I have to say I’m loving today’s front page of The Sun:
Issues with the paper itself – not to mention the very serious matter of the wrong Enterprise in the lower left corner – aside, it’s a nice sequel to last year’s edition, as well as a little nod to how Star Trek, Scotland, and the SNP coincide a couple of times.
I am, of course, all-inclusive when it comes to the eternal conflict of the Trek Wars, being a fan of both universes. While Stuart McMillan is indeed a fan of Star Wars, I have yet to confirm his opinions, if any, on Star Trek.
Scotland had a vast impact upon the world of Star Trek, most obviously through Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, but Star Trek has in turn impacted on Scotland. Aside from the former First Minister’s well–documented fandom, SNP are eager to bring the ideals of Star Trek into effect, such as their campaign for the first European space port to open in Scotland – and one of our MPs even gave the Vulcan Salute in the House of Commons during a very interesting debate:
… Any Members who were in the Chamber when I made my maiden speech will remember that I referred to Prestwick in my constituency as being on the shortlist for consideration as a space port. I remember that whenever I talked to anyone about that during the election, they would always just laugh, because in this country we think that space is for other people—the big boys: north America, Russia and maybe even China, but not us. That is something we have to change. We need to believe in what we can do, and I think Major Tim Peake’s mission will achieve that. We see the interest of school children and the Science Museum was packed on the day of the launch, and we had Members in this place watching it live on screen. We hope it will lead to an interest in STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering and maths—and an absolute belief in the space industry here in the United Kingdom…
… Prestwick was Scotland’s first ever passenger airport and it was founded by Group Captain David McIntyre, the first man to fly over Everest. That is the kind of imagination and drive we need. I call on the Minister to please be imaginative and to support the industry across the entire UK so that it can live long and prosper.
– Philipa Whitford, House of Commons Space Policy Debate
Of course, space policy is ultimately reserved to the UK Parliament, and many of Scotland’s most famous technological and geographical triumph occurred after the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament. Still, an independent Scotland had more than proven its scientific, technological, and exploration expertise: we sailed the Yellow Carvel, the Flower, the Christopher, the Great Michael and other ships, and founded the universities of St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh; Acts like the Education Act 1496 marked the importance of education in Scottish life. John Napier revolutionised mathematics with logarithms and the decimal point; George Bruce of Carnock innovated undersea mining; James Gregory designed an early reflecting telescope. Scots explored all over the world: John Cunningham re-established contact with Danish colonies in Greenland, and scoured the North Sea of pirates. Scots founded colonies at Nova Scotia, New York, New Jersey, and South Carolina; the magnificently monikered James Bonaventure Hepburn travelled from Turkey to Ethiopia and Syria; William Lithgow travelled across Europe, Africa, and the Middle-east. You could even argue the ill-fated Darien scheme was just 200 years too early, given the enormous success of the Panama Canal after the French and United States.
Supporters of Scottish independence don’t want Scotland to be the seat of a new empire, to have special considerations to place it above other nations for some arbitrary sense of superiority – we just want Scotland to have what hundreds of other nationals already enjoy. We want to interact with the other nations of the world on our own terms. Then, maybe we’ll look to the stars – not as a piece of another nation, but as one of the many nations of the earth working in co-operation with each other without ceding our individuality. It’s not exactly Gene Roddenberry’s bold vision – but I’d say it’s bold enough.
Space is one of the last known frontiers mostly untouched by mankind and his politics. In opening a debate on this subject, my hope is you take the tenets of Star Trek’s prime directive to universally and peacefully share in the exploration of it. I wish you all a wonderful debate. My best, Bill.