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Nepotism

I note with interest my fellow WP columnist Piotr Gabryel's assertion that 40 percent of Poles accept nepotism. It isn't clear if this 40 percent are related to each other, but I think it's safe to assume they are. I have decided to embrace this fashion wholeheartedly – 40 percent is good enough for me, even if they all coincidentally have the same surname.

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Effective immediately, I have appointed my mother as Head of Jamie Stokes Media Relations – expect a lot more stories in the newspapers about how I'm a "lovely boy who could be really successful if only he got up earlier and brushed his hair properly."

I have also employed my niece as Assistant Columnist. As soon as she is old enough to read and write, I anticipate witty and insightful articles from her about the surprising ubiquity of cat ownership among women called Ala.

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Why is everybody suddenly talking about nepotism? Because the prime minister's son was working for a company that failed disastrously in a job that his father didn't want him to have. This is obviously some subtle form of Polish nepotism that I don't fully grasp. I'm more used to the kind of straightforward British nepotism that results in eight kings called Henry, seven called Edward and six called George.

Speaking of kings and princes, it’s worth noting that regarding nepotism as a negative thing is a recent development in European civilisation. Five hundred years ago, suggesting that anybody other than the son of the king should become the next king would have been considered a joke. For much of our history, nepotism made perfect sense. Who is better qualified to become a monarch than the son of a monarch? Who is better qualified to become a blacksmith or a fishmonger or a dung collector than the sons of the same. Who better to become the saviour of mankind than the son of the god who created mankind?

We don't think like that anymore. Today, we want our notable people to come from obscure backgrounds. If you want to be prime minister, far better that your father was a coal miner than a president. If you want to be a famous actress, you'd better change your name if your father is a famous director. This is why shows such as X Factor are universally popular – because we believe the greatest talent is to be found in obscurity, not in the households of those who have proven their talent.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an appointment at the adoption agency. If I don't get myself some Polish parents soon, I don't see how I'm going to get anywhere.

Jamie Stokes

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