Reaching for the stars

On Saturday, the National published a front page article about the development of the space related industries in Scotland. Already, Scotland generates some £134 million annually in space-related industries, primarily in building small satellites, and Scotland’s contribution makes up a disproportionately large part of the UK space industry. 7000 of the total 38,500 UK jobs in space-related industries are based in Scotland. According to the economic consultancy firm London Economics, Scotland has a 11.7% share of the total UK space economy, a figure well in excess of Scotland’s 8.25% share of the UK population.

A new report from the Common Weal think tank suggests that part of the difficulty in developing Scotland’s space industry is that many of the necessary powers are currently reserved to Westminster, but if that can be overcome and Scotland invests in a spaceport and Scottish Space Agency, it could potentially provide an enormous boost to the Scottish economy. It could create hundreds of well paid and skilled jobs, and bring in millions in extra revenues. All it takes is imagination, work, investment, and to build on the skills and talents that Scotland already possesses. We can reach for the stars.

The National was the only publication to pay any attention to the report from the pro-independence think tank. This isn’t unusual. The Fraser of Allander Institute only has to clear its throat to have it plastered all over the Unionist media and the BBC, which is quite an achievement for an organisation which sounds like a knitwear shop in Pitlochry. The fact is no one needs to write a report on how any report that shows up Scotland in a bad light or provides a musical backing to the latest chorus of SNP bad, is going to get top billing on Reporting Scotland and the Scotsman. We already know that. Meanwhile reports from Common Weal about how independence can be beneficial get as much publicity in the Unionist media as an explanation from a tax lawyer about how setting up a new company means you’re not the same as the old company gets in a Rangers fan newsletter.

Sadly, and all too predictably, the National’s story was met with an outpouring of derision and scorn from Scotland’s Unionists. There were the usual complaints about how Scotland couldn’t possibly develop a space industry – even though it’s already got a space industry – because the Scottish government can’t make a decent fist of running whatever public service happens to have been attacked on the Scotlandshire news that week. One of the key features of Scottish Unionism is its wilful inability to distinguish between how any single political party runs aspects of a devolved administration and the wider issue of independence.

Devolution means that the playing field is tilted against the Scottish Government – irrespective of which party happens to be in power. It means operating within the constraints of a budget which is set elsewhere, without the full range of powers that an independent country possesses to regulate and improve its economy. Saying that Scotland shouldn’t become independent because the Scottish Government isn’t managing a devolved public service well is like saying that a football team which performs poorly on a playing field that’s strongly tilted against it and in a game where the rules are biased in favour of the opposition would do even worse on a level field in a fair game.

The fact is that Unionists don’t want to admit that an independent Scotland would be a fully functioning democracy. They don’t want to admit that an independent Scotland would be more democratic and have a more accountable government than a Scotland within a UK which is governed by a UK government we didn’t vote for, propped up by a party we can’t vote for, which is implementing a Brexit that Scotland voted against. It suits them to conflate independence with the SNP because then they can avoid dealing with the real issues of the lack of democratic accountability that Scotland in the Union faces. It allows them to mount party political attacks on a topic that is not party political.

Tory MSPs went out of their way to laugh at the ridiculous notion that Scotland could ever do something that a normal developed country might do – indeed something that Scotland is doing right now. Imagine the very idea of it eh, a Scotland which has a world class record in invention, innovation, and design Scottish Unionism is the philosophy that physical and material poverty is acceptable, that poverty of the imagination is laudable, and that poverty of ambition is normal. Unionism teaches that the only way Scotland can ever gaze on the stars is when it’s lying in the gutter. It demands that all of Scotland gets down into the gutter and feeds off the scraps that Westminster chooses to toss our way. Unionism is the politicisation of the cringe.

The most frightening thing to some caged birds is the opening of the cage door. Unionism cowers in terror at the back of the cage, angry and fearful at its fellow birds who stretch their wings and dream of a wide blue sky. Scottish Unionism is scarred by the fear that in a wide open sky with bright horizons ahead, it will no longer rule the roost. It’s only by clipping Scotland’s wings that the Union can survive.

