An Open Letter to Lech Wałęsa: “Poland Needs You – Time to Come Out of Retirement”

On the one hand, Poland is faced with a backbench MP who has de facto control of the country despite having the smallest role possible in the machinery of state and serious psychological issues. On the other, we have an opposition composed of an ageing rock anarchist, an “establishment” guy whose fate appears to be to man the ship of a party nobody trusts, and a chap who rather blotted his copybook by taking a jaunt to Portugal with a woman who was clearly not Mrs Copybook. So where to turn? The answer seems obvious…

poland_news_walesa commentDear Mr Wałęsa

I hope that you are not offended that I write to you in English; you rescued Poland – and millions of Poles – from the grip of an authoritarian regime, but the fact is that most people who regard you as a hero would not know “proszę” from “prosią”, and it is evident that Poland needs an international, straight-talking voice right now.

I am also aware that you are persona non grata among certain groups of Poles, due to your highly publicised connections with the “agent Bolek” files. I know, however, that these groups form a definite minority even of the 5.7 million PiS voters (just over ten per cent of Poles). So, not many of the people who put pen to paper to vote this shambles of a government into power at the end of 2015.

I think most reasonable folk would accept that a man acts according to circumstance, and that any man who made a mistake in one decade cannot be vilified if he atones for it in the next.

At the time that the election happened, it was clearly a regular, democratic expression of dissatisfaction with a party too long in power. Nobody imagined that Law and Justice would actually do anything as crazy as taking control of the media, putting ordinary members of the public under state-sanctioned observation, attacking women’s rights, making the judiciary an arm of government…

… but of course, all of these things happened. Even as I write, they are happening.

It’s worth being generous and saying that around six million Polish voters brought this government to power. That means that at least 30 million Poles didn’t. The Bolek thing makes you a divisive character between the first group and the second. But have you considered what your influence could do right now in uniting the bickering supporters of the anarchist, the establishment man, and Mr Copybook? That’s 30 million, right there, all waiting for a hero.

Mr Wałęsa, you made your name as a hero not only of Poland but also of the civilised world in the dark days of the 1980s. Well, in your country, the sun is setting again. You once spoke of retirement and leaving the future to the “young wolves“; but these pups of the opposition clearly don’t know what they’re doing – they need a leader for their pack.

There aren’t many who could do this, but how about a comeback show? Poland needs you. You may be our only hope.

With kindest regards

Anthony Casey