By G.A.Ponsonby
BBC Scotland bosses have provoked anger after they employed a virtual news blackout of revelations that the Labour party hid the true worth of North Sea Oil from Scots in the seventies.
The broadcaster is facing growing accusations that it is refusing to give deserved profile to stories that might harm the campaign against Scottish independence, after it all but ignored an admission from former Labour Chancellor Denis Healey that his party deliberately downplayed the value of North Sea Oil in order to thwart support for independence.

The admission from the Labour peer emerged during an interview conducted by the editor of Holyrood Magazine, Mandy Rhodes, in which the senior Labour politician who was Chancellor from 1974 to 1979 was asked about the North Sea Oil issue in the run-up to the 1979 referendum for Scottish Home Rule.

Lord Healey replied: "I think we did underplay the value of the oil to the country because of the threat of nationalism but that was mainly down to Thatcher.

"We didn’t actually see the rewards from oil in my period in office because we were investing in the infrastructure rather than getting the returns and really, Thatcher wouldn’t have been able to carry out any of her policies without that additional 5 per cent on GDP from oil."

The Labour peer also insisted that an independent Scotland could survive "perfectly well", but said the rest of the UK "would suffer enormously if the income from Scottish oil stopped".

He said of Westminster politicians: "I think they are concerned about Scotland taking the oil, I think they are worried stiff about it."

Lord Healey’s comments were reported on the front page of the Sunday Post and Monday's Scotsman newspaper, they were also covered on Sunday by STV.  An article based on the full interview itself was also published by the highly respected Holyrood magazine on Sunday.

However despite widespread outrage at the revelations and their obvious relevance to the current independence debate amid claims by the Labour peer that the current UK government were employing the same tactic, BBC Scotland refused to give the story any prominence, limiting mention on the main news programme Reporting Scotland to a 15 second comment from reporter Glenn Campbell.

Quizzed by Newsnet Scotland on why they had adopted a news blackout on their early news broadcasts despite the story already being in the public domain, the BBC refused to reply.

Newsnet Scotland understands that the broadcaster has received complaints from licence payers angry at the decision to all but ignore the story which broke the day before the UK government issued its latest attack on Scottish independence.

The UK Treasury report into the viablity of an independent Scotland's financial sector dominated headlines throughout the day on BBC Scotland and was repeated in regular news bulletins on TV and radio.

In a statement issued to Newsnet Scotland, Mark Piggott who heads the campaign for a balanced referendum debate, was highly critical of the imbalance.

Speaking last night, Mr Piggott said: "Only two days ago over two hundred people gathered in Glasgow to call for a balanced referendum debate from our broadcasters.  We were even joined by the head of the Scottish NUJ.

"North Sea Oil is arguably the biggest economic issue in this debate and any admission that the UK governments of the past have lied the Scottish electorate is surely worth reporting in at least the same manner as a pre-scheduled Treasury attack, and not limited to a short sentence stuck on the end of another item.

"If a former Chancellor of the UK Exchequer openly admits to manipulating oil revenue estimates in order to dissuade Scots from voting for independence then it deserves at least the same level of coverage. 

"The BBC in Scotland has let itself and the Scottish licence payers down very badly with this decision."

Newsnet Scotland understands that the issue was also raised briefly by Radio Scotland presenter Gary Robertson in a morning interview with Scottish Secretary, Lib Dem MP Michael Moore.  However we have been unable to determine whether any Labour politician will face questions on Lord Healey's comments.

The episode follows a recent judgement by the BBC Trust that found BBC Scotland management guilty of distorting news on a Radio Scotland morning programme.

Following an investigation, the Trust also found that senior management at Pacific Quay had issued false information and had sought to mislead a licence payer who had complained after an item on the Glasgow Science Centre was suspiciously missing from an early morning radio show.

It transpired that contrary to management claims, the news piece had been pulled from the show after senior management intervened and overruled the show's producer.


