Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Poles’

Community Voices: EU Migrants in England

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 22nd July, 2015

New Europeans seminarFreedom of movement is one of the pillars of the European single market, something that is not only good for business and the economy but good for individuals as well, as a majority of younger people in this country understand. Yet the Conservative government, egged on by the more repulsive elements of the right-wing Press, is trying to renegotiate some aspects of freedom of movement as part of a package that David Cameron wants to put before the British public in a referendum on the country’s EU membership some time over the next couple of years. On that he will fail, as there is no way that countries such as Poland will accept some of the things he has been suggesting. And why should the Poles? They — along with migrants from our other 26 partner states — have made a huge contribution to the British economic recovery. They pay in, in taxes, NIC etc, far more than they take out of our welfare state, and although UKIP and the more extreme Tory head-bangers may moan about the fact that there are over two million EU migrants in the UK they conveniently ignore the fact that there are almost as many Brits living on the continent. Yet the British public knows very little of the reality, often preferring to swallow scare stories from the Daily Express.

New EuropeansSo it is a matter for congratulation that the NGO New Europeans has been running a series of meetings in England and Wales looking at the reality of the impact of EU migration on communities. The final one of these was held at Europe House in Westminster this evening, featuring a couple of academic presentations on the evidence before break-out sessions on the themes of health, education, housing and jobs. One point that really came home to me was how the Labour government in 2004 failed to make adequate provisions for the inevitable influx of workers from Poland in particular. The Labour Party has now renounced that policy of opening up to the new EU member states (just as it is busy renouncing most of its previous progressive policies at the moment in a scramble to sell itself to middle Britain). In the event, the migrants were blamed for what were in fact the British government’s shortcomings. It was interesting to hear from young researchers from Southampton how many Poles there have set up businesses, creating jobs, not ‘stealing’ them.Although we do not know when the referendum is going to be, it is essential that the true facts be in the public domain. Too often, with organisations such as Migration Watch active in the field we are seeing policy-driven evidence rather than evidence-driven policy being propagated. And as every true academic knows, that is classic bad practice.

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Daily Mail Pole-axed

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 5th August, 2008

The Daily Mail has agreed to remove some articles critical of Poles in Britain from its website and to alter others, in a settlement with the Federation of Poles in Great Britain (FPGB), which had protested to the Press Complaints Commission over 50 pieces and related headlines that they said gave rise to negative emotions and tensions between new EU immigrants and local communities. Among the gems of objective reporting highlighted were ‘Polish Borat claims groping women is normal in Eastern Europe’ and ‘Britain is country of choice for many “feckless” Poles.’ As the FPGB complained, ‘this kind of shock reporting, week in week out, serves only to exacerabte the tension. They are slingshots aimed at Europe and the Government, which rebound against Poles and other central Europeans in street abuse, fire-bombed homes and mob attacks, while the Daily Mail washes its hands of all responsibility.’

As a mass-circulation daily newspaper, the Daily Mail has a duty to provide accurate journalism, not to pander to xenophobic prejudice, let alone stimulate it. While it is legitimate for a newspaper to take a Euro-sceptic editorial line, the execessive Euro-bashing this newspaper indulges in, sometimes giving the impression that it will not let the truth stand in the way of a good story, is harmful not only to community relations betweeen EU migrants and indigenous Britons but also to political debate in this country. Too often, people just shrug their shoulders about Press bias, so well done the Polish Federation for standing up against it. As part of the deal thrashed out following the Press Complaints Commission case, a letter from the FPGB is due to appear in tomorrow’s edition of the newspaper.


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