Poland resorts to scaremongering to bring its people home?

Following the mass exodus of 600,000 to 1 million a few years back, many Poles still reside happily in the UK. As has been reported here in the past, Poles in the UK have mixed feelings, some not enjoying it one bit while others never see themselves returning home, seeing a far better future for them and their families (current or future) on British soil.

The global recession hit the UK hard and has no doubt been a reason for many to return in the last 6-12 months. One might be forgiven for assuming though that these were primarily those who were in the UK to make a fast buck and when the ship was holed, they deserted it. These were people who were never going to stay in the UK long term anyway. However, even amidst the storm of economic worries there remained a large group of Poles determined to stay in the UK, like barnacles clinging to its rocky shores. There are things to like about the UK as compared to Poland and there is a good life to be had. Poles can see this just as easily, if not more easily, than can the Brits. These Poles had spent a few years building their new life and saw no alternative solutions being proposed by their own country for an equally good life in Poland. It seems therefore that these may well be citizens that Poland has lost for good and for the most part, from my own experience, they are good, honest, intelligent, hard-working people that any country would be happy to count amongst their ranks.

Or are they lost for good? It seems there might be a new impetus and even, possibly, a sinister Mandelson-like plan to have one more big push at bringing those babies back! It could just be a coincidence of course but I couldn’t help noticing headlines like “Racially motivated attacks against Poles are on the increase in Great Britain…” appearing recently and alongside, as if by accident, are things like “Warsaw mayor, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, will participate in an on-line chat today aimed at all Poles considering a return to Poland.”.So, coincidence or the work of an apprentice to the dark lord of political manoeuvring?

Details are given of the uber-friendly “Please Come Back!” website, graced by the warm figure of Gronky exuding a kind of polski-motherly-love and telling people not to worry about all the trivia of papers and taxes and cars and stuff. She even risked being racially attacked on a trip to the UK on Saturday to help promote the snappily named – “12 cities – come back but where? Let’s talk about details” project. :-/

hanna_gronkiewicz-waltz

Come home – Poland loves you!

While Gronky is presenting the acceptable face of Polskism, darker forces are making sure you have good reason to at least listen to her story, because if you don’t, you could be next.

combat18_skull

Run for your life!

The headline threatens that racially motivated attacks against Poles in Great Britain are on the increase. There’s a whole debate to be had about using the word “racially” and some comments on the article have already started that but what about the use of “Great Britain” when really the article is generated by recent developments in Northern Ireland?

Kochanowski was especially concerned about the recent letters sent to the Polish Association in Northern Ireland, as well as Muslim and Indian community centers by the violent neo-Nazi group Combat 18. The threatening letters read: “No sympathy for foreigners, get out of our Queen’s country before bonfire night (July 11) and Parade Day (July 12). Other than that your building will be blown up. Keep Northern Ireland white. Northern Ireland is only for white British.”

Northern Ireland, as you may realise, has not been the most comfortable place for Catholics for, well, pretty much as long as it has existed. The troubles are all about the fight between Catholics who want Northern Ireland to become just the top right corner of a united Ireland (a Catholic country, just like Poland) and the Protestants who want it to remain a part of Britain (who knows what religion that is these days but it is easier to say it is NOT Catholic). So, the fact that some of the more extreme locals have an issue with Poles is not hard to understand. It is of course something to worry about but the fact that similar warnings sent to Muslims and Indian communities at least shows they are not singling out Poles for special treatment.

The article goes on to say that Poland’s Civil Rights Commissioner, in his letter of protest to the British government and to the EU:

Kochanowski also mentioned racially motivated attacks in Great Britain such as the one against Jaroslaw Janeczek, a thirty nine year-old citizen from Poland who was brutally beaten in Aberdeen on July 12.

Okay, but what we’re missing here is some perspective. How many other people were brutally beaten in Scotland in July and were they all Poles? How many Poles are being attacked in Britain every month? Is this a serious general problem or is one attack being used to back up the hype about a (potential) problem in Northern Ireland? Unfortunately we are not given the benefit of such information, we’re not supposed to ask such questions. UK based Poles are, perhaps, supposed to just look at the skull, read about attacks and threats and then go talk to Gronky about coming home.

My suggestions would be, if you want them to come home;
1/ Stop treating them like morons – give them them the facts, not spin.
2/ Don’t sink so low as to try and scare people to return based on flimsy evidence because in the end it will just backfire.
3/ Better to spend your time improving Poland than slagging the UK.
4/ For many of them, this is all too little, too late.
5/ Don’t take organisations like Combat 18 seriously and don’t forget you have the same organisations on your own soil.
6/ Save your letters of protest to all and sundry until you really do have a problem – ever hear the story of the boy who cried wolf?

