By Martin Kelly

Former Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer Denis Healey has sensationally admitted that his party hid the true worth of Scotland’s oil in the seventies in order to persuade Scots against voting for home rule.

Speaking to Holyrood magazine, the former Cabinet Minister said that the current UK government is “worried stiff” that Scots might vote Yes in the 2014 referendum which will mean Westminster losing billions in tax receipts from North Sea oil.

The explosive admission by the former senior Cabinet Minister came in an interview with the editor of Holyrood magazine Mandy Rhodes.

Speaking candidly, the senior Labour party figure who was Chancellor from 1974 to 1979 said that the rest of the UK “would suffer enormously” if Scotland voted for independence but that Scotland “could survive perfectly well”.

However, when asked about Labour’s role in the lead-up to the 1979 referendum for a Scottish Assembly, he admitted that his party had deliberately hid Scotland’s oil wealth in order to thwart the SNP who were then gaining in power.

This, he said was also a prime motivation for the current UK coalition government:

“I think we did underplay the value of the oil to the country because of the threat of nationalism but that was mainly down to Thatcher.

“We didn’t actually see the rewards from oil in my period in office because we were investing in the infrastructure rather than getting the returns and really, Thatcher wouldn’t have been able to carry out any of her policies without that additional 5 per cent on GDP from oil.”

In his interview, Lord Healey also revealed that he relied on Scottish Labour MPs to inform his views on what he termed the ‘Scottish Question’ and expressed regret that successive UK government’s had not set up a Norwegian style oil fund.

In another extraordinary admission he said of Westminster politicians: “I think they are concerned about Scotland taking the oil, I think they are worried stiff about it.”

He added: “I think we would suffer enormously if the income from Scottish oil stopped but if the Scots want it [independence] they should have it and we would just need to adjust but I would think Scotland could survive perfectly well, economically, if it was independent.”

Asked by Ms Rhodes what he thought about claims that Scotland is subsidised, the former Labour Chancellor described them as “myths” perpetrated he said by opponents of independence. He also rubbished Unionist arguments that an independent Scotland and the remainder of the UK would not both benefit from a Sterling zone.

The Labour peer’s admission that his party hid the true worth of oil from Scots confirms the conclusions of a secret report which was marked secret for thirty years.

In 1974 Professor Gavin McCrone wrote a report which stated that Scotland would have had an “embarrassingly large tax surplus as a result of the North Sea oil boom”. UK governments kept this information under wraps until it was eventually released in 2005.

The revelation that the Labour party deliberately set out to deceive Scots and that Margaret Thatcher then used the oil revenue to fund her own policies has been seized on by the SNP who have described the admission as a “hammer blow to the No campaign”.

Commenting, Finance Secretary John Swinney said:

“This admission from Lord Healey that the UK Treasury played down the value and extent of Scotland’s resources – on the eve of yet more Treasury scaremongering against independence – is a hammer blow to the No campaign.

“As Lord Healey now says, ‘Scotland could survive perfectly well economically if it was independent’. And he admits that an oil fund should have been established by the UK – confirming that Westminster has wasted Scotland’s resources, and the Scottish Parliament now needs to be in charge.

“If a former Chancellor is admitting that the Treasury hid the reality before about the value and longevity of Scotland’s oil and gas resources, we cannot believe a word they say now. The Treasury’s bogus figures weren’t worth the paper they were written on when Westminster was last worried about an independent Scotland gaining access to our own oil revenues – and nothing has changed this time round.

“In terms of revenue, more than half of the North Sea oil’s value is still to be extracted – which is why a Yes vote next September is so important. What’s more, oil makes up around double the proportion of Norway’s total tax revenues than it does Scotland’s – yet no one would describe the Norwegians as being too reliant on oil, or question their ability to be a successful independent country.

“We are a resource-rich country, and with the powers of independence Scotland could do even more to boost our economy and get more people into jobs. Only a Yes vote in next September’s referendum will give us the economic and fiscal powers we need to build the fairer, more prosperous nation that we all want to live in.”


2013-05-19 22:43

To suppress such information from a people with whom you share a common weal is, on the face of it, a disgrace.

To collude in such suppression, the Scottish MPs who were elected by their people to represent their interests, were without doubt truly disgraceful.

How can any Scottish Labour supporter countenance what their party allowed to happen in the 70s, to their own country?

It is written on the side of the Conservative and Unionist tin that they are wholly committed to the Union, not solely to Scotland, so it was no surprise.

But Labour! Grrrr!

