40 Years ago, oil was discovered in the North Sea. The fields lay predominantly in the Scottish and Norwegian Territorial waters.

In 1974, Professor Gavin McCrone was commissioned by the Government of the day (Conservatives under Ted Heath) to deliver an urgent report, focused on the likely effects of North Sea oil revenue on the economic viability of an independent Scotland.

This came at a time when Scottish nationalism was begining to grow in popularity, largely due to the efforts of the SNP. The SNP knew the oil would be a huge asset for an independent Scotland and many Scots also shared this view.

The Report was delivered in early 1974, just before the General Election (which resulted in a 'Hung Parliament'). The report didn't make good reading for Westminster and what it contained was immediately suppressed. A second General Election took place in October that year and Labour, led by Harold Wilson, formed a government (with a very slim majority). When they read the report, it's classification was elevated to SECRET and remained hidden from public view for the next 30 years until it was finally released under a Freedom of Information request by the SNP in 2005.

As the oil flowed, Scottish Independence was postponed and billions of pounds were sent to the UK Treasury in taxes from all that oil - so what did successive UK governments fear from the report?

Well, for a start, the oil revenue would have transformed an Independent Scotland and would have effectively ended 270 years of a rather one-sided Union. The author stated that "an independent Scotland would be among the world’s richest nations, with a budget surplus so large - it would be embarrassing". He also predicted that Scotland’s currency would be "the hardest in Europe" and this level of prosperity would continue "for a very long time into the future".

Not only did Westminster suppress this vital information, it also promoted a negative view of Scotland and its ability to survive the financial challenge of independence. Scots were continually told they were heavily subsidised by the rest of the UK (oil, of course, never seemed to be part of their calculations, that instead was perceived as some sort of communal asset - and Scotland probably couldn't afford to invest in the extraction infrastructure anyway.) This same argument is used against Scotland to this day - despite reliable evidence to show that Scotland sends more money to the Treasury every year than it receives. It has done this for the last 30 years without fail.

McCrone's report stated "Scotland would be as wealthy as Switzerland". They knew this to be true, but because we didn't, it was easy for them to blatantly lie about Scotland's ability to stand on her own (and they actively prevented Scotland from acting on her rightful claim to the oil resources).

Read the full report here: http://www.yeswecan.scot/index.php/knowledgebase/2015-09-26-12-32-43/the-mccrone-report-1974

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