IN a parallel universe, where Tory MPs had the courage of their own convictions, we would have been starting this week’s FMQs sketch off a bit differently.

There would be a celebratory tone: cries of “ding dong, the dafty is gone” would ring out from the pages of The National and into your homes. Alas, we know that stories that begin with drunken Tories rarely have a happy ending.

Boris Johnson survived, albeit by a much narrower margin than many expected.

Which leaves Douglas Ross in a somewhat tricky position.

Back at the start of this mess – which seems a very long time ago now – I praised the Scottish Conservative leader for being one of the first off the blocks to say the Prime Minister should step down.

Since then, Douglas Ross has flipped and flopped and flailed around all over the place, changing his mind more often than the Downing Street janitor has to empty the bottle bin.

At FMQs, he cut a diminished figure. Which is really saying something, when you consider that his previous FMQs highlights include classics such as “SHE WANTS TO CUT THE BOTTOMS OFF OF DOORS!!”

Ironically, it was actually one of his stronger weeks in terms of the actual line of questioning he chose.

The National:

He asked the First Minister about NHS treatment waiting times and was critical of the sharp increase in people waiting more than four weeks for their appointments.

The First Minister – who should have been squirming at some of the stats quoted – batted him away with as much as ease as Boris Johnson rewrote the rules to allow piss-ups in No 10.

‘’This is challenging for the NHS: it can’t be otherwise given the impact of a two-year pandemic which is still making its presence felt, but the government is supporting health boards to make sure that recovery happens’’ she told Douglas Ross. ‘’Things are getting worse – FAR WORSE – not better, First Minister’’ he replied.

He went on to cite a newspaper report about a heart patient whose appointment was scheduled for 2024.

The First Minister said that she would look into the specifics of the case and the patient would be contacted.

She went on to pull out that old classic of First Minister’s Questions and compared NHS Scotland’s performance with the rest of the UK.

It’s a move that always provokes anger from the opposition benches, but the wrath of the Scottish Tories can’t be much of a concern to her because she did it anyway.

‘’In Scotland, per 1000 of the population, there are 101 patients waiting – in England, that’s 112 per 1000 of the population, and in Wales, 221. That doesn’t excuse the performance in Scotland, we have a responsibility to tackle that and that’s exactly what we are doing’’ she said. She went on: “Waiting times are worse in England than they are in Scotland, accident and emergency waiting times are worse in England than they are in Scotland…”

It’s an important issue and a missed opportunity from the Scottish Tory leader.

The ineffectiveness of the messenger detracted from the effectiveness of the message.