Thursday, November 01, 2007

Poles should have been restricted entry, says Cameron

I am just back from the old home town, and London – with all the ‘New Londoners’ - is changing fast, just as the UK Conservative opposition are putting immigration top of the UK’s ‘political’ agenda: even though immigration per se is far from ‘the problem’.

What’s always been a cosmopolitan capital now positively teems with ‘diversity’. Londoners have never been as good looking, slimmer and better dressed. That’s because every other person you pass on the street is new to town.

It’s great. What I always have loved about London is its ethnic kaleidoscope.

And yet, the lack of preparation, and imagination, when opening up the labour market to Poles etc, has also opened a door to anti-immigration sentiment in the UK.

David Cameron, (photo above), the Tony Blair clone leader of the Conservative Party, has decided on a two track strategy: appeal to the liberal middle class with lots of tree hugging environmental policies – the modern British political equivalent of kissing babies at election time (why kiss a baby when you can hug a tree?) But at the same time don’t forget about the old conservative anti-immigration sentiment to prop up the electoral base.

The government hasn’t helped by admitting that their records on the amount of immigration have been completely wrong.

David Cameron exploited this on the BBC this morning by saying:

"Immigrants make a huge contribution to the British economy, but there are pressures from unlimited immigration on hospitals and schools. There are benefits in having immigration, but in having it controlled.... They should have done it with countries like Poland."

The lack of resources is not in dispute, neither is the lack of readiness for so many Poles and others arriving, post accession: the transport systems creeks, the education system struggles, the lack of cheap housing is exposed.

Beware weird alliance of new Malthusians

And yet, there is a consensus growing in Britain against the very idea of immigration and the free flow of people. And it’s not just coming from the usual suspects among the ‘Little England’, Daily Mail reading, xenophobes.

Environmentalists like the Optimum Population Trust – with its esteemed membership of Sir David Attenborough and others – have the same basic fear of immigration.

They think that Britain’s green and pleasant land can not 'sustain' so many humans and we should find ways to reduce population.

A consensus on the dangers of too many people is developing in Britain, ignoring the fact that immigrants are not just ‘consumers’ of resources but creators of them, too.

The new prime minister, Gordon Brown, has vowed to make sure there are ‘new British jobs for British workers’, even though unemployment is very low in Britain among potential ‘British workers’. So the anti-immigration card is going to be frequently played in the next couple of years by all parties, instead of realizing that immigration is a good thing, but a lack of resources and planning for when it happens, is not.

And to think that UK politicians most often campaign these days on their alleged ‘competence’. Or not.


Anonymous said...

Whenever I'm presented with this old racist argument of 'too many people' (which people have been ill-advisedly spouting for years, really), I like to present this table

and ask that the position of the UK be compared with, say, India, Israel and Belgium.

YouNotSneaky! said...

Ok, I sort of get the whole "too many people are bad for environment" line, though I think in practical terms the fears are greatly exaggerated. But. Even if. Say you're an environmentalist. Then you'd like to allocate the people that do exist in such a way which minimizes the negative impact on the environment. Put people in countries where they'll do least harm.

But this means moving people from poor countries (well, middle income actually) where most industry is of the "dirty" kind by virtue of being old (and probably Soviet produced, meaning those Soviets didn't really care about environment, just outproducing US in steel and coal, and it shows in the manufacturing equipment they designed and sold to the third world) to rich countries where the production technology is much cleaner and the standards are higher.

Every time you move a guy from Poland to UK, or from Mexico to US, it might be that the amount of environmental damage goes up in UK or US. But that would mean that it goes down in the source country.

If you're an honest environmentalist (and not just using these ideas as a cover for your bigotry, or a nimby) then you should care about the world wide environment, not just your own backyard, and as a result support the flow of people from dirty poor countries to cleaner rich countries.

John Page said...

There's more to migration policy than whether immigrants' economic contribution is positive, a vexed enough question in itself. For instance, there's population density, there's social cohesion.

Cameron's not exploiting the issue, there's been a concern for some time which the bien pensant classes have been ignoring,

Anonymous said...

Apparently a bit radical in this day and age, but I don't see why by an accident of birth and/or parentage I have more of a right to live in an affluent country where I am statistically healthier, more free and better off than someone born into a poor/oppressed/war-torn/famine-struck region.

Anonymous said...

I say good riddance to bad rubbish. If Poles want to abandon their homeland they should change their names to waspy names and become protestants instead of catholics.

beatroot said...

Anon – Poles don’t have catholic names, many of them, however, do have slav names. Maybe you would like them to change their first names? Problem is, many of them have the same names as Brits: my name is Peter, his name is Piotr. Understand?

Mr Scorpion – immigration and social cohesion are not necessarily mutually exclusive. If a society has social cohesion in the first place immigration would not threaten it. Problem with the UK was that ‘social solidarity’ had already broken down to a large extent, and that was because of problems not related to immigration.

Anonymous said...

