Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack declared last week that the Tories were “absolutely committed to achieving sustained long-term growth”.

He did so in the wake of the latest monthly Scottish gross domestic product data.

If the Tories are “absolutely committed” in the way Mr Jack portrays, they surely have a most peculiar way of going about it.

It remains to be seen whether or not the UK economy fell into recession in the final three months of last year with a second consecutive quarterly fall in output.

READ MORE: Scottish airport chief reveals new route talks, big 2024 goal

However, whether the economy is stagnating or in technical recession, the fact of the matter is that the Tories continue to preside over utterly miserable times.

Their savage austerity programme has weighed so heavily on growth and living standards. And their hard Brexit continues to cost the UK economy dear.

All the while, any policies that might stimulate growth remain conspicuous by their absence.

The International Monetary Fund, in its latest projections published last Tuesday, forecasts that the UK economy will this year record the second-weakest growth among the Group of Seven leading industrialised nations, behind only Germany.

The UK is expected by the IMF to grow by just 0.6% this year, following estimated expansion of only 0.5% in 2023.

It is worth noting the IMF’s growth projection for Germany this year, of 0.5%, is only marginally behind its forecast of expansion in the UK.

France is forecast by the IMF to grow by 1% this year, following expansion of 0.8% in 2023.

The IMF’s forecast for euro area growth this year, of 0.9%, is one-and-a-half times the projection of expansion in the UK.

This is all rather difficult to reconcile with Mr Jack’s statement that the Conservatives are “absolutely committed to achieving sustained long-term growth”, as is the Tory track record.

The latest Scottish GDP figures made for fairly miserable reading overall.

Onshore economic output in Scotland fell by 0.1% month-on-month in November, after a decline of 0.6% in October.

Comparing the three months to November with the June to August period, Scottish GDP was down by 0.2%. This is an identical decline to that in the UK as a whole over the same timeframe, so there was no opportunity for Mr Jack to draw a distinction regarding Scotland’s performance, whether or not he would have wished to.

READ MORE: Ian McConnell: Airlines and holiday operators reveal key 2024 travel trends

Mr Jack did seem quite keen, however, to try a bit of one-upmanship over the UK’s major European neighbours.

He declared: “The UK has grown faster than France and Germany since the pandemic and we will continue to prioritise growing the economy for the benefit of people all over the UK.”

The IMF projections surely show that the UK Government has nothing at all to crow about when it comes to the country’s economic performance.

And Mr Jack might want to note that the IMF expects a significantly stronger performance from France this year than from the UK.

The Secretary of State for Scotland meanwhile continued the Tories’ curious claim that they have somehow been responsible for the fall in inflation from the sky-high levels to which it surged. While inflation was pushed higher by global factors, the Conservatives’ hard Brexit put the UK in a particularly problematic situation on this front.

READ MORE: Denial after denial from brass-necked Tory arch-Brexiter

Mr Jack declared: “We have stabilised the economy and met our pledge to halve inflation, but as we go further to lower inflation even more, back to its 2% target, growth will be slower.”

It seems that the Conservatives have a bottomless box of entirely unconvincing excuses.

It remains easy to see how the Conservatives made the inflation situation worse. And it is impossible to see how they made it any better, especially given it is the Bank of England which handles monetary policy.

There is good reason to debate whether the Bank of England has gone too far in raising UK base rates to 5.25%, from a record low of 0.1% in December 2021.

However, that does not change the simple fact that it is not the Conservatives who control monetary policy. And the Tories’ claim that it was they who halved inflation is utter nonsense.

So what else did Mr Jack have to say?

He declared: “By investing more than £2.9 billion directly into all parts of Scotland, we are continuing to boost business and encourage trade.”

Encouraging trade is absolutely not what the current vintage of Conservatives have been about at all.

They have, in fact, done quite the opposite.

Throwing away frictionless trade with the UK’s biggest destination for exports, the European Economic Area, is a strange way indeed of encouraging trade.

And businesses have most certainly not been boosted by the skills and labour shortages which have been fuelled dramatically by the ending of free movement of people between the UK and EEA.

Mr Jack declared that the “combined impact of the autumn and spring policy packages” from the Tories is “a permanent 0.5% increase in the level of potential output by the end of the OBR’s forecast”.

It is easy to put this figure in the context of the Tory hard Brexit.

Back in the spring of last year, Office for Budget Responsibility chairman Richard Hughes summed up Brexit’s effect as follows: “We think that in the long run it reduces our overall output by around 4% compared with had we remained in the EU.”

Unsurprisingly, Mr Jack did not mention that percentage.