THE co-founder of Farmers for Yes has hit out following damaging revelations in newly unlocked government files.

The National revealed how declassified Cabinet Office papers show how the Blair administration talked privately about how it could "do the dirty" on Scottish farmers in the midst of a crisis that threatened livelihoods.

Meat prices plummeted in the 1990s in wake of the BSE outbreak and import bans cut producers off from key markets.

With the help of the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS), farmers staged public protests urging the Government to help them.

This was just before the first Scottish Parliament elections — and in private, Scottish secretary Donald Dewar, the man who would become the original first minister, was telling Treasury chiefs he was prepared to "take a very tough line indeed with my farmers".

Other files, published by the National Archives, show how senior mandarins praised what they called a Scottish willingness to "hold the line" with farmers, despite a 35% fall in incomes, while one states that the Labour leadership could "do the dirty" on Scottish hill farmers "if it were not for the elections".

Scottish Labour did not respond to the revelations.

The National:

But Farmers for Yes co-founder Jim Fairlie MSP (above), who was a sheep farmer around the time of crisis, says the confidential files reveal how Scots farming is regarded in Westminster.

The Perthshire South and Kinross-shire politician told The National: "Just as Westminster in the 70s saw Scotland's fishing industry as expendable, Westminster in the 1990s viewed Scottish hill farming as expendable. 

"These papers clearly show that Westminster mandarins and ministers will always see Scotland as a nuisance, and as a problem to be dismissively dealt with. 

"This is proof that Scottish farmers and crofters can't trust Labour any more than they can trust the Tories.

"Only independence can give us full control over our resources and powers, allowing us to support all farming sectors, especially the most marginalised hill and upland farming, in the way that benefits our needs and interests."