Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bloody Foreigners...

"That's why they don't go to Poland - the Poles don't pay them any benefits like we do," opined a representative from the UK Kick Me in The Head Please Because I'm a Moron Party the other day during an item on my local BBC news programme about illegal immigration. Ah, so that's why they flood here from Afghanistan, is it? (He was actually quite specific about the 'they' in question being Afghans). Just so that they can claim our allegedly over-generous social security benefits. There was me thinking it might have something to do with the fact that we'd invaded and fucked up their country, thereby rendering them homeless and forcing them to become refugees. But obviously I'm wrong. Just as I'm wrong about the fact that refugees and immigrants tend to target the UK rather that, say Poland, is that there's work here, rather than in, say, Poland. Indeed, that's probably the reason lots of Poles came to the UK - for work they couldn't find in Poland. Of course, there are plenty of unscrupulous employers in the UK who effectively encourage the illegals, as they provide them with a source of cheap labour. Unlike, say, the Poles, they can get away with paying illegals well below the minimum wage. After all, who can they complain to? This is what really irritates me about the asinine 'debate' on immigration the media keeps engaging in: it tries to divert attention away from the fact that illegal immigrants are frequently victims twice over. Forced to flee their own countries, whether as a result of conflict persecution, natural disasters or economic pressure, only to find themselves ruthlessly exploited at their destination. Add to this the fact that this 'debate' inevitably fails to mention that the crises forcing these people from their homes usually has its origins in the developed world, and it becomes painfully clear that it is little more than crude, borderline racist, political propaganda.

But it isn't just illegal immigrants who are in the firing line. I was depressed to find a thread on my town's local message board expressing hostility toward our local Polish community. Once again, it was based upon ignorance and bigotry, focusing on the 'fact' that Polish workers here were tacking up a disproportionate amount of NHS resources. Well, bearing in mind that the Poles are paying tax here, they're as entitled as anyone else to use the NHS. Indeed, there is an upper limit on the amount of free at source medical care they (or any other migrant workers) can claim, depending upon the level of contribution they've made. After that, they could be charged. It's the same with unemployment benefit - you can claim it in any EU country, I believe, but the host country is reimbursed by the claimant's home country. However, what offends me most about this anti-Polish feeling is the fact that it displays a terrible ignorance of our country's history. It isn't just bigots on message boards who are guilty of this - in all the fuss being made over the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, our 'Finest Hour', I don't once recall mention being made of the significant number of foreign pilots who fought in 1940 for the RAF. These included two squadrons of Poles, who fought with distinction, many at the cost of their own lives. In fact, the Free Polish Forces made a huge contribution to the UK's war effort, fighting in the Western Desert, Italy and France. And we still didn't manage to liberate Poland for them. But clearly I'm wrong in thinking we might just owe them something. As always in the UK, we're happy to let foreigners spill their blood for us, just so long as they don't expect to live here.

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