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. :-/
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.
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?