2 – Give Poles a Break
BSSB.BE standpointmag.co.uk/featu 11.03.2016
The country was in effect governed by a clique which for the past eight years held the media, the judiciary and the arts in its grasp. The media and the judiciary were independent only in name, something a party calling itself Law and Justice must try to remedy. The aim is to clean up corruption and restore some balance.
To which the response that naturally suggests itself is: well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? But the hope is that these people will be disinterested and a bit more impartial. It isn’t an ill-founded hope. And they are doing no more, indeed considerably less, than the previous government — a government whose salient feature was its spectacular corruption — did when it came to power eight years ago.
It is unbelievable that the idiocies being propagated about democracy and civil liberties being under threat are being taken seriously in the West. The fact that the EU threated sanctions shows how far-reaching is the influence of the Polish Left, led by Gazeta Wyborcza, which has been vilifying PiS for years as “fascist” and is now spreading the propaganda we see parroted in the Western press.
But besides the fabrications of people who have lost their privileges and their impunity and stand to lose even more, there is some genuine disquiet both at home and abroad; there are doubts that are reasonable and fears that are to some extent justified.
- PiS’s smidgeon of Euroscepticism clearly doesn’t extend to supporting Britain in its negotiations with the EU at the cost of limiting British welfare benefits for Polish citizens, and party chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s intransigence on this point seems excessive.
- It would indeed be discriminatory if EU law on this point were suspended just for Poles; but it’s hard to see how drawing benefits in Britain before one has lived there for a reasonable amount of time, not to mention sending British child benefits home, could be considered a “right”, for Poles or anyone else. But apparently an agreement has been reached that is deemed “satisfactory”.
Then there is the economy. PiS plans, as far as I know, to stick to its election promise of lowering the retirement age.
- It also plans to pay 500 zlotys a month — about £100, a huge sum for Poles — in benefits for every child after the first. It isn’t entirely outrageous to try to do something to counter the Polish demographic slump (although there is no indication that throwing money at people will persuade them to have more children), but these seem lunatic proposals, with a whiff of populism about them.
- Still, having loony economic policies hardly makes you fascist. It might be salutary to remind ourselves that countries which have the likes of Jeremy Corbyn, Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders as elected politicians or running for office with a good chance of success are hardly in a position to call anyone names.
Then there’s the question of refugees and immigration. On this there does not yet seem to be a firm policy, which is not surprising, as no one else in Europe has one either. Yes, PiS is reluctant to accept a flood of refugees; but so is everyone else, except Angela Merkel.
- It has no infrastructure to deal with them and it is worried about the infiltration of IS terrorists. So is everyone else. It fears the spread of radical Islam; so does everyone else. Nevertheless, it has, like everyone else, accepted some refugees and will accept more.
- How all this will end, in Poland and everywhere else, as migrants continue to come to the EU, is anyone’s guess. There is no discernible reason why Poland should be singled out as a selfish, fascist state for being a little worried about it. In any case, the refugees dumped on Poland mostly try to escape to Germany, the promised land of better benefits.
- As for immigration from closer to home, particularly from Ukraine, by now there are probably more than a million Ukrainian immigrants in Poland (the figures for last year were given as anything from half a million to a million).
PO was hated for its arrogance and contempt, its cliquishness and corruption, its willingness to be dictated to by the EU and its servility towards Russia (before the annexation of Crimea, when PO suddenly changed its tune) and Germany. The people who voted it out of office did so in the hope that the cronyism and the corruption would end.
They wanted to feel proud of being Polish instead of being made to feel that it was something to be ashamed of; they were sick of “patriotism” being treated as a dirty word. They wanted some transparency in government and they wanted the affirmation of their country’s sovereignty.
They will certainly get the latter; it remains to be seen how much they get of the former. But if the Law and Justice government criminalises homosexuality and premarital sex, introduces censorship, confiscates private property, imprisons the opposition, bans demonstrations, and starts planning pogroms, I promise I’ll be the first to let you know.
Euroscepticism Nations History
- winstonchurchill.org/ – The Truth of “Iron Curtain Speech” – This speech was delivered on 19 May 1986 to the Friends of the Memorial, New York City Branch. When he spoke of the “Iron Curtain” that had descended from “Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic,” Winston Churchill was acknowledging and announcing a truth which so many in the West were so unwilling to admit – the onset of the Cold War. So powerful was the phrase.
- capx.co – A re-divided Germany – Bavarian Governor Horst Seehofer has been extremely critical of Chancellor Merkel’s approach to the refugee crisis. In a SPIEGEL interview, he talks about limiting migration, his relationship with Merkel and why he is upset with the German media. “I am just soberly describing reality. You can run away from reality for a time because it doesn’t fit into your political world view. But then the people will run away from us.”
- icds.ee/ – Baltic Area. Goal for Poland – The Baltic region is an important part of Polish foreign policy. Poland’s member ship in these organisations is the foundation of its security and economic growth. The last few years have seen a gradual strengthening of Poland’s role in European and Euro.