Those Romanians and Bulgarians 141

One achievement of which I am very proud was my part in ensuring that the UK did not place restrictions on the right to free movement of the first EU Eastern European accession wave.  The arrival of so many Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, Latvians etc in the UK has been a brilliant social and cultural development and provided some support for an economy wrecked by the reckless greed of bankers.

There can be no more stark illustration of the tiny political space occupied by the major political parties and portrayed by the mainstream media as the only “serious” political opinion, than New Labour’s shrill contention that the bankers of RBS/Natwest should only be allowed 100% of salary as a bonus and not 200%.  Why not about 5% like other civil servants, which is what they are.

To return to the subject, free movement of peoples is a great thing.  I do not want governments to tell people where they can and cannot go.  It is wonderful that I can wake up tomorrow and decide to settle in Trieste or Gorzow Wielkopolski, without permission from anybody.  Don’t take it for granted, think about it – isn’t it wonderful?

My role?  I was First Secretary Political and Economic in the British Embassy in Warsaw when the question of our attitude to free movement on accession was decided, and I produced a paper on the subject.  I researched it quite assiduously, including a meeting with the five Romany Kings of Poland in the castle at Oswiecim – Auschwitz.  My conclusion was that there would be no mass migration, but many young Polish people might typically come for a few years to work and earn money to start a home back in Poland.  My paper was influential and I was much congratulated.  Incidentally, I very much underestimated how many Polish people would come, but I am unrepentant – in fact extremely happy about it.

When I first achieved serious political consciousness, in my teen years, I should have been horrified if you had told me that in my lifetime the government would defend the receipt of intelligence from torture and indefinite detention without trial, and much educated opinion would agree.  I would not have believed the government would pay for poster vans going round with signs telling immigrants to go home.  And I would not have believed that some poor Romanian chap arriving in the UK would have been hounded by reporters- to general approbation – because of his ethnicity.

The fundamental worries about Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants do have one rational basis.  More than any other EU states, Romania and Bulgaria were admitted despite the fact that they blatantly did not meet the acquis communitaire across the full range of economic and governance measures.  The decision to pretend they did was fundamentally dishonest, and that will always have future ill-effects.  Romania and Bulgaria are less developed, worse governed and therefore more prone to mass economic emigration.

While I deprecate the dishonesty of pretending they met the acquis, however I did and do support their membership of the EU.  It was the right strategic move.  An approach that said, “you do not meet the acquis, but we will admit you to membership, now let’s work out the consequences” would have had better success.  The EU’s great mistake at present is not offering a fast track to very early membership to Ukraine on a similar basis.

In a couple of decades Bulgaria and Romania will have caught up.  I expect that, because of the difficulties of the societies from which they come in terms of crime and governance, it is not unlikely that there will be a larger proportion of social problems from these new immigrants than from other recent Eastern European immigration, and doubtless we will see these trumpeted in the racist press.  But in the long run, it is another great addition to our country and increase to our own freedoms.  I must go look at the countryside of Eastern Romania.





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141 thoughts on “Those Romanians and Bulgarians

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  • old mark

    You may wish to ignore the impact of the mass immigration of Anglo Saxons that gave us much of our language and culture I don’t

    I don’t ‘ignore’ this fact ESLO, but I think it is an utterly false analogy on your part to compare the dark age wanderings of assorted Germanic tribes around the North Sea with present day migrations of large numbers of citizens from one nation state to another.

  • Clark

    No, Anon. You and others who call babies ‘Muslim’ contribute to the thing you regard as a problem. You are prejudging people on the basis of accidents of birth, and by assigning ethnic identity to children (who have no choice) you’re reinforcing the very thing you claim to oppose.

  • Anon

    Absolute tosh Clark. You are so buried in denial it’s hilarious to behold. People from Pakistan and Somalia have no regard for your left-liberal dross about not assigning children a Muslim identity by “accidents of birth”. And who can blame them? You are assigning liberal Western ideas to Muslims that are wholly alien to most of them. I have spent half my life in Muslim countries and you need to recognise that in a Muslim-majority country your type will be the first up.

