Tuesday, May 16, 2006

From Pole To Pole

I've been writing about the Poles off and on for a couple of years - ever since I realised who the student-looking chaps in the farmers portakabin down the road were. Nice chaps working on the farms, anaemic blondes staffing the Lidl tills - they're all over the place. Stories like this and this are popping up too.

The Sunday Times reckons some 350,000 in eighteen months. Blunkett's Home Office estimated some 13,000.

Coleman believes the only comparable migration was that of French Protestants, known as Huguenots, after the revocation of the edict of Nantes in 1685 ended their right to practise their faith at home.

An estimated 50,000 fled to Britain in the 17th century, adding about 1% to the country’s 5m population. The current Polish intake, although far greater in numbers, is a lower proportion.

Professor John Salt, of the migration research unit at University College London, agrees with Coleman’s view. “What we are seeing now . . . is something unprecedented,” he said.

Some Brits have welcomed these new migrants with open arms. The Telegraph's Tom Utley loves Marek and Anna - so pleasant and so affordable.

When a member of the English educated classes finds a polite, hard-working immigrant, it's the done thing to make a noise about it, like the inner-city teacher lauding Ghanaians ("the most polite and respectful society I know").

I'm a little more leery of what's happening. Firstly, many Poles are coming here to stay. They're bringing wives and kids. In the nearby market town a Polish deli has opened. Great news for a Catholic primary a tad short of the faithful (our first Polish kids start next term) - on a national scale, great news for Catholic educators, otherwise looking at vast areas, once the Irish immigrant hearts of our great cities, which are full of Catholic schools with 90% Muslim pupils.

I'm trying to take a long view on this. The fact that these new Brits are polite and hard-working, do not do crack or firearms, nor are they likely to blow up Tube trains, is a function of the culture they have arrived with. It tells us nothing about what their first and second generation descendents will be like after twenty years exposure to the cultural vacuum of the UK.

Before the borders were effectively opened in 1997 there had been three great waves of 20th century immigration into the UK - West Indians from the Caribbean, Pakistanis/Bangladeshis from what was then East and West Pakistan, Hindus and Sikhs from India and the Punjab.

All of these groups on arrival were intensely respectable and law-abiding. The Windrush generation were as good a bunch of people as you'd find anywhere, and their education in the 1940s/50s Caribbean was as British as anything taught over here. But they were coming to a Mother Country that had just stopped believing in itself, armed with a culture which turned out to have no value in its original home. Something happened to many of their children between 1957 and 1981 - and it wasn't good. You can see the cultural descendents of Windrush in the immaculately dressed families heading for Wandsworth churches on a Sunday - but you can also see street crime, shootings, a gigantic bastardy rate - what Robert Whelan called a warrior culture on the streets.

Likewise the parents and grandparents of those who torched Manningham, "protesting against the BNP" by attempting, 600-strong, the mass murder of 22 elderly white Labour Club members, were a law-abiding bunch who came here expecting to become Brits. I've posted on this previously.

The first generation of immigrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh came here as "immigrants". They came expecting and wanting to integrate to some extent into the existing community. The collection of photographs taken of the first generation by the photographic studio in Manningham Lane illustrates this. The first week’s wages went on a Burtons suit and the men proudly displayed watches, pens and radios, mostly supplied by the photographer.

Two great migrations - two serious sets of problems twenty years down the line. What's the secret of the Sikhs and Hindus, whose migration was around the same time as the Muslims yet after twenty or thirty years here still aren't setting fire to other people or their property, but instead are becoming richer and better educated ? Is it that they, of all immigrant groups, have effortlessly translated themselves into the middle class ?

I'm really not sure - I'll have to ask Sunny. Family values will account for some of it - but Muslims have those too. My gut feel is that the Hindu community are perhaps the most economically valuable, and also the most portable. Were things to go terribly pearshaped here we might well find their marketable skills and capital heading elsewhere.

Some of the new immigrants since the borders were opened - Kosovans, Albanians, Somalis - came from countries with an existing culture of violence. Poland has been at peace, whether it wanted it or not, for sixty years.

Under Communism, the Catholic Church became the soul of Poland and centre of resistance to Soviet occupation. To be a Polish Catholic was to be a Polish patriot.

Then the Wall - and the Soviet Empire - fell. I don't know what that's done to church attendance back home, but there are about 300 Poles, mostly under 30, living within a four-mile radius of our church. You can count the Polish attendees at Mass on the fingers of one hand.

