SOMEBODY should track and trace the viewing figures for FMQs over the course of the pandemic. In a year where life has slowed down and our worlds have shrunk, it’s not exactly compelling viewing, is it?

That’s not to underplay its importance. Holding the Government to account and scrutinising its response to the crisis is vital. As the session got under way, SNP politicians began tweeting their annoyance about the questions the First Minister was being asked. Yet the clue is in the name, and it’s not for them to say what questions opposition parties ask of the First Minister, or complain on her behalf if they don’t like them.

And it’s not for me to make suggestions either. But I’m going to, because I have to sit through it every week and it’s the least I deserve.

Politicians should remember that they aren’t just talking to one another during these sessions: they are speaking to the nation. At the very least, they are speaking to me and Willie Rennie’s mum. And we deserve better quite frankly.

When the questions and answers get technical, as they so often do, the emphasis should be on keeping the attention of the viewing public. I’m not for one second suggesting that politicians should dumb things down, but could they liven it up.

The theme of FMQs was Test and Protect. MSPs were going to Test our patience and Protect themselves against anybody posting a clip of their contribution on social media later, by ensuing that they said nothing interesting whatsoever.

Ruth Davidson said the public need to have confidence in Test and Protect. She said serious questions had been raised about its performance this week and the public deserve “honest and upfront” answers.

“We have learned that the figures showing the numbers of people contacted by the system was wrong. We have also learned that the First Minister was told they were wrong a week ago. And yet, the findings were quietly buried in a revision to a Public Health Scotland paper, and only came to light thanks to journalists digging.”

The National:

The First Minister said Public Health Scotland had issued a correction and had made it available on their website. She went on to explain what the coding error was. The coding error was mentioned numerous times throughout the session but I’ll only quote it once, because we’re not getting any younger here and I like you all enough to spare you the repetition.

“What the error meant was that previously, if you had – for example – been tested at 9am on a Monday morning, and then you were contacted by a contact tracer having tested positive at say, 11am on the Tuesday morning, the system was counting that as within 24 hours because it was the next calendar day, when in actual fact, that was slightly more than 24 hours and therefore should have been in the 24-48 hour period. But in many cases, this is a difference of a very small number of hours. That said, it shouldn’t have happened.”

Got it? Good.

After that answer, there was no stopping the opposition leaders. Off they went, firing out acronyms and statistics across the chamber, while MSPs nodded dutifully to show that they were paying attention and definitely not on their phones doing an ASDA shop.

“The most recent figures for Test and Protect is that they are achieving 95.8% within 72 hours and 88.7% within 48 hours, exceeding the WHO standard,” the First Minister said.

Ruth Davidson replied: "The First Minister is right that the WHO says, to be effective, we need a contact rate of 80% in 72 hours. The week of October 10, when we were counting a contact as a physical conversation, we missed that target by a mile, recording under 70% of contacts traced.”

They then argued a bit about “SMS messages” and I wondered if I’d sneezed too hard and teleported back to 2003.

Is the sending of an SMS message recorded as a contact tracer having traced a contact? Does an SMS message count as meaningful contact? A question that the mistresses of Tory cabinet ministers must ask themselves a lot, I would imagine.

When it was time for Richard Leonard to ask his question, he got in on the Test and Protects stats action too.

Fair play to the lad. These are really important issues and I’m glad that the politicians have a better grasp of numbers than I do.

But I couldn’t hang around to see it through to the end. I was 100% bored by that point and I had some SMS messages to send.