Paul Sykes’s article in The Telegraph tries to convince the readers that voting for UKIP during the European Elections is the only way to ‘take back control’ of the country. He neglects to mention the fundamental measures ingrained within the EU. This is an effort to infect the Telegraph audience with fear, and indoctrinate them into advocating with an right-wing mentality.
Sykes was a supporter of the Conservative party for 20 years but left because of the signing of the Maastricht Treaty which tried to create a single European currency. He is a strong nationalist and a huge Eurosceptic which is important to understand his perspective in the article.
Within in the article Sykes’s has one main agenda; to get the voters to vote for UKIP. He does this by claiming that the EU is undermining the national sovereignty of Britain by enforcing policies upon them. He talks about the lack of restriction on EU immigration and how they are undercutting wages of British workers. He also explains that Britain is powerless against EU immigration policies regarding the deportation of criminals. He claims that the European Court of Justice and more so the European Court of Human Rights are infringing upon domestic courts. He also maintains that without UKIP Britain is powerless to the free movement of peoples.
Sykes understanding of Europe, different governing institutions and how they work is questionable within the text. He also uses scaremongering to captivate his audience into embracing a nationalistic ideology and to vote UKIP in the European Elections. This commentary will look to clear up any misconceptions that he presents as well as his use of language.
Sykes claims that the national sovereignty of Britain is under attack because the EU imposes on their domestic policies and institutions. For example he says that the European Court of Justice and, more so, the European Court of Human Rights is making it harder for UK to deport EU criminals. However in article 35 of the European Convention of Human Rights the ECHR can only interfere with cases after all domestic policies have been exhausted. Also the ECHR only takes about 10 UK human rights cases a year so again we see the falsity of Sykes claims. However let us led with the assumption that Sykes is right about the EU infringing upon national sovereignty and it is making it harder for EU criminals to be deported. We can see in an UK border agency report in 2011 that 2,425 foreign criminals have been deported whilst another 2,500 were in the process of being deported. This is however a redundant argument because the ECHR is not infringing upon the national sovereignty of Britain as stated before.
The idea that the UK has no power over their own domestic courts when it comes to human rights can be disclaimed in the signing of the 1998 Human Rights act as well. This gives the UK the power enforce the European convention of Human Rights without the interference of the EU; UK judges primarily handle all human right issues.
Sykes also claims that because of mass EU immigration, British workers have to take pay cuts because they are undertaking them on labour costs. However the idea that Immigrants are making the salary lower for British workers is egregious. Big business and company owners, like Mr Sykes, are undercutting wages. They could only employ British workers and they could keep pay scales even. However they chose not to that is their own prerogative. This is highlighted by Jan Cremers by saying that division of labour can only be held to the accountability of the owner rather then the employees.
Sykes makes the claim that the UK is powerless to mass immigration. He says that “485 million people have the right to move to Britain at any time they please”. In theory he is right. However the tone he presents is that 485 million will descend on to the UK all at once with no rules or regulations to be enforced upon them. However this is deceptive. The free movement of peoples has many regulations and stipulations attached to it as we can see in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
In Article 45 in states:
It shall entail the right, subject to limitations justified on grounds of public policy, public security or public health:
(a) To accept offers of employment actually made;
(b) To move freely within the territory of Member States for this purpose;
(c) To stay in a Member State for the purpose of employment in accordance with the provisions governing the employment of nationals of that State laid down by law, regulation or administrative action;
(d) To remain in the territory of a Member State after having been employed in that State, subject to conditions which shall be embodied in implementing regulations to be drawn up by the Commission.
Here we can see that Sykes assertions that free movement doesn’t have any regulations are false. Instead we see employment is the biggest factor for movement and that said employment must be offered before arrival subject to public security checks and public health. So in theory, yes 485 million Europeans can embark to the UK but the reality is that the number will be immensely smaller. Sykes is using a scaremongering technique here to get the voters to be more sympathetic towards his ideology and vote for UKIP.
The articles Linguistic Discourse is used to highlight a nationalistic ideology and at the same time creating a ‘we’ and ‘them’ narrative. By this I mean Sykes uses language to symbolise the difference between the British and the Immigrants. Through critical discourse analysis we can see the language that is used by Sykes to enforce this.
We can see that Sykes plays on the fears of the British voters by stating that the borders of the UK starts in Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. The use of these 3 countries as an example of mass Immigration is a tactic used by UKIP to scare voters. The linguistic choice of these 3 Eastern Europeans countries instead of France, Germany and Italy (for example) alludes to this concept of fear. In an Interview Nigel Farage claimed that he would be worried if a Romania couple moved next door to him. So this rhetoric of fear of Eastern Europeans is widespread in UKIP. Through Critical Discourse we can see that Sykes is trying to create enemies that undermine the UK. Norman Fairclough claims that Critical Discourse is essential to the understanding of language and political ideology. Through Sykes representation of the Eastern Europeans as enemies to the UK we see not just his attempts of fear mongering but also his nationalistic ideology.
Sykes linguistic choice of words pertain more to our understanding of the target audience as well. In his last paragraph Sykes claims, “The time has come to take back control of our country and the right to govern ourselves”. This Critical Discourse tells us about the nationalistic ideology of Sykes but, as Fairclough and Ruth Wodak explain, it tells us more about the social identity of the audience that is being addressed. From this we can see that the audience is searching for a national identity and the use of linguistic choices like ‘our country’ and ‘ourselves’ galvanises the audience into a patriotic way of thinking. Sykes uses this to gain support for UKIP and those who seem to be disenfranchised by their current government.
Sykes article is full of misconceptions of how the EU and the UK work in a political sense. Sykes’s attack of the European Court of Human Rights is misinformed, and takes the integrity out of the piece. The same can be said about his understanding of the free movement of people policy of the EU. But what is most unforgiveable is how he uses the article to create enemies in the Eastern Europeans living in the UK. However UKIP won the European elections on May 22nd and this article just highlights the powerful nature of ignorance. Until articles like this have factual accountability, we as a society can not move towards unity and peace.
Link to Paul Skyes’s Article: