Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Prince Charles opens Jewish centre in Poland

His Royal Highness was in Krakow today opening the new Jewish Cultural Centre, which he helped set up and partially funded himself. But the Polish media have been more interested in the Mrs Royal Highness (she's the one on the left - photo by Mada Matyjaszek) who accompanied him.

Prince Charles was in Krakow back in 2002. The story goes that when on a tour of the city he was inquisitive about the Jewish history of the place. It is the city of Polanski, of Schindler’s List - it’s in the outside world’s imagination of Poland’s Jewish history. But when Charlie found out that there was no significant Jewish centre left in the city, he was amazed.

Cue uniquely strange British Royal English accent (and to think they once called the English accent Queen’s English - have you actually heard that women speak? It’s like no other accent in England.)

“Bout that‘s absolutely scanduuuulloos… I moist do something aboot it,” Charles declared, large ears flapping impressively.

And so he did. Through a foundation based in London he helped develop the Jewish Cultural Centre in Krakow - a five story building to house cultural events and much more.

He also shelled out a few quid from his own pocket (or, being a Brit myself, should that be he even shelled out a few quid from my pocket - the British have always shelled out on behalf of these parasites, after all).

And so it came to pass that Prince Charles - future King Charles III (snigger) - came to Krakow to cut a few ribbons and unveil a few plaques.

But watching the media coverage of his visit this evening, it is the fact that he has been accompanied by his new-ish wife, Camilla Parker Bowles that has caught their attention.

Of course, the typically British upper class equine Camila (why do they all look like horses?) is no match for the supposed beauty of Princess Diana (although, let’s be honest: Diana was the beauty they wanted her to be, not the one she was). Camilla will never be the world media star that Diana was.

Maybe the world will remember Camilla as I do. Back in the heady days in the early 1990s, when Diana was separated from Charles, there was a transcript published in a British tabloid - and never refuted by the Palace - of a conversation between the future king of England and his long time equine lover. The conversation, recorded by some ham radio nerd, included the memorable lines by Charles to Camilla:

Oh, how I wish I was your tampon [!].

Why there wasn’t a republican revolution the moment that crap dropped onto the doorsteps of the UK is, and will always be, a mystery. A man who would rather be a tampon than a monarch is really only fit to be …a royal tampon.

But more importantly - nowhere in the media coverage was it asked why some British royal was the one who initiated a project that should have been essentially Polish in character. Even a tampon has more imagination than that, apparently.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Gorbachev signed JP II contract killing?

The weekly Wprost, out tomorrow, shows a politburo document, signed by Mikhail Gorbachev, which appears to warrant a KGB contract killing on John Paul II.

Or so claims veteran American journalist iJohn O. Kohler n a book, also released tomorrow, Chodzi o papieża szpiedzy w watykanie (About the Pope. Spies in the Vatican). The politburo document, seen by Dastych, says: "Use all available possibilities to prevent a new political trend, initiated by the Polish pope….[…]…if necessary - reach to means beyond disinformation and discreditation."

The document, which dates back to November 1979 - one year after Karol Wojtyla became pope - is signed by eight top Party officials including Konstantin Rusakov - ominously the guy who coordinated action with the Polish Communist party, and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Gorbachev, for all his glasnost, was obviously deeply worried about the potential of John Paul II to inspire what he later partly did - Solidarity, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and so on…

In Rome, Pope John Paul II was shot four times on May 13, 1981 by Mehmet Ali Hagca, who had vowed to kill the pope back in 1979, though before the politburo document was signed. Hagca’s motives seem to be ultra Turksih nationalist, not in pay of the KGB.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Krakow tolerance march passes off peacefully

Observers reckon a few hundred gays and lesbians [and friends - see comment] took part in the annual Tolerance March in the conservative southern city of Krakow, today.

The demonstration last year ended with 13 arrests and plenty of argy-bargy from the usual suspects in All-Polish Youth and other groups that attract people fond of very short hair cuts.

John Beauchamp, who provides these photos (see more on his flickr page) told me that he thought that there were more reactionaries in the market square in the centre of town than there were gays and lesbians.

And almost outnumbering both groups were the police, assisted by dogs (who were on their own tolerance march in celebration of their usual doggedly polymorphous sexual desires).