Will C
2013-05-19 22:43

A real game changer from Healey. Suppose it’s too much to expect an apology to the people of Scotland from the British Establishment?
2013-05-19 23:04

It shouldn’t be too long before Mr Healey is rumoured to be senile or somesuch, to explain his “ramblings”.

I simply cannot think of any other way for the Westminster Government to wriggle out of it.

There are lies and then there the lies that damn a person(s) for all time. This is a case of the latter. It is essential that all Scots have access to this information, they MUST be allowed to make up their minds on the basis that Scotland has been lied to for many, many years. It has to stop.

2013-05-19 23:15

circulate widely by all me\ans at disposal!
2013-05-19 23:16

Former Labour chancellor Denis Healey has also gone further by confessing in his memoirs, entitled ‘The Time of My Life’, that Britain “would have been bankrupt without North Sea oil”
2013-05-19 23:36

That they expanded this lie to include the “subsidy junkie” myth which has caused so much damage between Scottish and English relations shows the depths these people will stoop to. The faces have changed but the culture goes on, with the collusion of some of our own people, who claim to have the best interests of Scotland at heart. I well remember the 80s with Scots being told that London’s enterprise and hard work was paying off, and that lazy Jocks should do likewise, get off their backsides and stop moaning and feeling sorry for themselves. I didn’t buy it then and hopefully people I know who ridiculed me for being a paranoid Nationalist at the time will today have had a wake up call.
2013-05-20 05:58

It appears that the next instalment, to scare Scotland, has arrived from the Treasury in London.

Independent Scotland ‘might not be able to guarantee savers’ deposits’…/…

They must not have had time to read Denis Healey’s confessions. I guess he was correct, the UK establishment are ‘worried stiff’…. and it really shows.

2013-05-20 06:43

Latest scare story

“Sometimes propaganda may appear as an informative process whenever ideas are shared, or something is explained to the public. The information disseminated by the propagandist may appear itself as indisputable and totally factual. The propagandist might attempt to control the information flow and to manage the public’s opinion by shaping perceptions through strategies of informative communication.”
Christina Lucia Sutiu paper


2013-05-20 06:08

Comes as no surprise to most, if not all of the regular visitors to NNS, so worth punting this and the Holyrood mag’s article as far and wide as possible. It’ll provide an eye opener for many a Joe Public, just how far Westminster was willing to sink in order to keep their cash cow.
2013-05-20 06:43

And the Herald show no interest in Labour and Tory lies over oil either! Now there is a surprise!
2013-05-20 06:52

This must be the nail in the no campaign coffin. Scotland must now see there is no limits to the lies an deceit from a westminster government.
2013-05-20 07:00

I bet you the reason there has been no oil fund was because they didn’t want Scotland to see how much Westminister was raking in!
From The Suburbs
2013-05-20 07:01

This was at a time Labour politicians compared Scotland to Bangladesh and Tories said we would end up like Albania.

What has changed as Con Dem coalition UK Treasury now compare us to Cyprus and Iceland?

Scotland accounts for an estimated 64% of EU oil production and approximately 36% of EU total hydrocarbon production, as outlined below Scotland produces more than half of the Gas in the UK and is the second largest producer in the EU. Wood McKenzie estimate that approximately 85% of remaining UK hydrocarbon reserves lie in Scottish waters

And Scotland has 25% of the EU’s total offshore renewable capacity.

2013-05-20 07:19

I am just after being informed that a friend is on a one way ticket to Australia for better lifestyle and more money. He is disillusioned and fed-up with the negativity being spouted forth over the referendum (This is a sample of what the Better Together campaign is doing to us). He is a trained mechanic and works for an employer and also self-employed. He is a go-getter not the sort of person we want to lose. This highlights the hidden cost of a failed UK and its policies plus the consequences of a NO vote. His brother is a joiner and has been in Aussie for over a year. It’s unlikely they will be back.
Control over our economy in Scotland with the added bonus of an oil fund will in future help to stimulate activity, keep the brains in our country that we require to be successful and to benefit our own communities not countries abroad. God help us if we return a NO vote.
2013-05-20 07:48

To people who take a real interest in how we are treated by Westminster will now have their views vindicated. Scotland was mugged and will be mugged again, for we are going through a blueprint of what happened back then.
It is for the same reasons, it is being done in the same way.WE CANNOT ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN AGAIN.
In reference to the Sterling Area which we would be a part of, the biggest danger is that rUK would devalue Sterling in an attempt to water down their debt.The debt is huge and will drag down the currency, Scotland HAS TO examine this possibility and the effects on the Scottish economy, we really need to know how a possibility of devaluation or even a default of rUK debt will effect us all in Scotland and have a plan to cope with this distinct possibility.
call me dave
2013-05-20 07:52

GMScotland had Moore on earlier trashing Scotland’s banking and pensions prospects. Another two scare stories.

