Thursday, May 28, 2009

LPR alliance makes UK Libertas candidate quit

A candidate for Libertas in the UK has resigned from the party because of Declan Ganley’s alliances with ultra nationalists like the League of Polish Families (LPR). (hat tip: Bueys Own)

Candidate for the North West England European election constituency, and UK policy director, Ben Tallis (pictured above), has had enough of Libertas’s contentment to ally themselves with some strange far right parties in countries like Poland and the Czech Republic. Informing of his decision this week to stand down from Libertas‘s election list, Tallis said:

"As the campaign has progressed I have come to realise that while I am committed to Libertas’ goals of reforming the EU from a pro-European perspective and admire the Libertas team in the UK, I cannot agree with certain aspects of the wider European party, notably in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Specifically, the problem seems to have been Libertas’s acceptance of candidates from the League of Polish Families, All Polish Youth and supported by presidents of public television channels on their list in Poland.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Donald Tusk told the Irish Times today that Lech Walesa had told him that when he is at the Libertas Dublin rally this weekend he will tell the anti-Lisbon Treaty party to...well, support ratification of the Lisbon Treaty! This came as a “great relief” to the pro Lisbon Polish prime minister, apparently. Which is...nice.

But as Libertas lose more and more credibility as polling day approaches for the European parliamentary elections, Lech Walesa’s little Libertas odyssey (see previous post) will have done his credibility no good at all. Which is a shame. As the UK goes to the polls on June 4, Walesa will be trying to be taken seriously and bathing in the lime light of the celebrations in Poland of 20 years since the fall of communism - back in the days when people did take Walesa seriously.

Latest opinion polls put Libertas support in Poland at a measly two percent.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Poland’s strange fascination with Libertas

As the European parliamentary elections loom - scheduled for Sunday, June 7 in Poland - the amount of space in the press and time taken up on air by stories about the anti-Lisbon Treaty Libertas party far outweighs the amount of votes they will get on polling day.

On February 1 this year, a few hundred delegates turned up in Warsaw for a meeting with Libertas founder, the Irish millionaire Declan Ganley, the man who helped successfully organise the “No” vote in Ireland’s referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. See video of Ganley in Poland in January here).

Although Ganley said, when everyone was wondering who would support them in Poland, that extremists would not be welcome in the Polish section of Libertas, a weird and extreme bunch turned up for the meeting. Mirosław Orzechowski from the catholic-nationalist League of Polish Families (LPR) was there, so was Konrad Bonisławski from the League’s old youth wing, All-Polish Youth, an organisation frequently accused of anti-Semitism and ultra-nationalism.

There were also disaffected politicians from Andrzej Lepper’s Self Defence and a few drop outs from the Law and Justice party, as well. If Ganley didn’t want the marginal and the extreme - and his central message about the 'democratic deficit' in the EU is correct - 'then he certainly has got them. Who else is there in Poland? The EU is the only game in town around these parts.

Fast forward three months to the pan-European launch of the Libertas election campaign in Rome on May 1 and who is one of the star speakers? None other than Lech Walesa, who had apparently, just days before, given his support to the European People’s Party, the largest voting bloc currently in the European parliament and made up of christian-democratic parties, with members including Angela Merkel, Silvio Berlusconi and Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

Walesa told the Libertas delegates: “Declan Ganley and Libertas have the potential to change Europe for the better. This European Project has all the ingredients to become a historic force for good in the world, and grow into so much more than it is today. But for the to happen, we need to heed the Libertas message and put the people back at the heart of the project.”

Walesa told incredulous Polish journalists after the congress that he did not support Libertas but was asked to speak at the manifesto launch. So he did. He also made no secret of pocketing appearance money, thought to be as much as 100,000 euros. Since then he has made other appearances at Libertas events.

Walesa’s motives for dallying with Libertas - a party which now has the official backing of LPR’s Roman Giertych - are not merely financial. Walesa is addicted to being at the centre of controversies and desperately seeks the limelight when he can get it.

But he has embarrassed Donald Tusk - and much of the Polish political establishment - by being associated with Ganley’s ragbag of extremists, populists and chancers.

