New papers reveal UK "Deceit and desperation" over Scotand's oil

Labour Government feared "It's Scotland's Oil" slogan

SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP has described the latest revelations of the lengths to which the Labour government went to keep Scotland from her oil wealth as showing the level of “deceit and desperation” in the UK Government.

New archive material in today’s Press and Journal reveals evidence from secret Cabinet papers of a Foreign Office-inspired plot to undermine SNP claims in the 1970s that “It's Scotland's Oil”. At the time, North Sea oil was regarded as the UK's “collateral”, supporting huge foreign currency borrowing.

Then Labour Foreign Secretary Anthony Crosland suggested “confidential briefings of selected public opinion informers” and articles in the press with no acknowledgement of official involvement. Another Foreign Office memorandum from 1977 drew attention to a Shetland Council declaration, seeking exclusion from Labour's devolution plans.

It contradicted Prime Minister Jim Callaghan's brush-off for the Shetland islanders – when he said his government could not justify the cost, complexity and confusion of direct rule from London – saying it was “inconceivable” the government would exclude Shetland from the UK against their will. It also pointed out that if Shetland, and possibly
Orkney, remained in the UK, “a large part of the Northern North Sea now counting as Scottish waters, including substantial reserves of oil, would not be Scottish under international law”.

Mr Hosie, a Member of the Treasury Select Committee, said:

“Tory and Labour governments at Westminster have conspired to keep Scotland from her oil wealth and her independence for over 30 years.

“These new revelations of plots and plans expose the lengths to which successive UK Government’s have gone.

“There is now a long list of deceitful steps taken by the Labour and Tory Governments that have deprived the Scottish people of years of future wealth.

“In the 1970’s the UK treasury tried to hide the real the potential of North Sea oil and the boost it would give to an independent Scotland – this can’t happen again. The time for an Oil Fund is now, Scotland’s resources should be funding employment, education and our National Health Service – not Nuclear Weapons and illegal wars.

“We should not let the deceits and desperation of Labour and Tories in years gone by stop Scotland standing up and claiming what is rightfully hers for the future.”

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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