Over 40 years ago, oil was discovered in the North Sea - almost exclusively in the marine territories of Scotland and Norway.
Against a backdrop of a risingand growing support for independence, the British Government of the day (Conservative, led by Edward Heath) commissioned an urgent report, focused on the likely effects of North Sea oil revenue on the economic viability of an independent Scotland. The resulting 18 page document was composed by Professor Gavin McCrone, an employee of the Scottish Office, at St. Andrew's House in Edinburgh. The document was completed in early 1974, just prior to the February 1974 general election.
Due to the claims and assumptions drawn from the report, it was deemed extremely toxic for the survival of the Union and if the contents were made public, would obviously fuel the rising appetite for independence in Scotland - in fact it would almost certainly result in the end of the Union. To avoid this unwelcome threat, the contents of the report were quietly suppressed.
In the February 1974 General Election, the result was a. A second General Election in October of the same year returned a Labour government (with a very small majority) under Harold Wilson. When the report was presented to the new government, it was immediately classified as 'SECRET' and was restricted in much the same way as top military secrets. Over the lifetime of every successive government, the classification of the report remained so. Scottish Independence was postponed and Scotland gave away her oil wealth, her population kept in ignorance of the report, its contents and the confirmation of the wealthy country Scotland would become with independence.
In an interview for Holyrood Magazine on the 19th of May 2013, ex-Labour chancellor Denis Healey (who served in the Cabinet at the time the McCrone Report was submitted) stated: "I think we did underplay the value of the oil to the country because of the threat of [Scottish] nationalism...
...I think they [Westminster politicians] are concerned about Scotland taking the oil, I think they are worried stiff about it."
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