  • ESLO


    I’m afraid you are creating a somewhat emotive strawman

    I don’t believe any country maintains a culture and identity frozen in aspic – they all develop and evolve over time. The UK certainly has, and our “magpie” tendency to pick up from other cultures has been one of strengths throughout history. It is those that resist change that are really denying our natural identity and are most likely to end up fascism and other political creeds associated with nationalism. Orwell made this very point in the Lion and the Unicorn – which the none too bright John Major when quoting about old maids cycling to evensong and warm beer . I don’t want to see anything worthwhile from our past being dissolved – I want to keep it, encourage and develop. But that said there are a lot of things from the past that I would like to see the back – of. There are also some things that are being introduced into our society from elsewhere that I do not like (and as I get older and more intolerant I see even more – but I suspect that this is a factor of age rather than a wave of immigration).

    Rather than focusing on what you see as the people you see as responsible for change (i.e immigrants and Muslims (most of whom are no longer immigrants)) perhaps you should focus on what exactly you think they are destroying in our culture and identity that you believe is worth keeping. My guess is that a lot of Muslims may actually agree with many items on your personal list – and would actually be supportive given half a chance. Sure some Muslims have ideas that you, I and most people would find totally objectionable – but I could say the same of Daily Mail readers (and I daresay you have a similar view of Guardian readers) – but we do have institutions and ways of working that allow such conflicts to be resolved. Yes they may have to work harder than in the past – but then we need to make them work, rather than say it is all too difficult and retreat to our battlelines and Daily Mail editorials. Sure things have to be done to encourage assimilation and their need to be changes made to the infrastructure – but these things will not go away by resorting to all the usual rhetoric or ven by closing our borders, even if we could do so.

    I don’t believe we are changing into a Muslim country – if anything I believe that we are as a whole becoming less attached to religion and more secular (and in my view that is a good thing)

    There is of course just a complete ostrich in the sand attitude to dealing with the root cause of the problem – which is why should people want to move in the first place. Not our problem just is not an appropriate response.

  • Clark

    Anon, I have lived in Bradford, in the areas with a high proportion of population of Asian origin and/or descent. There is a noticeable difference between the actual immigrant population and their descendants who grew up in the UK. You might call these descendants ‘Muslims’, but only in the same way that someone in another country might refer to me as ‘Christian’, when in fact I’m an atheist.

  • Clark

    ESLO, 6:30 pm

    “There is of course just a complete ostrich in the sand attitude to dealing with the root cause of the problem – which is why should people want to move in the first place.”

    I note that the papers that stress the ‘risks’ of immigration are the very same media outlets that go on about how important it is to keep the UK currency ‘strong’. They never mention that higher currency value promotes immigration.

  • Anon

    Utter, utter crap, Clark. A noticeable difference? You are having a laugh, right? Sure, many of these Bradfordians may not be 5-a-day Muslims, but do they integrate in any meaningful way with the non-Muslim population?

  • Anon

    We need some honest answers here: do those who support mass-immigration actually have any arguments to offer in favour? Or is it that they are merely opposing what they perceive to be “Little Englander” racism against foreigners?

  • noggindanog

    Its all about cheap labor.Modern day slavery.We don’t really care about them or their culture as long as they save companies a few bob.
    Why has Europe not succeeded in making these people feel comfortable in their own countries?
    Because the EU is a fucked up idea.Like a game of Risk, Van Rompuy and Barroso collect territory like madmen.
    Ashton gave us a glimpse of things to come. Europe just sent 500 combat soldiers to aid colonial France in CAR. We really care,about mineral wealth and power.

  • Mary

    We have had the Resident Inviligator. Now comes the Resident Interrogator.

    What I think is my business. However I answered, you and the others would have some acid targeted comment to make.

  • Clark

    Anon, 6:52 pm:

    ” do they integrate in any meaningful way with the non-Muslim population?”

    Yes, very much so. Most had jobs, some had partners from other backgrounds. Some supported the local football teams. Many ran local shops. Nearly all of them spoke with (modern) Yorkshire accents. Some came to the dance parties I helped to put on. The local kids generally all played together, oblivious to any supposed differences.

    Things deteriorated after 2001, 9/11 and the wave of racism that spread across the UK.

    Integration is a two-way business. Are you doing your bit?

  • Mary

    The attempted citizen’s arrest was not theatre. I suggest that ‘Twiggy’ is well informed and must be very brave to have accosted the war criminal like that. Good on him.

    Note that the guards were downstairs. They had not thought of a member of the staff getting to Blair. We pay for them – £250k pa. When I attended David Wakelin’s trial (he was the man who emerged from behind Lord Leveson at the Royal Courts of Justice in the hacking inquiry) I was distinctly unimpressed with the calibre of the police personnel who guard Blair. Their evidence was skimpy and poorly delivered. They had not even had the nous to see that that there was an unlocked door leading to stairs to an unguarded corridor into the court which David L-Wakelin used to enter.

