Friday, May 22, 2009

british jobs for polish workers

Even though postal workers elsewhere have refused to deliver it, round here the British National Party leaflet has come through the door.

British Jobs For British Workers - Because We've Earned The Right
Trafalgar - The Somme - Dunkirk - D-Day - The Falklands

It's illustrated with the picture of a Spitfire in flight and the slogan Battle For Britain.

BNP leaflet showing Spitfire

The Spitfire was the key to defending Britain in the Battle of Britain, the time in 1940 when the Nazis, who had so readily rolled into countries across Europe, were poised to invade.

It was a peculiar moment in history. The coin was flipped and came down in its edge, teetering. After the Germans were repelled, Nazi expansionism lost its sense of unstoppability, followed by the Soviet Union and USA joining the war, Allied victory becoming all but inevitable, and onwards to the death of the militarist colonial worldview.

But in June 1940, it could so easily have gone the other way. It's a decisive moment and the victory came down to such a small number of key people that it's possible to read a list of their names. Churchill saw this at the time and declared it with the line 'never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few'.

Those bold men, the pilots now known as The Few, weren't all British. Around 20 percent were foreign, mostly from the British empire and Europe. Had the British truly stood alone it could well have meant defeat and Nazi invasion. We were bolstered and, in all likelihood, saved by our immigrants.

Very few pilots were more experienced, and none fought more doggedly, than the great number of Poles. The Spitfire on the BNP leaflet has a red and white check on the nose just behind the propeller. This denotes that it's from a Polish squadron. Those pilots fought and many died. So if you're going to use Spitfires and the Battle of Britain as your measure of entitlement, the slogan should be British Jobs For Polish Workers - Because They've Earned The Right.

I'm genuinely struggling to see the link between the five military events named, except that they involved some British forces.

Trafalgar and the Falklands were victories, but Dunkirk was a retreat from a failed campaign and the Somme was the hideous pointless massacre of men for nothing at all. The first day of the Battle of the Somme saw 20,000 British men killed, sent slowly walking in lines laden with rucksacks towards machine guns that mowed them down like hay. They were joined in slaughter by large numbers of empire men, notably Canadians and Irish.

Still, as the BNP want the Gurkhas to stay out (their battles don't earn them 'the right' even though they actually fought, which most of us didn't personally do at Trafalgar) , presumably all the others who fought on the British side on the Somme don't count either.

So the list isn't about British victories or even British fights. There was an all-in-it-together spirit of the scrabbling retreat from Dunkirk, but that doesn't apply to the small professional force fighting in the anachronistic colonial afterecho of Thatcher's vanity project, the Falklands. The list is as confused and misplaced as the use of the Polish pilot.

Racists being stupid and historically inaccurate, whatever next.

BNP leaflet quotation saying it's not racist to oppose immigration and political correctness

'It's not racist to oppose mass immigration and political correctness'. That's debatable. It certainly is racist to ban people from joining your party because they're not white, though.

It's always difficult to know what is meant by political correctness. It's always a perjorative, people accuse you of it (usually with the suffix 'gone mad' to reinforce the wrongness without having to explain it). I've never heard anyone claim it for themselves.

It seems only to be used to denigrate measures that aim to improve equality and respect, to reclaim some kind of superiority that the speaker feels is threatened. It's that sense of superiority, of white supremacy, that underpins the BNP.

BNP leaflet showing doctors and soldier with quotes supporting the party

The 'doctor' is fake, a stock image from an American site if you search on "caring health professional". Still, let's deal with the sentiment.

I see what immigration is doing to our NHS.

Yes, so do I. On the front line, the NHS would collapse without the foreign nurses, people trained at foreign expense then imported here do do our low-level jobs.

A huge proportion of our recent immigrants are here to work. They are, in other words, an influx of younger people paying taxes as the NHS has to care for the ageing British population. They are making up the difference to save us, just as immigrant pilots did 70 years ago.

The leaflet talks of the injustice of 'fighting foreign wars'. As opposed to, er, foreign wars we're supposed to worship like Trafalgar, The Somme, Dunkirk, D-Day and the Falklands.

