WHEN schoolchildren visited the Scottish Parliament, I would be asked if I knew the First Minister. My response was not only did I serve in his Cabinet but I had gone to school with him, though I was a few years younger. So, Alex Salmond and I go back a long way and though there’s been many a political fight along the road I hold him in huge regard. Moreover, it is acknowledged across the political spectrum that he was a colossus on the political stage.

That’s why in many ways I am saddened by his Russia Today (RT)T TV show. Not because I share the fulmination of faux outrage from many who are grossly hypocritical in their condemnation. Far from it, as he’ll carry it out with aplomb and be far more entertaining than others who left politics for the TV studio. Brian Walden or Matthew Parris were rather dull and he possesses more verve than Michael Portillo, though I’ve enjoyed some of the latter’s travel shows.

READ MORE: British Government to blame for Salmond wasting his talents on RT

I saw my former colleague’s Edinburgh Festival stage show which I found highly entertaining but again left with the same thought that I have now – which is that there must be more that he can be doing with his talents. For that I don’t condemn him, but blame the British Government. Throughout the years leading former politicians have been found roles on an international stage. They don’t always come from within the governing party, either. Neil Kinnock became an EU Commissioner, Helen Liddell was made High Commissioner to Australia and Paddy Ashdown provided with a leadership role in the Balkans.

Now, I fully accept that even before Brexit an EU Commissioner role was unlikely and an ambassadorial role for the UK probably neither appropriate nor would necessarily be welcomed by him. However, there are more than enough international agencies with whom the UK has sufficient leverage to have obtained a senior position.

After all, his stature isn’t just as the longest-serving First Minister of Scotland but also on a UK and international stage. Thirty years in the House of Commons is a significant shift and through the referendum and other issues he also has a global profile; a far more impressive record in fact than many who have been anointed purely for political patronage or simply to get them out of the way.

Given current events in the world I find it hard to believe that there wouldn’t be a willing agency eager to have him with his skills and experience. That an appointment appears not to have been sought speaks to yet another abuse of the respect agenda. It’s not just serving First Ministers who are to be excluded but past ones who are to be snubbed, when in fact such an appointment would have been good for him, reflected well on Scotland and shown the UK not only respecting but building devolution.

READ MORE: British Government to blame for Salmond wasting his talents on RT

Instead we’ve had an outpouring of vitriol with the TV announcement following the denigration of the stage show. The issue now is the channel that he’s using, but safe to say – as with international appointments – no UK station sought his services though Michael Portillo was quickly on our screens following his defeat. I don’t watch RT not because it’s Russian propaganda but because it’s not very good. Mr Salmond, though, may help change that.

Of course it’s Russian propaganda, but many TV stations provide either that or a selective interpretation of events with a spin for the national interest. RT is one of the most blatant but whether it’s Al Jazeera or the BBC it takes place to some degree. The role of the latter in the Iraq War and the independence referendum , never mind the bdosting of Ukip, was far from benign. For me RT is up there with Fox News and as prejudiced in that media as many London broadsheets are in print.

But, it appears on my basic TV channels with the consent of UK authorities. If anyone is giving succour to Vladmimir Putin, whom I loathe, it’s the British Government. They’ve allowed Russian oligarchs, and they remain that mostly due to their client status to Mr Putin, to buy up not just huge swathes of prime London real estate but also football teams and even newspapers. Whether in Syria or at home Britain has said one thing about Putin and done the opposite.

READ MORE: British Government to blame for Salmond wasting his talents on RT

Had Mr Salmond taken the usual route for defeated politicians of a peerage and copious sinecure directorships they’d equally have derided him despite some having no shame in condemning the institution then covering themselves in ermine. Representing foreign interests when paid in Israeli shekels or Saudi Riyals is fine in their book. Historically it’s been public school not state school boys who were Kremlin agents.

So good luck to him, I’m just saddened that he’s not appearing on an international stage.