If you follow international news about Poland, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the country’s politics consist exclusively of an authoritarian government – intent on silencing critics, bringing state institutions under party control, destroying the environment, denying women their rights, and leading the country into conflict with its European partners – facing off against mass street protests in defence of democracy.
While serious struggles over such issues are taking place, and rightly receive attention, a vital part of the story has got lost in this coverage: despite the occasional photogenic street protest, the government is extremely popular. The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party’s poll numbers are currently at their highest level since it returned to power almost two years ago. At around 40%, its support is equal to the next three parties combined. Continue reading
This recent article contains some pretty brazen duplicity, even by the standards of the Daily Mail.
The newspaper has been at the forefront of a campaign by the British right-wing tabloid press over the last few years to portray immigrants from new EU countries – particularly Poles, who make up the largest group – as ‘benefit tourists’, coming to Britain not to work but to claim social welfare. (The Daily Express and the Sun also deserve special mention, the latter of which rather amusingly had to admit its dishonesty.) Continue reading
The proposal to stop paying child benefits to parents whose children live outside the UK – supported by all the main British political parties and aimed predominantly at Polish immigrants – is not only unfair but completely self-defeating, as it will actually cost more money than it saves. But it is, unfortunately, highly indicative of the populist, irrational and superficial way in which British politicians and the media respond to legitimate public concern at mass immigration.
I recently wrote on these pages about the rise of anti-Polish rhetoric in the UK and some of the reasons behind it. As I predicted then, such discourse has become increasingly prominent during campaigning for this week’s general election, in which immigration is a central issue. Yet it is also one on which there is a general consensus: that immigration should be more strictly controlled, and thereby reduced.