Letter to the Editor of "The New European"
from Wiktor Moszczynski, 48 Inglis Road, London W5 3RW, tel 0208 992 7816. tel 07786471833
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.
Wiktor Moszczynski .
Published 3rd March 2017