# clootie 2013-05-21 05:59
We may be angry but we are not surprised!
# Ian Brotherhood 2013-05-21 06:42
Hit them where it hurts - don't pay the licence fee. You needn't break any law - just get the facts, then restrict your viewing accordingly.
# flying haggis 2013-05-21 06:51
Can you imagine the BBC's reaction if the economic document, published by the SNP today, contained such a huge lie about what oil is worth.
It would be rammed down everyones throat for months on end.
# GogsyBroon 2013-05-21 07:16
It's a bit facile to complain about what Healey did in the '70s - they had no idea how much oil there was in the North Sea, and most certainly the estimates were not sufficient to last to the current day, so therefore irrelevant to the current debate. The guy is 95, so probably doesn't even know if its Tuesday or Oxford Street.
# breastplate 2013-05-21 09:05
It doesn't matter how much oil they thought there was. They lied about it to the people they are supposed to be working for.If they lied about it then,there is no reason to believe they wouldn't lie about it now.
So it is completely relevant to the current debate.
# Mei 2013-05-21 09:19
And why was the McCrone Report classified as Top Secret for thirty years?

To give UK Goverments time to asset strip Scotland with the help of Scottish yes men!
# Alba4Eva 2013-05-21 09:25
GogsyBroon "they had no idea how much oil there was in the North Sea"

Really? How can you assume what they did or did not know? Why has another FOI request been turned down on the discussions regarding Devolution?

The truth is they DID know and they DO know... and they don't want us to find out.

Ps. such an obvious attack on the man... someone previously predicted on here that it would only be a matter of time before unionists slated the man for being senile etc. he knows fine well what he is saying!
# RTP 2013-05-21 10:47
Quoting Alba4Eva:
GogsyBroon "they had no idea how much oil there was in the North Sea"

Really? How can you assume what they did or did not know? Why has another FOI request been turned down on the discussions regarding Devolution?

The truth is they DID know and they DO know... and they don't want us to find out.

Ps. such an obvious attack on the man... someone previously predicted on here that it would only be a matter of time before unionists slated the man for being senile etc. he knows fine well what he is saying!

It did not take long for someone to deride Healy but surprised it has happened on this site,it was only the other day I said this would happen.
# jafurn 2013-05-21 18:07
Surely it is academic whether Mr Healey was/is aware of what he is saying... the point about this is the fact that it was said and was not even covered by the BBC.
If there was no credence to it then all the BBC had to do was 'report it' and discredit it. The fact that it was not even covered lends credence to the 'suspicion' that it is in fact true.
# Macart 2013-05-21 09:36
"The guy is 95, so probably doesn't even know if its Tuesday or Oxford Street."

Have you actually read the interview in Holyrood magazine Mr Broon? Seems like a fairly intellectually lively individual to me. Truth is hard to take though. Our UK government lied to us and not for some high ideal, merely political and monetary gain. Now if that isn't newsworthy....
# colin8652 2013-05-21 07:19
This story is critical in regards to the possibility of a national Government lying to a section of its people. This shows that the unionists WILL lie to preserve the union. And as such such allegations should be investigated in depth by the national broadcaster to ensure our present UK government is not lying to us now. This story is as big to Scotland as Watergate was to the states, and the BBC simply ignore it. Disgusting.
# Macart 2013-05-21 07:26
Even when the MSM do print a story of serious weight and which deserves even greater distribution due its ramifications, the good old loyal Beeb keeps its trap firmly shut.

This isn't just about the Scots electorate, this one covers the whole of the UK. Just how is it not in the public interest to uncover the uncomfortable truth that Her majesties government has mislead the entire UK electorate for over forty years on Scotland's true value to the union? Just how is it not in the public interest to avoid revealing to the public that her majesties government has been misleading said electorate and union partner in the name of political and financial gain?

C'mon BBC snappy answer on a postcard.
# Evil Gazebo 2013-05-21 07:34
It's a sad day for the beeb in Scotland when the Sunday Post is more to be relied on than themselves.
# rob4i 2013-05-21 07:38
The Scottish people must realise that the BBC along with the press are consciously and intentionally causing a large democratic deficit in Scotland and proving themselves ever increasingly to be anti-Scots and it is high time the true Scottish people show them how angry and insulted they are at such treatment and make them aware that the 18th of September 2014 is going to be payback time!!