I myself recently revisited London after many years. What I did find was that the old anti-Asian sentiment has been transferred to the East Europeans. The Asians are now an integral part of British society, whereas the 'new' Poles (as opposed to the old, established war-time Polish community) are the 'other'. Even (or perhaps particularly) Asians complain about the behaviour of the East Europeans. The Poles are the New Blacks.

Anonymous said...

I had a funny conversation with a British businessman once. He was bemoaning the fact that UK has a shortage of engineers, because kids don't want to study hard subjects. I pointed out to him that Poland has an overproduction of engineering talent, so he could hire some young Polish graduates, or open an office in Poland, or something. The guy gasped, and started rambling incoherently for several minutes, and at the end he came to: "But the point is, we need British engineers to work in British factories".

So yeah, I support this proposal. How about we move all the talent now in the UK back to Poland and then outcompete the UK? (Mr. Tusk promised us a miracle, didn't he?)

Anonymous said...

Here's my 2p's worth:

Poland has been open to foreign companies since the early 1990s. In many instances these have outcompeted Polish companies for government contracts and taken over state companies. European businessmen have headed up countless Polish companies (TP SA, Warbud SA, Era GSM, Budimex etc). In both cases this had impact on Polish companies, forcing them into bankruptcy or to cut jobs, forcing the government to worsen employment law for workers (you can now be employed on an indefinitely renewable string of short-term contracts, for instance). Sometimes this turned the companies into success stories, pulling them out of worthless markets dominated by Asian companies where the life expectancy is lower than the retirement age.

If you look at the spectacular new office buildings springing up in Warsaw, Krakow, Poznan - those were built predominantly by British and German construction companies. They were sold at colossal profit to foreign investment funds (because they were able to hugely exaggerate country risk?) and leased at the highest rents in the country, mostly to western companies. Nothing wrong with that, you might say, and fair enough. But let's aknowledge that there are examples like this all over central Europe, where old Europe companies have made very healthy profits for at least the first decade of post-communism. They own utilities, telecomms, high-tec - good, steady earners.

Will Polish migrant workers, many of whom were laid off by European bosses in the first place, ever claw back this money? Not likely, given the kind of work most of them do. In many cases European companies continue to export profits, while the social security payments for those in long-term unemployment are paid for by Polish taxpayers (unless they've moved to London!).

If migrant workers pay taxes, they are entitled to the services. If they don't pay taxes, that's the inland revenue's problem. If the services can't cope, then host governments and the EU have made a mistake they need to urgently correct instead of blaming migrants and making political capital out of eroding social cohesion.

As an aside, let's all be honest, contrary to Michael Moore's opinion, the UK health service wasn't coping well before 2004 opened the gates to migrant workers. MRSA means that you can die in a UK hospital even if there was nothing wrong with you before you went in.

And this, final note, is a total irrelevance but I've been meaning to get it off my chest.
Enlargement was made a major issue in the Polish media, and was even the subject of a popular quiz show sporting a token Brit!. A good attempt was made to present the opportunities of enlargement in endless TV specials. Meanwhile in the UK... we were shown that we could make a killing on the property market in the new countries, by doing what we do best - inflating the value of property by speculation. But mostly we were being shown how celebrities tango, cohabit the Big Brother house, or resolve their pet behaviour problems. And then f****g Michael Palin shows us what a banale and barren wasteland of eccentric fools Central Europe is, all living with one foot in the Stalinist past, but with no real history or cultural achievements. Was this a veiled UK Independence Party propaganda item?
I would like to see what a Chinese Michael Palin would make of this somewhat obese, decadent and self-deluded country?

Anonymous said...

Beatroot, My point is Polish immigrants that don't want to come back to Poland should no longer call themselves Poles. They will forever be slaves to their English masters.

Anonymous said...

I have just phoned Channel 4 TV in the UK to complain at comments by Douglas Stanhope,one of their so called comedians,who recently broadcast that Polish Women are too beautiful to work on UK farms-they should be earning more as prostitutes instead. If he said this about coloured people,he would be in court-why is it OK to offend and racially abuse people from EU Eastern Europe working legally in the UK? If you feel strongly about this too officially complain to Channel TV like I did-they are open until 9pm GMT for complaints etc! Telephone the nice lady on 00 44 845 0760191

John Coueslant,Poznan

beatroot said...

Are you the same Anon as the above? I doubt it.

Why shouldn't Poles call themselves Poles where ever they live? What are they - Brits? I am from London but live in Warsaw. What am I? A Pole? Don't be so silly. The debate about immigration is a much richer one than the level you are currently in.

Anon - other one? (why don’t you give yourself a name?). The new Michael Palin is dreadful - what happened to the guy? He looks so miserable. Perhaps he is getting a little old to be gadding about the planet for months at a time.

But what you are doing is very intelligently describing MODERN DAY CAPITALISM. That’s how it works. It’s post welfare state, global capitalism. Is it worse that the old cuddly capitalism? I am not so sure that it is.

Capital is now totally global and free to move around. Labour is trying to catch up – which is why I support all immigration.

