Monday, May 05, 2008

The Straight Talking of Poland's New Prime Minister

The new Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, is a straight talking guy. Imagine if Gordon Brown or George Bush uttered these words about their own countries...
We have no oil and gas. We don't have high tech. Our centers of development, are far, far behind others. We will never be an extraordinary tourist attraction. Poland is quite a mediocre country in some regards. The only natural resource that we have, and with which we can compete, is freedom.
The profile and interview with Mr Tusk in TIME Magazine make for fascinating reading. He puts to rest the growing myth in leftist circles that Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan had nothing to do with the end of the cold war.

What lessons do you take from Walesa and other leaders?
Our heroes of the imagination were Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. They symbolized a tough attitude to the Soviet Union and they revitalized the idea of leading with freedom and traditional values, which seemed then to be dying out.

50 comments:

verity said...

The only natural resource that we have, and with which we can compete, is freedom.

I don't agree. They also have the Polish people, who are universally respected and admired.

asquith said...

I found the Polish elections fascinating. A contest between a social and economic liberal and a social and economic authoritarian. Obviously I backed the former. I'd have liked to see whether any Tories were on the other side! Maybe the Tombstone group?

I might go and look on ConHome when I come back from my walk.

Man in a Shed said...

Based on the poles I've met if they were selling shares in Poland plc I'd be buying.

Anonymous said...

Surely one of their main resources is their people.

Hard workers and the women are on the main better looking than our home grown ham beasts.

Chris Paul said...

The terrible twosome probably extended the cold war did they not?

Their being idols to this guy hardly makes them the architects of glasnost and perestroika.

Jumbled thinking Iain, again.

Iain Dale said...

Oh you poor deluded fool.

StephenS said...

Well Mrs Thatcher saved us from the unions too.Ask anybody and that's what they'll tell you.I fear that they'll try to tag Bliar with the 'Irish Peace' tag but with Claire Short stating on Al Jazeera that he and Bush may face war crimes trials and enough 'common sense' evidence that he lied us into Iraq I don't think they'll ever overcome people's dislike and distrust of him to make it stick.We just have to keep reminding people it was John Major who really got things started on the Irish front.(I only hope that the next Conservative Government Iraq enquiry brings enough of the facts out before he becomes President of Europe).Blair's a dangerous narcissist who needs to be kept as far away from power as possible.

verity said...

Chris Paul - an extended period of silence from you would be much appreciated.

Yak40 said...

Exactly.
Mrs Thatcher, President Reagan and the Pope did more to end the Cold War than anyone else. However if you read lefty "history" and/or biographies e.g Healy's monument to his ego, you'll see only that it was good ol' Gorby wot done it.

Gorbachev started some liberalisation of the sclerotic Soviet system but it got away from him, a kind of political thermal runaway !

Matthew Pain said...

Have pity on him Iain, must be hard to be a NuLab mouthpiece these days

Anonymous said...

just reading about Prezza and wondered if anyone knew who the current occupier of Dorneywood is?

Anonymous said...

The "Cold War" was an Orwellian hoax.

IanPP said...

It makes me wonder why on earth having just gained their freedom from the Soviet Union, they are rushing headlong at breakneck speed to be a part of another totalitarian state called the EU.

http://tinyurl.com/5ybmx9

Gallimaufry said...

Yes, Lady Thatcher and President Reagan did extend the Cold War but they enabled freedom to win. I'm sure in an alternative past Michael Foot and Jimmy Carter would have enabled a speedy end to it and have no doubt that the new London Mayor would still be called Boris - but he would be a fluent Russian speaker.

not chris paul said...

whereas if we never heard from you again Verity it would be too soon

Jamie said...

thought you may like this joke i found on the interweb:

At an international medical conference, four doctors were discussing the state of medicine in their respective countries.

The Israeli doctor said, 'Medicine in my country is so advanced, we can take a kidney out of one person, put it in another, and have him looking for work in six weeks.'

The German doctor said, 'That's nothing! In Germany, we can take a lung out of one person, put it in another, and have him looking for work in four weeks.'

The Russian doctor said, 'In my country medicine is so advanced, we can take half a heart from one person, put it in another, and have them both looking for work in two weeks.'

The English doctor, not to be outdone, said 'Hah!. We can take an arsehole out of Scotland, put him in 10 Downing Street and have half the country looking for work within twenty-four hours!

well lodz you said...

what an ill informed attitude to the Poles. Dont know where to start. Sexist, racist, homophobic.

The myth that Poles (in UK) have a good work ethic is due purely to the fact that in terms of economic buying power (in Poland) a fish filleter in Scotland is being paid the equivalent of £20-30 an hour. If you paid those sort of wages to a Brit you wouldnt have much trouble filling those jobs either.

