they are awful!
    What worries me are the Roma, who you see in Europe. We have had several of them, but, of course, they pretended to be Polish! (I was so pleased that my Polish was better than theirs!)
    Four hours in a decaying bus or ten hours in Economy Flight doesn’t seem to change people much…

  9. neilfutureboy says:

    A notion that cannot control its own borders isn’t sovereign.
    Such control is possible – Japan and South Korea both have a net immigration rate of 0.00%

  10. Tomasz says:

    Well said Roger. Thanks for a great and reasonable voice in the immigration debate. I have no doubts that if the same numbers of let’s say Georgians came to live in Poland (in absolutely uncontrolled manner) over such short period of time, most of the Poles living in the UK who today oppose UKIP’s policies on immigration, would change their mind and support UKIP’s equivalent in Poland.

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