THE Curse of the Swinney has struck again. The Education Secretary may have hunched meekly through FMQs, but he cast a long, helpless shadow over the proceedings.

The attacks came thick and fast - on child protection, on primary school testing, on university funding.

It was weirdly impressive in a way. Was no policy safe from this man’s touch? He must be a whirlwind of duff decisions.

Acting Tory leader Jackson Carlaw flipped to the Named Person scheme in the Rolodex of shame. A mere six years in gestation, it was now being axed as an unworkable mess.

Nicola Sturgeon didn’t want to go into too much detail, as the John-nado would make a statement later, but she did offer “some general comments about the direction of travel”.

That direction, also taken by bales of taxpayer cash, turned out to be down the drain.

As Mr Carlaw asked why ample warnings were ignored, the FM got increasingly ratty. Unable to disagree with the content, she declared his “tone” was “regrettable”.

Didn’t he realise ministers had meant well? It was just the details they’d got wrong.

A sterling defence of the deputy FM it was definitely not.

Ms Sturgeon had more luck with human bullseye Richard Leonard. After the Labour leader pushed for more cash for universities, the FM asked what he would cut to pay for it.

“I have asked Richard Leonard to do that on countless occasions, but he has not once come forward with any ideas. Maybe today will be different. The door is open, as always,” she said.

“This is First Minister’s question time!” he squeaked. “I am asking the questions!”

Perhaps it was the SNP uproar that led him to stray onto Brexit. “I am determined that we should Remain,” said the ex-referendum-respecter.

“We have possibly heard Labour position on Brexit number 452,” scoffed the FM.

“It is utterly bamboozling. That rambling and incoherent series of questions demonstrates why Richard Leonard will never stand here answering questions to the First Minister, because he has zero credibility.”

The SNP laughter was deafening. But it was hardly a revelation. Mr Leonard’s MSPs could have told you that. And his friends and family. Also, total strangers, hermits, the comatose, dogs. Ah, let’s just say all of Scotland for short.

No, Mr Leonard is not destined for the FM’s chair. But he’d make a textbook Education Secretary.