Ask your average Pole what they think of the demise of 2-3m of their fellow Jewish countrymen in the nazi death camps and you might hear something very ugly indeed.

One only hopes that some of the 500,00 who have spent some time in the UK in the last few years return with enlightened attitudes and drag them out of their obsession with the One True Pope (the former Bishop of Crackow) and into the 21st century.

Why dont you go and visit (it really is a beautiful country) with your partner Iain and then tell us what you think.

javelin said...

The benefits of Freedom flow from inside our the heads (think ideas and innovation). The left wing like to control behavour from outside our heads (think fines and tax benefits).

The left-can never imagne the benefits of freedom for that reason. Left wing politics is always negative and harmful.

It's easier to motivate behaviour from inside peoples heads than to control their behavour from the outside.

Gordon Brown likes to think he is the center of a central economy where the distribution of taxes flow from his benevolent self to the poor and oppressed of this world. The reality is he taxes the hard working and gives it to lazy scroungers.

Cameron needs to crack down on disablity money - the real disabled people should be getting a 50% rise and the fraudulant disabled people should be forced to take a job.

GM said...

If you want a perceptive account of the Cold War, which also conveys the full impact of Thatcher, Reagan amd John Paul II in ending it, you could do no better than buy John Lewis Gaddis' 'Cold War'. It sadly doesn't surprise me that those who dislike the Thatcherite domestic agenda cannot separate it from her foreign policy success. I'm a TRG Tory who has his differences with Thatcherism, but you cannot deny her importance to the ending of the Cold War.

lodz said...

sorry, meant Poles sexist, racist, homophobic. Not you Iain.

janek&me said...

as one of your respondents has suggested when me and my Polish bf and me travel around Poland I either book twin rooms (ok in Warsawa or Gdansk, a Westerner and Pole travelling on business ok) or single in the provinces when he pretends to be my local Polish guide (next day when he appears at breakfast, "he drank too much, had to stay the night on the floor"). And this is an EU country? And gay clubs, whether your thang or not are hidden down dark alleyways without signage.

Anonymous said...

Poland should be a tourist attraction. Cracow, for one, is stunning. BUT the Poles we spoke to seemed to think we should be impressed that Spielberg filmed 'Schindler's List' there. I don't mind their Catholicism, I'm not qualified to address their attitudes to homosexuals, but their attitudes to Jews do seem a mite disturbing.

maciej said...

is very hard for gay people here in Poland Ian. my friend tells me you talk our country on your blog. all people okay. just take a while.

you are always welcome visit!!!!

Anonymous said...

"Ask your average Pole what they think of the demise of 2-3m of their fellow Jewish countrymen in the nazi death camps and you might hear something very ugly indeed."

This indeed is true, and I found that many of the recent arrivals, who hail from all four corners of that country, have very narrow minded and bigoted views on many things, so much so that as a child of emigre Poles, I find the newcomers highly embarrassing and can't wait for them to leave.

Anonymous said...

"It makes me wonder why on earth having just gained their freedom from the Soviet Union, they are rushing headlong at breakneck speed to be a part of another totalitarian state called the EU."

This, unfortunately, seems to be par for the course for Poland.

With the exception of the inter war years, when they were ruled by the quasi-military dictator Pilsudski, they have had their asses systematically kicked by all their neighbours for many centuries. It is therefore wholly ironic that they, like lemmings, are ready to rush into becoming an outlying province of Emperor Baroso's new Holy Roman Empire.

strapworld said...

Iain, I am sorrybut you have given Brown his big idea!

I have received the first draft of his big speech to be given at the Notting Hill Primary School in the morning.

Prelim greetings...such as Hello, thank you for inviting me!

It gives me great pleasure etc etc etc.....

Ladies and Gentlemen of our great nation.

Can I be honest with you all. We are broke. The Chancellor has told me the bad news this morning and I had to sack him for incompetence.

I have asked Hazel Blears to get on with the job of getting this country into the black again.

The only natural resource we have is coal oh and north sea oil oh and gas oh and tin and oh err a superb farming community.

We gave the world its greatest inventions, our engineers taught the world. The ungrateful nations are refusing to send me aid!

We are the decendants of those great explorers,navigators, engineers of yesteryear. They created the British Empire. They took Christianity and Democracy to the world.

We are now a laughing stock. We can no longer feed ourselves due to politicians linking in to the Common Agricultural Policy. Our farmers are paid NOT to farm. Our once great Industrial base has crumbled. We are a nation without any foundation on which to build, we have been left in a total mess by, yes you have guessed it..ME.

I am sorry or we the government are sorry. I know how you are feeling. I speak to many people when I visit all parts of the Country. You can rely on me to pull us all out of the shite I have put you in.