Unionism turns the cringe into a weapon with which to beat us all down. It’s the dead weight that pulls dreams down and into the mud and calls nightmares realism. Don’t get above yourself. Don’t dream. Don’t aspire. And above all, don’t dare to imagine that you could ever be the master or mistress of your own destiny. Unionism results in a bunch of rockets telling Scotland it can’t build a rocket. It’s a band of space cadets who laugh at those with the imagination to fly. They wield the cringe as a weapon to bring down those who show any sign of rising above their fear. They’re terrified because independence is the booster rocket that will take Scotland into a global orbit, and then we can reach for the stars.

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0 thoughts on “Reaching for the stars

  1. Pingback: Reaching for the stars | speymouth

  2. Good points Paul on the art of small mindedness where here in scotland we are truly world class , Every bloody day in life you come across them , nothing absolutely nothing gives a lot of people More pleasure than a right good moan , and the crowning glory is taking people who aspire to anything down a peg or two , who do they think they are ?, the same attitude was evident when the BBC in Scotland reported the First Ministers visit to Brussels , the same scoffing and derision ,who does she think she is ? trying to secure the future for many scots what a cheek eh .
    We are simply blessed to have these people in abundance , what a bleedn shower of DUMMIES .

  3. Cringing for Britain. Commentators, politicians and the odd (extremely odd) celebs.

    They’re not the brightest are they? They’re certainly unfamiliar with the accomplishments of Scottish citizens and their contributions in general. But y’know, Google is their friend. Too much time on social meeja I reckon. Some may get nose bleeds if they read past 140 characters kinda thing.

    Those examples in the above link are what motivated Scots are capable of, even today. All it takes is desire and belief. Perhaps instead of teaching our generations to cringe, defer, meekly accept. Perhaps we should teach them to stand, to imagine and to aspire.

    Just a thought.

    Where the detractors are concerned? Another question. Is cringe really just another name for fear? Seems to be a theme with the Yoonitariat. That and chronic joint pain around the knees.

    • Fear is the word that comes to me often when I try to place unionists into a single category. I know it’s wrong to generalise, but I can’t help myself sometimes!

  4. The cringe from Professor Tompkins MSP, University of Glasgow in his dismissive tweet about the space industry in Scotland does not surprise me – British Nationalists cannot countenance Scotland achieving, having self-confidence, being aspirational, having an international profile in its own right etc.

    However as a senior academic at the University of Glasgow he, by implication, is dismissing the research capability and activity within his own institution.

    Just one example, from HIS OWN University’s web site: ( )

    (By the way, I have come to the conclusion that the descriptor ‘Unionist’ is too mild – after all, in non-political situations, unions are generally regarded as positive things. I have now decided no longer to refer to “Unionist’ but instead ‘British Nationalist’! I commend this re-framing it to you all.)

  5. When Scotland becomes an independent nation the government of the day will need to be held to account but the present opposition parties have, for so long, being singing a one note song that they have forgotten how to actively participate in the democratic process. After the constant negativity and unrelenting snark those parties that, currently, sing the British Nationalist song will be lost, bereft and, hopefully, inconsolable when they find themselves alone and abandoned by their former masters darn sarth.

    It could be different, there could be a more rational attitude, there could be constructive dialogue but they are really not thinking this through. Fortunately, I doubt if we will have to put up with this for that much longer.

  6. I agree absolutely with Paul – and with the comments.

    I recently came across a book published in 2014 and have the revised 2015 edition which for me absolutely encapsulates the source of the historical British Nationalist (agree with you stewartb)psyche which has brought us to the predicament we in Scotland clearly recognise today.

