By Daniel Tilles
Just like the Brexit campaigners, Poland’s own ruling party has been guilty of stoking resentment of outsiders, with the result that xenophobes have been emboldened and hate crimes have increased. The danger of leading the country in such a direction should be even clearer now that Poles themselves are falling victim to precisely such rhetoric in Britain, writes Daniel Tilles.
Since Friday’s announcement that the UK had voted to leave the EU, there has been a wave of hate crimes against immigrants in Britain. At this early stage, most of the evidence is anecdotal. But what appears absolutely clear is that the Brexit vote – which was motivated in large part by a desire to reduce immigration – has given xenophobes greater confidence to express their views publicly. 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.
A notable feature of the growing anti-immigration rhetoric in British political discourse in recent years has been the specific criticism directed against Poles. Prime Minister David Cameron, in his campaign against the alleged exploitation of the UK’s social-welfare system by immigrants, has explicitly used Poles to personify the problem. The leader of the main opposition party, Ed Miliband (ironically himself the son of emigrants from Poland), has claimed that ‘Polish immigration in particular’ is ‘driving down living standards’ for British people. Jack Straw, who was foreign secretary from 2001-2006, recently admitted that the decision his government made to allow unlimited immigration from ‘states like Poland’ was a ‘spectacular mistake’. Continue reading
Znaczącą cechą coraz bardziej popularnej retoryki antyimigracyjnej w brytyjskim dyskursie politycznym jest ostatnimi laty wyraźna krytyka skierowana przeciwko Polakom. W swojej kampanii przeciw rzekomemu wykorzystywaniu systemu socjalnego przez imigrantów, Premier David Cameron użył przykładu Polaków jako uosobienia problemu. Lider głównej partii opozycyjnej, Ed Miliband (jak na ironię sam będący synem emigrantów z Polski), stwierdził, że „polska imigracja w szczególności (…) obniża standard życia Brytyjczyków”. Jack Straw, minister spraw zagranicznych w latach 2001-2006, ostatnio przyznał, że decyzja jego rządu by pozwolić na nieograniczoną imigrację „z krajów takich, jak Polska” była „spektakularnym błędem”.