A SCHEDULING clash yesterday meant that while Nicola Sturgeon was taking questions at FMQs, Rishi Sunak was laying out the UK Government’s economic support plan for businesses and employees impacted by coronavirus.

For those who stuck with Holyrood and missed the Chancellor’s statement, I’ll give a quick recap.

Dubbed “Dishy Rishi” by Tory millennials and Spectator columnists, Sunak is having a bit of a moment. Some are charmed by how different he is to Boris Johnson, most notably in the way he successfully strings sentences together and manages to do up his buttons correctly.

But yesterday Sunak regretfully informed us that he had to stop being so generous. “I can’t save every business and I can’t save every job,’’ he said, sadly.

If the backlash to his measly economic support package is anything to go by, he won’t be able to save Boris Johnson’s job, either.

To be fair to Sunak, he has a point. You give the public an inch and they take a mile. We can’t allow folk to become too reliant on government handouts.

Where does it end? The next time a mad deadly virus rampages around the globe and the Government orders everybody to stay at home, should HM Treasury pick up the tab again? It’s all about expectation management. Give them money to eat and heat their homes now and they’ll soon be needing more. And fuel costs a bloody fortune in winter. Over to FMQs and the coronavirus outbreak at Glasgow University dominated questions.

Ruth Davidson raised the issue of clusters in student accommodation and asked what extra measures were being put in place. Referring to the Scottish Government commitment to having 2000 contact tracers on board, she said: “This week we learned that less than half – only 874 – of those tracers are actually in place across the country.

“Does the First Minister agree that, given the situation we see in our universities today, those tracers are needed now more than ever and can she tell the chamber when they will be delivered?”

In response, Nicola Sturgeon said she had addressed the issue during Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing. After the successful (then unsuccessful) campaign to have the briefings scaled back, I think it’s safe to assume the Scottish Tories are now boycotting them. Because nothing says “sticking it to the SNP” better than refusing to listen to public health guidance during a global pandemic.

The First Minister said: “What we said earlier in the summer was that health boards were going to create a pool of 2000 contact tracers … that pool is there. Health boards have the capacity they need, right now. So it is not the case that capacity is not there – it is there.”

Richard Leonard also asked about the student outbreaks. As so often happens, the poor soul found himself repeating the same questions Davidson had just asked.

Sure, he takes twice as long to ask them and uses twice as many words, but it must still sting a bit. If Scottish Labour can claw their way back to second place at the next Holyrood elections then he has that element of surprise to look forward to. Although the biggest surprise of all would be if he was still leader come May. “You keep saying that Test and Protect is working well but this morning on the BBC, the director of Universities Scotland, Alastair Sim, said that despite discussions with both governments, neither were able to provide sufficient testing capacity. He said – AND I QUOTE HIM: ‘There was not enough kit available at the very beginning of term to enable that for everybody’.

“This is basic. This failure to test is a failure to contain the virus. This will cost people their health, their hopes and some even their lives. This is the same failure we’ve had from day one of the pandemic, a failure to anticipate, a failure to plan, and – above all – a failure to test. First Minister, why were you not better prepared?’’ Nicola Sturgeon responded: “I accept criticism and I accept scrutiny, but I do think at the heart of Richard Leonard’s question there is – if there is a failure – it is a failure to understand some of the basics of what we are seeking to do here and some of the basics of how testing works.”