The lies and deceit over the decades should be proof enough that the status quo is what suits and benefits the Unionists and wealthy the most but certainly NOT the ordinary worker on the streets of Scotland so vote YES you must know it makes sense to put an end to those self-serving Scottish politicians jobs in Westminster!
# cuckooshoe 2013-05-21 07:44
The BBC reported that Michael Moore was asked about Denis Healey's interview. His response is tacked on to the end of the BBC article about the Treasury report on savings..
# Ready to Start 2013-05-21 08:02
No mention on BBC / unionist press of comments by George Kerevan, "Luxembourg twice as much dependent on financial services" or two giants of the Scottish financial sector Sir George Mathewson "Scotland only responsible for £85,000 deposit guarantee for Bank branches located IN Scotland" and Ian Spowart report not being “a credible analysis of how financial organisations work” yet anyone who attacks independence is given banner headlines.
# bunter 2013-05-21 08:10
An opportuntity for the Scot Gov to plant a relevant question at FMQs, and should enable the issue to be highlighted on the BBC whether they like it or not.
# RTP 2013-05-21 08:15
• Brian Taylor is BBC Scotland’s political editor. His lecture is at 5:30pm today at the University of Glasgow.

I just noticed this and wonder what he will have to say,will there be a question and answer.
# ianbeag 2013-05-21 08:17
Excellent interview on the Radio 4 'Today' programme this morning with a relaxed Alex being interviewed by an openly hostile James Naughtie re the content of the SNP referendum paper to be released later today. Alex's measured tone included a solid reference to Dennis Healey's revelations of Labour's cover up of oil wealth in the 1970's which BBC Scotland is determined to hide.
How lucky we are to have someone of Alex's stature and conviction.
# rapid 2013-05-21 08:47
it was a good interview and "relaxed and jovial" could describe Alex Salmond's demeanour in the interview.

I wouldn't say it was any more hostile than his other interviews but James Naughtie did say sarcastically "and when have we ever known a government to mask the truth or lie for to meet their political aims" (I paraphrase, it's not a direct quote).
# Dundonian West 2013-05-21 10:09
I heard this interview with Alex Salmond on the Radio 4 Today programme. He did manage to refer to the Healey revelations but Naughtie continued the interview as if Alex hadn't mentioned it.
The big story of the weekend and Naughtie ignores it !
Good old Auntie BBC---NOT.
# Barbazenzero 2013-05-21 11:00
Naughtie's interview with the FM of this morning is available as an MP3 at
# graememcallan 2013-05-21 13:44
Had never heard that before - thank you for the link ;)
# Breeks 2013-05-21 08:23
We see the results of the BBC's wider media manipulation already in UKIP, and the apparent will to see the UK hauled out of Europe. Does anybody know how many countries, apart from the UK that is, who actually want to leave Europe?

All the decades of lies about Scotland have certainly turned our heads, but they've also left middle England utterly clueless about the true political landscape in Scotland, and so easily wrong footed and stunned to silence by the truth. They are being left behind in the argument and deluded by their own propaganda, while a healthy skepticism in Scotland has taken root and is steadily growing.

My own skepticism is no longer confined to the BBC, or MSM, but it includes the opinion polls they continually broadcast. Every 'formal' opinion poll puts support for a YES below 40%, but every informal and free to use online poll I see typically has the pro-Indy vote running at 75-80%. Something isn't right...
# Kinloch 2013-05-21 08:57
Breeks - " Every 'formal' opinion poll puts support for a YES below 40%, but every informal and free to use online poll I see typically has the pro-Indy vote running at 75-80%. Something isn't right..."

The true position I suspect is better reflected in the unofficial statistics found in the online polls. No wonder the unionists are getting hysterical, from what ex-chancellor Healy is telling us the last days of empire are finally upon us. Who in their right mind would vote to be ruled by thieves and liars. Perhaps after the dust settles on an Independent Scotland, a humbler and less Imperial Englishness will be born.
# proudscot 2013-05-21 08:46
GogsyBroon, contrary to your comment, it is entirely relevant to the current debate that the UK Labour Government lied about the extent to which oil and gas revenues would benefit an independent Scotland.

Read the McCrone Report on the subject, which was then classified and deliberately hidden from public knowledge by both Tory and Labour Governments, until it was dragged into the light of day by the SNP.

