LIKE Nicola Sturgeon, I blame the Tories. Not, like her, for everything everywhere, but for an off-key outing at FMQs.

It’s that leadership contest. It’s such a distraction.

Even without Rory ‘I am not a spy (wink emoji)’ Stewart, it’s the dumpster fire du jour.

So perhaps that’s why the Labour and LibDem leaders both landed rare blows.

Richard Leonard got under the FM’s skin by pointing out her government’s emergency welfare fund had been stuck at £33m since 2013, wasting away with inflation.

That meant a real-terms cut of £3.5m to date, and a £7m one by 2025, he said. “At a time of rising poverty”, how could she justify the year-on-year falls in its value?

Ms Sturgeon didn’t even try.

She simply kicked Mr Leonard for not putting his hand up sooner. “For the budget for the year that we are now in, Richard Leonard and the Scottish Labour Party did not raise the issue of the Scottish welfare fund with the finance secretary on even one single occasion,” she sniffed.

In other words, she blamed Labour for her government’s failure to do the bleeding obvious and inflation-proof the fund. It was not a strong look.

It was compounded by the FM falling back on some moth-eaten standards to keep dodging the point.

She declared Mr Leonard was also culpable for Holyrood not having more powers - it must be the force of his personality - and at least Scotland had a welfare fund, unlike Labour-ruined Wales.

“We have protected the welfare fund in the face of cuts to our budget from the Scottish Government,” she burbled at one point.

Then Willie Rennie had a crack over the numbers of vulnerable two-year-olds getting free childcare: a third here, two-thirds in England.

“It is unbelievable that the Conservative Government is reaching more children in poverty than the SNP.

“It has been five years. Does the FM think she should have made more progress by now?”

Ms Sturgeon blew the dust off her Coalition joke book.

“It is good to see Willie Rennie back to his usual role of defending a Conservative Government,” she miaowed.

“You’re doing worse than the Tories, Nicola. How embarrassing is that?” Mr Rennie bawled back at her.

She capped it by telling Labour to show more “self-reflection and humility” at FMQs. The laughter said she ought to start closer to home.