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Swan song or dead duck?

Posted by Richard Friday, February 11, 2005

He must be quackers, but what do you expect of Denis MacShame who, hot foot from the Commons where he has been debating the European Union Bill, arrived in Swansea yesterday to unveil Britain's EU presidency logo.

And what is it to be? An animated flock of swans flying in a V-shape formation on an EU's blue background with the words "UK Presidency of the EU 2005" in yellow.

Costing £10,000 to design, by the summer it will adorn everything from stationery, paper weights, ties, cuff links and umbrellas and should become synonymous with the UK presidency.

Said the egregious MacShame, "The design concept is swans in flight. They fly in a beautiful V-formation but they always change their leader, and that is very like Europe," adding that the image of the swans, and the team work and leadership it represented, was a metaphor which set out the UK vision for Europe.

How prescient was Keats, observing how "oft have you seen a swan superbly frowning", and frowning they must be at their images to be used for such a tawdry purpose.

And while we're into metaphors, MacShame had better hope there is no wandering Parsifal abroad, "with bows and arrows fashioned with his own hands", to shoot at the flocks of birds. Otherwise, the logo will be a dead duck, symbolising the swan song of the project.

And is it relevant, we wonder, to recall that, in Wagner's opera, Parsifal was a German?