The soldier in the picture - the one person on the leaflet we know is really British - didn't actually say the quote attributed to him. He said that the BNP

are scumbags and I'd never vote for them in a million years.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant, balanced post there setting out everything that's wrong with that leaflet and that "party" (and that's a lot to cover!) Found you through The Sharpener.

Unknown said...

Came through our letterbox too - can't believe they'd leaflet round here - totally disgusting. Good comments from John Sentamu today in the press.
I've posted a link to Merricks piece on my Facebook and Twitter posts

Kirsty said...

Excellent post, Merrick - you've nailed it as usual.

This piece of shit came through our letterbox last week and I took great joy in ripping it into tiny pieces and throwing it in the recycling.

The whole NHS would fall apart in a matter of weeks if it wasn't for foreign nurses, doctors, paramedics, cleaners, technicians and auxiliary staff. That was the case when I worked there in the late 80's and is probably even more so now.

merrick said...

The Gnomes welcome aboard. And glad to know The Sharpener's still reaching out. It's a real shame posting has dwindled there, the broad mix of intelligent views (whilst understandably a bit exhausting) was nonetheless unique and really progressive.

Your use of 'balanced' gives me some comfort too. I had this vague fear somewhere inside that I was doing a disservice by patiently unpicking the BNP. There's a sizeable part of me that agrees with Woody Allen's approach.

Kirsty, I cited the low-level jobs but of course you're absolutely right that all levels of the NHS have a disproportionately huge number of immigrants and ethnic minority British.

Here is an Indian doctor doing amazing stuff right now. Pioneering keyhole surgery through your belly button. People get a kidney or gall bladder removed through a one-inch hole cut in their belly button!

It halves recovery time (for BNP supporters reading, that made the patient, a white nurse, get back on duty sooner). Another patient had their gall bladder removed and was able to be discharged within 5 hours.

The BNP thinks the doctor shouldn't be here, that we'd be better off without this doctor.

Joanna said...

I’m a Polish emigrant and I found the leaflet offending… I totally understand British frustration connected with the recession and unemployment and the number of foreign workers in England but there is also another side of it. I was headhunted 5 years ago by some British employment agency as there was a significant shortage of architects in this country. Although I found the dream job immediately the beginning of my British adventure was not easy at all. First of all I had to recognise my professional qualifications Part 1 and 2 and pass Part 3 and have 2 years of ‘adaptation period’ in the UK in order to register here as an architect – it cost me about £7k. I struggled with basic things as well such as opening a bank account as you couldn’t do this without any prove of your address such as a utility bill… and you couldn’t find any accommodation without a bank account... 5 years later my professional career and private life is in here and now the government is trying to tell me – go home! I feel the pressure everyday – British jobs for British workers… I can hear my colleagues talking in the staff room that we should go back. Believe me or not - I even tried looking for a job in Poland but it is hard as I’ve got now more UK than Polish experience. That’s all wrong and I feel terribly stressed about this... I believe this campaign should be strongly criticised by Mr Brown… but somehow it is not.


merrick said...


Your story underpins what I was saying about the NHS, where our shortage of doctors and nurses is filled by foreign workers.

It's the nations that have taken the most immigrants like the USA and UK that thrive economically. It doesn't take an especially smart brain to figure out why all the skilled people leaving a country doesn't do it any good.

it also raises the question, at what point is somebody no longer foreign? How long do they, like you, have to specialise in the customs of a country and pay taxes into it?

The government should be criticising this racism but of course they don't as it wouldn't look good on the front page of the Sun. (That would be The Sun owned by Rupert Murdoch, a man who changed nationality for tax reasons, and who pays no tax in the UK).

But beyond all the economic arguments is a human one. It's odd how they think that corporations and capital should be allowed to cross any borders but not people.

I do hope the ugly nationalism you're hearing dies down, for all our sakes.

Popel Vooje said...

According to several other articles I've read, the soldier in the bottom picture didn't stop at calling the BNP scumbags whom he'd never vote for - he rang the party's headquarters demanding that his image be removed from their leaflet and received a terse "fuck off" for his troubles.

Fuck me, these people are nasty.