Welshman: O ble ‘dych chi’n dod? (Where are you from?)
Me: Llanbedr Pont Steffan.
Welshman: Yn wreiddiol? (Originally?)
Me: O Wlad Pwyl. (From Poland.)
Welshman: Wir? ‘Ych chi’n siarad Cymraeg! Da iawn ichi! (Really? And you speak Welsh! Good for you!)

Englishman: Where are you from?
Me: Lampeter, Wales.
Englishman: But originally?
Me: Have a guess!
Englishman: France?
Me: No, Poland.
Englishman: Oh…

As a matter of fact, Great Britain does not conceal the fact that they rely mainly on immigrants for workforce. It is immigrants that work everywhere, from toilet cleaning to treating people and animals. And that is how it has been for quite a long time: 🙂

16th and 18th c. – Great Britain welcomes Huguenots fleeing religious persecution in France.

1840s. – Great famine in Ireland forces the Irish to look for work in England..

1880-1910 – Jewish people look for asylum in Great Britain to escape racial persecution in the former Russian Empire.

1948 – Labour shortages to rebuild the country after World War II, so Great Britain invites workers from West Indies to come and work.

1950s – Labour shortages in various spheres of industry; Great Britain invites drivers from West Indies; the North of England and the Midlands recruit workers from India and Pakistan, later Bangladesh, to work for textile and engineering companies and settle in Britain.

late 1960s/early 70s – Great Britain pulls the plug on immigrants. There is no strict restrictions for countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

1972 – Great Britain accepts people of Indian origin who are forced to leave Uganda.

late 1970s – Great Britain helps people from Vietnam. Over 25,000 refuges from South East Asia accepted to settle in the UK.

1980s – Great Britain accepts groups of immigrants from the USA, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand.

1990s – Great Britain accepts nationals from the former Soviet Union after its dissolution.

2004 – Labour shortages still in progress. Great Britain accepts immigrants from countries that have just joined the European Union. Of course, under certain conditions. 🙂

Immigration LintheUK 2

Life in the UK, TSO 2007.

Those are the most significant dates and immigrant groups, based on Life in the UK,  published by TSO (The Stationery Office) in 2007, particularly Chapter 2: A Changing Society – Migration to Britain. What is interesting, the chapter begins with an opening sentence:

“Many people living in Britain have their origins in other countries.”

Personally, I think, looking on some ‘British’ sounding names (like, say, politicians: Dadabhai Naoroji MP or Sadiq Khan – the mayor of London), this sentence should rather be:

“Many British people have their origins in other countries.” 

I will deliberately not mention what the native Brits hold a grudge for against immigrants (especially Polish people). I am being careful here when using the word ‘native,’ as the second generation of (let’s say) Indian people regard themselves as full-fledged citizens and under Nationality/Ethnicity they put British Indian (I know it from experience). Does the thought of putting British Polish ever crosses the mind of a Pole who has been granted British citizenship?

In a few years’ time, will our children, born in the UK, be accepted by the British like Pakistani’s children are? The aggression after the Brexit referendum is directed mainly at Polish immigrants. Perhaps there is a reason – we do not bring any cultural enrichment to this country, as we have values, religion, clothing style, food and culture more similar to the British ones than immigrants from Arabic countries… 😉

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1 Comment on "Immi-gracious"

  1. Stephanie Tulej | 21/07/2016 at 03:05 | Reply

    It was all very well when people were boasting about their very cheap Polish decorators, cleaners etc and admiring their hardworking ethics! Another factor is that the British workforce has gradually lost traditional skills with which many Polish workers arrive e.g. a local large garage manager told me that when one of his British mechanics had to delay completion of a repair to order a part, his 2 Polish employees just quietly made required parts.
    For various reasons, either economic or social, governments in both countries have created this situation. How frustrating and enraging it must be, to be skilled and/or well-educated and qualified, not to be able to make a decently paid life within your country of origin?

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