The Personal Column: Eurovision pong contest

IssueJune - July 2016
Comment by Jeff Cloves

As I write this, the case for and against leaving the EU has raised the nauseating stench of this non-debate to hysterical levels. So far, it’s been a combat between dread and fear. Far from shedding light or sharpening a vision of what Europe could/should be, the exchanges have barely risen above the level of insult and derision.

The leavers’ Little Englanders bind is deeply unappealing and barely conceals a dread of immigrants and foreigners in general and refugees in particular. And as for the remainers’ insistence that Britain’s exit will bring forth plague, pestilence, swarms of locusts and a smart return to the Dark Ages, it has simply caused me to shut off altogether. As if this wasn’t enough, we have royalist outbursts of fervour and patriotism about HM’s 90th birthday and the everlasting obsession with the Windsor babies.

My instinct is to got to bed and not wake up until this whole farrago is over but nevertheless I have to reluctantly admit to being engaged by the claim that the EU has brought about peace in Europe. This is nonsense.

After the horrors of the Second World War, it is impossible to imagine France, Germany, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Britain, et al ever going to war with each other again. Self-protection will prevent this happening and it has nothing to do with membership of the United States of Europe. But – and it’s a big BUT – what about those eastern European countries either already in, or desirous of being in, the EU and whose very existence is hardly an advert for peace and reconciliation?

ImageMeantime, NATO is ever-present in the EU, and Germany is arguing for a European army. So, one way or the other, there’s a lot for us pacifists to ponder, for these issues have not so far been part of the phoney war debate.

In the meantime, of course, many of the western European members of the EU are not pacific at all, but fighting proxy wars on continents other than their own. At this time, I hold out little hope for a non-combatant Europe, and as a believer in diversity, decentralism, local distinctiveness, small is beautiful, and the brother and sisterhood of man [and woman – ed], my Europhile instincts are being sorely tested.

Especially by the Greens, whose ardent support for remaining in the distant and bureaucratic European parliament seems quite contrary. Here in Stroud, the Greens are well represented on the district council as well as the town council, but the long-awaited ‘green surge’ has still not materialised nationally. It reminds me of my lovely old dad forever forecasting the imminent collapse of capitalism.

But now, belatedly, to music. I keep reading querulous articles bemoaning the absence of popular protest in the current music scene. These writers are not listening to the right records or going to the right gigs, it seems to me. Stroud’s seriously good band Red Propellers is a case in point and I’ve written here before of their fine songs about, for example, Chelsea Manning and Pussy Riot. Their new self-titled 10-inch vinyl EP (extended play) has a song called ‘Images’ which contains this verse:

Edward Snowden
down loading
files on to a hard drive
day to day
in fear of tomorrow
wanted dead or alive

The record is beautifully produced designed and packaged and released on Longblackcoat Records/Roller Coaster Records. If you live in the West Country, look out for their gigs: you’ll get politics, poetry and rockanroll; you can get a free download if you go to:

Topics: Europe
See more of: Jeff Cloves