The old-time crooner sang in the ECSC in 1951: Elvis, greeted the EEC in 1957 with Jailhouse Rock, and how right he was. That was long before he became bloated and blundering, like the institution he greeted. (The European Coal and Steel Community sounds like a niche woke identity.) Then in 1957 it was the European Economic Community and Euratom (which sounds like a Dutch teen-techno-rock band): if Nat King Cole thought his namesake Too Young in ‘51, the EEC was born with Elvis Presley getting them All Shook Up, and predicting they’d be Paralysed.
That didn’t bother the best of the world though: even Europe was just trying to enjoy La Dolce Vita. Britain didn’t join at first and in 1961 De Gaulle, still high on Presley turned his Wooden Heart to say ‘non’, but MacMillan was still hopeful as he heard Shirelles playing Will You Love Me Tomorrow?
The EEC got on through the rest of the sixties screaming in minskirts and hurling itself at the Beatles. The Empire was gone but we’d never had it so good, but Elvis was warning us There Goes My Everything.
With Europe locking itself away, we needed to look after ourselves: even Michael Caine was in The Self-Preservation Society.
Edward Heath wanted in but complaint that I Can’t Get No Satisfaction: then with De Gaulle gone in 1969 he went crazy to Let The Sun Shine In.
The mood was changing: in our troubles, by 1971 the Common Market was Killing Me Softly With His Song. Labour were divided: the most eloquent MP opposing membership was Peter Shore, who warned that Britain would be Like a Puppet on a String, as his namesake Sandie said at the time. Watch out for the Ch-ch-changes, just as The Who were telling us they Won’t Be Fooled Again, Britain was; joining the EEC at the end of 1972.
Well, Mama Weer All Crazee Now. The EEC knocked out the tariffs placed on the trade from one coast, while the Stranglers were put on Liverpool’s business with America and Australia. European integration was a distant nightmare; we should have seen it coming but maybe Heath as he took us into the EEC thought It’s Only Make Believe.
Labour wanted out of a ‘capitalist club’, and the reds got into power in 1974 on a manifesto to leave, but in office changed their mind, so there was only one thing to do: look at the electorate and sing with the Osmonds that I’m Leaving It All Up To You. The voters were tired. Bowie was singing Rebel Rebel, but they did not; not for them to Rock the Boat with Karl Russell and the Hues; and the EEC sat back and opened the draw with their future plans, whispering You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.
It didn’t help. Britain became a basket-case thanks to socialism and Heath, who was hardly different, and the EEC paid no heed to the Sage of Kirkcaldy said (that’s Adam Smith; not Gordon Brown) strangling outside trade with customs duties, and Wilson hit the rest with supertax, until eventually the voters finally noticed that This town, is becoming like a ghost town and sent Margaret Thatcher to sort it out in 1979.
The European Economic Community was doing well, if you ignore the way it starved the farmers of Africa. It had some trade with Argentina; sending French mechanics there to service the aircraft and missiles they used to sink ship of the Royal Navy. This is how peace and brotherhood in Europe work, apparently.
War, what is it good for? Winning the 1983 election apparently. Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This.
The big Thatcher legacy – the 1980s pop scene, as there was suddenly money in pockets, new Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money), and East End lads could go out looking for West End Girls,
Soon Britain was roaring ahead while Europe looked suddenly stuck. They did their best, but even Nina’s 99 Luftballons could not lift them. The cracks were starting to show.
In 1984, as Frankie went to Hollywood, Maggie went to Brussels to sing I Want My Money Back (a line Meat Loaf shamelessly copied ten years later) and got it. She was always guided by TINA (there is no alternative) and Tina returned the favour the next year, singing of her We Don’t Need Another Hero.
1987 – You Win Again, and Maggie did, famously, and the next year gave her Bruges Speech, to show she was Hangin’ Tough. This awoke Eurosceptic MPs: Let’s Get It Started, sang M C Hammer and Lord Harris, and within months the Bruges Group was formed, but Europe knew what was happening, which may be why Europvision was won by a song “Ne partez pas sans moi“, performed by Céline Dion; the original “Canada Plus”.
In 1990 was a era began. Maggie seemed irreplaceable, and the Cabinet assured her Nothing Compares to U, but the voters insisted Justify My Love, and soon she was gone. An empty car arrived at Downing Street and John Major stepped out. The voters said we’re Gonna Make You Sweat.
Europe was the bane of the Major ministry . The end of the Cold War also removed the threat that had kept the Tories in power. He survived an election, greatly reduced, and the BBC hated him for it, for defying the narrative they had laid down.
In 1993, D:Ream had sung that Things Can Only Get Better, but the song hit the charts in 1997 and sung Tony Blair into Number 10. Things, with Europe, would only get worse.
The rush to integration accelerated with every Tuscan villa Tony stayed in. Slow Down Baby! It meant though that the Conservatives could be legitimately anti-European: that would Get the Party Started. Yes: Tony Blair woke us up to the Bad Romance, and helped to get us to Brexit.
Is it back now to the Sixties, when the Moody Blues told us to Go Now? And we will.