FOR “whom the gods would destroy they first make mad” said Prometheus, as he learned of Alex Salmond’s new RT-backed television show.
After more than twenty years Salmond’s thespian need for attention and the drive for Scottish independence have finally now become an inseparable pursuit in his head.
And what better evidence? RT, formerly called Russia Today, is the state-owned mouthpiece of the Putin-regime in Russia. The organisation has now even forgone the pretence of being a media outlet and registered as an agent of the Russian government in America. Nevertheless, here comes ‘The Alex Salmond Show’ as some ironic antithesis to decades of browbeating the BBC over alleged bias. Go figure.
That Salmond can be so ignorant as to the boundaries of British politics is an embarrassment to his party, country and personal reputation. His successor, Nicola Sturgeon, has not only questioned the decision, but the Scottish National Party have quietly distanced themselves from their former leader. SNP MEP Alyn Smith gloriously hit the mark when asking “what the f**k was he thinking?”
Salmond is neither avuncular gentlemen or elder statesman; he’s a knee-jerk reactionary who’s become a little too used to power and the limelight. The unceremonious loss of his parliamentary seat at the 2017 general election was an unheralded end to an otherwise indomitable political spirit, but all political careers, as they say, end in failure.
There were never to be the traditional laurels of state for Salmond; Scotland has no second chamber to shuffle him off to; the House of Lords would be too hypocritical, and he never displayed Sturgeons’s more cerebral navigation of policy issues to just sit quietly in her shadow.
The one trick pony has crashed, conflating the successes of the SNP, fluctuating support for independence and his political pull in an arrogant fireball. The irony, of course, is Salmond owes more to the precedents set by New Labour and Tony Blair than any of his SNP forebears.
Blair was the first modern former premier to trail blaze the globe in money-making ventures. He belongs, alongside David Cameron now, to a breed of former young leaders who are too young to settle for the standard peerage but are too old to expect anything less than top billing.
Salmond has not wised up to the fact he’s redundant. A Gordian Knot of European disintegration replaced the bully and bluster of the 2013 independence campaign. Brexit and Catalonia are the tide setters for what happens next in Scotland. The Scottish Conservatives have made ample gains, and the total confusion of Brexit calls for stability, not self-promoting speculation on the side.
Salmond has little offer beyond a crash course in ego. The power trip will end, of course, but will it be in time to salvage Salmond, the statesman from Salmond, the brand? Scotland deserves better than tawdry mercantilism from its former political masters.