    The book is called “Wounded Leaders: British Elitism and the Entitlement Illusion – a psychohistory by Nick Duffell”. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the back cover:

    “In this controversial essay, brimming with politics, history, psychodynamics, neuroscience, anecdotes, passion and humour, the author argues that the obsession with sending the children of the well-heeled away to school has a major impact on British society, institutions and attitudes. Tracing the development of the Rational Man Project through the colonial period, he proposes that a normalised national character ideal, eschewing vulnerability and practising covert hostility, learned in the ‘dorm’, adversely affects even those who did not have the educational privilege. Led by “the boys in the men that run things”, it leaves Britain in the social and emotional Dark Ages.

    Protected by vast financial interests and the “It never did me any harm” syndrome, this specific elitism’s psychological profile renders Britain unable to foster the leadership skills required for our increasingly complex and interdependent world. Worse, new scientific evidence shows that this hyper-rational training leaves its products trapped within the confines of an inflexible mind, beset with functional defects: the Entitled Brain”.

    David Cameron and Boris Johnson particularly take an absolute hammering in this book; Cameron in particular in his response to Alex Salmond and the idea of Scotland and independence.

    I thoroughly recommend it. The psychology sections are a bit heavy in psych language but the conclusions align perfectly with, I would say, our own conclusions regarding Westminster and all it touches – in particularly the psychological barrier which exists with regard to Scotland in particular and Scottish grown British Nationalist MPs and their most obvious self-interest ‘cringe’.

    Excellent article Paul. I have long felt these frustrations and we have a very large element of the Scottish population who need to experience a paradigm shift because it is as if they have a lock for which there is currently no key to open up those superglued closed minds. For the rest of us it is like being shackled to a block of concrete each and every day, with extra-weighty particles being attached daily by the media which we are forced to drag around with us to keep us bent over looking down at our feet.

    But hey ho…we are compelled to break through all of this. Brexit is exposing a great many things connected to the Westminster Cartel and we could hope,perhaps, that a few more months dow the line, the peeling of that onion will result in some new enlightenment for the elements of the Scottish population who currently prefer to be under its shadow in any circumstances. Hope springs!

    • I’ll look it up, Sandra; thanks for the reference.
      It is also more than a coincidence that the ‘British Nationalist’ scribes and broadcasters in the media appear to come from the same culture and background Up Here.
      I read Professor Adam WATP Tomkins derisory tweet, announcing his return from two weeks holiday.
      This charlatan gets on my goat in particular.
      He stood in our constituency and was soundly thrashed, nay, humiliated. Yet because of the List Candidates fiddle, he gets a wee sinecure at Holyrood. Parliament is on holiday for 9 weeks. This man has no ‘constituents’ therefore no surgery to attend to.
      He also holds down a professorship at Glasgow Uni. Two publicly funded jobs but only one WATP Tomkins to do both simultaneously.
      Doubtless he’ll be marking resits while pocketing Holyrood money.
      They diurnally insult Scotland, its people, and our industry and world leading enterprise.
      Yet, as Paul points out, many still vote for continued subjugation; our next door neighbours control our lives and finances.
      Well, surely to god Brexit is the straw that broke the camel’s back.
      We are in a fight to the death. If we stand by idly and let May Fox Davis Johnson and Gove push us over the edge, Scotland will become a barren backwater, a playground of grouse shooting, stag hunting, golf playing, salmon fishing for the rich and noble, while the Hoi Polloi stack supermarket shelves and beat grouse from the thickets for nobility to kill for sport.
      I have had it up to here with Davidson, Dugdale and Rennie, and their motley crew of fourth rate councillors slandering this magnificent country of ours.
      They have no shame, and in my eyes are simply evil.
      Half a million of our fellow citizens, 260,000 of whom are children, live below the poverty line, and Tomkins rakes in £1200 a week for doing nothing but smirk and lie about us.
      BBC Scotland is simply a sick joke now. I’ve not tuned in for a few weeks now.
      Doubtless it’s still the same ‘British Nationalist’ Propaganda Porn.
      There is a day of reckoning coming for our Fourth Estate Fifth column.
      There are only so many jobs in Mundell’s Spin Doctor office, although he seems to have a limitless budget to hire Scotland Deniers.

