Intellectual rigour

There’s not much “intellectual rigour” evident in Jim Sillars’s pettily dismissive attitude to the AUOB marches. Marches and rallies have been a feature of reform campaigns for as long as there have been such things. If they served no useful purpose or were detrimental to the cause I reckon somebody would have noticed before now. His sneering and carping are hardly contributing to Scotlands’s independence campaign. But nobody is questioning his democratic right to sneer and carp.

I suppose the opposite of intellectual rigour might be said to be shallow-mindedness. The kind of shallow-mindedness which is evident in imagining that because there are people marching that is all people are doing. A bit of intellectual rigour would have eliminated the remark about “the 45%” marching every weekend. Intellectual rigour would involve actually checking to find out how frequently marches are held. And when they are held, how shallow-minded must an individual be to think that every single activist is involved taking them away from other forms of campaigning? How little intellectual rigour would it take to realise that many, if not most of the people on those marches spend a far greater proportion of their time leafletting and canvassing and manning street stalls or Yes hubs or organising public meetings or any of the myriad other things that Yes campaigners do?

I get the distinct impression that Mr Sillars knows little if anything about what goes on in the Yes movement. Were his commitment to intellectual rigour as strong as he implies, this would surely deter him from commenting on how Yes activists use their time.

On the other hand, he is almost certainly correct about there being vanishingly little chance of a new referendum in 2020. No intellectual rigour at all is required to work that out. whether or not the SNP’s rhetoric on this matter is a pretence, we have yet to find out. One of the things I learned in my “political apprentice years” is that you should never rule anything out. It is wise to eschew unqualified absolutes such as ‘never’ or ‘impossible’. Even if the likelihood of Nicola Sturgeon surprising we cynics on Friday is no greater than my chances of fitting into my first wedding suit, it’s still there, and should not be discounted.

I need to go and have a wee lie down now. All this intellectual rigour has fair worn me out.

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