All the action from first minister's questions

Every aspiring political leader knows the ladder, the progression. First, you have "people". Then you have a "team".

At Holyrood, Alex Salmond appeared to doubt that his Tory rival Ruth Davidson could yet claim to be a teamster.

His scepticism might be founded upon the fact that most of those behind her at question time were not behind her during the recent leadership contest.

Or he might simply have been feeling cheeky: not an unknown phenomenon.

The issue arose when Ms Davidson demanded to meet the first minister before Christmas to discuss the issue of childcare. She signalled that she intended to bring her team.

Cue uncharitable chortling from the SNP benches. And, in like fashion, Mr Salmond could not resist. Was that the entire team? Or just a segment?

Relenting, he said that, in the Yuletide spirit, he would happily meet Ms Davidson and whichever members of her squad wished to attend.

Feisty exchanges too with Willie Rennie of the Lib Dems who, once again, pursued the topic of college places, an issue he has made his own.

Mr Salmond said it was not possible yet to specify further funding plans because the details from the Treasury remained opaque.

Mr Rennie remained unimpressed.

And, from the FM, no early Festive charity in the direction of Labour's Iain Gray.

The first minister once again noted that Mr Gray has but a short time left in post.

It is as if he is counting the days. The first minister, that is.

We can be fairly certain Mr Gray is counting the minutes, if not the seconds, until he gains release from the durance vile that has been his lot since May.

Mr Salmond seemed to be looking ahead when he delivered a cheeky crack about one of the policies espoused by Ken Macintosh, a leadership contender.

In an interview with me, Mr Macintosh declared that he intended to deal with Mr Salmond by ignoring him.

He would talk round him and above him in order to project his own message to the people of Scotland.

And did he ignore the attack today? Well, no. He leaped to his feet in an effort to intervene - and later sought to offer a rebuttal in a point of order at the close of questions.

The exasperation, I suppose, was just too great. I should note that we have also asked the other contenders, Johann Lamont and Tom Harris, how they would deal with Mr Salmond.

Ms Lamont says, with a wry smile, that she is seldom inclined to accept a man's estimation of his own worth.

She will, she says, contest Mr Salmond's policies, especially with regard to the constitution.

Being an MP, Tom Harris is spared the challenge of confronting Mr Salmond at Holyrood.

In droll fashion, Mr Harris forecasts the first minister won't lay a finger on him for the next four years.

Instead, he says he will campaign in the country to revitalise Labour - and to tackle head on the "nonsense" of independence.