Polish Londoner

These are the thoughts and moods of a born Londoner who is proud of his Polish roots.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Brexit and the Polish community

My name is Wiktor Moszczynski and, as you can see from my name, I am a Londoner. I am also a member of the Polish community in the UK. There are 916,000 Polish nationals currently here, the largest single group within the EU community in the UK. They were encouraged to come here after 2004 when Poland and its neighbours joined the EU. They joined the children and grandchildren of the post-war Polish community which had fought alongside the British as soldiers, as pilots as sailors in the struggle against Nazi Germany.
The new Poles, skilled and unskilled, many with University degrees, worked in hospitals, in offices and in factories, rescued hundreds of British farms from bankruptcy and set up over 80,000 businesses. They contribute up to £2billion annually to the UK economy.
Even though they paid income tax and national insurance and Council tax they were denied a vote in the Brexit referendum which was about their own future.
Now they are literally beached on a foreign shore with their families, their future is blighted Permanent residence is now no longer “automatic” after 5 years residence, their access to NHS and to social services is being challenged, and hate crime and discrimination are on the rise. There are 187,000 Polish children here aged below 14. Their future was tied up with this country, now their world has collapsed. Do they have to give up their British friends as their parents contemplate whether they should stay here or go? Theresa may should be ashamed for those children’s tears.
Other Europeans too have their future blighted. And young people of Britain have been blighted too, disenfranchised and deprived of their European identity and their European ambitions.
Why has this happened?
The government and Parliament, a majority of whom had voted Remain, have been spooked by fanatical Brexiteers who claim they have a democratic mandate for a hard Brexit that threatens us all with a collapsing economy, reduces investment and closes borders as they bay for the blood of anyone who disagrees.
Democratic mandate? In the words of Shania Twain – “That don’t impress me much”.
Initially Hitler had a democratic mandate, Mussolini had a democratic mandate, Putin had a democratic mandate, even Mugabe initially had a democratic mandate.
But these so-called democratic mandates were built on the quicksand of fear and hate and lies, on contempt for minorities and a lust for order and intimidation. A democracy is incomplete unless it is based on human rights and a voice for all its citizens. A true democracy has to have the checks and balances of an independent press and an independent judiciary, who are not referred to as “enemies of the people” whenever Brexiteers dislike their decision.
There is no proper democratic mandate for impoverishing the country, depriving EU citizens of their rights and young British people of their future in Europe.
Now Parliament has authorized the Prime Minister to invoke Article 50. Though we have lost that battle, we have not lost the war.
We must all, Brits, Poles and other EU citizens, remain steadfast. Our eventual victory will come when our luckless Brexiteer negotiators will find that they have proudly slammed the door in Europe’s face and now they are outside, alone, desperately looking for allies, in Turkey, in China, with Donald Trump. The British people will no longer believe the Brexiteers and will search for an alternative. Then we can offer the people of Britain that alternative, a chance to shed their Daily Mail blinkers and see the reality stemming from their decision. Then we can instruct our political leaders to reverse the Brexit nightmare and rejoin the EU.
So keep the fight going until then and good luck
Wiktor Moszczynski - Speech at Unite for Europe Rally 25th March 2017

Local government to administer EU citizens' registration

Memorandum to Dept of Exit to EU

The 3 Million Alternative White Paper which Nicolas Hatton presented at our meeting with you touches on this issue when it drew on the inadequacy of the current permanent residence application process, on the combative Home Office attitude to what should have been an "automatic" approval and on the need for primary legislation to create a new status which could supplant the permanent residence programme. The3Million AWP gave a full list of all the rights which the new legislation should guarantee and stressed the need to encompass all EU citizens legally resident here before a mutually agreed demarcation date. 3 Million recognize that, following the enactment of that legislation, there will be a need "for the Home Office to undertake a vast programme of registration" but they have not yet had the opportunity to suggest how that registration is to be administered speedily and fairly for all EU citizens.

As Convenor of the "A Fair deal for Poles in UK" letter, which appeared as a privately crowdfunded advertisement in the parliamentary magazine "The House" on December 9th,2016, (copy enclosed),. I have discussed this with members of the Polish community as well as with councillors and MPs and would like to suggest an option which was published by me in "The Observer" on February 26th. Please treat this submission as being supplementary to the document prepared by the 3 Million.

