JACKSON Carlaw’s time as Scottish Tory leader achieved the refreshing brevity his Holyrood speeches so often lacked. 

He was in post for just 168 days. 

Remarkably, this was two days less than he spent as interim leader while his party dragged its feet replacing Ruth Davidson.

READ MORE: MP Douglas Ross tipped to be new Scottish Tory leader

He should have realised early the stars were not aligned for him.

His dry run for the leadership proper saw him take the party through a bruising general election campaign based on opposition to a second independence referendum.

With the election called because of Brexit, it was the wrong fight, but in Remainer Scotland he played the only card he could, not even naming Boris Johnson in his speeches.

It failed. In 2017, Scotland was the only part of the UK where the Tories improved their numbers. 

In 2019, it was the only part where the Tories went backwards.

Mr Carlaw lost seven of 13 MPs.

But what really threw him was coronavirus, which sent his 2021 election strategy out the window.

He had planned to focus on the SNP’s record in office, especially its troubles with education and health, but Covid knocked all of that to one side and became the only issue that mattered.

Worse for Mr Carlaw, the crisis elevated Ms Sturgeon to new heights of popularity, and the polls showed support for independence consistently over 50 per cent.

As he attacked the First Minister over her handling of the crisis, he often appeared petty, a small man lost against a giant backdrop.

Covid also led to trouble with his MSPs, who were furious with his dithering when Dominic Cummings broke the lockdown. Mr Carlaw had to be dragged into condemning it. 

“He’s lost a huge amount of confidence in his own judgment,” said one party source.

“He doesn’t know when to support the First Minister and when to try to land a blow on her.” 

He ended the drift by admitting he wasn't up to the job.

All eyes now turn to Douglas Ross, the former MSP who did show some backbone over Mr Cummings, resigning as a Scotland Office minister in displeasure.

A top flight football referee, he went to Westminster in 2017 after giving the SNP’s Angus Robertson the red card in Moray. 

READ MORE: In full: Jackson Carlaw’s resignation statement

The instant favourite to replace Mr Carlaw, his priority would be to stop the SNP winning a second majority next May, which could be the final whistle for the Union.

He is expected to be supported by Ruth Davidson, who is set to take on Ms Sturgeon at FMQs until Mr Ross is re-elected to Holyrood.

The SNP have accused him of being a retread who ran away to Westminster, the same charge levelled at MP Alex Salmond when he became leader in 2004.

The resulting Salmond-Sturgeon double act led the SNP to power.

A Ross-Davidson front two can’t hope for that, but they might be enough to deny the SNP Indyref2.