I’m marooned at the moment from part of my technology so can’t scatter this post with the many graphics it deserves – a seemingly endless series of tweets with photos from Brussels of Alex Salmond lecturing a spell-bound audience of six (one of whom is his party colleague Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh), being sort-of bear-hugged by Jean-Claude Juncker (‘Salmond? Oh yes, British MP. Give him five minutes’), listening as humbly as he can manage as someone says nice things about him, and receiving an award.
Not any old award. A European award. Wow. Big time.
It’s the first award given out by the prestigious Centre Maurits Coppieters, and they’ve chosen to honor (sic) Salmond. Their citation is worth reading in full but meantime here are the highlights. He gets it for his:
dedication and advocacy for Scotland’s right to redefine its political future among a European family of nations. His contribution to advancing Scotland’s democratic case for devolution and independence has re-energised the people of Scotland, Europe and beyond.
He embodies a respect for cultural diversity, peace, democracy, cooperation and a united Europe, just like Maurits Coppieters himself. Through his leadership, he has helped transform Scotland into a fair, open and democratic society.
Well, you could have fooled me.
Of course, Scotland had its once-in-a-generation opportunity to redefine its political future in 2014 (reminder – 55:45 No:Yes) and Alex wasn’t on the winning side. As for respect and transforming Scotland into a fair, open and democratic country, and with apologies to Private Eye, pass the sick bag, Alice.
I’ll bet my bottom dollar you hadn’t heard of Maurits Coppieters or his centre.
He was a Belgian politician who died in 2005 (‘During the Second World War, he refused to work for the German occupier,’ says Wikipedia, which is good to know).
I’m sorry, I’ll start that again. He was a Flemish separatist politician of the Vlaamse Volksbeweging (Flemish People’s Movement).
Is a picture building up of what the centre named after him is all about? No? Then here’s the list of its members:
- Alkartasuna Fundazioa
- Fundación Galiza Sempre
- Fundació Josep Irla
- Fundación Aragonesista 29 de Junio
- Fundació Emili Darder
- Home of Macedonian Culture
- Welsh Nationalism Foundation
- Ezkerraberri Fundazioa
- Fundació Nexe
- Le Peuple Breton
- ADEO – Associacion pel Desvelopament de l’Escrich Occitan
- Hungarian National Council of Transylvania
- Kurdish Institute of Brussels
- Istituto Camillo Bellieni
- Free State of Rijeka Association
You’ll be none the wiser for some of these unless your knowledge of regional politics and languages in Europe (and beyond) is all-encompassing. The seventh one on the list is a clue although curiously, on the Centre’s website map, Wales seems to be located somewhere on the South coast of Devon.
So now you’ve got it, I’m sure. It’s most of the divisive, and sometimes I suspect squalid, separatist movements of Europe, most of them masquerading as institutes or foundations when their sole purpose is to add another dozen or so mini-countries to the existing patchwork quilt of Europe.
I said ‘most of’ because there are at least two curious omissions. Despite the origin of the centre, they have no Flemish members. Unless they own it and everyone else is a guest. And there’s no Scottish representation. Can we expect that to be rectified now they’ve ‘honored’ the great man himself, father of the nation etc etc?
Incidentally, Salmond was nominated for this supreme accolade by the CMC’s ‘Advisory Scientific Council.’ They must use language in a different way at the Centre from most of us.
At this rate, Salmond will be looking back at his once-upon-a-time friendly relations with golf course owner Donald Trump as the highlight of his political career.