Tuesday 17 December 2013

Romanians make good immigrants

Admitting a million Poles, even though in good manners, industry, church attendance and many other ways they put many of the British to shame, was certainly a mistake on the part 
of the UK. We know this because ministers said they expected tens of thousands to come. Still, if Britain and other Western European countries have decided that they need immigrants, and they have, they should be very grateful that the EU has a supply on hand of Romanian immigrants who share a European culture and will fit in easily. 

Probably no immigrants in the world assimilate as quickly as Romanians who seem not to stay together in clusters like other immigrant groups. There are various explanations for this. A cynical one was supplied to me by a Romanian friend who had lived in Paris in the 1980s.

'We are individualists but not like the Irish are individualists - the Irish are a race of geniuses - we just can't stand one another.'
Bearing in mind the numbers of immigrants who have settled in the UK recently (one million in 2011 and 2012) it is understandable that the British press worry about an influx of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants after January 1 2014. What is odd is that, a couple of days after David Cameron said he wanted to persuade the EU to change the rules, he said on a visit to India that:
"There is no limit on the number of students who can come from India to study at British universities, no limit at all. All you need is a basic English qualification and a place at a British university. What’s more, after you've left a British university, if you can get a graduate-level job there is no limit to the amount of people who can stay and work, or the time that they can stay at work."
This dichotomy does seem hard to explain. I suspect that one reason why British journalists are complaining about an influx of Romanians and Bulgarians next month is because they are white. If they were Asian the papers might be much more worried about being accused of racism. And yet the fact that Romanians are Europeans is a reason why they make good immigrants.

Romanians were disappointed, but not in the least surprised, by the noisy British reluctance to let them settle in the UK without restrictions before 2014. As far as Romanians are concerned, they blame this reluctance on confusion abroad between Romanians and Roma. (Roma is the modish term for gypsies.) It is no use saying to Romanians that Romanian gypsies are both Romanian and Roma. ‘Romanian’ is understood here as an ethnicity not a citizenship.

Romanians come from a Balkan, Orthodox and Latin culture, unlike the Poles, who are Catholics and Central Europeans, but like the Poles they bring with them so many qualities that the British used to have. Like all people from post-Communist countries, and this is what makes them most different from the British, they come from a part of the world where the 1960's social revolution never happened. When I moved here in 1998 the Romanian standard of living was that of Britain in 1959 and many of the ways of thinking were late 1950's too.

Things have changed a lot since then, but by no means out of recognition.

Romanians have virtues that some in Great Britain have lost. Romanian women are womanly (and very often beautiful), Romanian men are virile even if they seem quite otherwise at first sight. Romanians are family minded and esteem education. They are old-fashioned, clean-cut, self-reliant, sceptical of authority and they believe in freedom. I might have expected Romanians to be disappointed by the reality of violent crime, binge drinking, feminism and innumerable rules. Romania, where people smoke in bars and say whatever they like about most things, is a much freer country these days. But no, Romanians usually love England and so they should. Things work in England and people are kind and honest, though the trusting nature of the English provokes wonder and seems naive. Britain is still a wonderful country and London is the only big city in Europe which is not a museum. 

The Romanians who return to Romania after working abroad will create the Romania of the future. They are the candidates I most value as a recruiter. On the other hand, inevitably, the great majority will not return and this is a huge, irreparable loss to Romania. 

Sunday 15 December 2013

The earth was warmer in Roman and mediaeval times

"Les savants ne sont pas curieux" (Anatole France)
Very good news! The earth was warmer in Roman and mediaeval times, according to a
study. It is clear that the global warming myth is exactly that, a myth. Like many other
myths our rulers believe in. 

Meanwhile Egypt has had her first snowfall in a hundred years this weekend.

Christians continue to flee Iraq as well as Syria and Egypt

More news of Christians leaving Iraq. All this was caused by the Anglo-American toppling of Saddam. Saddam it is clear was  better at ruling Iraq than anyone is likely to be in the

Tony Blair and Rosia Montana

The Sunday Telegraph today says that at Nelson Mandela's interminable funeral Tony Blair introduced Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, whom the paper called Mr. Blair's prospective client, to Mr Obama.

Back in the summer, when Mr. Blair flew to Bucharest to dine with Mr. Ponta, I heard that Rosia Montana Gold corporation is Mr. Blair's client, which is why he met Mr. Ponta.  

It does seem some thing ignoble that former first ministers of the British crown make money in this way in matters completely unrelated to British interests. 

Nor is it necessary. Former prime Ministers have plenty of money. Mr. Heath lived in style on the money he accumulated over twenty years from his salary as cabinet minister, leader of the Opposition and Prime Minister. Mr. Callaghan saved enough from his pay to buy a farm. But Mr. Blair has always been fascinated by the very rich and aspires to be very rich himself. As Mr. Callaghan said of Mr. Blair when he first saw him at the  1983 Labour Party Conference,
I don't know what that young man is but he is not Labour.
This will probably be the puzzled judgement of history, with the caveat that not being Labour does not mean not being left-wing, if left-wing means promoting egalitarianism, along with marked inequalities of income, and a powerful state. Mr. Blair created a new kind of left that combines admiration for the rich and powerful with internationalism, enthusiasm for the EU and social liberalism. It should fit in well with Victor Ponta's ideas, and those of the PSD - a socialist party run by millionaires - except for the social liberalism, which will come to Romania only under pressure from the E.U. There are no votes in it.

Friday 13 December 2013

The Great Cham died on this day in 1784

The greatest Englishman after William Shakespeare, died on this day in 1784. I used to have a copy of a print of this hanging in my house in England.

Photo: Died on this day, 1784 : Dr Samuel Johnson

 Dr. Johnson would have been unsurpassable on twitter with tweets like this:

Jacques Chirac on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square ?

I supposed they would put Nelson Mandela on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square, which seems to me absurd. I would give it to Jacques Chirac, though I have in general a very low opinion of him, simply because he pleaded with England and America not to go to war with Saddam in 2003.

But it seems I am out of touch and Mandela's statue is in Parliament Square not far from that other revolutionary Oliver Cromwell, erected from his own money by Lord Rosebery to pacify the Noncomformist vote - at the cost of, understandably, angering his allies in the Irish Home Rule Party. Washington for some reason is in Trafalgar Square.

Chirac, unlike Washington, tried to prevent war.