I'm not one to gloat (not half) but the Mail has had to print a letter from the Federation of Poles in Great Britain. It has also removed some of the more vile stories I referred to in earlier posts. Of course this is not explained in the Mail. The Guardian helpfully provides more details here.
The Polish community and the United Kingdom
By Wiktor Moszczynski
Last updated at 12:04 PM on 05th August 2008
Older readers of the Daily Mail will be aware that here has been a sizeable Polish community in this country since World War Two when Polish forces fought alongside British servicemen against the Nazi threat.
Since then, an estimated one million Polish citizens have arrived in the UK after European Union expansion in 2004, mostly to work.
They have made a significant contribution to both the Polish and British economies.
According to the National Bank of Poland, about £4 billion is sent each year by Polish workers in the UK to their families at home. However – according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research – the Polish workforce alone has contributed £12 billion to the British economy between 2004 and 2006.
We have all heard about the cheap Polish plumbers and seen the smiling Polish waitresses and shop assistants.
Poles have helped to revive British agriculture (especially in Scotland, Wales and Lincolnshire) and to boost, until earlier this year, the recent house-building boom in this country.
Unfortunately many were exploited as they struggled to obtain the legal minimum wage and basic employment rights.
At the other end of the economic scale, thousands of entrepreneurs have now set up their own businesses, while others can be found in responsible positions in the NHS, social services, accountancy and banking.
According to Piotr Grzeszkiewicz, director of recruitment agency Sara-Int, the Polish workforce contributes about £1.9 billion a year to the British exchequer in income tax and national insurance, not including council tax.
Poles are integrating well into the British way of life, especially if they are setting up families here. Of course we are aware that their presence has impacted considerably on the resources of local councils, schools and health trusts, but much of this is covered by tax contributions.
The Federation of Poles in Great Britain has been concerned about newspaper coverage which has sought to emphasise negative aspects of the Polish presence in the UK.
In our view, the worst examples linked Poles with words and phrases like “feckless”, “chancers”, “race riots”, “swamp the NHS”, “fears for schools”, “cut-price treatment”, “push British graduates to back of the jobs queue”, “killers, drug smugglers and rapists”. We consider that this has made Poles living in the UK feel vulnerable and persecuted.
Some might argue that these robust headlines were aimed more at the British Government, its immigration policy and at the European Union. Fair enough.
This implies therefore that Poles came into the firing line not because they were Poles but because they were the most visible symbol of those government policies that the Daily Mail has criticised.
The Federation remains critical however of the lack of reliable national and local government statistics on the number and impact of Poles in this country.
We maintain that Poles have felt humiliated by the coverage and are vulnerable to numerous acts of overt hostility and even violence which they have experienced from a vociferous minority of UK citizens.
There have been hundreds of cases of hate crime against Poles in this country recorded in the last 2 years, some leading to death or permanent injury, and we would not want these incidents to be encouraged by potentially inflammatory newspaper stories or headlines.
In some ways the heat is off now. A good proportion of Poles have either already returned or are planning to do so soon as the Polish economy improves and the Polish currency almost doubles in value against sterling.
There is now more concern in the press and economic circles about the impact of their departure rather than of their arrival. Nevertheless a significant number are here and will continue to be here for some years. The need for sensitive reporting and sensitive headlines remains.