FMQs Sketch: Is there anything worse for Douglas Ross than false sympathy from your political foe Nicola Sturgeon?

In the first FMQs of the year, MSPs had the chance to forget past disagreements and mud-slinging and start the new year afresh with boundless optimism and cross-party agreement.

For once, the chamber was – just about – united in spending the first half of FMQs talking about what Nicola Sturgeon likes to label “important issues”, that of Covid-19 support for businesses and the NHS.

Not that any of that sort of basic governing stuff really mattered to any of the MSPs in the chamber.

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Nicola Sturgeon pressed on business support and NHS performance at FMQs
Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross during First Minster's Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh.

Instead, like school children stood around the edge of a playground waiting for the two bullies to start punching each other, MSPs of all colours sat sniggering and smirking at the inevitable mention of the large floppy haired elephant in the room.

It had been a chastising day for Douglas Ross already, forced to defend himself against the falsely erudite and pompous Jacob Rees-Mogg, who appears to be on a one-man crusade to destroy what’s left of the union.

And it didn’t take long for the First Minister to join in, with a quick mention of Tories in power labelled a “touchy subject”.

After the Scottish Tory leader had run through his pre-scripted questions on the issues no-one was really listening to anyway, the SNP leader went for the jugular, joking neither the people of Scotland nor members of Ross’s own party could “contemplate” him running Scotland.

Cue a wry smile from Ross.

Turn to Audrey Nicol, a favoured backbencher for setting up the First Minister for a rant about Westminster, who – of course – asked whether the description of Ross as a “lightweight” showed the need to “escape” to the safety of independence.

Personal insults? That’s not the style of the nice, Where’s Charlie SNP, Sturgeon said.

"Even I am not as derogatory about him as his own Tory colleagues are being”, the First Minister added.

Even Ross might find independence, and the idea of no longer being treated “like something on the sole of Westminster’s shoe” would be a “really attractive proposition”, needled the First Minister.

There’s nothing worse than fake sympathy from a political opponent. And while groans came from the Tory benches, after Ross’s week many must surely be tempted to agree with Sturgeon.

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