ON Saturday, The National published a report from the pro-independence think tank Common Weal about proposals to develop Scotland’s space industry.

The National is the only newspaper that gives publicity to reports from Scotland’s premier pro-independence think tank – the Unionist press only gives space to reports from pro-Unionist think tanks that threaten Scotland with penury.

The Fraser of Allander Institute has a remarkable public influence for an organisation which sounds like a knitwear shop in Pitlochry. It only needs to harrumph and it’s all over the miserabilist Unionist media – although to be honest the phrase miserabilist Unionism is a tautology. Flogging knitwear to tourists in Pitlochry is what Scotland’s Unionists consider the height of aspiration for the Scottish economy. Independence supporters want to reach for the stars.

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Predictably, The National’s story was greeted with scorn and derision from the massed ranks of Unionists on Scottish social media, led by Adam Tomkins, the Tory MSP for Low Expectations, which is somewhere in Milngavie. Tomkins decried the report as science fiction.

Actually in much of science fiction set in future times, Scotland is independent and prosperous. I’ve just finished reading a novel by American sci-fi author Kim Stanley Robinson called 2312, the year in which the events of the novel are set.

It mentions in passing that an independent Scotland is one of the world’s most prosperous countries. In the Doctor Who universe, a future Scotland is also independent. In one episode the former companion the Scottish Amy Pond found herself on a spaceship full of British refugees from a dying Earth. The plot revolved around the fact that the British spaceship had no functioning engines, very like modern Britain, come to think of it. Amy was surprised when one of the ship’s inhabitants asked what a person with a Scottish accent was doing on the ship. “Scotland’s got its own ship,” she was told. One with engines that worked.

Unionism is the opposite of science fiction. Whereas science fiction is the art of imagining the possible, Unionism is the art of imagining that everything is impossible. How ridiculous that Scotland should dream of developing its satellite industry, how deserving of mockery that Scotland should consider building a spaceport. The story gave the Cringe a rocket-fuelled boost and all weekend Unionists were mocking the idea that a highly developed northern European country might do something highly developed. This is the real cringe in Scotland. We’re a country of rocket scientists which is being held back by a bunch of Unionist rockets.

Although the report was predictably dismissed out of hand as science fiction by Unionist politicians who lack the imagination to see any future for Scotland other than flogging off expensive knitwear to tourists in Pitlochry, the reality is that Scotland already has a thriving space industry. Glasgow builds more small satellites than any other city in Europe. Scotland has a disproportionate share of the UK’s space industry. We could do far more. We could do much better.

According to the economic consultancy firm London Economics, Scotland has a 11.7 per cent share of the total UK space economy, a figure well in excess of Scotland’s 8.25 per cent share of the UK population. The space industry generates £134 million annually for the Scottish economy and provides thousands of highly skilled and well paid jobs.

It could generate considerably more income for the economy and provide many more well paid and highly skilled jobs, all it takes is a bit of investment, work and, above all, imagination.

A spaceport would both provide a use for Prestwick airport and give an enormous boost to an already established Scottish industry. That was the point of the report from Common Weal. Scotland can reach for the stars, because it’s already within our capacity to reach for them.

None of this was recognised by the small minded Unionists, the political wing of the Cringe. Unionism is the philosophy that prides itself on its realism, but it possesses the realism of a person who refuses to go on a highway because there are traffic accidents. It’s the realism of a person who will never get on a plane because they’re afraid of flying. It’s the realism of someone who hides under the Westminster duvet in a ramshackle house and hopes that it will save it from the ceiling that is about to fall on their head.

Unionism is what happens when a lack of imagination combined with an unhealthy dose of self-loathing is elevated into a political philosophy. Unionism is a bunch of space cadets who laugh at those who aspire to reach for the stars.

Unionism demands that Scotland can only gaze upon the stars when it’s lying in the gutter. They’re scared and threatened by anything that might shatter their stranglehold of fear and lack of ambition, that’s why they laugh and scoff at proposals for a Scottish space industry.

Unionism can only succeed by destroying hope, undermining ambition, and keeping Scotland firmly in a box. A Scotland that dreams of outer space is a Scotland that’s outside the box. No wonder Unionists are threatened by that vision.

Unionism is a dead weight that drags Scotland back into the gutter. It’s a set of blinkers on the possible, a hand that’s tied behind our backs. It’s the politicisation of the Cringe. The only orbit that Unionism can countenance is the orbit around the dying star of Westminster. We can do better when we fly our own course. Realising that isn’t rocket science.

Some Tories already go into paroxysms of cringery if you paint the Gaelic for Police Scotland on the side of a police helicopter. Apparently you can’t put Gaelic on a helicopter because Gaelic doesn’t have a native word for helicopter. Unlike English, right? When Scotland does build its spaceport we ought to name it in Gaelic, just to annoy the cringers: Port-Fànais Nàiseanta na h-Alba, the National Space-Port of Scotland.

It has a nice ring to it. Then we can save a fortune on rocket fuel if we can work out a way to harness all the outrage from the complaints of Tory rockets.