Prince John Zylinski on why Polish communities have always been undervalued - even more so post-Brexit
- Credit: Photo credit: Chatham House, London via Foter.com / CC BY
Nigel Farage used mob tactics to hijack the vote on the UK referendum to leave or remain in the European Union.
Of all the politicians I've seen in my lifetime, he is the one that's changed the country the most, apart from Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill.
Farage has turned UKIP into Frankenstein's monster – he's done the traditional thing when you want a revolution to happen, he reached out to the mob.
After joining UKIP in 2006 he changed the way the party worked and started focusing on migrants – claiming they're changing the face of the country, that they are only here just to get benefits, to steal English jobs and cause traffic jams!
I wrote to him recently, asking his view on the Poles who are here. He wrote back to me and attached a signed photograph of himself, which is now proudly decorating my toilet!
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His great achievement is that he used the mob to win the referendum vote and Hitler did the same thing with the Nazis. I'm not saying Farage is Hitler, but what Farage did was find a gap in the political spectrum which was filled by nobody, especially by Labour. They were perceived as having failed their own constituents, their own traditional Labour voters who they were not standing up for. Labour had lost touch with the working class so Nigel Farage and UKIP went straight into that gap and the results were sensational.
When the Brexit vote was announced, newcomers to the UK were horrified, scared and upset. A lot of migrants felt severely unappreciated, as without certain groups, like the Poles, the country would be 20% worse off.
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Polish people have contributed massively to the economic state of the UK. Without them so many places would close – hospitals, banks, Starbucks, they would all go if these people weren't here.
One firm of accountants I know has 2,000 customers and a large proportion of them are Polish. On the morning of the result, they had 1,000 calls before lunch, from people who were so distressed, confused, horrified. It was a huge slap to the face. It was like they were told to 'F-off, we don't want you here, you're not welcome, leave'.
Well this is all going to change now as I'm standing up for Poles, which no one has ever done before. My father led a cavalry charge against the Nazis and this is my cavalry charge: To say what first-generation Poles would never have dared say – that we're grateful to be here but you should be grateful to have us too. Poles are hard-working and pay taxes, and in return all we get is a proverbial kick in the balls.
Another issue I'm not happy about is that there have been too many incidents of racist abuse since Brexit. One shocking event involved an eight-year-old schoolgirl, who was told to 'F-off back to Poland' by a classmate. Eight-year-olds are doing this to each other – where do they get it from, their parents?
Another horrific incident happened in a school, in an area where there was a very large UKIP vote. They all voted Leave and a 10-year-old Polish boy was beaten up by 20 English youngsters who ganged up on him.
In my opinion there appears to be double standards at work here. For example if you're gay, you can go to the police and report a hate crime with no material evidence, and the police will take it seriously. On the other hand, if you're Polish and white I don't think the police are giving us enough protection.
I'd also like to set the record straight regarding Polish immigrants coming into the country with criminal records. The fact is most of them don't commit any further crimes because they have no need to. They're thankful they can go straight into a stable job with a proper wage and not be paid a pittance.
The truth is that Poles that have criminal records in their own country become perfect model citizens over here. What's not to like? Statistics prove that crime rates regarding migrants have been going down successively for the last five years.
What people tend to forget is that migrants in the UK contribute £2billion in taxes a year. Yes, they use hospitals and schools but they bring in more than they take out.
The Polish community has had enough of being mistreated and this is partly why I'm setting up the organisation, 'Polish Heroes' – which is spearheading the attempt to really deal with these issues fundamentally post-Brexit.
Polish Heroes is a charity – that will convey how fantastic Polish people are and have been to the UK. They were heroes during the war, they helped Britain in the Battle of Britain and through their work ethic since the war.
It's been 70 years of outstanding hard graft, they work 60-70 hours a week and their work rate is second to none compared to English people and it has always been like that, ever since the 1950s, when the first wave of Poles came in after the war.
I've been brought up on stories where Poles would be working in factories and told 'you must not work that hard, otherwise we'll be out of a job'. I believe that they do not get the credit they deserve for the significant contribution they make to this great country.
In my opinion Poles should not be knocked or criticised because they're terrific people, hence the name of the charity, Polish Heroes. We're setting up advice centres, where they'll be able to get free legal advice.
We need to go out to English society much more with our message. Another very important example which I'm encouraging Poles to do, involving hundreds of people, is at our Polish shops. I want a Polish member of staff to go outside the shop with a tray, offering Polish food free of charge.
One thing that also needs to change is Polish people's view on politics. Poles don't vote, they don't get involved, even in polling. Election attendance is very low but particularly over here where people feel in a sense it's a foreign country. However, many have been here ten years, they've been paying their taxes, they've got strong feelings about things and I think they're realising that. They've got to vote no matter what, because otherwise, people like Nigel Farage and UKIP will eat them alive!
Other foreign communities have a voice, they've got councillors and so on. We've worked hard and kept our heads down, but that's totally not enough. Despite working extremely long hours every week, if you haven't got people in the media and in politics, this will be twisted against you – we're 'stealing English jobs'.
This is why we need a public presence and we need a public voice because otherwise other people's stereotype narratives take over.
The truth of it is, we helped save the country in the Battle of Britain, we've been helping it since the war and we will continue to do so.
Prince John Zylinski is a London-born Polish aristocrat who stood as an independent candidate in the 2016 London Mayoral Election. In 2015, he challenged Nigel Farage to a duel of swords.
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