ANNIE Wells, Conservative MSP for the Glasgow region, is not the first politician to be skewered by a well prepared interviewer, and won’t be the last.

Truth to tell, I used to think she got a bad media rap due to the kind of snobbery which makes crass assumptions about intelligence on the basis of social background. There’s still far too much of that about.

However, questioned by James Cook on The Nine last week, it was clear Annie’s grasp of matters financial was on a par with my ubiquitous knowledge of South American rain forest amphibians. As they say in the city she represents “she didnae hae a scooby”.

You can point to the fact her shadow brief is health and social care rather than finance, but it’s difficult to overlook the on air evidence that she seemed utterly unaware of even basics like the block grant and how it’s formulated.

There are too many people like Annie in Holyrood; list MSP’s who won a seat because of where their party ranked them on their internal lists. In theory these names ought to represent the best and brightest people each party believes should aspire to our national parliament. Instead, much too often, the lists are used to settle scores, repay favours, or make up the numbers.

The way our convoluted D’Hondt version of the additional member system for proportional representation works, parties are pretty clear who has a half decent chance of getting through Holyrood’s doors. So the folk at the wrong end of the party list can rest assured that their name will never adorn anything more serious than their own door. You’re there cherubs, because they needed enough bodies to fill in the form.

WATCH: Tory MSP Annie Wells's SNP attack torn apart in car crash BBC interview

Although voters technically know for whom they’re voting since the parties publish their lists, only the anoraks ever scan them and then dig out their constituency profiles to figure out who has a decent chance of a seat where, and who is more likely to win the lottery with a lucky dip from the grocer’s.

It’s also why parties are so keen to get you to vote for them with your second cross on that different coloured toilet roll of a ballot paper. At the last election, not only did the Tories come right out and only ask for your second vote, but, for the hard of thinking, they even told you which colour to look out for. Presumably colour blind voters would just have to take their chances.

Meanwhile the SNP repeated the mantra “both votes SNP” at every opportunity despite being very well aware that there were only two regions where that would give them a real chance of a wee top up. And, not at all incidentally, because the new Alba party was only asking for list votes.

In short a PR system, does what it says on the tin. It’s designed to give parties the number of seats a fair share of all their votes deserve, the corollary being that the more first past the post seats you get, the less likely you are to be handed any more.

Let us not forget too, that you can actually be that bright intelligent candidate with a real contribution to make, but find yourself thrust down the batting order because the party hierarchy has taken agin you. Over the years several folk who are not exactly numpties have found themselves summarily demoted in this fashion.

It has happened, inter alia to SNP President Mike Russell in the past, and in the last election to Joan McAlpine who committed the now public hanging offence of speaking her mind on the gender question. (Trust me, I ken about public hangings for this “offence”).

This habit of picking people who will a) toe the party line no matter what or b) at least shut up if the line doesn’t appeal, is a profoundly unhealthy by product of our electoral system as manipulated by party managers in all parties.

The Greens, currently polishing their ministerial halos, lost one of the best parliamentarians Holyrood had, not even because he spoke against party policy, but because he went to a meeting to try to understand the views of those who disagreed with it. What a traitor, eh? Listening to another viewpoint! Off with his head.

Labour’s post devolutionary past is not a shining beacon of democracy either. When they were compiling a list of candidates for the first ever Scottish Parliament in 1999 they did so with a panel which included Labour grandees who had gone native at Westminster.

Folk who actually wondered aloud whether or not Holyrood would be able to cope without a sizeable number of Westminster denizens to guide their poor amateur ways. Yes, really! (In the event only Donald Dewar, Sam Galbraith and Henry McLeish migrated from the Commons’ Labour ranks. Holyrood coped.) During this selection process the panel set its face against several parliamentary wannabes whose intellect was hardly in question, including Esther Roberton, Isobel Lindsay, and Susan Deacon, although the latter successfully appealed and became a minister in Dewar’s first cabinet.

It’s an enduring myth that Labour devised our PR system basically to ensure the SNP never got anywhere near government. In fact Scottish Labour then, like UK Labour now, was opposed to PR at first, not least because, as by far the largest party, they had the most to lose from ditching first past the post.

They got their arm twisted up their back by prominent Labour supporters like the late Campbell Christie, then the main man in the STUC, and the Labour boss of the mighty Strathclyde Region.

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What IS true is that evidence from Europe suggested going over to any proportional system would likely result in coalitions as indeed it did when Labour and the Lib Dems formed the first “Executive” as it was styled. And, lo, here we are again with the coalition which dare not speak its name.

AS it happens the D’Hondt system we use – and which is so simple that even numerate folk run out of batteries in their pocket calculators – has another version which probably didn’t appeal to any party. The second version also has a list of candidates available for the delight and delectation of the electorate. But this system allows the voters to choose who comes where on the list, not the party bosses.

For myself, I don’t see why this should frighten the horses. After all in the constituency poll the poor bloody electoral infantry gets to choose the candidate least likely to scunner them, over some which are generally agreed to be a waste of useful space.

You could argue, I suppose, that largely disengaged voters are unlikely to know as much about the folk on the list as the party people who put them there, and then ranked them. Which would be fine and dandy if we could rely on the parties to rank them according to talent as opposed to capacity for dumb obedience.

Meanwhile, down by, they cling to the wreckage of FPTP, thus ensuring that voters in UK elections almost always get a government for which the majority didn’t vote. The current PM managed just over 40% of the electorate, but it has gone down previously to not very much over a third.

In Scotland we have refined this anomaly to make it possible to be governed by a party which has never enjoyed majority support for more than six decades.

You could call that democracy, or you could consider it the worst form of stitch up. When the Lib Dems agreed to share the Conservatives’ bed in 2010 they were promised a referendum on proportional representation.

What they didn’t know was that their bedmate would then campaign against it. See Tories?