Walesa’s antics have also ensured that barely a day goes by without Libertas making the headlines in Poland. Their campaign manager, Daniel Pawlowiec (onetime journalist for Radio Maryja’s Nasz Dziennik newspaper and junior minister for the League of Polish Families in the Law and Justice government) has got hours of free publicity from the Polish media’s obsession with Libertas, way and above the support the party has in the country.

The media exposure for Libertas in Poland - Gazeta Wyborcza has calculated that it has received the third most amount of airtime on public television, despite being nowhere in the opinion polls - is helped by the apparent support of the state broadcaster TVP.

It’s speculated that this support comes from weirdo TVP president, Piotr Farfał, who has connections going back years to Libertas affiliate for the European elections, the League of Polish Families.

But the contradictions within Libertas policies - which seem to change depending on which country it is campaigning in - are beginning to suggest that this strange coalition may not stay together very much longer than the election campaign.

The central message of calling for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty may be easy for many to support. But Ganley’s support for internal markets within the EU - including campaigning for opening up labour markets for Poles in Austria and Germany - are in contradiction to recent comments from the Irish branch, and home, of Libertas. Party spokesperson Caroline Simmons has called for a Blue Card (visa) system to stem the tide of immigration coming to Ireland, which would, “reduce the burden to Ireland of caring for inhabitants of other member states,” she said. Libertas Ireland East candidate Raymond O Malley says we have “got to stop the tide coming in.”

The Blue Card system would limit the right of Poles and others to work in Ireland to two years and would deprive them of drawing welfare benefits, even though they would still be expected to pay taxes.

That a state broadcaster is promoting the interests of any political party - let alone one as marginal as Libertas - is, of course, a scandal. But the Polish media in general, and parts of the political establishment, seem to have a gory fascination with Ganley’s ragbag army.

And on June 7, Polish voters are going to make them all blush by ignoring all the fuss and voting for someone else - there has been no interest shown in opinion polls at all for Libertas - or more likely, voting for none at all. Recent opinion polls predict the turnout on June 7 to be under 15 percent. It was only 20 percent in the last election in 2004, just one month after Poland joined the European Union! The media might be fascinated by all this, but what the public feels about it seems to be a side issue.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Der Spiegel and Poland’s Nazi collaborators

The German weekly Der Spiegel has stirred up a hornets nest in Poland by suggesting - by daring to suggest - that some Poles (they single out farmers) collaborated with the Nazis during WW II.

And not just Poles - French, Romanians, Latvians…etc - collaborated with the Nazis, says Der Spiegel’s lead story this week.

It’s really an article about Ukrainian SS officer John Demjanjuk, just extradited back to Germany from the US on war crimes dating back to when he was responsible for the death of thousands at the Sobibor Nazi death camp in southeast Poland.

But the article gives the German journalists the chance to point out what has been perfectly obvious for many years - that there were collaborators in each of the nations the Nazis occupied. Even the some residents of the British Isle of Jersey collaborated with the Nazis. This is no revelation. But…

Cue outrage in Poland! Politicians, journalists all saying the same thing. This is another example of a creeping trend - Germans trying to transfer the guilt of the Holocaust onto others.

“Ja! Ze Nazis ver German, but hey, Hans!…ja vol!…zis was not an essentially German problem…schnell, schnell…look at all ze nations zat helped us!”

The article comes in the wake of the controversy over the German Expellees Union, headed by Erika Steinbach, who wants to emphasise that some Germans suffered both under the Nazis and in the wake of WW II, when millions of Germans were forcefully expelled from regions that were now in Poland and many other countries - often brutally so.

Der Spiegel editor, Mathias Müller von Blumencron, has pointed out that it was never his intention to claim that the Nazis were not a German problem but that the cooperation of others in the occupied countries was essential to carry out their deathly, murderous project.

Which is probably true. But isn’t that obvious?

Poles, though, don’t really do the historical guilt trip very well. As a nation, Poles see themselves as victims - and that goes back to the revolutionary, Romantic period and has been reinforced ever since.

Poles are not like the British, Americans, maybe some French…they are not trembling with guilt and angst about historical crimes done by their countries in the past. Poles have been the victims of racism many times more than they have been the perpetrators. It’s an important part of the national identity.

So, Herr Spiegel: if you dare to suggest that some Poles went along with the horror - and even though you are correct - don’t act the wide-innocent when you get accused of making German-Polish relations just that little bit more difficult.