Though the whole thing passed off without any violence, the atmosphere has been a little tense for a few days now in Krakow - with posters put up by arch-conservatives warning the people of Krakow that if gays and lesbians are continually allowed to march and protest then ‘gay marriages’ will surly follow, and Sodom and Gomorrah will stalk the land having their wicked, wicked way with Poland.

But you get the sense that the issue of homosexuality hit a peak a year or two ago. As a rallying point for the increasingly marginalised catholic-nationalists - who, lest we forget, were in government only half a year ago here in Poland - the bogey men and women of the gay and lesbian community are losing (quite literally in some cases) their allure.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Poland’s teletubby ombudsman hangs up handbag

Ewa Sowinska, who leapt (big foot first) into international infamy when she accused a Teletubbie of being gay, has resigned from her post as Children’s Ombudsman.

She had to - she was going to be sacked by the government and parliament, anyway. Her critics say she is only concerned, not with the welfare of kids, but pushing her League of Polish Families catholic-nationalist type agenda whenever she can.

And she can try and laugh it off, but calls for gays not to be allowed to work with children - perhaps she wants a kind of sexual orientation lustration process? - and the time when she was concerned over Tinky Winky’s sexual and emotional wellbeing will always be what she will be remembered for.

More on the background to this on the excellent Uzar News.

Monday, April 21, 2008

IVF for married couples only, says Polish ‘liberal’

Jaroslaw Gowin, from what commentators misleadingly refer to as the ‘liberal’ Civic Platform, told Radio Zet today that only married couples should have access to the wonders of the IVF procedure.

Why? Well, Govin, who is on the bioethics parliamentary committee looking into IVF treatment in Poland, told Radio Zet:

"Only a mother and a father are capable of giving a child a proper upbringing. Most dysfunctional children, including victims of paedophilia, are born out of wedlock.”

Oh, really? What a berk.

Govin was refering to the bill introduced by his own government which does not discriminate against married couples being able to get the treatment.

The IVF issue became front page news last November after Health Minister Ewa Kopacz announced plans of reimbursing couples from the state budget. One in five couples have trouble conceiving here, and the demand for IVF is growing

The opposition Law and Justice (PiS), alongside Catholic organizations and other usual suspects have opposed the state paying for the procedure and oppose IVF in general, of course. Newspaper articles have been written accusing women who get medical assistance to get pregnant as ‘immoral’. Men are reduced to being ‘sperm donors’.

Maria Środoń from MaterCare International, which describes itself as an association of Catholic Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says:

The mother is just reduced to virtually a breeding animal. Likewise, IVF dehumanizes the sperm donor. He is required to achieve arousal in a clinic closet with the aid of pornography.

Blimey! Women as ‘breeding animals’. Men being forced to use pornography to get off in hospital clinics! Call Radio Maryja – and you had better be quick!

Despite opposition from the usual quarters, IVF is legal in Poland – its just that the state refuses to pay for it. Clinics have been performing the procedure since 1987.

It’s also becoming a booming market among foreigners coming to Poland to conceive, as the price of treatment, say for a British couple, is much less in one of the forty clinics here than in London, for instance.

The government has drawn up a bill on IVF regulating the procedure but is almost certain to back down on funding IVF from state coffers. So childless couples who can’t conceive the normal way better be well off. Poorer couples will just have to do without.

It’s one thing to oppose IVF from a religious viewpoint – but to stoop to the pathetic arguments used by Jaroslaw Govin, that kids born out of marriage will somehow be more at risk from child molestation, etc, etc, is just pathetic. And let’s stop the labeling of the current governing party as ‘liberal’. Civic Platform is populated by atavistic political recidivists, like many political parties in Poland. Period.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

What’s left of the Polish Left?

Not much. And this weekend saw another lump fall off the alliance of leftwing parties.

On Saturday, ex-communist Marek Borowski (on right of photo, mid nose facilitation) announced that he was taking his party, Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland (SDLP) out of the Left and Democrats (LiD) coalition with the ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). Borowski said that this was because the SLD had failed to consult his SdRP party when kicking out the Democratic Party (PD) - made up of some old Solidarity leaders such as Bronislaw Geremek - out of LiD.

Marek Borowski’s SDLP is actually a splinter group of SLD. So a splinter group has left a coalition made up of members of a party they used to be a part of.

To recap: SLD ended the LiD alliance with PD, while SDLP left the left alliance over SLD not consulting them over kicking PD out of LiD. LiD was also made up of the non-communist leftwing Labour Union (UP), but nobody bothers to tell them anything.

