This Saturday marks the return of the Eurovision Song Contest. But as welcome as it will be to see European nations competing over something that isn’t batches of AstraZeneca, it will also mean the grim inevitability of seeing Britain walk away humiliated, yet again1.
So I’ve been thinking ahead to next year, and I’m now convinced: The only way to win Eurovision is by embracing Brexit and everything it stands for.
Eurovision in its current form is a deeply progressive institution, celebrating diversity, internationalism and shared humanity. It may not be to my aesthetic or musical tastes, but it is a deep reflection of my values2.
But if we want to win we must reject these values and instead optimise our representative and song to appeal to Brexit-voting Boomers.
This isn’t as crazy as it sounds. There are two ways to win votes in an election: Persuading existing voters to vote for you, or by activating non-voters.
In the modern era, every Eurovision act has pursued the same persuasion strategy. They fight over the same pool of votes by writing and performing songs that appeal to urban cosmopolitans like me and probably you3.
But there is a whole other constituency of potential voters out there who no one is competing for: Culturally conservative communitarians. Brexit voters. UKIP voters. Red Wall Boris-era Tory voters. The crazies who voted for Laurence Fox for Mayor of London.
To glibly characterise, I’m talking about the voters who we might politely refer to as holding “traditional” values like those of faith, flag and the family. You know, all of the stuff that people like me get squeamish about because we’re smug, atomised, city-dwelling professionals4.
The communitarians are underserved by the Song Contest, and this presents Britain with a big opportunity.
Britain isn’t the only country with a constituency of voters like this. Every European country has them. They vote for Marine Le Pen, the AFD and Law & Justice. If you tune into Twitter on an average Sunday evening, you can usually follow live as election results come in from some European country or other showing a similar radical-right party not quite winning but performing alarmingly well5.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that culturally conservative voters are in a majority. Mercifully, that is not the case.
But in a crowded field of 25 candidates, if we can capture the votes of a significant minority of viewers who no one else is targeting, then we may stand a chance of winning not the majority, but the plurality of votes. And that might just be enough to win.
Hate shine a light
So here’s the plan. We find someone who people like me find suitably grotesque6, and we give them a song to sing that is all about how things were much better in the old days, rooting the song in an appeal to tradition and a hostility to change.
And let’s not go nuts with the autotune - think something that is no more adventurous than the pre-hippy era Beatles7.
On its own, this may not be enough. Though we will automatically qualify for the Saturday night Eurovision final8, if left to the voters who would vote in the contest anyway, we would be at a disadvantage. So we need to activate the people who do not ordinarily vote.
How? By turning a song contest into a culture war.
In the fortnight before the contest, our representative should give interviews to the European equivalents of the Daily Mail and the Telegraph and the like, and in each should make a point of hitting some suitably controversial culture war dividing line. Have a go at the woke kids, suggest traditional gender roles are important, talk of admiration for Viktor Orban, and so on. We can calibrate this for different localised culture war hot topics.
Hopefully then, the culture war cycle should take care of itself. The comments will cause a furious backlash in the very right-on Eurovision community, it will spill on to Twitter, CommentIsFree will light up with opinion pieces about how our act is a betrayal of the Eurovision spirit, Jeremy Vine will take calls from people who are pleased to hear a Eurovision contestant finally talking some sense, and so on. It will drive the discourse all over Europe9.
By the Saturday night, the song will be almost irrelevant, as the contest will instead be a culture war battlefield. One side will be primed to vote to stop them - but equally, a newly radicalised cadre of communitarians will be reaching for the phone to support Britain. Finally a chance to say “fuck you” to the metropolitan, Eurovision elites.
And this is where the electoral maths kick in. The cosmopolitans will be split 24 ways, and all of the communitarian voters across Europe will line up for Britain, ultimately propelling us to victory.
Is this idea horrifying? Yes. But could it mean that Britain finally gets to win Eurovision again? Also yes.
So let’s blow that dog whistle, and send the most repulsive Brexiter we can find to sing for Britain!
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I haven’t heard this year’s song yet, but I reckon I can be fairly confident with this prediction.
I mean I really like Eurovision because it is complex event television, which is interesting from a logistical perspective, and the voting segment is my favourite part, but go with me as I’m building to something here.
I am under no illusions about my demographic here.
We’re the absolute worst. And I can’t believe that we think that acknowledging it in a knowing, sort of self-loathing way might absolve us of feeling guilty about it.
But, of course, the centre-right party always just about cling on, and the social democrats get absolutely battered. Every single time.
Many thanks to my pal Blakeley for suggesting Laurence Fox, who I pitch in the subheading.
It sort of amazes me to remember that the Beatles one did a whole song about how they hate paying tax. Maybe a cover of that would be perfect?
I’ve long thought that Britain would perform much better generally if each year we had to subject ourselves to a rigorous primary before getting to Saturday night. Not just to focus the minds of whoever chooses the song, but also because I reckon it is here that people pick the horse they’re going to back through to the final, so we’re losing votes by not even being in play.
There will be media sub-plot where the BBC does some hand-wringing over how to cover Eurovision fairly, so it will end up compromising by having Nigel Farage co-host the studio segments alongside Rylan.