ALISTER Jack has delivered “absolutely nothing for Scotland” as he marks three years as Scotland Secretary instead cosying up to big business and oil lobbyists, opposition politicians have said.

The Dumfries and Galloway Tory MP was appointed head of the Scotland Office on July 24, 2019 and since then has presided over the “power-grabbing” Internal Market Act, continually backed Boris Johnson despite his rule-breaking, partygate and scandals, and supported the UK Government’s levelling up agenda which bypassed the devolution settlement.

The National have taken a deep dive into the department’s transparency data to see which groups Jack and other officials have been prioritising, and unsurprisingly – business comes at the top of the list.

Shadow Scotland secretary Mhairi Black blasted the “zombie” Scotland Office under Jack and said he had instead been “ripping people off” with spiralling department costs.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Greens said Jack had “very little to show” from his time in office, and hit out at his numerous meetings with the oil industry amid the climate crisis.

But what exactly has Jack been up to in the past three years while the country has dealt with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit and the Tory imposed cost of living crisis?

The National analysed the period from July 2019 when Jack took office, to the end of March 2022. The final transparency data for 2021/22 between April and July has not yet been published.

Of Jack’s 111 meetings during his tenure, a whopping 65% (71) of those were with business leaders – while he only put one “short” call into the Scottish Trade Unions Congress (STUC) during the same period to discuss Covid-19.

On the same day as the STUC call on April 9, 2020, a month into the pandemic, Jack phoned eight “stakeholders” to discuss the UK Government’s virus response. The other seven calls were to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC), Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), Law Society Scotland, Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), and the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI).

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said the findings were “disappointing”, particularly given the role of workers in health and social care, logistics and distribution and other key industries played in the pandemic response.

He told The National: “It’s shocking, but I suppose unsurprising that a Tory Secretary of State doesn’t see his role as engaging with all of Scotland, and in particular with the trade union movement, who in three years he’s only managed a short telephone call with.

READ MORE: What has the Scotland Office been up to for three years under Alister Jack?

“If the office is to have any value it ought to be a way in which all sectors of Scottish society can link into the government of the UK, but truly this is not a view shared by the office holder.”

Jack’s second busiest day of his tenure – July 5, 2020 – saw him hold seven meetings to discuss the impact of the UK internal market act.

The Scottish Secretary spoke to representatives from the Scotch Whisky Association, FSB, SRC, Food & Drink Federation, Oil & Gas UK, CBI, National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) and the Aberdeen Harbour board.

The legislation was brought in to regulate trade between the four nations of the UK in the wake of Brexit, but has been criticised for a non-discrimination clause, which means no national can bar goods produced in another from being sold within their borders – even if those goods do not meet required standards.

SNP MP Mhairi Black said: “Once a job charged with fostering communications and positive working relations between the Scottish and UK governments, Jack has instead consistently worked to undermine devolution and sell Scotland down the river.

“Time and again he has put his party before his country, backing disgraced Prime Minister Boris Johnson all the way to the bitter end despite his law-breaking lockdown parties and brazen attacks on the devolution settlement.

“His legacy will be that of the power-grabbing Internal Market Act and denying Scotland the right to choose.”

The National’s analysis also revealed the groups Jack has had the most contact with. The Scotland Secretary met with the Scotch Whisky Association on nine occasions, the CBI, including a roundtable event, on eight separate dates, and had four meetings with the FSB.

When we widened the analysis to include all the ministers in the Scotland Office, we found that there had been 33 meetings with representatives across the Scottish fishing industry, 15 with oil lobbyists, 12 talks with the Scotch Whisky association, 11 meetings with the NFUS, and 10 with local authority umbrella body COSLA.

Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer said that the number of meetings with the oil industry were of particular concern due to the climate crisis.

He said: “The purpose of Alister Jack’s Scotland Office is one of life’s great mysteries. A black hole that millions in public money gets poured into, with little to show for it except anti-independence social media adverts and a regularly cringeworthy defence of Boris Johnson.

“We now see that in the midst of a climate crisis one of his primary activities has been meeting with oil company lobbyists. Those same oil companies have just received a massive subsidy from the UK government to encourage yet more planet-wrecking drilling in Scottish waters.

“Beyond the millions of pounds Alister Jack costs, this is a price neither Scotland nor the world can afford.”

Black added: “Alister Jack’s tenure has led many to wonder what his role as Scottish Secretary actually means.

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“It’s increasingly clear that, other than as a Tory propaganda unit, his zombie Scotland Office serves no real purpose.”

A spokesman for Jack said: “The Secretary of State has presided over a record of UK Government delivery in Scotland that stands in marked contrast to the serial failures of the SNP-Green Scottish Government.”