    David Lawley Wakelin now has a criminal conviction.

    BLiar does not, so far.

  • Clark

    Anon, my argument is in favour of free movement of people anywhere in the world. If I imaging a perfect world, it’s impossible to imagine that anyone would be restricted from residing anywhere on the basis of their colour or ethnicity. If you believe in equality, such restrictions are just morally wrong.

    That said, I don’t advocate instant abolition of all immigration control. Broad economic equality is needed before that could work.

  • Clark

    Mary, I call the citizens arrests “theatre” because no one is expecting the UK legal authorities to back it up by taking Blair into custody.

    It’s not theatre in the sense of it all being set up by one organisation, both arrest and lack of subsequent legal follow-up. From Twiggy Garcia’s point of view, it’s not theatre at all. He could have been assaulted by the bodyguards, arrested, charged, or had his property damaged or confiscated.

  • Mary

    I wasn’t getting at you Clark. Sorry if it came over like that.

    I call the Chilcot Inquiry ‘theatre’ btw although some believe that it will find against Blair. Apart from its uselessness, it has cost the taxpayers dearly. Another Iraq Inquiry costs for the financial year 2012 to 2013

    The Iraq Inquiry has published the final expenditure for the financial years 2009/10, 2010/11 and 2011/12. The expenditure for 2012/13 is shown below. The total expenditure since 2009 is £7,479,400.


  • Jay

    Migration or not it needs to work.
    As most do everybody fairly well gets on. If we all work for ourselves, each other the system and most of all the planet then we will be getting some where.

    Idleness should be helped but individuals have the right to be such as is now but we need to provisions to help people get into work for the cause.

    An increase in minimum wage and a closing of the wage gap would benefit the economy and restrictions on overseas assets held by residents would be a notable improvement.

    The state should work for all people equally and at present that is not happening.

    What we can do to help is work for each other too.

  • Resident Dissident

    Perhaps those who are asking what we get out of immigration should ask what it would do to our export trade and the overseas operations of British companies if we were to start to enforce barriers on peoples freedom of movement. Why should these countries allow free movement of capital and businesses when we restrict the movement of their citizens. All the economic evidence suggests that trade contributes to economic growth rather than the reverse.

    Didn’t we get all of the benefits of Empire out of countries from which they see as the source of much of the mass immigration – perhaps we had some obligations as a result of all the benefits we derived?

    As to what contributions Muslims can make to our culture I can think of many – but lets start with the food, attitudes to charity and the needy, literature (the great Salman Rushdie came from a Muslim family), different forms of music and poetry, some of the ideas in Islamic finance (which I’m sure could have helped with our casino banking problem), attitudes to education that we have lost etc. etc. Sure there are negative things – but as ESLO pointed out that is what successful cultures do – they take the good and reject the bad.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    From Mary, this :

    “What I think is my business”


    An interesting thought from someone who posts so frequently on such a wide range of subjects.

    Would I be far off the mark if I rephrased that to read something like the following:

    “I express my thoughts and opinions by providing snippets and quotes from the media and various other sources, but please do not expect me to respond to anyone who questions the bien-fondé, accuracy or pertinence of anything I have provided cuz it wozn’t me wot said it, honest, Guv” ?

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    “We have had the Resident Inviligator. Now comes the Resident Interrogator.”

    “Comes” as in “immigrates”?

    Surely not – we are all Residents here (legally, I should imagine)

    And there is, surely, lots of room in this fair Isle and on this even fairer Blog for many residents, be they Resident Invigilators, Interrogators, Moaners, Denigrators, Slanderers, Coiners, Mummers, Goodthinkers and so on?

  • BrianFujisan

    Someone ( NOT thee Someone ) up thread was asking about the O.T subject of Assad = Syria….

    u.s Secretary of State Kerry insisted the U.S. had solid intelligence on the locations of the Syrian government’s launch sites used in the attack, thus justifying a U.S. military retaliation which was only narrowly averted. Now, those U.S. government’s claims have collapsed

    KERRY – “And read for yourselves the verdict, reached by our intelligence community about the chemical weapons attack the Assad regime inflicted on the opposition and on opposition controlled or contested neighborhoods in the Damascus suburbs on the early morning of August 21st.”