Stand by Me! I am the one!

Noting the role of unions in smashing a nasty regime said...

Right wing atlanticist Polish politician praises Reagan and Thatcher. Wow! The quality of news on this blog is nothing short of a public service.

Anonymous said...

Iain, you and your partner wouldnt even be spat on in Poland - you'd be beaten up. Probably by the police. Grow up mate. I know a Polish teacher who wanted a gay guy to come and talk to his students about being gay and he was told if he did he would be sacked.

Adrian Yalland said...

He is cleearly underselling his country. I think Poland is an amazing country - and set to boom. It is a great place to visit, has as many beautiful places as any of its neighbours, and the beer, food and music is fab.

The people are generally freindly, they are not embittered, and I like them a lot.

The only thing the service industry needs to learn is to teach the public facing staff to smile more.

Adrian Yalland said...

Chris Paul - is your head stuck up your arse, or in the sand? either way, you aint seeing straight nmate!

Anonymous said...

Strapworld - if you are going to mock the Slavic peoples then drop articles. Its the sine qua non of slavic speech. You silly man.

Ross said...

Larry Chomstein makes a good case that it was actually Jimmy Carter who won the cold war:

"The French word for "I'm your bitch", d�tente with the Soviets was the dreamchild of Henry Kissinger and Tricky Dick Nixon. But it was future nobel laureate, Jimmy Carter, who perfected it to an artform. When the Soviets began rattling their nuclear sabres in the 70's, Carter cut national defense in order to make us seem less threatening. When the Soviets appeared unmoved by his overtures of peace, Carter offered them an olive branch in the form of the Panama Canal, Nicaragua, Taiwan, Ethiopia, Korea, Yemen, Angola, Kampuchea, and Afghanistan. He was in the process of handing them all of Eastern Europe when he was cruelly tossed out of office by the Moral Majority. However, Carter's refusal to confront the USSR set the wheels in motion for its eventual collapse. Lured into a false sense of superiority, the Soviets overextended themselves, spreading their influence across the globe in much the same way the Roman Empire did. If allowed to continue on such a course, the Soviet Union would quietly fade away in just a few hundred years. All Reagan did was speed up the process by forcing the "evil empire" into an arms race."

Adrian Yalland said...

Can't comment on the average Pole's attitude to homosexuality, but I was in Crakow three weeks ago (and am definitely going back - it is beautiful - even more so that Prague), and they seemed genuinely in touch with their Jewish history. we visited Kosher restaurants, went to several synagogues and walked around the Jewish quarter with a Yamoulke/Kippa on, and didn't feel at all uncomfortable.

The only dissapointing thing was the sheer number of people visiting Aushwitz, which made it feel like a tourist attraction rather than a place of memorial, learning, grieving and somewhere were people go to say Kadish. I half expected to see a McDonald's in the car park!

Auschwitz-Birkenau is not at all thought out. You can park your car right outside the rail way entrance, which really detracts from the atmosphere of somewhere which has to be one of the most chilling and cursed places on earth.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Polish PM . . . it IS incredibly mediocre (verging on the down right dull, grey & awfully unapplealing) . . why do you think that the majority of the population can't wait to come over here? (Lucky, lucky US!!!)

killemallletgodsortemout said...

Talking of Poles, where's stan the boy plumber?

Gone home, I suppose, fed up with the immigrants.

dobby said...

Adrian,
pace - but I had a Polish partner and spent a lot of time in Poland. Of course they are smart enough to not be antisemitic publicly but unfortunately pretty much most Poles you meet privately are. It's an incredibly sad thing. I dont pretend to understand it but the number of comments I got to the effect that it was a good thing that there are no longer any Jews in Poland is awful. I am not sure if there is a divide between older and younger Poles on this issue. It is certainly true that after WW2 there were a few surviving Jews who returned to the towns they came from in Poland and were killed (post the end of the war) by the gentile Poles. There is a real denial in that country about their attitudes to other races. Its quite hard to talk to them about it though.

Anonymous said...

does the polish president paint a picture of what would be RUMP of the UK when Scotland leaves ??????

Adrian Yalland said...

Dobby - I had heard about the returning Jews being murdered. I know that there was a lot of antisemitism before the Nazis invaded too. The whole region has a history of Pogroms which date back hundreds of years. Antisemitism wasn't invented by Hitler, and it certainly hasn't died with him!

But it is such a shame that it does (judging from the comments) still seem to be so prevalent. It is frightening that parties like the BNP are also gaining strength.

Maybe it was because I was a tourist that I was made to feel fairly welcome. That said, I didn't see any overt signs of modern Jewish culture - certainly not Orthodox culture at least.

dobby said...

