HOLYROOD’S chamber descended into farce on Wednesday after Douglas Ross refused to stop jeering at SNP depute leader Keith Brown to give way while speaking.

It came during a debate on a motion tabled by Ross’s Tories on the “Transparency of Scotland's Governing Party”.

Brown, the final MSP to contribute before the closing remarks from each party, said that the title of the Conservative motion also opened their own party up to scrutiny.

“The motion talks about the governing party,” Brown began, “but as the Tories never tire of saying … Scotland has two governments and theirs is the governing party also”.

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He went on: “And yes, the Tories are transparent … so transparent that it is crystal clear to everyone that this motion is nothing more than an attempt to grab some headlines and to deflect from the failures of their own government at Westminster.

“For example, last week they didn’t seem to think that debating the UK Government’s abhorrent anti-immigration bill was a good use of their time. So transparent was their discomfort you could only see one or two of the backbenchers, the others were completely transparent.

“However, this week they’re here a-plenty for a debate about party political matters. So let’s play their game and do a wee test of transparency here.

“I’m happy to give way to any Tory member who can and will tell the chamber how many members they have in Scotland. Anyone. Anyone?”

The Scottish Tory leader stood up to take on the offer, but Brown refused to give way because Ross indicated he would not actually be answering the question posed.

Amid jeers from the Conservative benches, Brown said he had “obviously touched a raw nerve”, before he went on to again offer to give way.

He said: “I would also be happy to give way to any Tory who can tell us – and let’s make this as easy as possible – just to the nearest £1 billion, how much did the Truss-Kwarteng economic experiment cost the people of Scotland?”

Brown and Ross both stood up and sat down multiple times amid the confusion that followed, as Ross began speaking, only to make clear that he was not going to answer the question posed.

At that, Brown refused to give way, leading to further jeers from the Conservative benches.

The deputy presiding officer, Annabelle Ewing, had to step in as Ross stood up to shout across the chamber at Brown as the speech went on.

Scots Tory MSP Jamie Halcro Johnson then interrupted to ask to make a point of order, telling Ewing that Brown should clarify if his questions are rhetorical or genuine. He was told that was “not a point of order”.

Amid further jeers, Brown went on to list a raft of other examples of the Conservative party declining to answer questions, including around the taxpayer-funded polling into attitudes to the Union which they have refused to release – despite a court ruling.

Elsewhere in the debate, which Ross was the only party leader to attend, the Scottish Tory MSP accused the SNP of “secrecy, spin and cover-ups”.

He claimed that while First Minister Humza Yousaf has been “happy” to answer questions from the press, he is unwilling to give a statement to MSPs.

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Ross said matters around the internal workings of the governing party are in the “public interest and should be properly scrutinised and debated in the national Parliament”.

Insisting there are still “crucial questions” to be answered “weeks into this sorry saga”, the Scottish Tory leader said Yousaf should answer questions from fellow MSPs.

“Today marks 16 years since the SNP were elected into Government,” Ross said.

“During that time we have seen secrecy, spin and cover ups from the heart of Government. Today is an opportunity for SNP members to say enough is enough.”

Parliamentary Business Minister George Adam (below) spoke for the Scottish Government.

He made clear that “transparency and scrutiny” are important, and he hit out at the Tories over their own refusal to reveal their current membership figures – saying Ross’s party “won’t practice what they are trying to preach”.

The National:

Adam added: “The absolute hypocrisy from the Conservatives is almost laughable.

“You have to admire someone who has that level of brass neck, to complain about a lack of transparency when you lead the Scottish Conservative Party.”

He recalled how the Conservatives at Westminster had “illegally prorogued the UK Parliament to avoid debate and scrutiny”, and he said that at the Scottish Conservative conference last weekend Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would “only agree to speak to the Scottish press if he could handpick the media”.

Ross Greer, the Scottish Green MSP, also took the Tories to task over their links to Russian money and donations from people with close links to Vladimir Putin.

Adam continued: “The Tories come to us here in the Scottish Parliament and they talk about our integrity.

“This party, the Conservatives, have received hundreds of thousands of pounds from unincorporated associations that do not reveal their origin of funding, and they question the integrity of others.

“You just cannot take the Tories seriously on this issue.”

In 2021, the year of the most recent Holyrood election, the Scottish Tories were handed more than £95,000 in donations by a “dark money” trust.

The Scottish Unionist Association Trust (SUAT), which donated the money, is an unincorporated association, meaning it does not have to file accounts or show where its money originated.

Adam also noted in the chamber that “within days” of being elected SNP leader, Yousaf had announced a review of governance within the party.

The minister told MSPs: “I am not going to stand here and claim that there are not issues in the SNP which need to be addressed.

“But I can stand here and say these issues are going to be addressed.”