Posted by: maryportagainstracism | August 5, 2008

Daily Mail caught being nice to migrants!

The Daily Mail has finally reached a deal with representatives of Britain’s Polish community after the Polish Federation of Great Britain lodged a formal complaint with the Press Complaints Commission several months ago.

Jan Mokrzycki, head of the federation, explains why they lodged the complaint:

Poles seem to be unable to please the Daily Mail whatever they do.

“On one day you get a headline ‘Poles flood into England’ implying the country is drowning in immigrants, and the next day you get ‘Poles desert England’ as if we are abandoning them.

“Poles are not totally innocent, no society is totally innocent, and if a Pole does something wrong then he or she should have to face the music.

“But when you get a series of articles and none of the headlines shed a positive light, and all shed a negative light by using this sort of terminology then it is fair to say we can complain about bias.

This media bias, or hysteria more accurately, about immigration and Eastern Europeans is something we’ve drawn attention to several times on this site and on our leaflets.

Following negotiations the Daily Mail have printed an article from Wiktor Moszczynski the press officer of the Federation of Poles in Great Britain which might count as some sort of apology:

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.


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