    KERRY – ” Our intelligence community has carefully reviewed and re-reviewed information regarding this attack. And I will tell you it has done so more than mindful of the Iraq experience. We will not repeat that moment. Accordingly, we have taken unprecedented steps to declassify and make facts available to people who can judge for themselves.” ( Facts made available….utter shite )

    Kerry – “Well, we know that the Assad regime has the largest chemical weapons programs in the entire Middle East. We know that the regime has used those weapons multiple times this year, and has used them on a smaller scale but still it has used them against its own people, including not very far from where last Wednesday’s attack happened” ( Endless evil lies)

    KERRY “We know where the rockets were launched from, and at what time. We know where they landed, and when. We know rockets came only from regime-controlled areas and went only to opposition-controlled or contested neighborhoods.”

    KERRY “Instead of being tucked safely in their beds at home, we saw rows of children lying side by side, sprawled on a hospital floor, all of them dead from Assad’s gas and surrounded by parents and grandparents who had suffered the same fate.”

    KERRY ” The United States government now knows that at least 1,429 Syrians were killed in this attack, including at least 426 children. Even the first-responders, the doctors, nurses and medics who tried to save them, they became victims themselves. We saw them gasping for air, terrified that their own lives were in danger.
    This is the indiscriminate, inconceivable horror of chemical weapons. This is what Assad did to his own people.”

    ( LIES Lies Lies, the evil shit just goes on and on – @

    Kerry – “We know this”.
    ” these are facts”

    Secretary of State John Kerry misled the American people last summer when he assured them that the U.S. government knew for a fact that the Syrian government was responsible for the Aug. 21 Sarin gas attack outside Damascus, an incident that killed several hundred people and nearly prompted a U.S. military assault.

    A NEW REPORT BY TWO AMERICAN WEAPONS SPECIALISTS, entitled “Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence in the Damascus Nerve Agent Attack,” makes clear that the case presented by Kerry and the Obama administration was scientifically impossible because the range of the key rocket carrying Sarin was less than a third of what the U.S. government was claiming.

  • OldMark

    ‘Perhaps those who are asking what we get out of immigration should ask what it would do to our export trade and the overseas operations of British companies if we were to start to enforce barriers on peoples freedom of movement.’

    Hmmm…thanks for that pearl of wisdom RD. Did you have Japan in mind when coining that gem ? After all, they probably have the most restrictive immigration policy in the developed world. Are you seriously suggesting their export trade, and the operations of their overseas subsidiaries, suffers as a consequence ?

  • Daniel Rich

    @ ESLO,

    Dude, when I put up that sign in the mall 2 weeks ago ‘Wanted. Clairvoyant. You know where to find me.’ you didn’t call. Act accordingly.

    As to others: the ‘hot air balloon show’ has started early this year.

    Btw, does the UK have the equivalent of ‘Gated Communities?’

  • Daniel Rich

    @ BrianFujisan,

    Q: KERRY “We know where the rockets were launched from,

    R: Yes. East, North, West and South from Damascus. [Donny-boy]

    Have you ever watched Negroponte’s body language, when Powell delivered his now infamous UN speech?

    Best watched with the volume all the way down to 0 [Negroponte’seated to the right behind Powell] @

    Let me know what your impression is [provided you have 1 and wish to share it, of course].

  • Mary

    From a review of that outstanding exhibition of May Ayres’ stunning sculptures, God’s Wars, that I saw in Bethnal Green.

    ‘The sinister figure of John Negroponte, allegedly having been responsible for unspeakable atrocities as US Ambassador to Honduras in the 1980’s and whose arrival as Ambassador in Iraq in 2003 coincided with them there, slumps, pointy faced and dead eyed in the foyer, as the worn, ancients steps are mounted to the exhibition.’

    ‘Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, QC., has a special place. He is kneeling, hands clasped, in immaculate black dress dinner suit, white shirt and bow tie. Appropriately, two faced, one pious, smug, the other manic, demonic. He kneels on a wasteland of bodies, faces, despairing, reposed, bewildered, entombed, enwombed – dead.

    Behind him, from an ancient iron stairwell, fixed to the hewn stones, silent witness to near two centuries, hangs a noose.

    The title is: “ … and by the way. God Bless you all … “‘

  • Mary

    A link to the audio of Crossing Continents, the episode entitled
    Uzbekistan:Searching for Googoosha
    is below.

    The British Embassy partnered Gulnara in some charity. The representative speaks at 12’45”

    The current incumbent at the Embassy is George Edgar.

    There is a brand new vacancy there if anyone is interested!

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