These people - and more their children - will not have the faith or the memory of oppression which sustained their parents and grandparents. They will have TV, a UK State schooling, cultural vacuum, and the Welfare State. It may well be that their children won't fancy a Portakabin and a fiver an hour. It's a bit early to celebrate the Poles - about 25 years early.


Anonymous said...

An earlier influx of Poles from the war, who settled in Cambridge, Bedford and Peterborough and worked primarily in construction, were as far as I could ascertain from growing up in this region in the 70s and 80s, absorbed into the 'respectable working class' seamlessly.

There weren't so many of them, mind.

dearieme said...

Yes, Scottish Poles of that earlier immigration also seemed just fine - though I could have done without the dreadful anti-semitic stuff they were prone to spout when drunk.

staghounds said...

Back then, there was no infrastructure dedicated to making sure immigrants' children remained reliable government serf voters by providing for their every need without work. Now there is.

Back then, the schools' mission was to assimilate immigrants' children, like it or not. Now the schools seek to keep them foreign.

Back then, they were raised by people. Now the idiot box does it.

My experience with the progeny of Hispanic and West Indian immigrants in the U. S. is that they imprint on their underclass contemporaries rather than on their striving parents. Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

One of the necessary conditions for the assimilation of immigrants is a substantial degree of overlap between their values and the values of their hosts. So, all other things being equal, there should not be many significant problems with immigration from other western Christian cultures. At worst, the Poles will merge with the British underclass.

Laban said...

The post-WW2 Poles, as with the assorted Balts and Ukranians, were absorbed into the existing culture of 1940s/50s Britain. No problemo.

Bradford had Polish, Lithuanian and Ukranian social clubs - the main cemetery has its section for the Baltic 'displaced persons'.

Alas the difference now is
a) ten times as many of them
b) no strong native culture to be absorbed by

Anonymous said...

One the reasons Sikhs and Hindus integrate better than Muslims and some blacks is that, if I asked you to name a black or Muslim provocateur you could do it easily, but where are the Sikh and Hindu leaders stoking the hatred and blaming everyone else for their problems?
They pretty much don't exist.

If the Hindu communties had a trouble causing two-faced Gerry Adams like figure, maybe we'd see more problems from them, although I personally doubt it would be much compared to other groups..

Anonymous said...

Before the borders were effectively opened in 1997 there had been three great waves of 20th century immigration into the UK - West Indians from the Caribbean, Pakistanis/Bangladeshis from what was then East and West Pakistan, Hindus and Sikhs from India and the Punjab.

You neglect to mention the wave of Eastern Europeans who entered Britain at the dawn of the twentieth century. They came en masse, formed ghettos, and some of them were actual terrorists (or freedom fighters, if you prefer). This was before the first anti-immigration legislation was passed by the Edwardians, and Britain effectively grew borders - and it's worth remembering that we didn't have any borders, in the sense you mean, until the twentieth century. I'm amused by your suggestion that the borders were "effectively opened" in 1997 - since day one, this government has tried its damndest to shut Britain's borders down as tighly as possible. This has, of course, had the same effect as every other move against immigration over the past 100 years - an increase in illegal immigration which rapidly becomes a self-sustaining industry, meaning much greater immigration than existed before the latest clamp down. Trying to "keep 'em all out" just means they come in illegally, and the gangs that are created to facilitate that illegal migration quickly diversify into other areas of business, and then start recruiting illegal immigrants who would never otherwise have thought of coming to the UK. The current problems are the result of Michael Howard and Jack Straw; I hate to think what future problems David Blunkett and Charles have created; and now we've got John Reid, the fifth hardline right-wing authoritarian attention-seeker in a row. As with cutting crime, government will only be able to cut immigration when it stops trying to please the Daily Mail and comes up with some workable, liberal laws.

Anonymous said...

Im interested to hear this gov has tried hard to stop immigration, first time I was aware of that.

Deporting illegal immigrants would be easy enough if we stuck to the basics.

Japan doesnt have a large number of immigrants legal or illegal. Any it does have it can get rid of easily whenever it wants.

Anonymous said...

this country had the highest level of immigration ever last year.

Thats labour trying to keep them out?
Rubbish. They create decoys like cracking down on Indian doctors that no one has a problem with to make it look as if they are being tough, meanwhile they are letting in hundreds of thousands of other people.

Its not just illegal immigration that is self sustaining its legal immigration as well, the more come the more that want their friends to come.