  7. Excellent WGD. Your prose sizzles with a righteous anger we all feel. They would diminish Scotland and cripple its ambition – but what motivates these people who scoff and sneer? In some quarters it is axiomatic to despise Scotland while paying empty lip service to a shortbread tin version of “Scottishness”.

    British Nationalist is probably a better name for them than Unionist as stewartb suggests above, for what they wish to preserve is not a true union but a forced marriage where one partner wishes to destroy the self-esteem of the other and thus keep them fast. ( Remember Better Together whose whole campaign was based on insulting and demeaning us? How hollow was that title? )

    These people have the effrontery to scorn scientific endeavour in Scotland, the country which despite its small population has probably been punching
    well above its weight internationally in technical innovation and scientific enquiry for at least two centuries.

    I remember an old QI in which Stephen Fry went through the alphabet listing Scottish inventions and at the end said, and all that from a population which never rose above 5 million. I wonder if the constant attrition of Scotland’s population due to almost constant emigration is to blame for Scotland’s present day cringe. Emigration has probably hollowed out the population of those very people with ambition and smeddum and left us with those who are too likely to be influenced and cowed by the likes of Tompkins and his cackling cronies.

    • “thus keep them fast”

      That’s an interesting choice of expression. You may of course know this, but after the Act of Union was finalised, the speaker of the English parliament remarked:

      “We have catch’d Scotland, and we shall bind her fast”.

      Still we are bound, but many of us have found loose ends to pull and tug at. Not long now 🙂

      • Yes, I do know that phrase and it must have been somewhere, at least subliminally, in the corner of my mind as I typed, so that it was only after I had actually typed it that I recognised the association. The brain is funny that way!

    • I wonder what SNP Bad angle they will spin when the New Bridge opens and thousands walk triumphantly across on day one.
      Murdo The Queen’s Eleven Fraser, another serial political failure, but good wee Tory boy that he is, tweeted that we should introduce bridge tolls on the Queensferry Crossing,like they imposed on the Birmingham M6 bypass, so that the well off could avoid the commuter jam in and out of Edinburgh, bless.

      In other words he wants us to give the bridge that our Scottish taxes built to his filthy rich pals. Grand larceny.

      Rather like our oil; which the Tories are giving away to Big Oil, whose Boards doubtless include friends and relatives of the Oligarchy in a year when Norway recorded £60 billion in revenue to the state.

      As Macart points out, the theft of Scotland must come to an end now.

  8. “The most frightening thing to caged birds is opening the cage”. So well expressed. And the most frightening thing to the less well off is poverty. Hence austerity is the weapon of choice of the British Nationalist elite to maintain control and power.

    We really are in a fight now, facing a vile enemy. Become an activist,enlist to your favoured group, be it SNP, Yes, Women for Indy, or whatever. We in Scotland have no need to tolerate austerity. We are smart and we have the resources.

  9. They weild the cringe like a weapon. That is so true. It’s not the only thing they weaponised. They did it to their “british” identity as well. It’s used like an insult now. A cosh to be used to get you to reconcile with being like them. 2nd class pretendy brits embracing mediocrity as a virtue.

    Rose by any other name is still a rose. A polished turd with a little British fleg on top, is still a turd.

    And that’s what britishness is to many yes voters now. Something that is as repellent a thing, as is the notion that the only virtue Scotland can ever possess, is that of eternal supplicant.

    So of course they scorn and deride. The only way they count for something, is if Scotland counts for nothing.

  10. great stuff, as usual, paul
    rebel rousing at its bestest
    could we no get ye on the telly every night 😉

  11. We need to put the “cringe” factor in its proper context. We know, for example, that the English are determined to hang on to Scotland; not because they feel sorry for us and are happy to allegedly subsidize Scotland to the hilt, but for many other reasons.

