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Yesterday in Vienna the Eurovision song contest was held for the 60th time. Sweden won this year, with Russia second and Italy third. The UK came a pathetic 22nd.

Most educated people view Eurovision with a ticklish sense of irony. The contest is camp, loud, colourful and – in its founding vision – hopelessly idealistic. The stated goal of ‘uniting Europe through the power of music’ is dreamy. The songs are often ludicrous ballads with ludicrous dancers and ludicrous lyrics. In Britain, there is a well-established tradition of having a comedian drily commentate over the proceedings in order to make the event tolerable for a snobby, postmodern British audience.

I actually enjoy Eurovision. I rather like the idea of a united Europe, of a European ‘community’ or extended family. Nobody is forced to enter Eurovision or to take it seriously. We all laugh politely at each others eccentricities. We work together for the sake of friendship and to celebrate our differences and similarities.

Perhaps this was what the EU was supposed to be like in everyday practice. Though it hasn’t worked out that way, Eurovision reminds us that the idea of a united Europe isn’t as unpleasant or infeasible as its current implementation would suggest.