DID North Sea oil save Britain from disaster? Or was it a resource wrongfully plundered and pillaged 30 years ago?
How easily we have forgotten how near to meltdown the British economy has been in our lifetimes. Not the ERM crisis of September 1992 that did for the Major government; this was a blip compared with the crisis of 1975 that did for the Labour government of the time.
Cabinet papers released last week under the 30-year rule reveal two haunting truths about this period. The first is how near we came to a serious financial meltdown. The second is the acute sensitivity to the SNP challenge and the implications that it carried for the control of the North Sea oilfields. For it was this asset that was, in the words of a 1975 Foreign Office memo, a “rainbow spanning the sombre horizon”. It was nothing less than the lifeline that led Britain, helped by an emergency IMF loan the following year, to eventual stability and prosperity.
North Sea oil calmed UK’s crisis-ridden waters