THERE are few things quite as ex- as an ex-politician. They are lost souls, drifting spectrally around the margins of public life, pining for the unrequited love of the electorate.

Ex-first ministers can get it very bad: shabby, shop-soiled things descending through hellish circles of obsolescence, eyes glistening with shame.

The book, the phone-in, the travelling variety act, the fig-leaf on a murderous autocracy.

And so it was that, barely three years after the trapdoor in the political stage swallowed him, Alex Salmond came to defend a Kremlin propaganda machine in the wake of its owner launching the first offensive nerve agent attack in Europe since World War II. 

Hey, these things happen.

This week’s Alex Salmond Show was classic RT.

There was some valid criticism of the old country – on gay rights – followed by some moral equivalence. Gay rights are under attack within the Commonwealth too, you know.

Then some clips of MPs agreeing Russia was behind the Salisbury attack, followed by two guests given far more airtime to sow doubts.

Mr Salmond introduced “former MI5 officer” Annie Machon as a commentator. He didn’t mention them, but her previous insights include the US government blowing up the Pentagon on 9/11, and British spooks having Lady Di “taken out” in a pro-Israel plot.

Funnily enough, she thought Sergei Skripal could have been poisoned by some other bloke’s homebrew Novichok, and it was probably highly unrelated to him once betraying Vladimir Putin.

The next guest’s theory was that “rogue operators” might have been “freelancing”. Plus, smart people don’t believe their government anymore. Wink!

Finally, the old Rouble Wrangler did his bit to camera. As the scrolling news tutted about Russia being accused “despite no thorough probe”, he denied being the useful idiot so many others can see on screen.

“I hold no brief for the Kremlin,” he said from their studio. “RT has not been a propaganda station. Don’t shut down TV stations because your standpoint is so uncertain.”

He chuckled. “Until next week, I hope, goodbye for now.” Maybe he was cocky because Novichok can’t touch him. After all, he’s a man who already has a lot of nerve.