    The English in the first instance wanted to hang on to their colony of Scotland because we were a good source for their cannon fodder in their attempts to subjugate, colonize and exploit many other countries.

    As said by General Wolfe of the Highlanders in Canada:
    “They are hardy, intrepid, accustomed to a rough country, and no great mischief if they fall”

    And by Prime Minister Pitt on the raising of the Highland regiments:
    “What better ways to rid one’s enemies than in one’s service”

    They also wanted us for use as by their “upper class” twits to use as a playground for their shooting and fishing, and to rob us of our land for their big estates.

    Nowadays, it is not a case of wanting Scotland, they need Scotland as they need to exploit us for our money and resources to prop up their failed state. They needed us, for example, to finance their M25. They still need us for, among other things, to finance their HS2 English railway, they need us to finance their Trident programme (which the people of Scotland do not want in their country), and they will continue to need us to steal our money and resources on a long term basis. They also need Scotland to bolster their attempts at convincing other countries that their pathetic little state still matters, and to hold on to their seat on the UN Security Council.

    Now, apart from the English and their obvious greed for what they can steal from Scotland, we have a number of Scots who, and no other word can best describe them, are Quislings.

    These Quislings are so enamoured of their colonial masters that they wish to emulate them and be accepted by them as “real” Englishmen, and they will do anything to be granted their greatest wish (like a seat in the English House of Lards). To this end they will continue to denigrate Scotland and the Scottish people as, among other things, “too wee, too poor and too stupid” to govern themselves, They will badmouth the democratically elected Scottish government (which is also badmouthing the people that elected the Scottish government), and find fault with anything they do or try to do. This is also despite the fact that they know the English government still controls the purse strings and most of the legislative power.

    These Quislings make use of the mainly English owned and controlled print media to traduce the Scottish government and people, and use the English controlled and heavily biased BBC (though it should be called the EBC) to propagate the blatant lies and distortions that the Quislings and their colonial masters produce.

    So, the English have an excuse for hanging on to Scotland (to steal our money and resources), but the Quislings are a very low form of life who are willing to sell out their own country and their own people to become little Englishmen. If there is a hell, I sincerely hope that all these Quislings spend eternity in total, excruciating pain and anguish.

    • Agreed our biggest problem walks among us, our own people are the impediment to any progress either by shortsightedness or just plain greed , i am all right so bugger the rest of you .yes the i am a proud scot brigade .

      • It occurs to me, Robert, Guga, that I can not recall one good thing about Scotland and Self determination coming from the mouths of English QT Audiences, or Yoon Plants Up here whenever BBC Scotland radio or TV stage their loaded Glenn Campbell fronted ‘debates’ or forums.
        It is a constant barrage of negativity and haughty imperialism 100% of the time.
        Davidson Dugdale and Rennie should be in there kicking their English Puppet Masters upthe arse for not taking into account the needs and democratic wishes of their fellow Scots who voted overwhelmingly to remain within the EU.
        Instead we witness them boogying the night away, and posing as Colonel Gaddafidson, or flooding our Dead Tree Scrolls with photos ops of their latest romance, while Scotland burns.
        Where the fuck is wee Rennie?

        I cannot believe that the Yoons have just swanned off on 9 weeks holiday when our country is under such a grave threat by ‘the English’ Parliament.
        We are on the brink of something momentous, and not before time.

        • And almost as I write, ‘Kezia Dugdale’ is to produce a ‘report’ outlining 18 NHS services that are suffering from staff shortages or complete closure…
          Of course Dugdale will not be producing this list; she ‘s on her holidays.It will be one of her minions in the SNP Bad wing, probably Roden of the Mail. Perhaps she got the intel from Mundell’s Spin Doctor Team, whose wage bill was £639,000 this financial year, up a quarter of a million on last year’s. We are all in this austerity push together, unless you are a feckless wee Tory Puppet tasked with keeping the lid on the pressure cooker that is Pre-Brexit Scotland.
          Magnus Gardham still there? Good move for him, eh?
          May I suggest that Dugdale and her fellow Hangers On actually behave like MSP’s and challenge the Health Boards involved, and LA Health and Care Chief Executives of all those Yoon Coalition Councils if Scotland is once again shite, this time in Health?
          No, it’s too much like hard work when you are dating your new squeeze?
          What a bunch of useless tossers the Yoon Brigade at Holyrood are.