Are you following me? Well, if you are then you are doing better than many of the Left’s former voters, who have been deserting them in droves over the last five years.

From the heyday of the 2001 election, when the SLD bagged 42% of the popular vote and a majority in the Sejm, the leftwing vote has all but collapsed in elections since.

So SLD - itself a coalition of left wing parties which got together after the immediate collapse of communism, and which has its roots in the old Polish United Workers Party, but has a policy programme identical to most social democratic parties in Europe - has decided to shift leftwards, in a desperate attempt to get some of its old support back.

The row with the Democratic Party included two issues: the anti-missile shield in Poland - which SLD opposes but the PD is for - and Poland’s restrictive abortion laws, which PD are for keeping pretty much as they are, and SLD wants to liberalise.

Where have all the voters gone?

Much of the left in Poland is saddled with the yoke of their history - they were in the communist party. So many of the more liberal Poles, like my girlfriend, would never vote for them even if they agree with their programme. Sje is not going to vote for people who made her mum’s life difficult because she, as a school teacher, had the cheek to refuse to join the Party.

Their second problem is that, on the economic redistribution issue that should be on any left or left of centre party’s agenda, there are many parties trampling on this ground. Kaczynski’s Law and Justice party relies on much of its support from poorer Poles. The Polish Peasant’s Party, now in government with Thatcherite conservatives, have always positioned themselves on the redistributionist left. So do the now out-of-parliament Self defence and League of Polish Families.

The third problem is that too many of these guys have links with corrupt rich people who got their hands on the goodies in the wake of the fall of communism. This tends to have very bad consequences for trust scores in focus groups.

So the secular Left finds itself making and then breaking alliances, chasing smaller and smaller amounts of voters. Poland needs a strong secular left/social democratic party, which could slot into the populist areas possessed at the moment by Kaczynski and other conservatives.

The problem is, the country doesn’t seem to trust the ex-communist left to deliver that politics.

And making and breaking LiD alliances between SDLP , SLD, UP and PD is going to do nothing other than alienate the dyslexic vote.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Polish president PiSed?

Should the President of Poland renew his AA membership? And no, I don’t mean the Automobile Association. And does anybody care?

Well, the ruling Civic Platform’s Janusz Palikot (above) does. The MP with the big fortune - worth 333 million zlotys according to Wprost magazine - and the big hair, has also got a big bee in his bonnet about whether President Lech the duck Kaczynski has got a drink problem.

It all started with a post on Palikot’s blog - all MPs have blogs these days, in their desperate attempt to ‘connect’ with the people - where he demanded that the President publish a detailed record of his health due to concern that the head of state has a drink problem.

He later apologised for his remark about the alcohol but repeated a demand for a record of the president’s health be made public.

That was back in January. In February, the court in Lublin declared that there ‘was a lack of public interest’ in pursuing the case in a libel court.

Well, indeed. But the matter still seems to be consuming the political and media class here (when the same people are not, many of them, consuming vast amounts of alcohol. Show me a journalist that doesn’t drink and I will show you a blue hippopotamus wearing patent leather stilettos).

Law and Justice (PiS) MPs, the party from which Kaczynski hails from, have been getting very upset about the whole business. One of them, on TV last night, stormed out of a TVN studio mid interview, so incensed was he at the allegations that there was something wrong with ‘his President.’

Palikot has remained on the offensive about a subject of dubious importance. If Kaczynski isn’t an alcoholic then maybe “he has Alzheimer’s” is the type of comment he comes out with.

Kaczynski does pop into hospital quite often. We also know he likes a drink. In one meeting with Prime Minister Tusk they got through half a case of wine between them and advisors. But does that make him a lush? He doesn’t speak very clearly, but then neither does his twin brother Jarsolaw. And the nearest Jaroslaw gets to the good times, apparently, is a plate of scrambled eggs.

There is an expression, He drinks like a fish, but is there an expression, He drinks like a duck? And is the reason for the President's dithering and incompetence down to booze?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions then maybe you should stop drinking so much.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising 1943

As April 19 falls on Passover this year, the ceremonies commemorating the 65th anniversary of the Ghetto Uprising are being held today.

