The party has seen its polling fall back and stagnate since its high in May; it is in the throws of yet another internal punch up about a friend of Nigel being parachuted in to the MEP candidate list – this time in Scotland; and it has been all but silent in the face of a concerted campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt being sown by the EUphiles – who are desperate to talk about economics and avoid addressing the fundamental point about ‘Who should run Britain?’.
There is no doubt Sykes has his heart in the right place. He wants an independent Britain and his interview on BBC Radio 4 this morning, and follow up story on BBC Online, shows he recognises the need to negotiate a settlement with the EU if Britain announces its intention to leave the bloc – a clear rejection of Tim Congdon’s scorched earth policy of abrogating all treaties with no agreements in place regarding trade, standards and movement of people and capital. So far so good.
But for Sykes’ money to make a difference and boost the wider EUsceptic campaign, we have to hope he insists his money is used wisely and focuses on the core issue of sovereignty. That is where the battle for an independent Britain will be won or lost. Fighting a battle on economic interest or immigration would be doomed to failure.
Sykes’ comments on immigration do seem to mirror UKIP’s focus on Bulgarians and Romanians becoming eligible to migrate to the UK. While that does play to a certain consituency in UK politics, those who did or were considering lending their vote to the BNP, it does not play well with the majority of eligible voters who find the current UKIP approach of scaremongering without a solution distasteful.
Too few people understand many of the immigration problems this country experiences are not so much to do with EU policy as UK government policy. Where migrants are unable to support themselves in this country, they can be removed back to their own country. Italy and France have both done this. The UK government however has not acted where it has the legal ability to do so.
Further, too few people stop and ask what effect on immigration would we really experience if we left the EU. UKIP present withdrawal as the answer to immigration. In reality it would change little. Two thirds of the migration to these shores comes from non-EU countries. Too many people refused asylum are actually removed, rather they are given exceptional leave to remain. So if UKIP maintain a focus on leaving the EU as the answer to the negative effects of migration, it is selling people a pup. If Sykes backs this UKIP policy initative with his money, he may as well give it away, because UKIP have not ‘got it’ on immigration and its complexities yet.
If Paul Sykes wants to get maximum punch for his pound, he needs to ensure the awareness campaign he bankrolls focuses attention on who runs this country, and helping people understand how so many of the issues that frustrate them are linked to or originate from EU governance. Any campaign needs to stick to the politics and the core issue, ‘Who should run Britain?’. It will have a more significant impact with those who will vote and it denies the EUphiles the victory of pulling UKIP onto a false fight on economics that will only lead to a confused public sticking with the status quo.
All credit to Sykes for putting his own personal money into the fight. He is a top man for doing so. But please, let’s hope it will be spent on awareness of the right issues, upon which a successful ‘out’ campaign can be waged. Otherwise it will just be an expensive folly. And let us also hope he sees that an early referendum, thanks in large part to UKIP’s refusal to speak to the issues loudly and consistently, puts the EUsceptic side at a disadvantage.
Perhaps Sykes should spend some money on private polling to get a real idea of where people are based on the arguments being made and the status quo factor. Too few will be on our side until the sovereignty issue is put front and centre and dominates all other arguments and distractions.