Adrian, a question I ask is - given the amazing contribution of emigre Polish Jews to American culture - from Woody Allen to errm Gwyneth Paltrow I have asked my Jewish friends - what was going on in those communities in Eastern Europe? It must have been amazing, a real pity that there seems to be no surviving record of eastern european Jewish culture (and I dont include "Yentl"! Actually I do - I love Streisand). For Yaweh's sake without the Jews and gays where the f***k would modern Western culture be?

Anonymous said...

God, I like the Poles

Adrian Yalland said...

Dobby. Interesting observation. And you haven't mentioned Roman Polanksky et al. The list is endless.

I don't know why although sociologists might have an answer.

I have a theory though! The thing about Jewish culture is that it is steeped in music and the arts. Despite being fairly introspective people to those outside the community - European Jewish communities had great poets, romantics, musicians, comics, restaurants and real characters etc. Jewish communities were vibrant places to live.

Also, many Jews are natural performers. I think that a lot of this is based in the fact that rabbinical culture has always encouraged debate and argument - mainly in the public arena. Jews were always encouraged to say their bit!

Also, Jewish worship, although usually liturgical (especially in Orthodox worship) is real theater. If you have ever heard a Hazzan (or Cantor) singing and leading a choir in worship - is just beautiful and moving.

Finally, it was fairly impossible to be a private Jew in the context of the Jewish community - you had your bris, then your bar Mitzvahs, you went to schul every Shabat, you had the holy days - Yom Kippur etc, you probably spoke Yiddish as your first language, and the national language of the country you lived in - in other words, there was an enormous amount that Jewish communities shared with each other, mostly because of a millenia of persecution drives people into this kind of life.

I think that there is perhaps something unique in Jewish culture which stems from adversary (I suspect this is where the dry sense of humour comes from), as well as Jewish theology - the relationship that an individual Jew has with the Almighty - puts the world in a certain perspective.

I'd be interested to hear what a sociologist says about this.

asquith said...

That's something interesting you've touched upon there, Adrian. It's always interesting to go to a religious service in a foreign country. I've been to Russian and Greek Orthodox services and really enjoyed them. Though they sometimes assume you're being disrespectful, because that's how other tourists behave.

But certainly well worth a visit!

Adrian Yalland said...

Asquith - I went to a Greek Orthodox service once (hope they didn't mind). Didn't understand a word though - it was all Greek to me!!

The icons were ornate and beautiful, and it was touching to see such devotion. Christian iconography is fascinating - especially compared to synagogues who have no images, iconography and little symbolism.

But the incense was also nice, and the singing was beautiful too. I love choral music though - the voice is one of the most amazing and versatile instruments in creation! I am a bit sad in that I like Gregorian chanting.

The history of how liturgical music has impacted on the wider musical scene is also fascinating.

I have also been to Catholic services, which are similar - except in English which was helpful! I also once went to a Roman Mass, and listened to a service in Latin - which was also fascinating.

asquith said...

Yes, you don't understand the words, but you gain something! I don't have any beliefs, but I still got a lot out of it.

I think we should respect our religious heritage in this country: the physical buildings, the effect of the English Bible and religious practice on literature and culture, and what have you. It would be a great blow if we ever lost that. (and Richard Dawkins, for all that he is caricatured by people who've never read his books, feels the same).

I don't visit as many foreign places as I'd like to, but there are vague plans afoot for the end of this year. I wonder where I'll go :)

Anonymous said...

javelin said...

"the fraudulant disabled people should be forced to take a job."

That would be one of those jobs that employers will be forced to offer.

asquith said...

Yes, most of them would only be on Jobseekers' Allowance if they weren't on disability.

Adrian Yalland said...

Asquith: If you are thinking somewhere local, you won't beat Cracow, or anywhere in Slovenia. It is a beautiful country all year round. If you are looking further afield, then Sri Lanka, Nepal or Tibet have to be top of my list, followed shortly by India and then perhaps Thailand (away from the flesh pots though - which are soul destroying).

Africa is expensive, as is South America.

asquith said...

Yes, I actually have been considering Slovenia. It looks like they do things very well indeed, and some fabulous scenery. We'll see what materialises :)

dobby said...

I guess this is a bit late adrian and asquith (and what a nice civilised exchange for once on this blog) but would definitely recommend Krackow. That whole Budapest-Praha-Krackow triangle was (is?) such a rich source of modern Western culture. I remember finding myself in a hotel room in Prague and reading a plaque on the room opposite that said it was originally the office where Kafka had worked during the day while he wrote his classic stories.

Adrian Yalland said...

Asquith - if you need tips on Slovenia, give me a shout - I know it like the back of my hand.

Better actually.