In town was Shimon Peres - the only Israeli president anyone has ever heard of. Israeli presidents are like Irish presidents: they could have been in the job five years and the first you hear of them is when they are resigning, or fighting another election. Peres took part in the long, solemn ceremony at the Monument to Ghetto Heroes, in the Muranow district, just to the north of the centre of the capital.

I used to live in that area and the ‘Jewish quarter’ doesn’t feel very Jewish anymore. No Jews there anymore. There are a few reminders of the past - a street named after the founder of Esperanto, Ludvic Zamanhof, for instance. The Nozyk Synagogue survived the war - the Nazis used it for storage space. A small part of the wall. Even the Monument to Ghetto Heroes on Zamenhofa Street is quit modest, surrounded by nasty 1950s apartment blocks.

In fact, so unlike how it was - as are most places in Warsaw - that when they filmed Polanski’s The Pianist, they didn’t shoot it in Moranow, they shot it across the river in the Praga district. See the scene on ljhjblaApril 19 from the film here.

President Peres is here till Thursday, and then the current Polish-Israeli fest will be over.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cunning linguists

Digital Polish language channel TVN Lingua has bought two seasons of the UK version of Big Brother as an example of English as a ‘living language’.

One of the housemates to feature in the programmes is Jade Goody. Jade became a Big Star in Britain because of her Big Brother appearances; so big, in fact, that she was invited back for last year’s Celebrity Big Brother.
Unfortunately, Goody was thrown out of the house after a bizarre dispute with Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty (video example here - Jade is the one in glasses)

So what kind of ‘living English’ can TVN Lingua viewers expect from Our Jade? Well, here are some of the quotes that got her in trouble during last year’s Celebrity BB. To Bollywood star Shetty, on Celebrity Big Brother, January 2007:

You're a fucking loser and a liar. Go back to the slums.

You're not some princess in fucking Neverland. I don't give a shit. You're not some princess here.

Your head's so far up your arse you can smell your own shit…

And so on. But what use would Goody and the rest of the housemates be to Poland’s aspiring linguists? The Guardian UK:

Urszula Majewska, the chief executive of the Polish TVN Lingua channel, said the programme was an ideal way to show how English was actually spoken, but admitted that she "wouldn't recommend it for teenagers".

Well, quite. BTW, Urszula Majewska’s qualifications for being chief executive of a TV channel rests only, I am informed, with the fact that she was once personal assistant to head of TVN Mariusz Walter and is a graduate of English Studies at Warsaw University.

Oh, and once TVN Lingua viewers get the hang of Goody’s ‘living language’ then maybe they can stay up for the adult show Zabawy z jezyczkiem…which is a play on language meaning either’ Play with language’ or…‘Play with the tongue’.

I see TVN really is full of cunning linguists.

Dull old Warsaw?

Warsaw has been voted third most boring European capital.

The survey by tripadvisor.com from a sample of 1700 travellers put excruciatingly dull Brussels as most soporific European city, followed by the deathly dull Zurich. Warsaw staggers in third.

The survey has odd aspects, however. London, for instance, is simultaneously voted third most friendly European capital, but second most unfriendly European capital.

Go figure.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Poles in Israel

Did you know that there are around 100,000 non-Jewish Poles resident in Israel?

That is what the government press briefing before Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s visit to Israel this week said.

In fact, one of Tusk’s ports of call in Israel today was to meet representatives - they even have ‘representatives’, so they must be a ‘community’ - along, of course, with the many hundreds of thousands of Jewish-Poles who have made the ‘holy land’ their home since the Holocaust, communist inspired repressions and the occasional outbreak of general, hostile prejudice in Poland.

But the real task for Tusk has been to improve Poland’s image in Israel and beyond.

I have argued before that no matter the government in Poland, these days, relations with Israel are a priority. Warsaw likes to paint itself as ‘Israel’s friend in Europe’- which is code for saying that ‘yes’, other European countries support those poor oppressed, occupied Palestinians, whereas Warsaw supports Israel, just like the US - but relations with Israel also serve to show the rest of the world that the stereotype of the anti-Semitic Pole is just that - a stereotype. Israel gives Polish diplomacy a purpose and a vehicle for Poland to re-invent itself.