Finally, your snide comment about Denis Healey's mental capacity is just the type of gutter level abuse we have come to expect from unionists, who have no cogent arguments to counter inconvenient facts. If Mr.Healey survives until 105 I suspect he will still be more intelligent and articulate than you.
# Kinghob 2013-05-21 08:51
GogsyBroon 2013-05-21 08:16
"It's a bit facile to complain about what Healey did in the '70s - they had no idea how much oil there was in the North Sea, and most certainly the estimates were not sufficient to last to the current day, so therefore irrelevant to the current debate. The guy is 95, so probably doesn't even know if its Tuesday or Oxford Street."

The people in labour and the tories who hid the report and then talked down oil and mineral wealth whilst calling Scotland a subsidy junkie certainly knew what day of the week it was mate-a very odd comment from yourself.

Also profesor McCrone who authored the report left no doubt at all as to the potential wealth in the sea around Scotland, hence the report was hidden for 30 years, a wee clue there for you as well.
# Will C 2013-05-21 08:53
I was one of the folk who complained yesterday. I still await an email or telephone of explanation. As I said yesterday, I will not hold my breath.
# BillDunblane 2013-05-21 09:01
Also in Campbell's report last night was the statement, "Both governments refuse to discuss... before the vote."

Only Westminster is refusing to discuss matters.
# Abulhaq 2013-05-21 09:07
No surprise there, the BBC has been manipulating news from the Middle East ever since the invasion of Iraq. The biased reportage concerning events in Syria, the myth of the "Arab Spring" propagated by certain senior journalists, the anti-Iran propaganda, the soft line on Saudi Arabian influence in financing of puritanical Islamism, the silence on the aftermath of the fall of Qadhafi and much else reveal how truth is the first victim in the hands of this powerful arm of the British state.
# Dee 2013-05-21 09:41
Alex has a world audience today, so I am pleading with him to include references to the Healy scandal, this can be a vote changing opportunity , so give it to them strong and proud Alex, ,
Also on the polling figures that seem to defy logic, I work offshore and continually ask about voting intentions and it is 60 - 70% in favour of independence,
# velofello 2013-05-21 09:51
GogsyBroon; I was a young keen engineer in the '70s, reading every oil and gas magazine I could lay my hands on. The Establishment new only too well that the hydrocarbon resources would last well beyond their "forecasts". The McCrone report is there to read. Why are you skeptical?
# Frankly 2013-05-21 10:02
Blighty is not known as Perfidious Albion for nothing. Pragmatism rules there, and Britannia waives the rules.

More here:

# brh206 2013-05-21 10:04
I suppose first of all I was actually surprised the Sunday Post printed the story, esp since their politicial coverage tends to be very bias towards the union.

I just don't know what we do with BBC Scotland anymore. Anyone with an open mind can see that the editorial team or management have either an anti-nationalist stance or totally pro union one. Demonstrations, complaints just don't appear to work as far as coverage goes. I guess the best we can hope for is that the continued negative publicity on sites like this and Wings will allow people to know that they cannot trust the BBC anymore, if they ever could. I had a mori guy visit my house last week doing a survey on news coverage and I let him know what my feelings on the BBC were. I wasn't alone he said and it would appear that Channel 4 is the only news that gets a thumbs up as far as television goes.
# RTP 2013-05-21 10:16
Alex Salmond sets out economic case for Scottish independence

Have been listening to this broadcast has now ended I would liked to see what the man was having to say when he was cut off,BBC at it again I wonder.
# Al Ghaf 2013-05-21 10:46
So former Labour chancellors views are no longer news worthy at BBC Scotland?
I wish it were so; but how long before that old house flipper from Edinburgh is given a platform to scare grannies.
# Caledonian Lass 2013-05-21 11:27
This is par for the course for the BBC - aka Pravda at Pacific Quay. Keeping the Scottish public in the dark whilst promoting unionist agenda is its default position.

What really angers me most is the fact that, had this information along with the McCrone Report been made public at the time, we could have avoided all the industrial closures and skilled workers leaving Scotland for better prospects elsewhere. Scotland could have been independent years ago but,due to the lies of successive UK governments, aided and abetted by the so-called state broadcaster, we've had to suffer austerity. Food parcel distributions and Church soup kitchens are becoming the norm, thanks in no small measure to the hated welfare 'reforms' and bedroom tax.

