Comment: He was head and shoulders above rivals

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If you Google the words “political Marmite” you’ll probably find a picture of Alex Salmond.

Love him or loathe him, no-one doubts his formidable debating skills and sheer political chutzpah. And Holyrood would have been a pretty dull place over the last few years without him.

Plenty of people were turned off – but there are many who will be genuinely bereft at his abrupt departure. He has simply dominated the Scottish political scene, head and shoulders above any rival, for the best part of a decade.

And the truth is that his resignation will tell us more about the current state of Scottish politics than any of us would care to admit.

Salmond was that rare beast, a “Westminster class” politician – a depressing phrase, but an apt one – plying his trade in Edinburgh.

There is no shortage of talent on the SNP frontbench in particular – and few doubt Nicola Sturgeon’s ability to fill her boss’s boots.

But now that he has stepped down from the front line it is an unavoidable fact that there are precious few other genuine A-list politicians in the Scottish 
Parliament.

The kind who, like Salmond, you would be pleased to see going in to represent Scotland in tough negotiations on fish quotas, block grants, or other similar acts of political cattle trading.

In recent weeks, there has been talk of Labour heavyweights Alistair Darling, Gordon Brown and Jim Murphy coming “home” to do their bit at Holyrood.

The fear now is that they – and others of their ilk who might have considered swapping London for Edinburgh under independence – will think there are better places to pursue their careers.

One of the most pressing challenges facing the Scottish Parliament as it aims to evolve will be to find ways of enticing new talent into its ranks.