Negative stories about Poles in the UK are a little like the London No 68 bus: you don’t see one for a while, then a load of them come along all at once.
The Sunday Telegraph yesterday:
More than one crime in five in London is now committed by a foreign national, raising fresh fears over the impact of immigration.
Around a third of all sex offences and a half of all frauds in the capital are carried out by non-British citizens.
Poles, who have entered Britain in record numbers since they joined the European Union in 2004, committed 2,310 crimes in the first six months of this year to become the most prolific offenders.
Included among those are 583 violent crimes and 32 sex offenses
UK Police forces are complaining that the new arrivals into Britain are ‘putting a strain on resources’.
The story comes on the back of one printed in the usual suspect last week, the Daily Mail, which reported that Poles were claiming, as the headline to the story says, ‘one million pounds every month in child benefit’.
Like every good mother, Angela Trajkowski wants the best for her two children.
She buys them new clothes and puts healthy meals on the table, while keeping the family's private flat, overlooking a park in a leafy provincial town, in perfect order.
Her nine-year-old daughter, Martina, attends expensive private lessons after school and her youngest, a four-year-old boy called Alan, will soon be old enough to go to the local kindergarten in the mornings.
Dark-haired Angela, 31, works long hours as an office supervisor but she still relies heavily on child benefit from the state to make ends meet.
Every week, she puts Martina and Alan in the back of her blue Renault Clio and drives the five minutes journey to the cashpoint at her local bank. There, she draws out the £33-a-week put into her family account by the British government. It totals £1,650 each year.
Yet this young Polish mother does not live in Britain. Her home is thousands of miles away in Lubin, a town near the picturesque city of Wroclaw in south-west Poland and close to the German border.
Lubin has no historical links with Britain, while Angela speaks only a smattering of English (learned when she worked for a few months as a cleaner at the London home of singer Bob Geldof and his wife, the late Paula Yates).
Angela is just one of thousands of women across Eastern Europe who, because of the crazy system of hand-outs dispensed by Britain's generous welfare state, are entitled to child benefit.
This week, ministers admitted that more than £1million a month in child benefit is going to the families of youngsters who live in the former Soviet bloc countries.
I should point out that the headline ‘£1m of child benefit paid out a month - to mothers in Poland’ is rather different from the concluding sentence, ‘£1million a month in child benefit is going to the families of youngsters who live in the former Soviet bloc countries,’ – plural. But this is the Daily Mail after all, which as you can see by the style of the ‘news’ article, is not news at all, but propaganda.
An extra 2.500 sounds a lot – although as a percentage of the Polish population in London is it minute – lower than the ratio between offense and population in other ethnic groups, including indigenous British.
Still, these kind of stories will be used by those who believe that free movement of labour and people is a bad thing.
There has been a drip, drip of these stories ever since Poland joined the EU in 2003. But stories like these do tend to come in clusters. Either editors see one story and then go looking for a similar one; or, when there is a broader political context into which these stories fit.
We saw a cluster of these stories before Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU this year.
Polish immigration is again a hot topic, it could be argued, because the EU Constitutional Treaty is back on the (very boring) agenda. Many in Britain are trying to force the government to have a referendum on the subject – new PM Gordon Brown is resisting.
One of the arguments against the EU as a whole – and the EU Treaty in particular – is that it is giving away sovereignty. No doubt about that, of course. The immigration ‘problem’ – our old friend the Polish plumber – is seen as another further loss. Brits are a little shocked by the size of the 'invasion'.
I was listening to BBC Radio 5 last night and the amount of phone calls from Angry of Croydon complaining that there ‘are signs going up all over the place in Polish. Can’t even read the signs in me own country…’ etc...was rather sad.
So if, and when, the EU does comes on the news agenda in the UK, so will stories of wicked Poles in the UK eating baby foxes.
Watch more and more ‘Poles steal baby swans on child benefit’ type stories appearing in the press, as the EU treaty issue heats up in Britain.
The Polish plumber has got his monkey wrench stuck down a British gutter (press).