Do liberals hate Poles?

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Yes, according to Daniel Kawczynski, who blames the “liberal elites” – and in particular the BBC – for increased attacks on Poles in the UK.

If there is a widespread vendetta by the BBC against Poles, presumably the Poles themselves are up in arms about it? Well, not on Polish Forums they’re not. The Federation of Poles in Great Britain are rather more exercised about the distinctly un-liberal Daily Mail (a paper which has lost no time in jumping on Kawczynski’s bandwagon), yet strangely Kawczynski doesn’t mention this fact.

Kawczynski’s speech doesn’t actually cite a single example of what his complaint is, merely assuring his Honorable Friends that “I have undertaken a study of BBC coverage of immigration” (where is it then? Can’t find it on his website) and that MPs “would be amazed at the amount of BBC coverage that focuses on white, Christian Poles because it is politically correct to do so.” When someone alleges something as grave as this using Parliamentary privilege as a shield yet can’t even come up with a single anecdote, it is only reasonable to view such allegations with contempt.

Over at Open House, Andy McSmith raises some other points which illustrate how bizarre, even sinister, Kawczynski’s comments are in other ways. The thing that struck me is that in his claim that “9 out of 10 immigrants are not Polish” he appears to be confusing the concept of “immigrant” with that of “member of an ethnic minority”. No-one denies that there are a lot of people with brown skin in this country. They have made a big impact on our society (in my view an overwhelmingly positive one). But the rise of Eastern European shops and workers is a recent phenomenon and that’s why it has been getting a lot of airtime of late. Surely the role of news is, well, news – not history?

The biggest joke is how Kawczynski blames all this on “political correctness”. How is calling for a bank holiday to celebrate a specific ethnic minority and alleging victim status not political correctness? There’s an interesting debate on PC over at Lib Dem Voice; I suggest he goes and reads it.

What interests me most about this incident (tangent alert!) is Kawcynski’s allegations about the “liberal elite”. I’ve been meaning to comment on the Well Known Fact that the BBC has a “liberal” bias for quite some time now. This claim has been accepted by a number of people including Andrew Marr. Marr’s comments are particularly interesting because in my view he gets close to the truth, but doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head:

The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It’s a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias.

I would not disagree that the Beeb has a cultural, urban middle class bias. What I quibble with is the inclusion of the word “liberal.” As an habitual Today Programme listener, what strikes me every morning is quite how similar the editorialising of John Humphries and James Naughtie is to the Daily Mail’s.

The Today Programme’s particular obsessions are with bird-watching, poetry, why young people today are so rude, house prices, shares, most sports except football and anything Saint Lynne of Truss happens to be banging on about at any given moment. None of these are particularly liberal, some of them teeter on the illiberal side of things, but all of them are unremittingly urban, middle class and middle aged obsessions. I simply can’t fathom how a channel that has as its main political interviewers Humphries, Andrew Neill and the Brothers Dimblebum can be described as “liberal” but it is undeniable that it has a certain middle class bias.

These same biases are prevalent within the Daily Mail as well. The fact that the Beeb has a tendency to veer between the worst excesses of the Mail and the Guardian suggests that politically it has probably got the balance right but culturally is failing woefully.

What does all this have to do with Daniel Kawczynski? Not a great deal, except to suggest how empty his attacks on the “liberal elite” really are. Meanwhile, I suggest everyone goes and reads what James Oates has to say about Poles and Ukranians.

7 thoughts on “Do liberals hate Poles?

  1. It is not the ‘liberal elite’ that attack the Poles but the nearly all the media. On the local radio here today they were discussing having a ‘Polish day’ rather than a ‘British day’. That really demonstrates why the media, not the ‘liberal elite’ (whoever they may be).

    For any bright sparks that spots my Polish surname, my children are third generation and in their terms are a ‘quarter Polish’. The irony is the media have chased me for interviews pressuming from I am a Polish councillor! For those who know me that is far from the truth.

  2. Hang on a minute Susan: what’s so anti-Polish about a radio station debating having a “Polish Day” on the day that an MP of Polish descent proposes precisely that in the House of Commons?

    It strikes me that if they didn’t discuss this they would be accused equally of being anti-Polish. I’m not saying there aren’t sections of the media that have victimised the Poles (it’s all meat and potatoes for the Rothermere Press) but in the example you cite it does seem as if they couldn’t win either way.

  3. Sorry James, tiredness struck, the whole debate around ‘Polish Day’ turned into a witch hunt with calls to ‘send them back’ at times, it was not a great moment in local radio terms. I also had missed the bit where he had called for a ‘Polish day’ – I will get back in my box!

  4. Equally, I failed to appreciate that they were discussing this on talk radio and allowing the debate to be so one sided. Mea culpas all round.

  5. “No-one denies that there are a lot of people with brown skin in this country. They have made a big impact on our society (in my view an overwhelmingly positive one)”.
    Many people would disagree with you on this.

    I have lived and worked in Poland for some years and find them very hard working and with a great sense of humour. So who is undermining them in the media? Certainly the Today Programme have not been exactly positive and supportive of their case.

    Your listing of the Today Programmes “obsessions” is perverse and also totally at variance with their numerous critics – for the last 3 days their presenters have been acting as government whips when interviewing “rebels” on the 42 day detention issue.

  6. Many people would disagree with you on this.

    Of that I have no doubt, but so what?

    Certainly the Today Programme have not been exactly positive and supportive of their case.

    a) I would ask for evidence – it’s not so unreasonable is it? b) It isn’t the media’s job to be positive and supportive of any ethnic group but to be fair, balanced and honest.

    Your listing of the Today Programmes “obsessions” is perverse and also totally at variance with their numerous critics

    It certainly is pervese and that was sort of my point. And again, I’m sure there are lots of people out there who disagree with me, but so what? It doesn’t make them right.

    for the last 3 days their presenters have been acting as government whips when interviewing “rebels” on the 42 day detention issue.

    As convenient as it would be for me to agree with you there, and thus further undermine claims that BBC News is dominated by a “liberal” clique, I’m afraid I don’t recognise that caricature at all. It is the role of an interviewer to give a potential rebel a hard time. As long as they go on to also give the government minister a hard time, what is the problem?

    I’m ultimately more interested in the Polish immigrant’s experience of the media than some anonymong or an MP attempting to work his way up the greasy pole (no pun intended). Searching through the internet I can find lots of examples of Poles up in arms about the Daily Mail and yet no-one seems particularly fazed by the BBC. And even Biased BBC never mentioned this as a problem or even cited an example until Kawczynski opened his mouth. In fact the only reference I can find on BBBC about Eastern European immigrants are references to how the eeeevil BBC have downplayed the number of immigrants coming into the country.

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