IT was a long and intense meeting. It was in my house but I slept through it (which was fair enough given that I was only six weeks old).

My mother was head of publicity for the SNP at the time and she wound the meeting. They had the strategy, they had the rough message but they couldn’t quite get the slogan right. She suggested everyone should go and sleep on it.

Not everyone did; at 6am, the phone went. Woken up, my mother answered and immediately recognised the voice of Julian Gibb, the renowned graphic designer who was behind the SNP logo and had been at the meeting. He only said three words:

“It’s Scotland’s Oil.”

My mother only said two: “That’s it.” And thus was born by far the most famous and almost certainly the most important political campaign the SNP ran. It didn’t only define the SNP’s pro-independence message for a generation, it defined the SNP’s fundamental belief in the public ownership of Scotland’s crucial resources – for the collective good of the people of Scotland.

The SNP were relentlessly, fundamentally democratic at this time. The campaign led to a major party-wide exercise in developing what “Scotland’s oil” meant in economic policy terms (my dad was the party’s industry spokesperson). This produced a major industrial strategy for the whole economy with collective ownership of energy resources at its heart. I have a copy of that industrial strategy next to my desk.

READ MORE: Robin McAlpine: Why an independent Scotland is the only route

It was radical and visionary. It not only created the first real economic case for Scottish independence, it positioned the SNP firmly on the left of the political spectrum, gave protection from Labour’s “Tartan Tory” jibes and enabled the party to take a clear place in the fight against Thatcherism.

Jump forward to 2020 and the picture is different. This week, the Scottish Government launched its “£3 billion Green Investment Portfolio”. Make no mistake about what this is – this is touting out the next generation of Scotland’s energy infrastructure to big foreign wealth funds and corporations.

It’s privatising Scotland’s future energy resources all over again. It’s leaving the profit of Scotland’s energy resources to be syphoned out of the country again. It’s the North Sea Oil failures all over again.

Are we due Thatcher (and her predecessors) an apology? Looking back, do we now believe that oil policy was “a sticky black investment portfolio which drove inward investment to Scotland”?

The nation’s wind is not owned by landowners or corporations – but almost all of the profit created from our wind is. This industry has repeatedly failed to deliver the jobs it promised when these resources were so generously handed over and in particular Scotland has gained pretty well no share of the valuable manufacturing jobs.

Supporters of independence lament that we are the only country to discover oil and get poorer. For some reason, we’ve decided to repeat the job with our renewable resources. This time it’s worse. The oil ran out but the hydrogen industry ahead will not – that’s the big game being played. The marine energy resources which make an advanced hydrogen industry possible will be sold off in the future.

The oil corporations want to own this industry, but they want to slow down its development and milk the last of Scotland’s natural gas reserves (expect to hear much about “blue hydrogen”, which is made from natural gas, carbon emissions and all). New industry, same players, same profits, same wealth extraction. This isn’t history repeating, first as tragedy then as farce. This is still tragedy.

READ MORE: Common Weal unveil plans for New Green Deal in independent Scotland

Some of you may think the sell-off is a good idea. Many of us on the progressive side of the independence movement have heard rather a lot of excuses for why anti-progressive policies are actually progressive because they will “help us get independence” which will then “let us be progressive”.

But what is undeniable is that this momentous decision about our future energy has never been discussed at party conference or given any other form of democratic hearing in the SNP. It is not the subject of public scrutiny, there was no real public consultation and it was not put to the electorate in the Holyrood manifesto so Scotland has never had an opportunity to express a view on it.

Rather, this whole thing is being developed in all but secrecy between networks of lobbyists, financiers and government officials. It emerged fully-formed and is being pursued with relentlessly.

Scotland is already the most foreign-owned region of the UK, which is the most foreign-owned country in the developed world. For an independence supporter this really matters. When you have reasonable levels of domestic control of your economy you can better manage economic ups and downs using domestic policy (and capital flight is much less of a risk).

Economically, the process of achieving independence is both an up and a down, presenting both opportunity and risk. But the more foreign-owned your economy the smaller the opportunities and the bigger the risks. If Scotland had a big domestically-owned energy sector it would anchor our economy during that transition.

There are plenty of sources of investment Scotland could tap into which would enable rapid development of an energy economy in public ownership. Unlocking that investment is precisely why Common Weal developed the Scottish National Investment Bank proposal – £3bn would be a small proportion of what is possible, and the projects would be Scottish-owned.

Our Resilient Scotland plan explains how to use the bank, our natural resources and our domestic ingenuity to create very large numbers of high-quality jobs through a National Energy Company (if you have a lingering memory that the Scottish Government was working on that kind of public model, you should know it was dropped within weeks of being announced).

READ MORE: Calls for post-coronavirus planning to 'push for a green future’

Once these assets are sold (along with a £100 million sweetener announced in the Programme for Government), they’re sold. Not all of us are convinced there is going to be a referendum next year and some of us fear that by June 2021 we’ll be stuck with this privatisation agenda for another four years with nothing we can do about it.

In the last week alone these pages have seen senior SNP figures talking about enormous military spending so we can get back into Nato and a terrifying game of footsie with the Boris Johnson Government over free ports. Do I really have no option but to thole these things to support independence? Many of our hopes for a left-of-centre agenda are met with the mantra “that’s for after independence”. Well, why are these provocative right-wing policies not for after independence?

With no sign of any opportunity for party democracy before the Scottish elections, people not on board with this head-first dash for privatisation have few options left but to plan protest, just like the forebears of this generation of SNP politicians did that night as I slept in my cot.

Except this time the SNP seem intent on being on the other side of the protest. It’s Scotland’s Energy. Let’s keep it that way.

Robin McAlpine is director of the Common Weal think tank