IT'S been a while, but we all savoured a fine public flogging at FMQs yesterday, with the Justice Secretary bound to the mast for 40 lashes.

No relief, no last-minute pardon, just stroke after stroke after stroke as he was punished for making an almighty hash of reforming the law around corroboration.

Back in February, Kenny MacAskill railed against Labour and Tory MSPs concerned about abolishing the requirement for corroboration.

It was a Unionist plot, he had thundered. It was Better Together pulling a fast one. It was a Downing Street commando raid in Union Jack balaclavas. It was ... you get the picture. But on Wednesday, as if by magic, Mr MacAskill declared a year's delay was just the ticket.

It was a U-turn as spectacular as it was rare.

The opposition flexed their whips and formed a queue … Kenny was getting a doing.

First with her cat o' nine tails was Labour's Johann Lamont.

Did Alex Salmond still have confidence in his Justice Secretary? Yes.

"No surprise there then," she miaowed.

Mr Salmond did his patient vicar thing. Eyebrows steepled heavenward, voice down low, gaze averted, fingers locked as if in prayer.

It means he wants to kill somebody.

Ms Lamont kept thwacking.

After his "disgraceful performance" and "embarrassing climbdown", perhaps a new Justice Secretary was needed, she suggested.

Mr MacAskill stared at his boss.

Anything less than a ringing endorsement would be seen as a lethal failure to back him. Face crimson, he tried to appear insouciant.

But with his bony scowl and petulant bottom lip, he looked more like a baffled chimp.

Mr Salmond, however, was fulsome in his praise. Perhaps too fulsome.

Didn't folk know this was Scotland's very own superman, a villain-bashing, victim-hugging, kitten-rescuing crime fighter extraordinaire?

When Tory Ruth Davidson took her turn with the lash, the FM grew even more effusive.

Mr MacAskill's "shameful" speech was "the most ill-judged and intemperate in the history of this parliament", claimed Ms Davidson.

Mr Salmond scoffed mightily and declared his "enormous confidence" in the Justice Secretary.

It was the kind of excessive praise football club chairmen traditionally bestow on managers before sacking them.

Mr MacAskill must have wondered if his tortures have only begun.