There have been a couple of reports over the past couple of days, emanating from Whitehall and Westminster, which have had me sticking my finger in the air and proclaiming something is smelling somewhat rancid.
Combined, they reminded me of the McCrone report, and that does not bode well.
For those not familiar with the McCrone report, here is a very quick summary of what occurred, but I would say it is absolutely essential reading for any Scot.
The McCrone report was a document that could have changed the course of Scottish history.Gavin McCrone, presented the report to the Cabinet office in April 1975 and it was subsequently buried in a Westminster vault for thirty years. It revealed how North Sea oil could have made an independent Scotland as prosperous as Switzerland.
It took a freedom of Information act request in 2005 to eventually unearth it. Without that request, we may still have never known of it’s information,and Westminster would not willingly part with it of it’s own volition.
“An independent Scotland’s budget surpluses as a result of the oil boom, wrote Professor McCrone, would be so large as to be “embarrassing”.
Scotland’s currency “would become the hardest in Europe, with the exception perhaps of the Norwegian Kronor.” From being poorer than their southern neighbours, Scots would quite possibly become richer. Scotland would be in a position to lend heavily to England and “this situation could last for a very long time into the future.”
Within days of its receipt at Westminster in 1974, Professor McCrone’s document was judged as incendiary and classified as secret. It would be sat upon for the next thirty years.
The mandarins demanded that Professor McCrone’s 19-page analysis be given “only a most restricted circulation in the Scottish Office because of the extreme sensitivity of the subject.”
By the mid 1970s, international convention had already agreed that the North Sea north of the 55th parallel was under Scottish jurisdiction. That meant around 90 per cent of the UK’s oil and gas reserves fell within Scottish waters. Such was the fear of the rise of Scottish nationalism that the document remained secret under the governments of Heath, Callaghan, Thatcher, Major and even Tony Blair.
In short had that document been released in 1975, Scotland would have almost certainly have been Independent by now.
The betrayal by Whitehall and Westminster, instead ensured that Oil bailed out the British economy of Thatcher, paid for the London Orbital motorway, and many other ventures in the South,while Scotland Industries were decimated.
And so, fast forward to today.
The Telegraph reported senior Westminster civil servants are under instructions to freeze out their Scottish counterparts when they attend official meetings.
A “senior Whitehall source” quoted by the Telegraph said:
“It has come from the top that if there is anything very sensitive about Scotland then it cannot be discussed in front of [Sir Peter Housden].
“Concerns have been expressed at the highest level about this individual. People cannot serve two masters ultimately and he has been put in a very difficult position by Salmond.
the permanent secretaries from all Whitehall departments will no longer discuss Scotland in meetings if Sir Peter Housden is present.
Another “senior source” quoted in the Telegraph added: “The other permanent secretaries only discuss Scotland, nowadays, when Sir Peter is not there.”
The source told that Telegraph that Whitehall’s permanent secretaries believe they can no longer have “free and frank discussions” on Scotland in front of Sir Peter. The heads of other Westminster departments now hold ad-hoc meetings in private to discuss Scotland, without informing the Scottish civil service of the outcome of their meetings.
What an incredible turn of events in Whitehall. Scotland is being treated as if it were already a foreign country, and cannot be trusted.
But it also begs the question, what is it that these Senior English Civil Servants are discussing about Scotland, which they don’t want Scotlands Senior Civil Servant knowing about? What do they have to hide?
Scotland as a founding partner of this Union, are supposed to be an equal in the decision making of the United Kingdom. We haven’t left it yet!
Which brings us on to the other report which came to my attention, this time from the Scotsman.
A request had been made for publication of the minutes of the Cabinet Ministerial Committee of Devolution to Scotland and Wales and the English Regions, dating from 1997 and 1998.
The Scotsman reported:
“Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, has blocked the release of Cabinet committee papers relating to devolution under the Freedom of Information Act.
Grieve confirmed today his belief that their release would not be in the public interest.”
Mr Grieve’s veto related to two specific requests for documents.
The first, received by the Cabinet Office on May 24 2010, asked for the “minutes of the 1997 Cabinet meeting on devolution”.
The request was rejected on June 18 2010, and the applicant requested an internal review of the decision on July 14 2010. Refusal was upheld the following month, on August 11 2010.
A request for further appeal was then made to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and on September 12 2011, having reviewed the decision, the Information Commissioners ordered the material be released.
A second request, made on June 7 2010, asked for “the minutes of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Devolution for Scotland, Wales and the Regions”.
The Cabinet Office rejected the request on July 5 2010, and an appeal was made on July 21 2010. An internal review upheld the refusal on November 24 2010.
The request was referred to the ICO on November 29 2010 for further investigation. The Information Commissioner ruled on September 13 2011 that the information should be released.
In his statement, Mr Grieve said: “This is only the third time the power… has been exercised since the (Freedom of Information) Act came into force in 2005.
“In that time, central Government has released an enormous amount of information in response to FoI requests – including in October 2010 the minutes of the Cabinet discussion of the Westland affair.
“My decision to exercise the veto in this case was not taken lightly but in accordance with the Statement on Government Policy on the use of the executive override.
“In line with the policy, I have both assessed the balance of the public interest in disclosure and non-disclosure of these minutes and considered whether this case meets the criteria set out in the Statement of Government Policy for use of the veto.
“I consider the public interest falls in favour of non-disclosure and that disclosure would be damaging to the doctrine of collective responsibility and detrimental to the effective operation of Cabinet government.
“I have concluded, in light of the criteria set out in the Government’s policy, this constitutes an exceptional case and the exercise of the veto is warranted.”
A spokesman for the Information Commissioner’s Office said: “The Information Commissioner is aware that the Attorney-General has exercised the veto and regrets that the tribunal has, for the second time, been denied an opportunity to consider the issues as provided for in the Freedom of Information Act.
“The commissioner will study the Attorney-General’s statement of reasons to understand what ‘exceptional circumstances’ there might be to justify the use of the veto in this case.
Such a veto has only been used twice in the past, once relating to further devolution papers and once over a request for Cabinet minutes relating to Iraq.
Which all sort of begs the question, Why out of all the thousands of papers they have released, Including cabinet documents on the Westland Affair have they refused to issue information on these two devolution cabinet meetings, and taken the highly unusual step of using their Veto? A veto only ever used with regards to the Iraq War,and these two Devolution requests.
What can be so incendiary about them, that we must not know?
Why are they being placed on a top secret scale equivalent to the Iraq War? We know now why they wanted Iraq hushed up, but Devolution?
Can it possibly be that we are seeing a McCrone mark11 ? What are they hiding now? What don’t they want us to know?
The Information Commissioner can find nothing which might endanger the British State, nothing he would consider to be Top Secret.
Yet, here they are, refusing to divulge what took place. Might it be that whatever is in these papers is political dynamite?
McCrones report would have come under that sort of category too.
Can it be that Scotland might be even more wealthy than we could imagine? Or is it something else entirely? Whatever it is, they sure as blazes dont want Scotland to know!
These two reports in different papers, only a day apart, both point to seriously underhand dealings by the British Government.
And I am left having a distinct feeling of McCrone Deja Vu.
Newsnet Scotland reporting on Telegraph story
Scotsman Article on Veto
Independent article 2005 McCrone Report