THE most significant issue around the McCrone Report, kept hidden in 1974 from the Scottish public, is the sheer waste of opportunity brought about by 50 years of economic vandalism as part of the UK.

As the UK finances wheeze and groan under the shocking mismanagement of the austerity years under the Tories and the failure to plan for the future under Labour – Gordon Brown selling all the gold is as good a metaphor as you could need – it is useful to see, what could have been, with our "near twin" in Norway, whose economic journey over the past half a century has been in stark contrast to the journey imposed on Scotland. 

The National: The former prime minister warned of a poverty crisis (Victoria Jones/PA)

What we have seen are decades of Westminster sell-offs, lining the pockets of the few and stripping industry from our communities. 

Since devolution we have seen the growth of new tech, life sciences and renewables industry but even there we have had to be inventive to get around Westminster’s failures. For McCrone’s revelations on oil and gas the UK had no plan, just a revenue stream at a time in history when the UK was more or less broke.

Read more from our McCrone 50th Anniversary special edition here:

There is a wry smile that can't help appearing when people talk about Scotland's nominal GERS (General revenue and expenditure Scotland) deficit. It is wielded every time as "definitive proof" that Scotland can't be independent, but, today, it is not only Norway that is an inconvenient neighbour to those who cling to that argument others, with far less resource inconveniently disprove that theory.

In the past few weeks, Norway has posted a record profit of 213 billion dollars from the activities of their world's largest sovereign wealth fund ($1.6 trillion). They are a glaring "what could have been" for Scotland, of course, but we also now have our closer neighbour Ireland, independent and in the EU, boasting a surplus of 9.6bn euros in 2024 with a declining national debt. They never even had oil. There is no logic for the people of Scotland to stay in this shrinking and withering UK. 

The National: An oil rig off the coast of NorwayAn oil rig off the coast of Norway

We could help and serve our neighbours in this island, especially in the north of England, better by showing them what could be done with full powers in Scotland making the choices that suit the people’s needs. Would we choose all of the same paths as Norway or Ireland, no, of course we wouldn’t, we’d choose those right for us. Even if we hadn’t had the oil we could be helping people live better lives and not tolerating privation. As he former governor of the Bank of England pointed out, Scotland’s financial services assets are worth 10 times our GDP, around a trillion pounds.

Read more from our McCrone 50th Anniversary special edition here:

In contrast, the UK debt sits at around £2.6tr with the UK 2024 deficit at £85bn. Scotland has unearthed a new bounty in its renewables riches. The UK Government is already hard at work to tax that – and our food and drink – to the hilt and squander that too.

The difference is, this is not 1974 and these niches are harder to hide. The question we all have to answer ... is will we fall for it twice?