THE success of The National against all the odds and most predictions owes something to the boldness of today’s issue of the paper. Elsewhere on these pages you can read, in full, the entire content of the McCrone Report on the Scottish economy which was written in 1974 but remained “secret” until 2005.

The report filled only 18 pages, a mere preface in many government reports of this type, and thus would have been easy for any broadsheet to run in a single edition with adroit use of a typeface, sub-headings and moody pictures of oil-rigs being battered by the North Sea. Yet, this is the first time it has been re-produced in its entirety for easy public consumption.

The report was authored by professor Gavin McCrone, then an economist employed at the Scotland Office, at the behest of the UK Government. We’ll probably never know the identity of the visionary whose idea it was to commission a report into the importance of North Sea oil to the economy of an independent Scotland.

This wasn’t devised in the spirit of enterprise to unlock potential economic benefits for the greatest number of people. Rather it was initiated as a defensive foray; its results to be kept up sleeves for the purposes of deceiving an entire population.

If you haven’t yet read the report in full or if the prospect of doing so seems an intimidating one, then allow me to give you a taster.

“It must be concluded therefore that revenues and large balance of payments gains would indeed accrue to a Scottish Government in the event of independence provided that steps were taken either by carried interest or by taxation to secure the Government ‘take’. Undoubtedly this would banish any anxieties the Government might have had about its budgetary position or its balance of payments. The country would tend to be in chronic surplus to a quite embarrassing degree and its currency would become the hardest in Europe with the exception perhaps of the Norwegian kroner.

“Just as deposed monarchs and African leaders have in the past used the Swiss franc as a haven of security, as now would the Scottish pound be seen as a good hedge against inflation and devaluation and the Scottish banks could expect to find themselves inundated with speculative inflow of foreign funds.”

READ MORE: We've printed the secret oil report that every Scot must read

That a report such as this, with all its profound implications for the future make-up of the UK, was successfully hidden from view by a succession of Labour and Conservative administrations for so long, encapsulates how power works in what we laughably call a “democracy”. It tells us something of the only major purpose of gaining and preserving power and the stratagems deployed by the people who wield it to ensure that it remains the preserve of a gilded and entitled few.

To carry this off successfully you also require the main arteries of communication and information conveniently to look the other way or even actively to participate in the grand illusion. It helps if ownership of the handful of print and broadcasting outlets granted licences to disseminate the news resides in the hands of men (and it is all men) who are part of the same class and belong to the same clubs.

Their purpose isn’t really to question how power is gained and deployed (which is the only real purpose of journalism) but to protect those who control it. It is anti-journalism.

Of course, the main reason why the UK elites who, let’s face it, had a grip of both of the UK’s twin parties of government wanted McCrone to remain a secret was unambiguous: to ensure that it wouldn’t fuel nationalist sentiment in Scotland. The report’s contents were a clear and present danger to the Union at a time when the lights were, literally, going out all over Britain.

The National:

Maintaining the veil of secrecy over the McCrone Report also helped Margaret Thatcher to pull off one of the greatest confidence tricks in UK political history.

The billions of pounds of revenues in tax receipts from North Sea oil funded her so-called economic miracle, which in time came to be exposed as anything but. Michael Heseltine, in an appearance at the 2018 Festival of Politics in Edinburgh, was unsparing in his criticism of Thatcher for the way in which she squandered this bounty.

He said: “This country over consumes and under invests. If I have a criticism, which I do, of the Thatcher philosophy ... they had the incredible windfall of North Sea oil and basically it was spent on consumer boom. One of the manifestations of that was the mortgage interest tax relief which has long since gone, which subsidised house prices.

“In some ways my preference would have been less popular, because I wanted the money to go into investment, to create a sovereign wealth fund for example, and too much of it went into personal consumption.”

Heseltine could also have mentioned the little matter of the £7 billion that was required to pay off Britain’s miners and to dismantled an industry that, in 1984 was still financially viable. At this time though, we had all been persuaded to look the other way and to focus instead on Arthur Scargill, the discredited leader of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

The press barons, led by Robert Maxwell and his “left-leaning” Daily Mirror were being fed fictions about Scargill by high-ranking MI5 agents who had successfully infiltrated the NUM, under the guidance of Stella Rimington, the future head of MI5.

As Seamus Milne wrote in his book about the Miners Strike, The Enemy Within, “under her guidance, MI5 infiltrated Arthur Scargill’s inner circle, oversaw the country’s largest-ever bugging and telephone-tapping effort in co-operation with GCHQ, coordinated the legal onslaught against the NUM and helped organise the strike-breaking effort.”

The oil money gave Thatcher the confidence and wherewithal to proceed with her systematic sell-off of Britain’s great national assets: steel, railways, airports, aerospace and the natural utilities gas, electricity, telecoms and water. The process continued for many years up until the sell-off in 2013 of Royal Mail. It was a get-rich-quick enterprise for the sole benefit of city speculators and overseas money-launderers and it was at the expense of assets which had been built by the honest toil of ordinary workers in exchange for an honest living.

The “miracle” lasted less than a generation and the values that it fostered inevitably led to the financial crash of 2008 and the near collapse of the UK economy.

I used to wonder why the SNP didn’t make more of McCrone when it was at last made public after 31 years of concealment but it’s easy to underestimate the vested interests arranged against it and who colluded in the deceit. Since then it has been kept alive largely on social media.

There is a reason why the powerful forces of the Union, including leaders of the Labour Party, have a deep and abiding loathing of the so-called cybernat bloggers and will seek to disparage and defame them at every opportunity. It has little to do with preserving decency in public life but has everything to do with protecting indecent and historic lies. The UK’s security services will always be there to provide back-up as required, just as they did during the Miners strike.