THEY seek him here, they seek him there, but all they get is an empty chair….

“Absent” Alister Jack lived up to his nickname when he failed to attend a climate change hustings in his Dumfries and Galloway constituency.

While all the other parliamentary candidates turned up, the Secretary of State for Scotland was “empty chaired” at the meeting in Castle Douglas.

All four confirmed candidates for the Dumfries and Galloway seat were invited to the hustings, organised by the Dumfries and Galloway Climate Change Group.

Jack said he had a prior commitment and MSP Finlay Carson would appear instead of him.

“They said fine to that but then they wanted to know what Westminster thinks and they didn’t want to hear from [Carson] even though he said he could speak for the Conservatives.

“I’m doing the next three hustings, I had prior engagement on Friday.”

Jack has recently been criticised for failing to ask any questions in Parliament since February 14 despite taking an annual salary of £149,605.

“Not one question on why Northern Ireland farmers are getting tariff-free access to EU markets and a ‘cracking deal’, yet Dumfries and Galloway farmers do not deserve the same,” said constituent John Schofield.

“Not one concern about the devastating welfare cuts that his Government have forced on his constituency. Not one.”

Jack said he couldn’t ask questions as he was appointed a Government Whip in February and “Government Whips don’t speak in the Chamber.”

Whips by convention do not speak in debate but since February the SNP’s chief whip, Patrick Grady, has spoken a total of 53 times.