The great Eurovision stitch-up has got to stop

I don’t understand why Nigel Farage says he hates Eurovision. Sure, it lets him play the victim card about how those nasty, nasty foreigners won’t vote for our fine, upstanding British songs. But Mr F is, as often, being disingenuous. There are so many parallels between Eurovision and the EU (even if geography isn’t strictly among them) that one wonders how it is that the world’s greatest kitsch-fest takes place just a couple of weeks before EU citizens go to the polls to elect a parliament.

Eurovision makes the case that, culturally, Europe is not a single entity. Ever closer union when some of us aren’t in the same musical decade (or in France’s case, century)? You might as well introduce a single currency and see whether countries act within the rules they agree to.

On the other hand, Eurovision shows us that some countries can work together in a way that our island nation just can’t sign up to. We watched as Pilou and the two-other-hosts-who-weren’t-in-Borgen kept referring to a Eurovision app, through which one could vote for one’s favourite act. ‘Doesn’t work in the UK,’ said Graham Norton, amid other stern warnings about when to and when not to vote, lest you be charged and yet not have your say. Was our opt-out of the Eurovision app a case of Euroscepticism too far?

But the greatest gift to the sceptics is surely the democratic deficit. In line with my history of backing lost causes I enthusiastically dialled in support of the Slovenia ditty Round and round. Rather more of my fellow Brits voted for We are Slavic. Whatever their motives for doing so, they were none the less joined by the Irish, Norwegian and Ukrainian public in placing the Polish entry first. But, once the professional musicians’ votes were taken into account, neither the UK nor Ireland gave Poland any votes at all. Phew. Lucky we had those judges who knew better, or we could have embarrassed ourselves. The UK has selected proper songs, ones that don’t have titillating videos. Maybe people will look the other way and forget that the top-selling newspaper is still The Sun and the top-clicked website is the exploitative Mail Online. Most important, the musical integrity of Eurovision remains intact. Anyone who has watched more than 10 minutes of Eurovision will know how important that is, and how seriously everyone takes it.

No wonder poor, unelected Molly had no chance. ‘Power to the people,’ she pleaded. But we can’t even be trusted to vote for a flipping song. Referenda may be in vogue, but let’s not pretend that they are ever granted unless those who grant them have a pretty good idea that their own preferred outcome will prevail. That goes for the Ukraine, it goes for Scotland and it goes for the miserable in-out referendum that newspaper proprietors have decided that we want. But surely we can vote for a song? Is anyone surprised that people feel disenfranchised when even our national broadcasters won’t give us a full franchise? It’s time for the ridiculous electoral college-style system to be swept away.

It’s ironic that we know about the stitch-up because the official Eurovision contest website, in the interests of openness, has the full results. It’s fascinating viewing. Check it out here.


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