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37 thoughts on “Poland resorts to scaremongering to bring its people home?

  1. guest says:

    In the last 4yrs more Poles have been killed in the UK than in Afghanistan.

    ;)

  2. Scatts says:

    And more Brits have been killed in the UK than Afghanistan too.

    And probably more Poles have been killed in Poland than in Afghanistan.

    Are you suggesting we should move to Kabul?

    ;)

  3. guest says:

    Of course not. But that’s just pretty ironic.

    BTW (some Poles were killed in the UK by other Poles)

  4. steven says:

    More Poles are killed on Polish highways each weekend then on both English and Afgan highways combined each weekend. And Scatts, Ive seen similar pieces to this one and always they fail to mention that 25% of all Poles on Earth actually live in the USA. As if England were the only choice Poles had to escape the 1000 zloty per month salaries of Poland.

  5. bob says:

    The best part of this was scatts’s prosaic words:

    “However, even amidst the storm of economic worries there remained a large group of Poles determined to stay in the UK, like barnacles clinging to its rocky shores.”

    I am very impressed with your literary ability!!! Words right out of a top shelf novel – your high school English teacher would be proud of that one! (Jamie – watch out, there is a new writer in town)

  6. Scatts says:

    Mrs Evans would be proud of me!

    Talking about writing and completely off topic, I just finished William Gibson’s “Pattern Recognition”. I’ve never read any of his stuff before but I think I shall be reading more. Took a short while to get into the rhythm but very impressive when you do. I only mention it because I was staggered at the amount of time he spends describing things in some detail, things that are not moving any plot-line along but are adding to the overall atmosphere. He has some original ways of describing things too (not that I can recall any right now) and he doesn’t take it to annoying lengths either like some do.

  7. bob says:

    I think so – however I thought it would have been Miss Quackenbush from the East End Behavior School

  8. Scatts says:

    Aha, I see we are live! I just edited above to praise an American author.

    Miss Spank was my teacher at the borstal.

  9. guest says:

    BTW here is a news for Island

    “Leszek Kolakowski to be Buried in Poland”

    h ttp://www.krakowpost.com/article/1454

    an other corpse coming back to Poland :D

  10. DC says:

    Do the police in the UK collect statistics about motivation for crime, such as race or ethnicity?

  11. Sylwia says:

    As I understand it the UK police don’t have any relevant data, so the Polish government can’t use it. However, for the several last years I’ve seen so many news in the British press about racially motivated attacks on Poles living in the UK (definitely not limited to Northern Ireland) that I don’t think one needs to bring any stats to support the view. It must be something obvious to Poles living there. I’m rather under the impression that the Polish media, esp. TV, pays very little attention to it.

    Here is some data about the situation in 2007: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/polesingreatbritain/message/8531

    It seems that one of the problems is that Poles don’t define the attacks as racial, simply because they don’t imagine that “Polish” could be a race. Another, that Poles are very unlikely to ever go to police. You realise that those must be extreme cases, while the vast majority remains unreported. Someone who is just beaten, but doesn’t end up in a hospital, most likely will never tell.

    But of course I agree that Poland should have a better offer than one based on a negative picture.

    BTW ‘Wielka Brytania’ in Polish means ‘United Kingdom’ so the mistake is often made in translation, but it’s not because people don’t understand the ideas, only because they differ in the two languages.

    @ Steven “Ive seen similar pieces to this one and always they fail to mention that 25% of all Poles on Earth actually live in the USA.”

    Your number is highly exaggerated, but whether they are Poles or not could be disputed. Most likely the majority wouldn’t be seen as Poles by Poles living in Poland, and if they don’t claim a Polish passport they’ll never be recognised as Poles here. One is a Pole not via blood, but via a positive action, even though the US might have their own definitions.

  12. bob says:

    Wielka Brytania translated means ‘Great Britain’ not the United Kingdom

  13. guest says:

    In the Polish press they say “na wyspach” (on the islands)

    h ttp://www.google.de/search?hl=de&safe=off&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Ade%3Aofficial&hs=vhh&q=na+wyspach+zabito&btnG=Suche&meta=

    No matter if it was in Ireland or England.

  14. Sylwia says:

    It doesn’t matter what words or phrases mean literally. To Poles “Anglia” denotes the UK. Since the entire place is more than England the phrase “Wielka Brytania” is used in the meaning “United Kingdom” whenever a text is more official. “Zjednocznone Królestwo” is rarely used and not clear to the majority of Poles. United Kingdom of what? Saudi Arabia perhaps? It’s just that here “Wielka Brytania” means “UK”. No matter geography, political correctness et al. Just as in the past Poles would say that they live in “Rzeczpospolita” (the Republic), meaning Poland and Lithuania, while every single English source calls that country “Poland”.