So maybe this is why the rumoured visit by the Polish prime minister to the West Bank as well - and the government was certainly pondering such a visit to the Palestinian Authority as late as week, I understand - was decided against. Palestinians in themselves are not materially useful to Poland. They got no economy at all. But diplomatically it might have sent the right signals to the rest of the Arab world that ‘Warsaw was listening, Warsaw understands’. With Poland being open about its wish for oil deposits in Iraq (the ‘blood for oil’ anti-war slogan actually works in Poland’s case) a little soothing of the Arab brow will never go amiss. But the government must have calculated that a purer message to Jerusalem was a better bet.

Or the chaos of the West Bank and Gaza may have just exhausted the planning.

Prime Minister Olmert said that he would like to visit Poland 'sometime this year’, at the presser after the meeting between the two PMs today.

For Donald Tusk, visiting Israel has been way up the list of countries to be seen in since coming to power late last year. After all, he hasn’t been abroad that much since. But I wonder what there is in Poland - apart from export/import markets - for the Israelis? Apart, that is, from Warsaw’s Washington style support.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Putin puts the boot in - part 666

Ukraine and Georgia’s bid to join Nato, and the anti-missile shield, which the Czech side have now signed up to and the Polish side appears close, are bringing out the beast in Vladimir Putin, as his days as president near an end.

According to the Russian daily Kommiersant, last Friday in Bucharest, President Putin said that if Ukraine and Georgia ever do become full Nato members then Russia would have every right to take back part of Ukraine, the Crimea and the Georgian breakaway states of Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia!

If the German and French side were having doubts about accepting Ukraine and Georgia into the first stage of Nato membership, the Membership Action Plan - and Paris and Berlin were - then that must have settled it. Both the ex-Soviet countries were told by Nato leaders that yes, they would be asked to join the North Atlantic alliance, but not now. Not yet.

Game and set to Putin.

Unfortunately, Nato also endorsed the US plan for an anti-missile system in Central Europe.

Game and second set to George W. Bush.

Today, in a meeting between deputy foreign minsters of Poland and Russia, Moscow demanded that if Poland should host their portion of the anti-missile system then Russia must have full access to the facility.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, confirmed this demand.

‘Our constant presence at those sites is of key importance to us, so that we know at every second that the radar is not penetrating our territory and interception rockets do not pose a threat to us. Lavrov was quoted as saying in the Kremlin’s Komsomolskaya Pravda’ newspaper.

Not surprisingly, the Polish side said ‘No’.

‘Certainly, there is no way that Russians should be granted the right to be stationed in Poland. That belongs in the past and will never come back,’ said Polish deputy foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski.

It’s hard to know how much of this is hard-ball bluff and how much of it Russia expects to be taken seriously. Demanding constant access to a facility in Poland surly must come under the slightly daft bluff. But what about Moscow’s threat to break up Ukraine ?

That one is a little more complicated as a majority of Ukrainians don’t want to be in Nato. Around half of Ukrainians don’t speak Ukrainian as a first language, but Russian. How unified a nation is Ukraine in the first place?

Whatever - if Moscow thinks that these kind of antics, in the fag end of Putin’s presidency, and on the cusp of his new job as prime minister, will make the anti-missile shield less popular in Poland then…well, they are wrong. They are actually helping Warsaw get more dollars out of Washington to beef up its armed forces in return for babysitting Bush’s anti-missile shield.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Polandian round up

Some recent posts from the new collaborative blog on Poland, Polandian.

Darthsida has a provocative little post about why he does not, has not, will not, donate to Poland’s one real charity fest, The Great Orchestra of Holiday Aid…or whatever.

I could argue it’s not Owsiak [Jerzy, creator of the charity marathon] with his levee en masse to cover some gaps in the health system. I pay taxes for the system, why should I pay more? Paying through another channel is through the nose. The similar logic (which, a steadfast dog hater, I only heard of) – would be in use by dog owners. They say one of the reasons they don’t collect their pets’ droppings is that they (humans) pay the relevant tax. The money should include remuneration for cleaning persons to go and remove doggie deeds done dirt cheap…

He’s got a point = although I don’t clear up Lucy’s poop because, well, it’s nasty. And to follow darthsida’s logic, taxes would be even higher if we did not have charity - with voluntary donations - to pick up the slack (and man, are Polish public services ‘slack’).

Scatts picks up the tax theme and the filling out the scary PIT tax forms, which the nation has just completed.

Popular belief is that if you don’t do this you will be banged up in the nearest prison or have your head removed and displayed on a pole outside the nearest U.S office. At any rate, the consequences are said to be dire and so nobody has ever bothered trying.

