RUTH Davidson has been forced to defend her decision to take a job-for-life at the unelected House of Lords.

During a heated exchange at First Minister's Questions, the soon-to-be Baroness insisted she was simply going to "another parliament."

The former Scottish Tory leader is temporarily fronting the party’s group in Holyrood following the ousting of Jackson Carlaw, and the uncontested election of Douglas Ross as leader.

Though it was claimed at the time that Carlaw had chosen to stand down of his own accord, the process has been dogged by claims of a plot.

It's known that Davidson and Ross met just days before their colleague decided the top job wasn't for him.

During Thursday’s First Minister’s Questions, Davidson challenged Sturgeon over John Swinney’s ministerial record.

“Next week marks five years since Nicola Sturgeon announced that education would be her number one priority," she said.

"And in those five years she's pulled Scotland out of international tests, her flagship education bill was scrapped, Named Person was struck down by the courts, poor students have been punished by a persistent attainment gap, hundreds of teacher vacancies are left unfilled, and we've just seen the biggest exam fiasco in the history of devolution.”

Davidson added: “John Swinney has been the common denominator through all of this and the First Minister's loyalty to a colleague may be commendable but her real loyalty should be to the parents and the pupils of Scotland. They deserve new leadership in education and John Swinney cannot deliver it. Why won't the First Minister?

Responding, Sturgeon said: "I'm not sure loyalty to colleagues is a strong suit for Ruth Davidson."

She added: "I won't write to universities. The reason for that is because John Swinney has already spoken to the universities. She says we won't publish how the SQA is working. And the reason I won't instruct them to do that today is because they did it last week.

"And, of course, in terms of teachers in our schools, there are more teachers in our schools today than there was when I became First Minister, and we've just funded local authorities to employ more teachers in our schools." 

She added: "You know my mind is not particularly on political matters this morning but if Ruth Davidson wants to have this kind of exchange, she really should think about the position from which she seeks to do it, because just in a few months, I will submit myself and my government to the verdict of the Scottish people in an election.

"That is the ultimate accountability for our record and our leadership.

"And as we do that. Ruth Davidson will be pulling on an ermine and going to the unelected House of Lords.

"Can I gently suggest to Ruth Davidson, that when it comes to holding to account and scrutinising politicians, she's really not coming at this from a position of strength, because it is not me, who's running away from democratic accountability."

A sheepish Davidson replied: "The former leaders of the Labour Party, The Scottish Liberal Democrats, the Scottish Conservative Party might want to go and serve in another Parliament, yes, and she thinks that that's a bad thing, but not a word, not a word of condemnation for the former leader of her party that would rather shill for Putin's prompt."

Sturgeon said she didn't "criticise anybody for wanting to serve in any parliament".

"I just have an old fashioned preference that they get elected," she added.

Green MSP, Ross Greer, wasn't impressed with Davidson's return to frontline politics.

It was, he said, an "absolute travesty"