THE New Year has brought a new twist to FMQs. Not insight, wit or any of those MSP allergens, but the skirl of the plebs.

The folk in the cheap seats aren't happy, and they aren’t shy about saying it.

For the second week in a row, the session was interrupted by a protest about climate change and oil exploration, followed by a bonus one about gender recognition reform.

Even the Presiding Officer, poor soul, was heckled, apparently in the belief that she was an emissary of the Government. No one said the protests were well-informed. They were a bit of light relief however.

Proceedings had not been shimmering. 

Douglas Ross started by being shocked at a tabloid report that 800 teaching jobs could be lost in Glasgow budget cuts.
Nicola Sturgeon sighed at the lad’s ignorance.

It was a classic council bluff, she explained. Put there to steer councillors towards less ghastly options. But it was just like the opposition to “make hay” with it. 

Mr Ross was livid. “She says that I am standing here making hay. I am not!" He waved his arms. Look, no pitchfork.

He was right. The Scottish Tory leader makes a credible turnip, but never hay. 

Ms Sturgeon then inflicted one of the worst segues in the history of devolution, handbrake-turning from local government autonomy to the UK Government’s Section 35 order on the Holyrood gender Bill.

“We have seen this week Douglas Ross favours riding roughshod over the decisions and powers of democratically elected institutions,” she told him, to Tory howls.

Labour’s Anas Sarwar demanded £15 an hour for care workers. That’ll be £1.75billion a year please, said Ms Sturgeon. End of.

As Tory backbencher Stephen Kerr began chuntering, the first protest kicked off. 

“Energy companies are making record profits," shouted a young woman.

An older woman next to her fluffed her lines. “You must listen to the world’s scientists who say, um, that er…”

As the fuzz pounced, a suspected loafer rose to mumble about gas bills. People were shocked. He didn’t take his hands out of his pockets. Appalling behaviour.

Later, in what may be a world first, and hopefully a last, there was a protest during a point of order.

Tory Liam Kerr had been banging on about Green minister Lorna Slater using a duff stat. Even Ms Slater left.

As our minds began to run out of oxygen and darken, a feisty feminist sprang up and complained about the gender reform Bill. 

“You are not listening to women,” she said, as we all listened intently. 

The police grappled in vain. “I’ve got human rights not to be manhandled,” she said. The cops were stumped. Manhandling is the only kind of handling they do.

Down below, the FM gave a wry smile. Imagine Kiwi PM Jacinda Ardern getting bored of this stuff. All you have to do is let your enemies mess up and make hay with it.