Wake up you don't knows and see reality.
Vote YES next year or the future of Scotland will be very bleak indeed.
# chicmac 2013-05-21 11:45
Reposting similar reply to Nautilus yesterday:

The tragedy is that many, many thousands of young Scots have already had to leave their country, breaking up families quite unnecessarily.

Two of my own children now live overseas.

It is now apparent, even to the lumpen bourgeoisie, that this need never have happened if the truth were admitted and Scots had had the option of voting for independence armed with that truth in '79 or '97.

There has, too, been a significant effect on the self-esteem and life fulfillment of those who remain, all due to the controlling machinations and black propaganda of those imperialism/entitlement junkies orbiting the magnificence of planet London. Just look at relative shifts in Scottish suicide rates for young people in the last 30 years.

But now, enough! We can and must, at the very least, ensure normality for future Scottish generations.
# Puskas 2013-05-21 18:41
Hi Chicmac, Your children like many others over centuries have left Scotland not through choice but because they had no choice.
My great great grandfathers brother emigrated abt. 1850 to Canada. A Scot chief engineer in the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Became the first CEO of the company.
Also first tramway system in Toronto and Quebec and when dying a comparitively young man left much of his savings to build a childrens wing at the St Dominics Hospital, Montreal.
He was born Stranraer, Wigtounshire.
Like many Stots before and after this great man he was forced to leave to benefit his family.
# chicmac 2013-05-21 22:05
We still have two children and four grandchildren here in Scotland.

re 1850. I saw a facsimile of UK accounts for c 1850, about a year or so back. Think someone posted it to comments on Bella.

Whereas Ireland and Wales were in the negative, for Scotland back then, we contributed more than twice to the Treasury than we received back.

Again, if Scotland's productivity were used in Scotland it would have done much to assuage the economic emigration back then just as it would today.

Scotland is underpopulated in terms of food production and resources. England has the opposite problem.
# reiver 2013-05-21 11:40
Whilst this in no way lets BBC Scotland off the hook, it was good to see an interview with Tony Banks representing Yes Scotland on the BBC News channel this morning. Of course he took the opportunity to mention the Denis Healey interview. Not sure how many potential referendum voters would see that - I chanced upon it while at my local gym !
# Evil Gazebo 2013-05-21 11:50
Another positive story from BBC Radio5 on air at the moment.
A piece on methadone prescriptions in the UK.Have a wild stab in the dark for which city the addicts come from.
Yup,Glasgow,wit h non Scottish voices taking the other side.
# schawaldowris 2013-05-21 14:20
I really cant see what all the fuss is about.
The BBC staff salaries and pension contributions are paid by London and no doubt their personal taxation is paid into a London office.

Its the old story. "He who pays the piper calls the tune"

It is why Oliver Brown called them the "anglosaxaphone"
# X_Sticks 2013-05-21 14:50
"Scottish independence: BBC to boost referendum coverage"

"The BBC has announced a new £5m investment package to help boost its coverage of the Scottish independence referendum."

If it is anything like the scaremongering and propaganda that we have had to date from the british broadcaster's northern branch they might as well not bother. Who they choose as "editor" will be mightily interesting. As long as it isn't Daniel Maxwell (he who closed the blogs)!
# Breeks 2013-05-21 15:31
Can we all chip in a £1 and get someone else to do the coverage?
# DJ 2013-05-21 18:04
Will that not take the no campaign over its spending limit?
# Viking Girl 2013-05-21 15:38
Macart. It is not about the public interest, rather, it is about the interests of the State and how it retains its power. They lost their empire, apart from Scotland, and they feel it deeply. They still have the empire mentality, and run this country by making half-hearted compromises when folk complain enough. It took them 40 years to do an inquest about Bloody Sunday, because they're not remotely interested in what the people think, so, supressing information is just par for the course.
I noticed Nicola mentioned the matter of Healey on GMS this morning, and, wasn't it Healey who signed the order to deport the people of Diego Garcia, so as our friends in the US could build an air base?
# Macart 2013-05-22 06:04
And of course this mentality is what makes a lie of the term public service broadcaster. Just what service are they providing? Believe it or not there are good journos at the Beeb, their problem though is that they are thin on the ground and surrounded by an overly politicised atmo. Every now and again though you get the odd one kicking back and it makes for good telly or radio.