But to imply that Poles have generally lost out from the new capitalism is simply false. They have made real gains over the last 17 years and we must recognize them. Yes, many jobs are short term and insecure. In the old days they had very secure but low paid, meaningless jobs. They had no power to take their lives in their own hands individually. They do now. That so many decide to use the freedom to bugger off and try their luck in the UK is sad, but fine by me.

beatroot said...

John – I have discussed how central/eastern Europeans (and chavs) are the only groups it is PC to insult in Britain these days. Revolting. And if you want to ring up Channel Four in Britain then good luck. But what you suggesting? That we should censor these idiots like anything else ‘offensive’ has been washed out of the British media? I think a better tactic is to allow these creeps to air their weird little prejudices and easy laughs on TV, and then either belittle them, or better, just don’t watch the dumbed down Channel Four (the channel which launched itself half a decade ago by promising us ‘intelligent’ programming – now that really is a joke).

Anonymous said...

Yes censorship is the worse of the two evils I agree,people must make up their own minds whether to complain or not bother, but from a balanced point of view. I don't think the British press has a balanced point of view when it comes to reporting on legal immigration. The positive benefits of legal immigraton are never overstated by the UK press-only the negative is overblown by the UK tabloid press,the broad sheets and now David Cameron.

Sorry I have to send as anonimowy,my computer will not publish with the other options!


Anonymous said...

Yes, Poles are free to go to England to be exploited. The women especially will have great jobs as escorts and prostitutes.LOL.

beatroot said...

That is a very dumb thing to say.

michael farris said...

"A consensus on the dangers of too many people is developing in Britain"

I'm kind of sympathetic to this. England is less than half the size of Poland and has almost half-again as many people. (the whole UK is about 3/4 the size of Poland but a surprisingly large amount has not traditionally been regarded as welcoming to human habitation).

Given the traditional british tendency for growing populations to spread out horizontally rather than to stack vertically (as in Poland), this means that substantial increases in population require decreases in things like countryside (for those that care about such things).

"I support all immigration"

You would support absolutely open borders for Britain? Would you do so while living there?
I could easily see the population of Britain increasing to 200-300 million people with absolutely open borders. Do you really think that's a good idea?

Anonymous said...

The truth hurts beatroot. You should see the movie "Trade" maybe it will enlighten you to the exploitation of Polish women.

Anonymous said...

Beetroot man, thank you for agreeing with me. I don't doubt that Poland has done well out of global capitalism. I have friends who are now working their way up companies like Alcatel, Clifford Chance, France Telecom, Commercial Union and others, earning very well and getting plenty of training.

My wife and I have been working in the UK for three years and both have low level management jobs now. We found it difficult to get good jobs because there is a lot of competition. Also some companies have policies to prevent us from getting throug the door - you have to have been a UK resident for 10 years or more!
But all we needed was a chance to prove ourselves and have consistently been promoted over our English colleagues.
I'm angered by stereotypes of Poles in the UK - I even think when they say we're 'hardworking' they mean 'easily exploited.'
So I would like to say something about the perception of the English. As a largely
middle class nation (or one where middle class people have a disproportionate voice in the media because you have to be pretty well off to work there these days) the English have little trouble admitting to themselves that the Poles take away their low-level jobs because in a well off country people have higher aspirations. They are either demotivated in these jobs and do them badly or just steer clear. But the higher I plod my way up my company, the more I see slackness at every level. It sometimes seems that the hardest thing about UK jobs is the interview. I can never find anyone interested in having a conversation about our industry and company strategy. English people prefer to talk about their next holiday, house move, sports car, designer labels. Often these are items that cost many times more than they can afford and yet it's compulasory to own them. In my area many Victorian houses are divided into flats and I'm often confronted with people who live in 45m2 appartaments who drive a Porsche Carrera and wear Gucci accessories, but can't cook anything more than a bowl of pasta with ketchup and don't know who ruled England before Elizabeth II.

beatroot said...

some companies have policies to prevent us from getting throug the door - you have to have been a UK resident for 10 years or more!

Interesting. But is that legal?

Anonymous said...

Although I'm not against immigration, it has to be controlled at some point. In regard to Polish people they are really hostile and unfriendly. They re-inforce racist feelings because they refuse to be friendly to a non polish. I go to a polish hairdresser because she can do justice to my hair, however the woman has never even said a simple 'how are you'. Some may take this as stereotyping, however I dread getting on the bus on a saturday morning because I am guaranteed a Pole to breathe their hang-over near me! I try and make the effort with Poles but I find them very cold people.

Anonymous said...

Im sorry but thte fact is Britain was a much nicer and more amicable country without these poles, they dotn have our western european values. When I was little the town I grew up in was nice, now its teamign with polish people who dotn seem to posess anything remotely tender or caring ; now the streets are strewn with litter and you feel unsafe on the streets. shame what you've doen to such a nice country. Really when writing such a stupid and misconceived article you should consult the people that have to put up with you. yuk
Its all the Labour governments fault, sorry but this subject gets me angry espeically as its so close to my heart.