I think a few have tried, however. In fact, tax fraud is huge in Poland, as everywhere else.

Pawel rights about Poland’s colonial relationship with …Madagascar!?

Polish settlers have stayed in Madagascar, however, and Polish minority today is the second largest minority in after the French. During communist period Polish community in Madagascar supported the Polish mainland with tropical fruits - a fact that is still remembered in Poland.

We should also remember Poland’s role in the Madagascar Plan. Lest we forget.

And Scatts reminds us that Queen - the band - will be playing Gdansk Shipyard in September. No, they will not be resurrecting Fred to sing vocals, they got that bloke from free to do the singing, and will be releasing a brand new album of tunes to go with the tour.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Jaroslaw Kaczynski...

...Cookie Monster?

He’s been likened to a potato before, and much worse, besides. Now, former PM Jaroslaw Kaczynski will forever be known as the muppet of Polish politics.

Apparently, last Sunday, PM Donald Tusk and President Lech Kaczynski were locked in 5 hours of difficult negotiations over the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. Unlike his bulldog brother, Lech gets on a little with Tusk. Lech is generally seen as not the brighter of the two twins, but the more humane...or do I mean human?

Just then the phone rang for Lech, who went to take the call from his brother, Jaroslaw.

Tusk was heard to say to one of his aids: “It’s the monster on the phone.”

When asked today about this remark, the Prime Minister said:” Well, if he is a monster, then he’s the Cookie Monster!”

Polish politicians have always resembled muppets to me. But I wonder if you can guess which Polish politician is which muppet. I’ll give you a start. Donald Tusk and....


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Olympian boycott bores and other Chinese crackers

Prime Minister Donald Tusk last week became the first EU leader to declare that he will not be attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games this summer. So what is he expecting from the rest of us – a gold medal?

The EU representation at the opening ceremony is going to be patchy: UK’s PM Gordon Brown has declared that he will be going – while Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared that she will not. In fact, the Guardian puts it thus:

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, yesterday became the first world leader to decide not to attend the Olympics in Beijing... [...] Donald Tusk, Poland's prime minister, became the first EU head of government to announce a boycott on Thursday and he was promptly joined by President Václav Klaus of the Czech Republic, who had previously promised to travel to Beijing.

I bet Tusk is smarting that he is only the first ‘EU head of government’ to boycott, while Merkel is the first ‘world leader’.

Read more of this post here.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fools

After a protracted battle over the second reading of the Lisbon Treaty Ratification Bill, the Polish Lower House has voted to send it to the Senate and then to the President.

The opposition Law and Justice, which had threatened to vote against the bill if guarantees of opt-outs a la Anglais from the Fundamental Rights Charter, plus maintaining Poland’s blocking mechanism in case they didn’t like some Euro-legislation, in the end, was all a load of hot air.

The Prime Minister Tusk went to the President at the weekend and emerged with what is basically an informal compromise.

Law and Justice then withdrew their amendments to the Bill and voted it through this afternoon.

The opposition to the bill has come from nationalists and from the Left. The government is a Thatcher-ite bunch of rightwingers. What’s different about their politics from Lady Thatcher’s, however, is commitment to, and enthusiasm, of Brussels – something that would make the Old Lady barf, if she still knows how to barf, that is. You won’t find many business and Big Business people in Poland who are against the EU, and that is the government’s electoral base.

The Polish government has successfully bypassed the electorate and pushed through the Treaty without having to bother the electorate. In doing so, they have joined the other national governments within the EU, who were scared out of their tiny minds by the populist moment in French and Dutch booted the old Constitutional Treaty in to touch.

The difference between, for instance, Poland and the UK is that if out to the vote here, the government would have won a ‘Tak’ vote. All they were scared of was that the turnout would not make the 50 percent threshold for the vote to be valid.

The Polish government were scared of the apathy of the majority of the population over an issue that is indeed a distant, detached.

So I don’t think that the Eurocrats should be patting themselves too hard on the back for a ‘Yes’ vote in the Polish parliament. The Lisbon Treaty is not going to solve the problem that the original Constitutional Treaty set out to solve – the lack of real connection between Brussels and the rest of us.

Still, a Yes vote after a prolonged piece of nonsense by the political class in Poland on April Fool’s Day. Apt.