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There was a wonderful moment a couple of months ago when I realised just how awfully monolithic the BBC can be. The news had emerged (in a manner not too dissimilar to announcements from Moscow) that some apparatchik at Auntie had chosen Molly Smitten-Downes to represent the UK at this year’s Eurovision song contest. In finest TASS Report style the cameras cut to dear old Molly singing what I rapidly realised was a truly terrible dirge. I don’t want to bag her too much because Molly is taking one for the team, but her song manages to get people to stop waving and cheering within the first 18 seconds – fatal for a big arena contest like Eurovision.

So Britain – a country that leads European thinking in the power of the free markets to drive quality – remains curiously statist in our Eurovision choices, with Molly just another hapless foot-soldier sent to the front. Those of you who have seen Enemy at the Gates will recall the scene where the soldiers advancing on the Germans are told to fight on with the weapons of their fallen comrades, and I can almost hear Molly’s stage handler on the big night giving her that same sort of encouragement. It’s a naff song that just blathers on about ‘children of the universe’ and ‘power to the people’. Compare this with Cezar, last years’ act from Romania: his song ‘It’s My Life’ left no-one in doubt that a bloke doing a gothic Transylvanian falsetto act really was having the time of his life. He was bonkers, brilliant and so obviously not a bureaucrat’s pet choice.

Of course we know the markets are very good at picking winners, and proof of this is Sweden’s Melodifestivalen, a national talent contest with the public and judges combining their votes through several televised heats, and an epic final in one of the country’s major cities. I was living in Stockholm when the 2006 was on, and the primetime show (with a sell out live audience of 16,000) was charmingly quirky – and had some really good music. Sweden’s mass public involvement in selecting its Eurovison entries has produced nine top-five finishes in the past 15 years – and two overall winners. Last year’s entry Robin Stjernberg was really good. In that time Britain has had two acts make the top-ten, and with three coming rock bottom. The BBC has resurrected Bonnie Tyler, dispatched novelty acts like Daz Sampson and seen Jemini collect a comprehensive nul points.

A winning Eurovision song needs support from people across the European Broadcasting Union – and you usually hear the songs playing in bars and clubs across the Continent over the summer. Our artists usually have the press mentioning some play time on Radio Two. Smitten-Downes reveals her unwitting acknowledgment that ‘good music breaks through’ Europe’s cultural barriers. Sadly her song isn’t one of them, and she’ll be lucky to break into the top five acts in tonight’s contest. Sweden, on the other hand, are hot favourites to win – yet again. It is time to put trust in the people, rather than a faceless suit in Broadcasting House.

Matthew Plummer is a professional photographer and long-time Conservative activist. His Twitter handle is @mwyp.