Alex Salmond taking a controversial job with the Kremlin-funded Russia Today is the fault of Westminster, an SNP chief claimed today.
Former minister Kenny MacAskill said it was an ‘abuse of the respect agenda’ for the London government not to have sought out an international job for Mr Salmond.
He claimed Mr Salmond’s experience as a former First Minister of Scotland, SNP leader and MP of 30 years’ standing would mean international agencies would be keen to have him.
Alex Salmond, pictured posing on the set of his new RT show. He has faced a storm of criticism for agreeing to take the ‘Kremlin’s rouble’ for hosting the show on a broadcaster widely views as a Russian state propaganda channel
Former minister Kenny MacAskill (right with Mr Salmond on the campaign trail) said it was an ‘abuse of the respect agenda’ for the London government not to have sought out an international job for Mr Salmond
Mr MacAsksill cited ex Labour leader Neil Kinnock who was made an EU Commissioner and ex Lib Dem leader who worked in the Balkans.
Mr Salmond announced last week he would be launching a show on Russia Today, which is accused of state-funded propaganda and fake news.
He was condemned by political rivals and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon distanced herself from the decision.
Writing in the Glasgow Herald, Mr MacAskill said: 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.’
He added: ‘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.
Mr Salmond was condemned by political rivals and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon distanced herself from the decision
‘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.’
Last week, First Minister Ms Sturgeon revealed her predecessor had not consulted her over joining broadcaster RT.
In the first public sign of tension between them since she became First Minister three years ago, Miss Sturgeon said she would have advised him to ‘seek another channel’ if she had known prior to the announcement
The fact that Mr Salmond did not even consult Miss Sturgeon or her advisers before signing the deal suggests a major breakdown in relations.
But Mr Salmond insisted RT would allow him ‘freedom of speech’ and would not make editorial decisions about the weekly show. The first episode of The Alex Salmond Show is due to be screened on Thursday.
Insiders in the SNP fear the party’s reputation will be damaged by one of its highest-profile individuals linking up with a broadcaster funded by Vladimir Putin’s regime.