High stakes and (almost) a dead cert

There has never been a better time to bet on Britain winning the Eurovision Song Contest, so get down to your local bookie without delay. It is many years since artistic merit materially influenced the outcome of this ridiculous event, and the last time we won, albeit with an OK song that is now completely forgotten, it was because we’d just elected a Labour government perceived to be more europhile than its Conservative predecessor. 

This year our entry is utter dross, a tuneless bit of up-tempo thumpa-thumpa of no interest whatever, but we are offering it at a time when our fellow member states of the EU are facing the very real possibility that we might vote to leave them to it. So it would be no surprise at all if all the core states of the Union gave our frightful teen ditty top marks in the grand final. There would be boos of uneditable volume from the live audience in Stockholm, and Russia might well quit Eurovision in protest. But it would tip the UK referendum vote in favour of Remain, whereas a resounding, and richly deserved “nul points” would certainly hand it on a plate to Vote Leave. Yes, people really are that daft.

As for the subtext of our entry, you might think that the recurring line, ‘You’re not alone, we’re in this together’, is ill-considered as an expression of government-via-BBC enthusiasm for the European project, and of limited appeal to Eurovision voters, for it does have a whiff of ‘fog in Channel, Continent cut off’ about it. But if that’s what you think you do not live on the Continent. In my home of Amsterdam the prospect of Brexit is viewed by Europhiles with dismay, because it would mean fewer shoulders bearing the moral obligation to hold the Union together with bail-outs and subsidies. It would be, on Britain’s part, a cynical act of self-interest. Yes, that’s right;  self-interest. Everybody accepts that Britain itself would be better off Out, but for them that’s not the point. They want a continued call on our power and wealth, braking the former and milking the latter. It’s that simple. So the chorus of the song is actually, as it were, right on the money.

But all this means that the result of the Song Contest this year is far too important to be left to chance, let alone democracy. After all, two years ago the Netherlands was robbed of Eurovision glory by millions of lagered-up lads with smartphones deciding it was a hoot to vote for the bearded bloke in the frock, so you obviously can’t trust the citizenry to think straight on the night. Fortunately theirs is not the only voice, for every country has its own panel of jurors to match the popular poll, and, while it is obviously inconceivable that any of these is susceptible to outright bribery by a foreign power (though, for David Cameron, that would have been a much more effective use of 9 million quid than a domestic mail-shot that is bound to alienate more people than it wins over), it would be madness for their governments, via their participating broadcasters, not to put the case for a British victory with all the charm they can muster. 

Of course the jurors, or even the broadcasters themselves, might tell their political bosses to go hang, which would show admirable independence and integrity. So putting money on the UK is still a gamble. But with most bookmakers currently offering 100-1 on a British win, it’s got to be worth a punt. And this is your last chance. Because even if we vote Remain in June, the memory of our selfish arrogance, in imperiling the EU with a referendum in the first place, will ensure that we never, ever win again.


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