  12. Since neither appear to take their position seriously, Dugdale, Davidson and Rennie have given the British Nationalists in London reason to mock. Yes Jack, yours is an apt description of their “Brigade” at Holyrood. When we consider the intelligent and highly skilled group of Scottish MPs in Westminster, it’s galling to see these poor clowns in Holyrood pretending to represent our people.

    Thank you Paul, Jack and Sam for much to mull over.

  13. The only way Scotland will become independent is by getting rid of the “devolution” scam introduced by Phony Blair.
    However,we can’t do that and will have to depend on England’s Tories to do it for us.
    Coming soon to an assembly near you.

  14. The Independent had a rich vein of Brexit pieces today including the excellently titled David Davis is as ‘thick as mince’ says vote leave chief.

    However this little gem I’m throwing a link for is well worth a read.


    • I can barely contain my rage about losing Angus Robertson as a champion of Scots and Scotland, Sam.
      ‘You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things.’
      Boris will instigate a ‘Dig For Britain’ initiative, where we are obliged by statute to plough up our lawns and sow potatoes and carrots.
      Yet Dugdale is SNP BAD-ding the NHS via the obliging MSM, presumably from her sun kissed holiday love nest.
      We wait, Sam, until we can see the blood shot whites of their eyes.
      Soon now.

        • Unfortunately, I think that actually a substantial portion of the Scottish population does see it. After the recent GE vote which took place while the ridiculous incompetence of the government was on display, so that even the normally compliant media were unable to conceal it, yet parts of the Scottish electorate returned to voting for British Nationalist parties.

          I’m in despair. It is as though there is a strong contingent of the electorate who are prepared to forgive and overlook anything that these politicians do. That is the very worst of lessons to teach any politician – that no matter how corrupt and feckless, we will vote for you.It’s as if in they are determined to do their worst and in deliberate defiance will vote against the SNP no matter what and vote for clueless toadies. Talk about cutting off your nose….

          .However, how do we account also for those otherwise intelligent independence supporters who either considered voting Labour (Alan Bissett) or actually did vote for them ( Cat Boyd)? Extraordinary. Did I say that I was in despair?

          It makes me strongly suspect that the coming Great Repeal Bill will strip powers from the Scottish Parliament and there will be hardly a murmur against it. After all, quite a few of the confused Scottish voters aren’t even aware of what powers the Scottish Parliament has anyway.

          Did i say that I was in despair? I’m going to bed now to pull the duvet over my head and dream of living in another country.

          • It takes what it takes JG. A realignment of unionist voting intention, tactical voting and a touch of voter fatigue created the results of the GE. For all that, the SNP still won in Scotland with all unionist parties totalling 24 seats against the SNPs 35. I had reckoned on between 40 and 45 personally before the GE, which I thought a more realistic reflection than 56, but a win is a win, is a win.

            Regardless, the polarization has been helpful in its own way and draws a clear line between the progressive and static ideologies in Scottish politics. It also puts the unionist parties in the spotlight. A spotlight I don’t think they’ll enjoy as Ruth and her 13 MPs are already finding out.

            The next bit is going to be a bit white knuckle and nerve testing, not to mention painful for the population in general, as austerity and Brexit take their inevitable toll. People will be faced with a stark choice. Go down with the ship, or look for the lifeboat.

            There’s still one left… if they want it.

    • Better start stocking upon the cheap tins and packets again. I’m letting some veg in the garden go to seed to sow for next year. Anybody want some of my spare strawberry plants?

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