ON Wednesday, live from the same Brighton venue where ABBA wowed the world at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, six performers will go head to head for the honour of representing the UK at the 2018 competition in Lisbon.

There will inevitably be a ruckus over the winning song and whether it deserves to represent the UK ... but before that row has happened another is in the offing: the time over whether Scotland should have its own representation at Eurovision.

SNP MEP Alyn Smith is leading the call for a Scottish Eurovision entry. He's also a bit fed up with the way the BBC 'does' Eurovision - treating as a camp sideshow rather than a celebration of European pop culture like the rest of the continent.

“It's a little bit snide and grudging the way the BBC does it,” he told the Sunday Herald. “This is a shop window and a stage on which we could shine whereas the way that the BBC does it still is 'this is a bit of camp nonsense and it's rubbish, and it's great because it's rubbish, and it's great because it's camp'.”

Other countries, however, see the long-running competition for what it is, he says – a popular televised event with a massive global reach – so they're eager to capitalise on the chances it offers to showcase their musical talent. For the host cities, it's also an opportunity to promote themselves for tourism, business conferences and investment.

So Smith is calling for a different approach to how the Eurovision Song Contest is presented in the UK, one which will allow Scotland to field its own entry and hopefully benefit accordingly. He has already mooted the idea to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which represents around 73 broadcasters in 56 countries and which produces the Eurovision Song Contest. The BBC is just one of four UK EBU members, the others being ITV, Channel 4 and Welsh broadcaster S4C.

Smith's proposal is for a system of rotation, with the home nations taking it in turns to field an entry under the UK flag. Those home networks with corporate EBU membership – BBC Scotland or STV in Scotland, say, and UTV in Northern Ireland – would take it in turns to mount the coverage. The EBU has confirmed that there is nothing to stop the implementation of this new format, a model Smith refers to as “the Uefa solution” after the way England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are allowed to field separate teams in international football competitions.

“This is a shop window that Scotland could have once every four years presently, or indeed in an independent Scotland every year, to an audience of the entire European continent and wider,” he said. “It's an opportunity to showcase the vibrant Scottish music scene that we have in spades.

“We already punch above our weight musically and here's a platform where instead of trotting out some world-class talent we're trotting out some tired, third rate re-hashes which wouldn't look out of place in a Butlins theme camp. The way the BBC is doing it is actually celebrating camp, kitsch mediocrity rather than talent. That's a harsh judgement on the entries we've had recently, but I think it's a good one.”

Smith's call comes against the backdrop of a fast-changing media landscape. In autumn of this year, Ofcom-permitting, the BBC plans to launch its new Scottish channel, with a concomitant funding increase that could, potentially, meet the costs of a mounting Eurovision coverage. “Here's something that the new BBC Scotland channel could do and demonstrate that they were serious,” said Smith.

Meanwhile the increasing popularity of music streaming services offers big opportunities for artists who can capitalise on the sort of exposure a Eurovision appearance would offer. Smith won't be drawn on the specific bands or musicians that he would like to see participating in Eurovision under the Scottish flag, but thinks that a sea change in how the contest is viewed in the UK would attract the big names because of the potential rewards.

“There's a reticence on behalf of serious artists to say they'd go for Eurovision because of the way it's done in the UK whereas across the rest of the EU it's a big gig, a big showcase,” he said. “[But] I think there's ample Scottish talent that could be doing it and I think if the broadcaster that was doing it had an enthusiasm for the showcase and for the contest rather than the UK's slightly snidey attitude to it, I think we could have a completely different approach.”

He added: “In these Brexit times we live in, where the UK's reputation is not overly hot, I think we need some opportunities to do well. Here's an opportunity and here's a mechanism whereby Scotland could have a showcase but also underline that we still want to be part of this.

"There needs to be a demand for it, there needs to be a willingness to make it happen. But at the moment the way Eurovision is done is guaranteeing that the UK is going to be an also-ran forever, and it's relegating what could be a great opportunity to showcase our talent to a missed opportunity of second-rate, campy kitsch. And I think that's because the BBC has got a tired old formula and a tired old attitude to the whole thing that needs to be rebooted. This would be a way to do it.”

The Sunday Herald approached a BBC spokesperson for a comment on Smith's proposals and received this reply. “The BBC is a member of the EBU and as such we submit a song for the competition as the United Kingdom entry.”