Sir George Mathewson (ex: The Royal Bank of Scotland now the convener of Scotland’s Council of Economic Advisers) on an hour later refuting the Moore statements. BUT not articulating his point very well.

Once again the scare story has exploded from the starting blocks while the rebuttal is still tying the laces of the running shoes.

I note that Moore had two bites of the cherry having part of his interview repeated prior to Mathewson’s.

Ach well! another day another scare.

Good old BBC. AND Call Kaye still to come!

No doubt some SNP or YES spokesperson may or may not get to make a comment during the day.

2013-05-20 08:08

Scotsman has this story what a surprise,also in Scotsman was this one.…/…

When Darling was asked if he would sanction the release of these papers he has declined to answer I wonder why.

edinburgh quine
2013-05-20 09:14

The SNP has been “blamed” for Thatcher and her subsequent devastation of the UK but in fact it was the Labour Party after all. If they hadn’t lied, Scotland may have taken a different route and Thatcher wouldn’t have had the money she needed to carry forward her policies. A plague on both their houses.
2013-05-20 09:27

Share this and the Scotsman article far and wide! The undecided need to see what “Better Together” really means.
Dundonian West
2013-05-20 09:53

This revelation wasn’t on BBC Scotland TV News so it can’t be true.
Will C
2013-05-20 10:56

Just emailed and ‘phoned BBC Scotland to ask why they are not covering this story. Will not my breath!

2013-05-20 10:02

Don’t let people off telling you McCrone is ancient history. Nothing has changed, there still isn’t an oil fund, and all our wealth is still being squandered. It’s as relevant today as it was in 1975. The absolute proof of the Report is Norway. Everything which McCrone predicted for an independent Scotland is there for all to see – in Norway.

We cannot turn the clock back, but whether we have 10 years of oil left, 40 years, or 100 years, please, let us not betray future generations of Scots by leaving this fantastic natural resources at the mercy of the greedy fools in Westminster.

Tell me again what a credit to commerce the financial sector in London is, with all those financial wizards and razor sharp barrow bow traders from the East End. Funny, to me they look like rank amateurs, overpaid, prancing about like divas, while modest little Norway f*!*s them off the park, quietly perfecting the alchemy of turning crude into gold.

2013-05-20 10:21

Have just listened to Moore on the radio it is amazing how he comes across there and seeing him goosed on TV by NS.
I was wondering if we should send this report to Lamont and I hope AS has the chance to bring it up at FMQs,how long before we hear that Mr Healy is not really up to remembering what he is saying.
2013-05-20 11:03

Tried to sent this comment earlier but was told I was not registered – even though I was!
The original estimate of the oil in the early Seventies was by the SNP’s Research Officer, Donald Bain. He made a very consenative estimate of £800 million per annum which was ridiculed by Westminster and the Treasury, who maintained there was very little there! In the McCrone Report,made public by the release of Cabinet papers under the 30 year rule, McCrone said the only thing wrong with the SNP estimates was that they were far too low.
This is not old hat or yesterday’s news; Westminster started to cheat on oil and gas 40 years ago and is still doing it. One only has to look at the scare stories : oil running out, fluctuation in price, Shetland going it alone (news to the Shetlanders) etc to see the pattern repeating itself.
This time there is a Scottish Parliament and an SNP Government to defend Scotland.
Caledonian Lass
2013-05-20 13:03

I’ll bet Denis Healey won’t be too popular with the Labour Party now for revealing their nasty secret.

This information along with the McCrone Report and the theft of 6,000 square miles of Scottish sea in 1999 should be
hammered home to the public.

The mainstream media’s slurs and scares about independence have gone on for too long. They know they’re lying to the people and continue to do so on a daily basis. Let’s hope the don’t knows will become YES voters in the Referendum after hearing about this.

A no vote is just unthinkable. If people think times are hard now, a no vote would bring unprecented austerity. I
believe that the YES campaign and all parties supporting Scottish independence will shortly step up a gear and leave the public in no doubt about the extent to which they’ve been deceived.

Vote YES IN 2014.

2013-05-20 13:22

Quoting Caledonian Lass:

This information along with the McCrone Report and the theft of 6,000 square miles of Scottish sea in 1999

and also the refusal to release the cabinet papers on devolution 😀 What could they be hiding??