It is apparent that local authorities are already in the best position to arrange the new registration and to issue appropriate IDs to their local EU residents as they are already responsible for local registers of births, deaths and marriages, the electoral roll and have access to social service, library and school records. The Home Office already outreaches the applications for UK citizenship to local government and this appears to be both effective and popular. They can draw on the additional records held by the Home Office and the Department of Work and Pensions where necessary, but they already have experience in issuing bus passes, blue badges and similar documents to their own residents under rules laid down by national legislation. Local government officials have a more inclusive work ethic in comparison with, say, the Home Office, which tends to seek to exclude where possible by insisting that the onus lies with the EU applicant to provide the correct information. In fact the Home Office has been responsible for a large number of much publicized misjudgements recently in relation to granting EU citizens a permanent residence that was promised to be "automatic", including the threat for EU citizens to leave the United Kingdom (since withdrawn). Now that the government has opted for a reciprocal arrangement with EU countries over future guarantees for EU citizens (against our advice), the Home Office approach would begin to be commented on very critically by media and governments in other EU countries if they followed their usual procedures..

Council staff on the contrary will be able to initiate contact with EU households in theirarea with a view to ensuring a swift and positive registration that reassures EU citizens that they are welcome here. This in turn would be positively interpreted by the governments of EU countries as they prepare the legislation to ensure an equally secure future for UK citizens in their territory. Also the extent of their long term records are such that identity fraud would be highly unlikely. Local council staff have the further incentive to perform because by increasing the number of successful registrations they are sustaining their tax base. The need for a speedy process of registration and issue of ID's is is further justified by the fact that in many areas NHS staff are now requiring identification from foreigner patients who may initially seem to qualify possible Overseas Visitor Status. EU citizens need to be reassured of a continued automatic access to a free NHS service without discrimination or undue bureaucracy. .

It is recognized that currently councils are under enormous budgeting pressures as their central government grants are reduced and they may be reluctant to take on new tasks unless they are externally funded. Therefore the administrative cost of registering EU citizens could be covered from a central fund, ring-fenced entirely for this purpose, in the hands of the Treasury or the Home Office.

Let us remember that this will be but a one off exercise lasting at most two or three years. It will not be a prolonged system that will last without end and therefore it will be relatively simple to budget for this expenditure. It remains vital to perform this task quickly and efficiently as soon as the legislation is passed by parliament as Poles and other EU citizens have come here in good faith covered by the UK’s adherence to EU rules and they have contributed considerably to the UK economy and to the social and cultural fabric of this nation. It is important also to their children, even those born here, who see their future in this country, but whose parents may feel sufficiently insecure to choose to leave the UK should their registration not be administered smoothly.

The international implications of this legislation and its eventual implementation are such that normal Home Office immigration rules and practices should be sufficiently modified to ensure that EU citizens retain theur confidence that their future status in this country is assured, that the interests of UK citizens abroad are also not affected adversely and that other aspects of UK-EU relations are not jeopardized by this process. The treatment of Polish exiles in 1946 and Displaced Persons from German camps in 1947 are a good precedent as to how the Home Office was able to let Polish and other applicants complete their registration based on undocumented statements about themselves. These registrations were completed over a 2 year period for more than 300,000 citizens but it was considered to be in the country's interest that this should take place.

I hope you can give my submission the same care and attention which you gave the well documented 3 Million alternative White Paper. After all we are all seeking a solution that best serves the interests of both the United Kingdom and the EU citizens in this country.

Yours sincerely
Wiktor Moszczynski 24th March 2017

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Brexit storm and EU citizens

Letter to Editor of "Ealing Gazette"
from Wiktor Moszczynski, 48 Inglis Road, London W5 3RW, tel 07786471833
Dear Mr Editor,
I would like to commend the piece by Stephen Pound MP on the Brexit dilemma for EU citizens in Ealing. They came her in good faith, found work easily, especially in the boom years of the Noughties, set up families, contributed to the UK economy and to the Ealing Council tax base and play a crucial role in the vibrant cultural and commercial life of Ealing.