Libertarians who claim this country always had open borders are simply misrepresenting reality, before 1900's the average person could only travel by train boat or horse, and that was ofcourse before the chunnel... foreigners trying to get into Britain would have had an extremely hard time of it, we had natural borders without the need for special laws, and if it wasn't for the widespread access to cheap transport we wouldn't need border security now either.

Anonymous said...

Early 20thC immigration (mostly from Russia/Eastern Europe) was not 'en masse' or a wave. The numbers were tiny, although enough to form the small Jewish communities of Manchester, Leeds etc.

These are the people used for exotic colour in loads of early 20th century crime and adventure stories.

Anonymous said...

you missed out the enormous wave of Irish immigrants who came over to the UK in the wake of the 1845 famine.

Martin said...


Polonophilia - a disease of the elites, symptomised by loving your cleaner and hating your countrymen.

Classic example - Neal Ascherson,

"By God what Scotland wants is Poles!" -

Sunday Herald, March 2005

The Daily Telegrqaph is a major carrier.

Poland's unemployment rate is 20%.

Anonymous said...

So they are polite, well-educated, hard-working and speak good English? So am I, which is why Australia snapped me up when I was kicked out of a job in the Midlands to be replaced by Czechs. The taxi-driver who drove me to the airport had a similar story. Kicked out of a skilled job, he drove taxis rather than claim dole. His taxi franchise was being replaced by cheaper Africans, so he was leaving for Spain. The UK has lost as much as it has gained.

Laban said...

The Irish immigrants were British citizens - my wife's family among them.

And the locals weren't too pleased at the time either.

Martin said...


What is extremely disturbing about the elites' lockstep polonaise is their constant edification of the foreign over the indigenous. They hate us, and would prefer to live in a country populated by the citizens of other nations; so that's what they're trying to bring about. We do not have immigration, but are instead being colonised at our government's treacherous behest. We have become the Job Centre of Europe, and to use an anachronistic and politically incorrect phrase, it's our people who are suffering in the form of depressed wages, which Charles Moore and Mervyn King seem to think is a good thing, congested housing and lack of access to public services.

This invasion from the Mexico of Europe is unmandated; we have never been given any vote on whether or not it would happen. We are being robbed of our country on the advice of economists.

Polish labour is a subsidy for underperforming businesses twhich enables them to avoid paying the market rate for work. Either that, or it's a means of maximising profits at the expense of citizens and taxpayers. You'll never, ever hear the anarchocapitalist libertarians complaining about this, for to them nations do nothing but impede the operation of markets; forgetting that without nations, there can be no economies. Or markets.

In addition, it is happening a time when international call charges are at their lowest ever levels ever. Really, what Pole wanting to work in the UK, temporarily and for their own gain, should be able to bring their family with them when every corner shop in the land can sell you a phone card you can use to call Katowice for a penny a minute?

Anonymous said...

Anybody give a thought to the impact this mass migration is having on Poland. I'm a rare breed, an English chick married to a Pole and living in Poland, no desire to return to my native, crowded, polluted, culturally barren land.
We run a pub in the Polish equivalent of The Lake District, we are being swiped both ways, less customers, and staff shortages. I have lost my ENTIRE staff from last year, 25 people, and am left with students who are just waiting to leave, I just finance their exit.
The impact is huge on the heath system, minimum wait at the health centre 5 hours.
Many do see Engalnd as the land of milk and honey but I do expect most of them to eventually return.
Poland is beautiful and full of opportunies if you can earn a bit of cash, as we did abroad, and realise your dream.

Anonymous said...

Hello, English chick. I am a Pole working in UK and came here with my family. Why? Because I want better life for my wife and my children, better than I had in my country. In Poland, everything seemed to be either hard, take ages, standing in a queue, knowing somebody, or require a bribe (registering a car, renting a house, finding out if the taxes I pay are correct, getting proper health treatment, finding out if school is any good for my children, ...) and I never knew if any promise will be kept, even written. Sometimes I thought that all honest people in my country are already dead or left my land to live in Chicago or UK. Here, up till now, things seem to work very nice and in a timely manner. Some system and culture rules must be at work. I guess it is due to much longer period without any war devastation (material and mental) and different culture. Just one example - In Poland few people pay their TV licence. Why? Several reasons - it used to be a TV of liars, TV ruled by eastern brothers, and last but not least many Poles do not like to follow the rules unless pressed to do that, and we do not trust politicians and government, do not trus anybody (very tiresome). Here I didn't even think about not paying it - I watch TV hence I pay for it (although I'd rather not comment on quality of public TV).

