THE SNP leadership candidates look like they are hating every moment of this contest and the party has descended into chaos and in-fighting.

For those of us who support Scottish independence but aren’t SNP party members, the contest has been uninspiring, to say the least.

It takes a lot of skill to make a high-stakes political battle boring but the three candidates have somehow managed it.

One positive that can be drawn from the contest (for those determined to find one) is that it has elevated the status of FMQs to something worth watching.

It was right that the various leadership TV debates took place and I’m glad they did, but my goodness, they were tough going at times.

After travelling through Soundbite Valley with Humza, Kate and Ash via each of the broadcasters, it felt like a treat to tune into FMQs to get a break from it all.

I was ready to hear fresh arguments between familiar faces and a return to the comfort blanket that is a Sturgeon versus Ross sparring session.

It didn’t disappoint. Although Douglas Ross did return to the issue of ferries for the hundredth time this year.

At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Scottish Tory leader announces he’s been doing specialist sailing training at the weekends with a view to taking on yet another extra job outside his role as an MSP.

He said that the “SNP ferry scandal” has “damaged Scotland’s reputation for shipbuilding excellence”.

Referencing a recent Audit Scotland report, he asked why Ferguson Marine had paid out bonuses of £87,000 to “highly paid chiefs” before the project was even completed.

Nicola Sturgeon accepted that the report had raised some “legitimate issues” and said that the Deputy First Minister would give an update later that afternoon.

Douglas Ross had clearly consulted the Big Book of Holyrood Rules before arriving in the chamber.

“I’m sorry, our standing orders of this parliament are VERY CLEAR” he began.

“If a minister is aware of information that they can provide to parliament, they should do so. It’s not acceptable for the First Minister to say ‘tune in in a couple of hours’ time’ – THIS is First Minister’s Questions and as the leader of the opposition in Holyrood, I’m asking about an issue that she MUST be aware of!”

“So I will ask again” he went on, “what were these bonuses for?”

It’s not often I find myself rooting for the Scottish Tory leader but at this point, I too was desperate to know more about these bonuses.

Obviously from a public interest point of view, it’s important to have transparency around the use of taxpayers’ funds etc etc. But on a purely selfish (skint) personal level – I wanted to know more so I could then find out what it takes to get a job as a big shipyard chief.

I don’t know anything about ships or engineering or construction but the prospect of an £87,000 bonus on top of my salary would be a good incentive to learn.

Douglas Ross went on to say that the bonuses were “indefensible”, “downright scandalous” and a “bonus for failure”.

Nicola Sturgeon shot back: “I’m aware that Douglas Ross is rarely interested in listening to the answers to questions but I AM answering the questions.”

She went on to say that the auditor general’s report had concluded that the “governance involved in the process that led to these payments was deficient” which means “it is not possible to be clear about the basis of these bonus payments”.

There was a murmuring of discontent at this response but I didn’t stick around to see what happened next.

If the “deficiency” that led to these bumper bonus pay-outs will soon be rectified it means time is quickly running out to qualify as a shipbuilder chief, so I better get busy.