Currently the see saw on Brexit between the House of Lords and the House of Commons has given EU citizens the merest glimmer of hope that their contribution will be recognized and their future right to stay and work here will be guaranteed as promised initially by all the major Leave campaigners. The work by Steve, as well as his neighbour MPs, Rupa Huq, Virendra Sharma and Andrew Slaughter, to ensure the continuing rights of EU citizens, is particularly appreciated by the the Polish community in Ealing and Hammersmith, both the post-war refugees and the more recent EU arrivals.

We know that Labour MPs will vote for the amendment again to ensure EU citizens currently here can stay. This is not a vote to reverse Brexit, but to make it more palatable for British businesses, the care industry and the NHS, as they need to know the long term future of their EU employees..

However Steve's main task now is to convince previously sympathetic Tory MPs that they too must vote the Lords amendment through the Commons next week. Also he must help prepare the legislative groundwork for ensuring that local government, and not the Home Office, will handle the administrative task of registering EU citizens in the new post-Brexit Britain as otherwise the process will last many years and will be done with extreme prejudice to all EU citizens who have worked in Ealing legally for many decades and for the 4322 Polish-speaking children now in Ealing schools...
Yours faithfully

Thursday, 16 March 2017

England and Scotland -Two Queens

The increasing personal confrontation between two formidable women leaders, namely the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the First Minister of Scotland brings to mind the conflict between two other formidable women - Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots.
Mary too wanted European powers to interfere in England's destiny and restore mainstream European Catholicism following Henry VIII's earlier Brexit. One hopes that this time the conflict will be more amicably resolved than that earlier one, but ultimately it did end up with the Mary's son and successor inheriting both kingdoms.

Monday, 6 March 2017

EU citizens not bargaining chips

Letter to Editor of Evening Standard

Dear Sirs
You refer to the Prime Minister's "reasonable wish that British nationals should have the same protection in the EU" )2?03/17) as that which Sadiq Khan and the House of Lords want to offer EU citizens here. Unfortunately there is nothing "reasonable" about this wish if this is translated into plunging EU citizens in this country, including their mainly British-born children, into many years of a twilight existence as "bargaining chips" in future negotiations with the EU. By so doing she is exposing Brits in the EU to becoming "bargaining chips" too, precisely what she has been trying to avoid.
It looks as if it is the Home Office which is setting the agenda, regardless of their insensitivity to all things "foreign", and their current shameful treatment of EU citizens' supposedly automatic right to permanent residence, and it is making EU citizens here very very nervous. The government should swallow its pride, recognize the right to stay of all EU citizens currently here legally and leave local authorities with the one off task of registering them. It is want Brits abroad want too.
Yours faithfully
Wiktor Moszczynski
Published in Evening Standard 6th March 2017

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Tony Blair and the Polish invasion

Letter to the Editor of "The New European"
from Wiktor Moszczynski, 48 Inglis Road, London W5 3RW, tel 0208 992 7816. tel 07786471833

Dear Sir,
Michael White's reflective article on Tony Blair's latest contribution to the Brexit debate ("Blair's real role: to temper romanticism with realism" (TNR 24/2/17-02/03/17) was wrong on the issues surrounding the influx of Polish and other East European workers in 2004. The arrival of these diligent workers with a positive work ethic was not in itself a mistake. On the contrary, it was overwhelmingly beneficial to the UK economy in order to help the sustain the boom at the time and largely popular with public opinion which then shared the "Labour values" of tolerance and multi-culturalism. As a result it was the UK and Ireland who get the best and most enterprising East European workers as opposed to France and Germany where almost as many workers arrived except that they stayed in the grey economy and paid no taxes. .
The real mistake at the time over these arrivals was threefold: firstly, an initial careless but dramatic miscalculation as to the numbers likely to arrive; secondly, a failure to link the National Insurance registration with the need to sign up with the Worker Registration Scheme, and thirdly, a failure until too late to invest in the social and administrative infrastructure in those parts of the country where the impact of the new arrivals left an excessive strain on local health, police and education services. These mistakes were all commented by me and others at the time and the failure to rectify them led to much of the distrust, anger and misunderstanding on the issue of EU immigration after the financial crisis blew up in the face of the economy, from which UK workers outside the big cities suffered the most. We are still paying that price today.
Yours faithfully
Wiktor Moszczynski .
Published 3rd March 2017