    You can create phrases in your own language that suit you, but you cannot expect they will be embraced by other languages. So “Anglia” or at most “Wielka Brytania”, but not “Zjednoczone Królestwo”, was a Poland’s alley during WWII, and Poles fought in “Bitwa o Anglię”, and not in “Bitwa o Brytanię”. That’s the information you’ll see in any Polish history book. Similarly you’ll find “Wielka Brytania” on Polish maps. See the Wiki entry for example:

    http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wielka_Brytania

    Of course a translator should know better.

  15. guest says:

    Wielka=Great
    Brytania=Britain

    United=Zjednoczone
    Kingdom=Krolestwo

  16. The zloty’s getting stronger – 4.91 to the pound compared to 5.36 a month ago. Unemployment in Warsaw is three times lower than in London. OK, average wages in Warsaw are three times lower than in London, but living costs are lower. And once the appeal of living two to a room in London N17 begins to wane, thoughts of return to somewhere decent in Poland rise.

    Most recent Polish migrants to the UK (Guest = Gość) hail from Poland ‘B’ – the Radoms, Braniewos, Ełks or Szydłowieces where unemployment never fell below 20%.

    These guys should not even think about going back there. But Warsaw is closer to western Europe than to those places. Warsaw has a strong case to make.

    Jamie – HGW was in London primarily to meet investment bankers and discuss structured finance for Warsaw’s infrastructure projects (I know, I organised one of those meetings). The meeting with some 200 Polish migrants in Hammersmith was good PR, but not the main aim of her trip.

  17. steven says:

    Micheal, Warsaw is one of the very expensive cities of Europe to live in,
    And Sylwia, I stand corrected, There are over 12 million Poles in the Americas, US and Canada, Of these, 8 million call themselves Polish and speak Polish. Just to put Englands petty little problem in perspective> There are more Poles just in the city of Chicago then all of England, Not to mention Poles working in every EU nation, plus Aulstalia with several hundred thousand. It seems just about any place is a better alternative than working for 1000 zl per month. I also have several friends working both for me and in my business that work 3 months with me in Norway, and return to Poland 2 to three weeks to be with wife and kids. I have been testing this method out since January. It sucks, I,m thinking about getting a job in Wroctaw and just somehow KOMBINOWAC the additional 6,000 zl per month I deserve to be paid as a Master carpenter.

  18. guest says:

    h ttp://www.dziennik.pl/gospodarka/article398822/Warszawa_jest_najtansza_w_Unii.html

    Warszawa jest najtańsza w Unii

    Jeśli mieszkać w Europie to tylko w Warszawie. Bo nasza stolica jest w ogonie najdroższych europejskich miast. Taniej jest tylko w Kijowie i Mińsku. A najdroższym miastem naszego kontynentu jest duńska Kopenhaga.

  19. Steven – Guest is absolutely right. Poland was 35th most expensive capital city globally a year ago, today its 137th. One reason – the massive depreciation of the zloty between summer ’08 and this February. It’s appreciating again, so expect Warsaw to rise (80th place?) in next year’s ranking.

  20. steven says:

    Yea, with an average wage of 2 euro per hour, I,m sure Poles are living like kings in Warsaw now that the Polish banks are gaining.

  21. steven says:

    That reminds me, I need to sell my 2 euro soon and get that 8 zloty soon before it drops to 7.96 and I lose out on the good life in the new super cheap Warszawa, cant wait for christmas shopping to start. This is going to be a great year to be Polish and living and working in Warszawa.

  22. news says:

    silwia, guest. In a way, you are both right. The problem is that the British themselves have no clearly-defined way of refering to their country. Indeed, the words country, nation, nationality and state are all disputed and often used interchangebly by lazy journalists as well as peope at large.

    Typical pub conversation.
    If Wales and Scotland are countries, then is England on too?… Does that make Great Britain a country? … No its a state, not that’s the UK…

    Wait, but aren’t we all one nation. No, the Scots and Welsh are separate nations.. . Doesn’t that make the England a nation too?…

    Not sure, are the Northern Irish a nation? No,, I thought they were Irish, except for the ones who say there are British.

    Anyway, the Queen is the Queen of England and the banknotes say Bank of England…

    No, the Queen’s the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britian and Northern Ireland (it says so on my passport.).. Really? I don’t know, don’t have a passport…

    ..I wrote English for nationality on my landing card when I went to Disneyland in the US last year. My friend in Glasgow went the year before and wrote Scottish, and he was very upset when they wouldn’t accept it and told hime to write English. they comprimised and he wrote British, even though he protests that he is Scottish not British, though he has a British passport…

    Confused yet? so are the British.

