20.04.2023: Eurovision legend Sandie Shaw and Amarillo singer Tony Christie joined Parliamentarians, music industry leaders and the Ukrainian ambassador at Westminster to highlight the Eurovision 2023 theme, United By Music.
At a packed event in the House of Lords on Tuesday (April 18), speakers outlined the huge amount of work under way to ensure the song contest in Liverpool this May will showcase an array of musical talent to a global audience of 160 million people.
Liberal Democrat peer Lord Clement-Jones welcomed guests to the first event jointly staged by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ukraine, saying he believed it was the first party of its type to celebrate the Eurovision Song Contest.
The event aimed to highlight the chance to use Eurovision as a great opportunity to unite people. It was also a chance to emphasise the cultural and wellbeing power of music, as well as put the spotlight on Liverpool as a key music city.
Lord Tim Clement-Jones said the event organised by UK Music was a “fantastic” chance to celebrate the contest taking place in Liverpool in May which the UK is hosting on behalf of Ukraine – last year’s winners.
He introduced the line-up of speakers, which commenced with APPG on Music Chair and Labour MP Kevin Brennan, who paid tribute to Britain’s first Eurovision winner Sandie Shaw, singer Tony Christie, as well as APPG on Ukraine Chair Alex Sobel MP.
Kevin expressed the solidarity of MPs and peers with the people of Ukraine in resisting the illegal invasion of their country.He congratulated Sam Ryder, UK’s runner-up in the contest last year with his song Space Man – and Liverpool for winning the contest to host the event.
Cardiff MP Kevin Brennan also wished good luck to the UK’s entry this year, Mae Muller. He added: “Let’s also celebrate our songwriters in the contest this year.”
Tim Clement-Jones then introduced Martin Green CBE, managing director BBC Eurovision 2023, who is responsible for leading the Corporation’s coverage of the 67th Eurovision Song Contest, which will recognise and celebrate Ukraine’s victory, as well as UK creativity.
Martin spoke about visiting Warsaw to meet the Ukrainian ambassador and wider team and how important it was to make Eurovision a very serious, but also a true a celebration of how music “brings us together”.
Martin said: “It’s great to see so many Eurovision fans here. We are about to go into one of the busiest periods we have ever been in and we will deliver to the world the two most important things (Eurovision and the King’s Coronation) that are arguably going to happen in this country this year within seven days of each other.”
He said it had been an “absolute joy” working with Ukraine to run the contest on their behalf after meeting their team and drawing up the plans for the contest that includes nine ticketed shows and that will see 8.5 hours of live TV delivered over just five days.
The BBC chief added: “The theme is United by Music. It’s not rocket science. It does what it says on the tin. Music brings us together. Music is the way that we communicate with each other. Music is the way we learn. Cultural creativity is the mainstay of humanity.”
Calling for continued support for the creative and cultural sectors, Martin concluded: “I really hope we do you all proud – and I hope, more importantly, we do Ukraine proud.”
The next speaker, Claire McColgan CBE, director of Culture Liverpool, said Liverpool was a “passionate” city that was delighted to host the contest on behalf of Ukraine, Liverpool and the UK.
Claire said the city had experienced highs and lows, but added: “Liverpool absolutely knows how to showcase itself to the world and it will wrap its arms around friends and colleagues who come to visit us from Ukraine.”
Claire shared the city’s plans for the week ahead of Eurovision and the breadth of scale of the festival around it which will draw tens of thousands of visitors from early May onwards. She described it as the “best of us… in true Liverpool style” and a “Scouse mash up”. She recognised the power of major events, speaking of how important it is to believe in culture.
Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko shared how happy he was to see his new friends from Liverpool. Speaking of the war in Ukraine and what Eurovision will bring to its people, he said:“We’re not just fighting, we are celebrating…I hope this event will bring us a sense of normality”.
The ambassador described the plans around this year as “beautiful and crazy at the same time”.
He closed his speech by sharing his hope that we will all see a victory in Ukraine soon.
Closing the speeches, Lord Clement-Jones wished the best of luck to the UK’s entry, Mae Muller, and Ukraine’s entry, Tvorchi.
UK Music would like to thank Lord Clement-Jones for sponsoring the event, APPG on Music Chair, Kevin Brennan MP and APPG on Ukraine Chair Alex Sobel MP, for their ongoing support for the event plus and the speakers for their brilliant contributions.
Among the guests were Arts Minister Stephen Parkinson, MPs Maria Eagle, Ellie Reeves, Stephanie Peacock, Alex Sobel, Kevin Brennan, John Spellar, Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison, Layla Moran, John Nicolson, Christina Rees, Alison Thewliss and Dame Rosie Winterton.
They were joined by peers including Jeffrey Archer, UK Music Chair Tom Watson, David Watts, Stephen Benn, John Attlee, Judith Jolly, Susan Garden, Angela Harris and Dominic Hubbard, plus DCMS Director for Media and Creative Industries Robert Specterman-Green, Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson, as well as UK Music’s members, members of Liverpool City Council and DCMS officials.
You can see photographs from the event here.