Caledonian Lass
2013-05-21 09:50

That should have read “unprecedented”.

2013-05-20 13:10

It has been reported on another blog that Gary Robertson on BBC GMS did, in fact, confront Moore with the oil story related by Healey and caused Moore some discomfort as one would expect.
2013-05-20 13:17

Quoting Seagetagrip:

It has been reported on another blog that Gary Robertson on BBC GMS did, in fact, confront Moore with the oil story related by Healey and caused Moore some discomfort as one would expect.

He was confronted but not his problem about something that happened long ago,everything now is out in the open and can stand up to scrutiny now.chancer


2013-05-20 13:26

its a sad state of affairs when i can read this headline and be like; “duh, no shit sherlock”

we need independence. if they will lie about oil they will lie about anything and everything they can in order to better themselves at the expense of the scottish people.

in an independent scotland such a headline would provoke the outrage that it deserves yet whilst in the union this headline is suppressed by the msm.

that is the real tragedy; that this went on is bad but that the msm couldnt care less is even worse.

2013-05-20 14:00

“We didn’t see any of the returns from oil in my time in office because we were investing in infrastructure rather than getting the returns……” Dennis admits. And where was all this infrastructure being located, providing thousands of jobs and prosperity? Well it wasn’t on the M74 or the M1 to complete the motorway network to Edinburgh or Glasgow – It all went ‘dahn Sahf’ to fund the ‘loadsamoney’ culture.
If Thatcher hadn’t got her mitts on that oil, she wouldn’t have been able to smash all the industry in Scotland and northern England. They simply used it to impoverish the North and enrich the south, and then to service the massive National Debt.
Like many other educated Scots, I went south and gave my most productive years to English industry, eventually setting up in business to give employment, not to my fellow countrymen, but to the good folk in Leicester. Do we need more of our brightest and best to continue leaving? Vote YES.
Viking Girl
2013-05-20 15:04

The best Prime Minister we never had, or so it is said. Left or Right, Westminster has the same attitude to Scotland. Keep them in the dark and walk away with the profits. The U K Establishment is making it perfectly clear, with all their scaremongering, that they know what will happen to their economy without our oil. They’ll be in a slump for ever. To say they are ‘scared stiff’ is an understatement.
As for the lying, the Hanoverian state has been lying to and about Scotland since 1707. They have used every low trick they can muster. Their only talents are trickery and using other people. It’s time to get rid of them.
2013-05-20 16:58

Former Chancellor Denis Healey admits that Westminster, whether Labour or Tory governments, lied about the extent of North Sea oil and gas, and are still doing so today. Well, fan me with a Saltire Flag, who’d have thunk it!

At least we know that this long standing tradition of Westminster porky telling is being continued efficiently by the likes of Osborne, Hague, the Alexanders Danny and Dougie, Murphy, Curran, Darling et al.

In our own Holyrood, this proud tradition of misinformation, falsified figures and spurious claims, is being carried on by Lamont, Baillie, Baker, Davidson and Rennie. Roll on 2014!

2013-05-20 21:13

I feel positive that the McCrone Report is just the tip of the iceberg.

I would bet money there are other reports which will never see the light of day, but detailing where Westminster wanted to be briefed on all manner of consequences pertaining to Scottish Independence.

Defense implications, financial implications, some appreciation of sectarianism, … the mind boggles, but you can be certain McCrone wouldn’t be the only briefing document on a tightly restricted circulation.

There’s surely a file on Willie MacRae which we’ll never see. Rosyth, Ravenscraig,…

I hope we vote YES, for all kinds of reasons, but also to be rid of all this dark history, and on to pastures new. If we vote NO, then I fear resentment of issues like McCrone can only deepen. The genie is well and truly out of the bottle, and the Union, if it survives, will never be the same again.

2013-05-20 22:20

“Do we need more of our brightest and best to continue leaving? Vote YES.”

The tragedy is that many, many thousands of young Scots have already had to leave their country, breaking up families quite unnecessarily.

Two of my own children now live overseas.

It is now apparent, even to the lumpen bourgeoisie, that this need never have happened if the truth were admitted and Scots had had the option of voting for independence armed with that truth in ’79 or ’97.

There has, too, been a significant effect on the self-esteem and life fulfillment of those who remain, all due to the controlling machinations and black propaganda of those imperialism/entitlement junkies orbiting the magnificence of planet London. Just look at relative shifts in Scottish suicide rates for young people in the last 30 years.

But now, enough! We can and must, at the very least, ensure normality for future Scottish generations.


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