IT was a noble effort. All the more noble for being doomed.

Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh opened FMQs with an appeal to brevity. “I have been in touch with all the party leaders to ask for shorter questions and answers this week,” he said.

“I hope it will make for snappier contributions. I live in hope that my exhortation will be adhered to. On that note, I call Jackson Carlaw…”

The acting Tory leader did not seem to appreciate the teasing. “Well, after that lengthy introduction, Presiding Officer,” he miaowed back, neatly turning the tables.

Mr Carlaw loves a good hate. He hated independence. He hated not being a real MSP with a constituency of his own. And now - by God, Sir! - he really hates that damnable workplace parking levy.

It’s regressive for a start.

Could Nicola Sturgeon explain how it was fair for a worker on less than £20,000 having to pay “the same car park tax as a company director earning five times as much?” This from the party that brought you the poll tax.

The First Minister hit back with multiple examples of Tory councillors jacking up local car park charges and even supporting a workplace levy. “Naked hypocrisy,” she cried.

“I hope that Jackson Carlaw had more success when he sold second-hand cars than he’s having in peddling his current line,” she sniped, referring to her opponent’s past life in a sheepskin coat.

Oh, he didn’t like that one bit. The FM had drawn blood. There was a pause, then Mr Carlaw screamed huffily: “At least I had a proper job!”

Ms Sturgeon was a lawyer before switching to politics, as were a fair few Tory MSPs.

I look forward to them grilling Mr Carlaw on why he thinks they’re wastrels.

Ms Sturgeon then heard MSPs relaying horror stories from the NHS, awkwardly sending her “good wishes” to the survivors. Sorry, patients.

In fact, the FM has to apologise so often to the sick these days, she might want to install her own all-night garage behind Bute House. That way she’d never be far from a cheapo bunch of flowers and a dusty box of chocs.

For really tough cases, she could send an autographed jug of screenwash.

The last laugh went to Mr Macintosh. “Can I thank the First Minister and most of the contributors,” he concluded, with a stress on that “most”.

Mr Carlaw, Eastwood’s Arthur Daley, glowed extra red.