A CLAIM that the UK Treasury deliberately undervalued Scotland’s oil in the 1970s to head off the threat of nationalism is evidence that it cannot be trusted in the independence campaign, according to First Minister Alex Salmond.
Former Labour chancellor Denis Healey reportedly told Holyrood magazine his Treasury “did underplay the value of the oil to the country because of the threat of nationalism”, and suggested the present Treasury is “worried stiff” that independence could deprive them of the remaining reserves.
This is evidence that “the Scottish people are not to believe the Treasury in 2014”, the First Minister said at the launch of a new paper entitled Scotland’s Economy: The Case For Independence.
The latest Scottish Government paper comes the day after the UK Government published a report raising concerns that savers and financial institutions could be hit under plans for independence.
The independence campaign has also faced criticism from a former leading figure in the SNP, ex-deputy leader Jim Sillars, who said that the “professionals” in the UK Government and Better Together “seem to be knocking seven bells out of the amateurs” in the SNP administration and Yes Scotland.
The First Minister launched his latest paper at bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis in Falkirk today, saying that the company is a microcosm of Scotland’s potential under independence.
Alexander Dennis group corporate affairs director Bill Simpson praised the First Minister’s “exciting” vision for Scotland but warned that the road to success is “a consistent long, hard journey and you have to walk the talk every single day”.
Mr Salmond said the road to the referendum “is a marathon, not a sprint” and predicted that the yes campaign “will gain strength as we move towards September 2014”.
“We have some surprising allies,” he said.
“Just this weekend Denis Healey casually admitted that ‘of course the Treasury underestimated the extent of Scotland’s oil and gas resources because they didn’t want people to vote for the SNP’.
“When you get to Dennis Healey’s age you don’t mind telling the truth, and he said of course Scotland could prosper as an independent country.
“When we get our previous opponents admitting the truth and the reality, then that is an important aspect of the debate.”
He added: “When you’re fighting a positive campaign then you realise that we are in a marathon to next September, not a sprint.
“The no campaign bogey stories will dissolve in the light of day as time goes on, like the European one has already. We now know that the European issue is now playing as a positive for the yes campaign.
“We had the endearing admission by Dennis Healey that the Scottish people are not to believe the Treasury in 2014.
“The yes campaign will gain strength as we move towards September next year.”
Mr Salmond said Alexander Dennis “is an outstanding example of how to take something and realise its potential using the skills and workforce, the ingenuity of new products and the opportunities of an international marketplace”.
“It is a symbol and example of Scotland’s economic strength,” he said.
“Some folk around Scotland say we don’t manufacture things any more. Certainly, we should manufacture more, but it’s important to stress manufacturing at the centre of our ambitions for Scotland.
“The reason that this company is successful in international marketplaces is because it has the best products at the right price.
“This document shows how the Scottish Government could use the powers currently held at Westminster to boost capital spending, to give our companies a competitive advantage.
“To boost international engagement in Scotland by cutting the cost of flying in and out of Scotland by having more direct flights: useful if you are going on holiday, vital if you’re conducting commercial business from Scotland.
“It sets out our intentions to improve childcare so we can get more women into the workforce, that great underutilised resource.”
Mr Simpson said: “Alex was explaining where he hopes to take this country, and the passion and beliefs that lie at the core of the government he hopes to take forward.
“We are very similar, in that if you’ve got a plan, the right people, values and the right product then you will continue on that journey.
“The one thing I would say, though, is that it is a consistent, long, hard journey and you have to walk the talk every single day.
“I think we’ve heard some of the talk here about the future of Scotland, and it sounds exciting.”
• Scottish independence: UK underplayed value of oil