Anonymous said...

get the polish out of our country ,
can no one see what it is doing to our own people , they are taking all our jobs and houseing . i have nothing against the polish as people , just worry about the british people and the strain that it is having on the british way of life . i am in the building industry and live in the hampshire area , latest figures show that one in ten people in southampton are polish . this must stop now .

Anonymous said...

Hello Pole living in UK. I am a Pole living in PL, and I think the root cause of all the problems in this country is that after some time Poles feel unahappy whereever they are. In PL at most. So be it - you are going to get frustrated in UK too, and then welcome back to our great country!

I promise you, some of us who stay are trying not loose time here and in the end I will have a better life then a returning expat.

Anonymous said...

In the summer I lost my job, redundant the reason?.All are jobs were replaced by polish workers. 300+ workers with 25yrs - 5 years service thrown on the scrapheap.I've been signing on now for 5months and funny enougth i hav'nt one pole in the jobcentre.
The strange thing is i don't hate the poles.I just hate the way we have all been treated and most of all mr Blurt and his bunch of cazies .Be warned the tide is changing people are not going to stand for this much longer............

Anonymous said...

The situation in the UK is quite dire. The poles are doing to our country what they did to germany in the 1930's . Our british way of life is suffering and a stand will be taken soon. In the meantime, boycott businesses that exploit immigrants,get ready for revolution.

Laban said...

"The poles are doing to our country what they did to germany in the 1930's"

I wasn't aware they did anything to Germany in the 30s, apart from digging in their heels over Danzig and the Corridor. Towards the end of the 30s it was much more Germany doing things to the Poles.

Anyway they saved Europe in 1920 when they defeated the Red Army at the Battle of Warsaw, coming back from 2 goals down.

Anonymous said...

Why has our country ended up such a cesspit, Christ, it was bad enough with the millions of Pakistanis, Now its getting a joke. Tony Blair has a lot to answer for, this was his vision, a country full of foreign social scroungers, a justice system that’s a joke, and political correctness that makes a fool of the decent population. And all the politicians wonder why the BMP is growing in strength, HELLO! Is there anyone home!!!
I now live in New Zealand, people here say what they think without fear of prosecution from the authorities, Hope they see what’s happening back home and learn from it.

Anonymous said...

Welcome all of you.
Ralf the Pole.

Anonymous said...

Polish are ignorant lazy people where ever they are, i have friends in
Holland, Germany and France and they all say that where the Polish make
their homes the crime rate has doubles or tripled because of them. If
the Polish and all Eastern Europeans went back home then the health
service would be able to pay for life saving drugs instead of wasting it
on Polish people, the schools would be able to concentrate on the pupils
instead of wasting their time trying to get the lazy Polish kids to
the Queens English (like their lazy parents) and this country would be
able to get out of this mess its in now. Oh one more thing. Dose anyone
know of a single Polish person that actually pays for their road tax?
No? Well thats because they don't, because their is a great big loop
that means they don't have to, but everyone else in this country has to,they just have to pay twice as much now, all because of the Eastern
Europeans, and anyone notice how much metal is being stolen now or how
many people are getting mugged now by "foreign sounding" people? They
are killing this country and they wont stop till they have taken
everything like locusts!

Anonymous said...

My hatred of Eastern Europeans grows each day. This country is giving them everything they want and forgetting about their own. Also about the car tax,the polish don't have to fork out hundreds of pounds like good honest hardworking tax paying Brits, the Poles have a year before they are eligable to pay road tax but if they take their car out of the country then the year starts all over again. Its an absolute disgrace This country is getting ruined because the poles are being encouraged to stay here, like supermarkets having Polish food sections, banks letting them open accounts. If I had my way I would run each and everyone back to where they belong.

Anonymous said...

The polish number is larger than another other immigrate. They are putting so much pressure on our system!! WE NEED TO GET THEM OUT OF THIS COUNTRY. IF ANY OF YOU POLISH ARE READING, YOU ARE NOT WELLCOME, GO BACK TO YOUR OWN COUNTRY YOU GREEDY PEOPLE

Laban said...

"This country is giving them everything they want and forgetting about their own."

That's not the Poles fault, is it ? It's the idiots in charge of the UK !

Laban said...

And Poles (en masse) aren't ignorant or lazy people either, as you know perfectly well, troll.