  23. ola says:

    Interesting article. Most of those “facts” about racism in the UK is just tabloid, right wing rubbish – just what Poles like me wanted to escape from. Not a ver intelligent way of making tham want to come back and feel welcome.
    Ironically it’s always the Brits that defend Poles, thanks for that!

  24. Scatts says:

    news, as an Englishman I can clear it all up quite easily.

    England is a country, with a Queen and a very proud history.

    Scotland is a large hillock covered with mosquitoes somewhere in the north.

    Wales is a large field used for grazing sheep somewhere to the left of England.

    The United Kingdom is a myth.

    Great Britain is another name for England that was used more often when we ruled the world.

  25. guest says:

    United Kingdom = Unia Lubelska ?

    h ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_of_Union_%281800%29

    h ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_of_Lublin

  26. Steven – where are you getting the two euro an hour in Warsaw from? If you are on an average Warsaw wage (4,245 PLN/month) that’s just over 3,000 PLN take home, 750 a week, that’s 18.75 PLN an hour (40 hour week), which is just under four and half euro an hour. That’s AVERAGE, in WARSAW.

    (have a look at the brutto-netto calculator here:
    http://www.infor.pl/kalkulatory/brutto_netto.html)

  27. steven says:

    Michael, 18.72 per hour is what an average person working an average job in Warsaw earns ? Like say……Engineer,hospital nurse, school teacher,policman,fire fighter,carpenter,college professor,office manager, are these the average fulltime jobs in Warsaw you mean?
    Where do those people sign up for this average living wage?
    I,m a carpenter myself and I for one would rather take a brutal beating from a drunk Scott and his big drunk wife, then try and live on one of those jobs in Warsaw for example. Though I don,t blame you or Gronky
    for trying to attract skilled Polonia to Warszawa. Some one has to do it I suppose. I think Gronky should earn a huge salary, she has the hardest job I have ever heard of. I for example, would need to take a 52 zl per hour cut in pay to stop working in Norway and come home to Warsaw according to your average wage statistic. Though good carpenters can expect 12 to 15 zloty in reality Poland. I know, Ive been one. I have stood up plenty of Polish traditional roof rafters myself. I,ll deal with the drunk Scotsman thanks anyway.

  28. Steven – what the word “average” means you add up what all people working (legally) in Warsaw earn and divide that sum by the number of those people. So a junior teacher or nurse earns below average, an investment banker or a mayor earns above average. That’s the market. Demand for skills is reflected in the price the market is prepared to pay for them. Now, if you’d like to go back to a place where everyone earns pretty much the same, you can try Belarus (unless you happen to be Lukashittyshenka or one of his cronies). The world has moved on. So, if you’re happy in Norway – stay there! It is a free market.

  29. Mike says:

    Hmmm . . . the more Poles that return to Poland the better (it’s already happening). Just recently Jeremy Clarkson, presenter of motoring show Top Gear produced an offensive Volkswagen commercial that jokes about the World War II German invasion of Poland. What stupid person produces material like this, making fun of other peoples suffering, and knowing that there are a lot of Poles in England at the moment??
    I have to be honest: the Brits are not my favorite people. They’ve always come off as stuck up and arrogant and now this is being proven true. I’ve been reading for a couple years about the discrimination towards Poles in the UK. I don’t know why so many Poles flocked there. Is it really worth it? In most cases not. Being a punching bag is never fun and most Brits would say they are not racists but this is all BS. They’re too afraid to criticize their Arab “invaders” because they know they are more violent, so they pick on their new European guests (the Poles). I say learn something in England and go back to Poland and help it become a stronger nation. And also start spoofing the English a little bit more because they are not prefect.

  30. Mike says:

    Here’s that stupid ad.

  31. kuba says:

    Polish diplomats in the UK has submitted an official letter of protest to the BBC for airing a Volkswagen Scirocco commercial during an episode of the broadcaster’s popular Top Gear, hosted by Jeremy Clarkson.

  32. Jeff says:

    Hello,

    I live in Holland and my country is full of Polish people and i don`t have any problem at with Polish people.
    In fact,many Dutch people like them.
    I think they are nice people.
    They work hard,are social and do not break down the neighborhood.
    Remember 39`45 .the RAF had his own Polish squadron.
    They also release The Netherlands from German occupation.
    (And they really know how to make good food like Bigos,Zurek,Golonka etc. and of course the great beers like Tiskie,Zywiec,Warka and Lech)
    My respect is great for the Poles.

    With kind regards from Holland.

  33. Scatts says:

    Thanks Jeff, I’m sure the Polish people love you too!

  34. kuba says:

    Nice to hear good words about the Polish.

  35. Anonymous says:

    pole’s ‘re worse people in the world

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