The EUrovision Gong Contest, next Thursday. Nil points?

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    14th November, 2009


    For those unfamiliar with the Eurovision Song Contest let me explain. It is a bit of self-congratulatory/flagellatory fun and games we Europeans (plus the Israelis and Moroccans!) like to perform annually, just so we can find out who our friends are.  It’s as much about music as is the average boy band.

    In 1968 Cliff Richard came second for the UK with ‘Congratulations’. I’m not being a little Englander, especially since I’m Scottish, but clearly Cliff’s was a far better song than the winner’s – ‘la, la, la’ from Spain.


    Do you know this one, Pudsey - 'ROM-pah-pah'? You hum it, I'll play it.

    Ahh, but who said Euro-wide song contests have anything to do with quality? They’re all about politics, don’t you know? And who says politics is anything to do with quality? It’s all about singing the right song.

    Confused, Teddy? The world is  a circle without a beginning and nobody knows where it really ends …

    So, it’s circle time, Pudsey Bear … and boys and girls, and mums and dads. Time for a little flight of imagination.


    Next Thursday at the EU Gong Contest there’s a lot of talent on show, or perhaps not. We’ll be choosing, or rather EU leaders will be choosing a class act to sing to us and the rest of the world for the next two and a half years, five if he or she is any good.

    There are a lot of hopefuls who want to win this singing competition. And there are nil points for coming last. Even the runner-up will be an also-ran, no matter how good the singer or the song. He won’t be a stand-in when the top of the bill has a sore throat.

    So, next Thursday, it might be la,la,la, la,la,la,la,la,la, la,la,la,la,la,la,la-a as we Europeans, young and old, fingers in ears, refuse to listen to the braincell-challenging lyrics as we find out WHO is to be the EU president. We might half-recognise the tune.  After all, it could be pretty formulaic.

    Meanwhile, quietly, almost furtively the memorable act  – you know, THAT one, the one we all thought actually had some talent – might be shuffling off stage with all the other also-rans. We might be left wondering –

    WHY? What happened? Wasn’t he the winner? A one-off? A class act.  Real talent? A natural onstage? A presence?

    All right children, don’t cry.  It’s only a story. Not real life you know. Pudsey and all the rest of us lived happily ever after and nice people sang us happy songs with soothing, quiet tunes  all day long for years and years and years and years and years.  And in the end we never realised we’d missed anything.

    Awwww… I like happy endings. Don’t you?

    la,la,la, la,la,la,la,la,la, la,la,la,la,la,la,la-a

    Listen to what we MIGHT get, if we’re not VERY careful – ‘They all suppose what they want to suppose when they hear [R]om -pah-pah


    But this might be a good omen. The last time the United Kingdom won the Eurovision Song contest was in 1997. Yes, it’s been THAT long since our EU friends supported us, folks.  That song was “Love Shine a Light”. Never heard of it either. But not a bad title for a winner.

    That year, 1997 also happens to be the year that Tony Blair’s party won the first of the last three general elections.

    Love shone a light then, clearly. Pity, like so many love affairs it cooled a touch as familiarity, or the papers, spread contempt. C’est l’amour.  Die ist Politik.  Quella è vita.

    Watch the first 50 years British of the UK’s Eurovision song entries … if you must, you masochist, you.

    One candidate ONLY for each EU post to be put to EU leaders next Thursday


    “I haven’t asked anyone … anyone if they are standing as candidates”

    Reinfeldt on Special EU ‘President’ Summit Nov. 19

    A press conference on a special EU summit to pick the first-ever permanent president of the European Council was held on Wednesday by Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Prime Minister of Sweden. The press conference took place at the European parliament in Brussels, where the profile for the president was discussed.

    It looks like a fun job for Mr Reinfeldt, doesn’t it?  A lot of phones around Europe will be red hot over the next few days.

    Here at Baltic Business News is this:

    Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose government holds the rotating EU presidency, said yesterday he will put forward one name as a candidate for EU president and another for the bloc’s foreign minister at a Nov. 19 summit in Brussels where leaders of the 27-nation bloc are due to decide who gets the posts.

    Estonia thinks it might be worth hedging their bets and putting up the same candidate for TWO of the jobs.

    Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip nominated President Toomas Ilves as a candidate for the posts of both European Union president and EU foreign minister.

    Bloomberg quoted Ansip saying at a press conference today that Ilves’s chances were “not unlikely”.

    Finnish prime minister Matti Vanhanen has already said that Finland would support Ilves’s candidacy. Estonia in turn has promised to support Finland’s Olli Rehn for the job.

    When I hear a speech from an Estonian, Finn or any other EU leader like this one of Blair’s I’ll sit up and take notice.

    So if this sounds to you like the Eurovision Song Contest in which Britain habitually comes in last, due to neighbours voting for one another to keep out the big guys, you may be right.

    But it isn’t over until the fat lady sings.

    Nothing personal, you understand, Ms Merkel.

    EU leaders split over candidates for top jobs

    Wrangling gets messier:

    “The decision on who should be Europe’s first council president and foreign minister may have to go to a vote next week, Sweden said today as agreement among EU leaders proved elusive.

    Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish prime minister and EU president, said an emergency summit would take place in Brussels next Thursday to settle the two plum posts created by the Lisbon treaty, the reform blueprint finally ratified last week. Reinfeldt appeared frustrated as he disclosed that after taking soundings from the other 26 heads of government this week, there was no sign of a consensus.”



    While all this speculation is great for gossip lovers, it does distract from the need to appoint men/women who have a clear vision/strategy for meeting Europe’s future challenges.

    The EU has long said it wants to be a global player — and sometimes pretends it is already one — but as the world changes and newcomers demand their place in the sun, it is Europe that is in the spotlight. Unlike the US whose new president speaks the inclusive language of interdependence, European governments have yet to come to terms with their declining global clout.

    China and India among others are growing increasingly impatient about Europe’s reluctance to cede seats in international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Celebrating the fall of the Berlin wall is of course legitimate and necessary. But Europeans should also be worried about their global role, presence and influence 20 years from now.


    So? What’s new?

    BELGIUM risks a return to political deadlock and heightened tensions between French and Dutch-speakers if prime minister Herman Van Rompuy becomes president of the European Union.

    Van Rompuy, the front-runner for the EU post, has helped calm the linguistically divided country since taking charge last December after 18 months of turmoil under predecessor and fellow Christian Democrat Yves Leterme.



    Lyrics of original song from “Oliver”

    Oom pah pah, oom pah pah, that’s how it goes,
    Oom pah pah, oom pah pah, everyone knows,
    They all suppose what they want to suppose when they hear oom pah pah.
    There’s a little ditty they’re singin’ in the city
    Especially when they’ve been on the gin or the beer.
    If you’ve got the patience your own imaginations will tell you just exactly what you want to hear.
    Oom pah pah, oom pah pah, that’s how it goes
    Oom pah pah, oom pah pah, everyone knows
    They all suppose what they want to suppose when they hear oom pah pah.

    Back to where you were before you started singing along with Rompuy … rom pah-pah



    1. BBC report on the EU jobs & procedures

    2. A signatory at the Ban Blair-Baiting petition today says this:

    “I am very impressed with Mr. Blair. I once printed off a speech he gave while in the US for my grandchildren to read after my death knowing it would not be in a History book. I appreciate how he stood with President Bush in a cause I felt was just. {And still do.}
    God Bless you and yours Mr. Blair”

    Please sign the petition here

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