Fraser Nelson

Winning Eurovision, Blair-style

Winning Eurovision, Blair-style
Text settings
Comments

As soon as I saw Norway's entry on Eurovision last night, I knew what the vikings were up to: doing a Blair. Here in the land of fjords and A-Ha, their entry was a Minsk-born Russian with cossack-style dancers in a naked pitch for slavic votes. And what a success it was: the full 12 points from Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Slovenia and Ukraine. Time was when Blair thought he could control the EU this way as well, appeal to the former Warsaw Pact countries (who had good reason to fear loss of sovereignty) by coming up with his vision of free-market EU of nation states, opposing the Franco-German federalist model. But the voting balance in the EU led Blair to defeat, and he sacrificed much rebate in vain. The Eurovision system gives ex-Soviet states far more muscle, as many tiny countries (such as Moldovaand Azerbaijan) are all in there with the same voting weight as Germany. Norway is not even an EU member* but it has obviously learned much from observation.

Eurovision has coped with the Soviet breakup and EU expansion far better than the EU itself has.  It has a UN-style council of permanent members:  the UK, France, Germany and Spain who are guaranteed to qualify. while the remaining 40 battle it out. And by letting 50% of the votes come from the public, it has introduced a level of participatory democracy that Brussels could never stomach. Putin treated this like the Olympics, spending £35m on the whole event (the Russian entry was so bad that it looked to me like a deliberate attempt not to win again, and bear the costs again). The whole event showed the best and the worst of Europe - Ukraine's entry looked like an advert for its sex industry, Denmark's entry was a hilarious - a guy pretending to be Ronan Keating. Greece gave us the kind of guy who British girls spend holidays in Corfu trying to avoid, and Britain provided a girl who could sing - which is a change from recent years. All told, if Eurovision were to take over the running of the EU (ie, no vetos and a high level of public voting) then I suspect things would be far healthier in Brussels.

* But Norway has to swallow all the EU directives still, as the cost of being in the free trade area.

UPDATE: it's Norway's national day today which makes their victory all the sweeter. I'm in Stockholm, where the weather is stunning, and there are Norwegian flags everywhere. They have long been outshone by Sweden in the musical stakes, so today is a time to savour victory. Life could get better still. Its September elections could yield a conservative government and the superb Siv Jensen for prime minister. So 2009 could be well be Norway's year.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

Comments
Topics in this articleSociety