Below, BWT, is a photograph of a Polish official checking ID in the Krakow ghetto during occupied Poland.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Can Poland save UK from neo-fascists?

The New Labour government in Great Britain has appealed to Poles living in the UK to register and vote in the June European elections - otherwise, says a government minister in London, “The British National Party will win!”

Last week, British trade unionists and Labour Party politicians met in the House of Commons with Polish organizations such as Poles to Polls, Poland Street and the Federation of Poles in Great Britain to try and get Poles out to vote on June 4 to 7.

The British government’s European Minister Caroline Flint said that Poles have a lot to thank the New Labour government for: it was them that let the Poles in, in the first place; it was them that introduced the minimum wage. It was them…

And if Poles don’t go out and vote? Then the British National [cue sinister music] Party will get seats in the European Parliament and will try and limit any new migration into Britain. Eek!

And they may be right that small, looney-tunes fringe parties might well do a little better than usual in the elections on June 4 in the UK. And that’s because many will not be able to stomach voting for New Labour. And tax paying Poles won’t vote for them for the same reasons as everyone else won’t vote for them.

Caught with their pants down

A month ago Home Secretary Jacqueline Smith was revealed to have claimed for an internet connection on her parliamentary expenses allowance. Nothing unusual there. Unfortunately, included on the receipt was a porn film that her husband had paid for via the Television X/Fantasy Channel subscription TV.

Apparently, Jacqueline was out at a meeting at the time her husband - Timmy Rumney, her parliamentary advisor - downloaded the movie , Raw Meat 3. The description on [?] gives the movie’s tag line as : “it‘s the end of the world, and we blow it!”

Oh, yeah!

Starring a young gentleman answering to the name of “Tiger Wood” - I bet he‘s got a good long game - it appears to be a gay flick. Curiouser and curiouser…

Having your husband download gay porn when you were out, at the tax payers’ expense, is just…funny. But the Daily Telegraph has revealed that virtually the whole of the House of Commons has been shafting the British tax payer for years.

MPs have been running scams where they claim expenses on second homes in constituencies, renovating then selling the homes. And then doing it all again! Claims have been made for bizarre things like clearing moles from lawns and fixing taps under a tennis court, among other nonsense.

All parties are implicated in this - but New Labour came to power on the back of pointing at sleaze in the opposition Conservative Party. And now they show themselves s sleazy as the rest.

And these people expect Poles to come to their rescue?

I was a card carrying member of the Labour Party once, for my sins. It was in the days when Labour was getting a whipping from the Thatcher government and we were trying to revive the twitching corps that the Labour Party, and the trade union movement that had founded and sustained it last century, had become.

We failed. I failed to renew my membership when Labour became New Labour (a bit like Clinton’s New Democrats) and Tony Blair was elected to lead, not a party with roots in a movement any longer, but a shallow PR machine whose only goals were to win power and stay there.

Well, they did win power, in 1997, and they stayed there. They are there still. But not for too much longer.

Once Tony Blair stood down and Gordon “bank manager” Brown took over as prime minister, the game was up. Blair could just about pull the smoke and mirrors, and the rabbits, out of the hat. With him gone, and hapless Brown in his place, New Labour started to disintegrate. Fast. Farcically.

And now the European elections have come around again and New Labour looks like it will go into meltdown at the next general election in 2010.

So, desperate for anything and anyone to come to their rescue they have the cheek of appealing to minorities such as the Polish community in Britain to ride to their rescue. And if Poles don’t? “Then the fascists will come and get them!”

That appears to be the message of the appeal for Poles to vote in the European elections in June.

The appeal is pitiful. The idea that the BNP will win many seats in the election is fanciful. They might get one - voted there by people who want to stick a finger up at the government - but so what? And secondly, a member of the European Parliament has little or no power anyway, and certainly no influence over immigration policy. That’s done by national governments and the European Commission. And I can’t see a BNP member being chosen to be European Migration Minister anytime soon..

And saddest thing of all is that New Labour is so desperate that they have to come knocking on Poles’ doors to save them from oblivion. The Labour Party these days are like an MPs husband, caught with his pants down, and exposed for what they are: a bunch of wankers.