On 19th June the guys and girls from the Leave campaign in the UK’s EU referendum were due to have their end of term party. In a big arena in Birmingham they were putting on BPop live, a concert featuring all your favourite Brexiteering pop stars. Except there aren’t any. The event had been plagued with pullouts as all their stars gradually discovered that they’d signed up for an anti-EU political rally.
Before it got cancelled today, there was just one last big name left over to entertain the assembled Ukippers and Tories. They were Cheryl, Mike and Jay, the leftover husk of what once was Bucks Fizz. They were a great fit for the occasion; relics of a bygone era when the UK used to rule the world, but have since been overtaken by harder-working continental rivals and are beset by destructive separatist in-fighting.
The veteran skirt-rippers were due to drop in on the festivities as part of their Land Of Make Believe Tour (I know). Their now cancelled appearance (I’m going on with my post anyway, damnit!) has made me think of which Eurovision entries I’d choose as my alternative soundtrack for the remain campaign. Eurovision is an evening where a continent can come together and celebrate the music that unites us, after all. These are the songs I’ll be humming on 23rd June.
Liam Reilly – Somewhere In Europe (Ireland 1990)
First up is Eurovision’s great paean to borderless visa-free travel. Liam’s song revels in his ability to hop on a cheap Ryanair flight. Without a thought for paperwork, he can be on the Champs Elyssee, then on the slightest whim, he can move on to Rome, or Seville, or Amsterdam. He can even go to the Black Forest, for some reason. All of it arranged easily on his mobile internet, with not a care for the data roaming charges.
InCulto – Eastern European Funk (Lithuania 2010)
Some may look on the flip side of free travel and worry about migrants taking our jobs. I think if more people were aware of Eastern Europeans’ hard-working commitment to playing inflatable instruments and wearing shiny pants, they would look on our Polish and Lithuanian friends much more kindly. This seminal work of 2010 proves we have nothing to fear.
Da Da Dam -Paradise Oskar (Finland 2011)
Oskar is smart. He knows his EU air quality directives by heart. While Boris Johnson goes “Da da dam da da dam dadada da dam. Brrr… Cripes!” this song highlight how the EU works continent-wide to invest in renewable energy, ensure clean oceans and work against climate change.
Idiot – Kali Briis Band (Estonia NF 2015)
“If there is something that you don’t know, that you dont’ know, tell a lie, tell a lie”. The purported £350 million cost of EU membership comes to mind.
Power To All Our Friends – Cliff Richard (United Kingdom 1973)
There’s a man growing flowers. There’s a woman making wine (probably in Cliff’s Portuguese Vineyard). There’s a man ploughing in the field. All of them have the power to sell their goods to the European Union on the same terms as their continental neighbours. Sir Cliff’s sadly overlooked second entry to Eurovision is a stirring anthem to the benefits of a single market. And it has some wonderful choreography.
Luta É Alegria – Homens Da Luta (Portugal 2011)
Homens Da Luta may have been protesting against cuts following the 2008 banking crisis, but many of the workers’ rights they hold so dear are protected by the European Union. The construction worker on the left is kept safe by EU health and safety legislation, while someone with such unreliable working patterns as a member of a revolutionary paramilitia can still get statutory paid annual leave. With the EU by your side, the struggle is joy!
My Słowianie – Donatan & Cleo (Poland 2014)
I don’t know about everyone, else, but when I watch Poland 2014, the first thing I think of is the EU’s generous subsidies to the dairy farming industry.
Si – Gigliola Cinquetti (Italy 1974)
Finally, I need a big, all-encompassing positive anthem. When you look for a Eurovision song to win you a referendum, you turn to Italy 1974. It was banned from Italian media that year in the run up to a referendum on divorce laws, for fear that it could be a hidden campaigning tool for the “Si” vote. I want to harness its undoubted power for those who say yes to the EU.
I do have an alternative all-encompassing anthem, mind.