I think the most striking thing about the Healey interview was the good natured off the cuff answers he gave. No big thing, I think we did just mislead the electorate, demonise and marginalise the SNP and RIP Scotland off for billions. Mind you Thatcher was the one who really got all the benefit (Paraphrasing). If that's not chilling I don't know what is.
# Ready to Start 2013-05-21 16:21
Note that the BBC keeps referring to the Better Together "Pro Union "campaign but never the Yes Pro Scotland campaign.
# Glenbuchat 2013-05-21 17:13
Quoting Ready to Start:
Note that the BBC keeps referring to the Better Together "Pro Union" campaign but never the Yes Pro Scotland campaign.

The BBC use such terminology because it is an accurate description. Those of us who support the Union are as much "pro Scotland" as anyone who supports independence. We just happen to have a different view as to what is in the best interest of Scots and Scotland.
# Fungus 2013-05-21 21:40
Indeed Glenbuchat, just as Mrs Fungus was telling me the other day, her being unconvinced that independence is in the best interest of the country. So I asked her just how our grandchildren, if the weans get round to it, would look back on this time if the vote is no. What good, positive things would they have to say about us keeping the status quo and denying them independence. She struggled with that...what about you?
# Diabloandco 2013-05-22 09:09
Tell her the native americans had it sussed long time past,

"Treat the earth well.
It was not given to you by your parents,
it was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
we borrow it from our Children."

The decision we make next year is for generations to come.
Set them free to take control of their own talents ,assets and competence.
# Aplinal 2013-05-22 11:19
Keeping with the Native American Indian line, I am reminded of the quote from, I think Standing Bear(?) who said:

"They [the White man] made us many promises, more than I can remember, they only kept one: they promised to take our land and they took it."

Don't let our children's children have to ask us, "How did YOU vote in 2014?"
# Glasgow 2013-05-21 19:58
Quoting Ready to Start:
Note that the BBC keeps referring to the Better Together "Pro Union "campaign but never the Yes Pro Scotland campaign.

Radio 5 live was at it all day today with their regular 'Alex Salmond says Scotland can prosper if it breaks away/separates from the UK' headlines.

I can't imagine him saying quite that.
# rabkae 2013-05-22 16:28
For quite some time there have been voices raised in order to increase BBC Scotland's budget in the run up to 'R-Day', in September 2014.

"Be careful what you wish for" comes to mind, for if current form is anything to go by, the 'Bitter Th'gither' campaign has now received a £5m boost c/o BBC Scotland.

I don't want more broadcasting from BBC Scotland, just balanced broadcasting. Sadly, I doubt an additional £5m of taxpayers money will ensure such.
# DoricBob 2013-05-24 00:58
Quoting GogsyBroon:
It's a bit facile to complain about what Healey did in the '70s - they had no idea how much oil there was in the North Sea, and most certainly the estimates were not sufficient to last to the current day, so therefore irrelevant to the current debate. The guy is 95, so probably doesn't even know if its Tuesday or Oxford Street.

Sorry, this is rubbish. I was told by an American oilman in 1972, "Your government is lying to you, that's one of the biggest oilfields in the world out there under the North Sea." So, if the Americans knew, are you suggesting that Westminster didn't know?
# Breeks 2013-05-24 05:07
Agreed DoricBob. The McCrone Report leaves no wriggle room for the 1970's governments. The predictions about the amount of oil were wild under estimates, including the SNP's predictions. Those predictions might be forgiven in close detail, but the strategic predictions for the strength of the Scottish economy and currency, and the massive surplus were all spot on. There was even a caveat about volatility in the oil price, but recognition that the resource was still a massive boon regardless.

Read McCrone again, cover to cover. They knew everything.

What's more, considering the circumstances of why the McCrone Report was commissioned, I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn there is modern equivalent 'McCrone' report on restricted distribution which deals with the same subject matter brought right up to date.

Healy is merely corroborating what's already there in black and white.

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