“…you have to say that this is no longer a music contest” – Sir Terry Wogan
Did you know, we’ve won the Eurovision Song Contest five times? That’s an honour we share with France and Luxembourg, but we’re still two wins behind our Irish friends.
However, I doubt if we’ll ever win it again, and I doubt if Ireland, France, Luxembourg or any Western European countries will either. It’s not gone unnoticed that the contest has been more about the political vote in the past few years, and this year that voting pattern seemed to crank up several notches. The Scandinavian countries voted for each other, but even more noticeable was the ex-Russian countries voting for Russia and the Baltic countries voting for their neighbours (which I find bizarre considering that fifteen years ago they split up Yugoslavia as they all seemed intent on murdering each other).
As we watched the voting, it became all too easy to predict where the 8, 10 and 12 points would go where the ex-Russian and Baltic countries were concerned. I’d have put my house on Montenegro’s top marks going to Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia, and it was one of many occasions I got it spot on. The break up of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia has forever changed the face of the competition.
Back over to Sir Terry – he always provides a cheery and enthusiastic tongue-in-cheek commentary that suits the cheesy nature of the content, but after the voting tonight he sounded totally deflated and questioned whether the UK should drop out of future competitions. Interestingly for a short time tonight, the Wikipedia page for Eurovision stated that the ‘big four’ (UK, France, Germany and Spain) who provide most of the funding had indeed pulled out, although that statement has now disappeared. The highest placing this year for any of the big four was 16th (Spain), and the UK and Germany came joint-last. There was a time when we could have at least counted on Malta for a few points, but this time it was just Ireland and San Marino.
It would be a shame if we did pull out – perhaps we can form a Western Europe pact and start getting our own back. But then it would further remove the ideal on which the contest was based… a song for Europe, and not who wants to suck up to their neighbours.