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Ignorance Is Not Strength: We Need to Stop Being Scared of Debate

19/05/2015 13:20 BST | Updated 15/05/2016 10:59 BST

There is a growing problem in politics today. In both the left and the right there are those so self-righteous they will either refuse to engage in debate or try and prevent you from doing so. Often these are important causes that get hijacked by this oppressive minority.

It is an issue that is growing, especially in universities, across the country: the anti-austerity protest in London; the abortion debate cancelled at the Oxford Union; the pro-life group banned from Dundee's freshers' fair; UCL banning its Nietzsche club, all because some are taking offence. Universities are becoming 'comfortable spaces' rather than places where issues can be tackled.

It is this denial of debate that is the problem; instead of engaging people, they are either being willfully ignorant or they are suppressing their opposition. They see themselves as standing up against the establishment and they come in many guises: feminists, anti-capitalists, the SNP, UKIP and more. Perhaps they may even call themselves revolutionaries in the Russell Brand sort of sense, that is, to call everything broken but provide no solutions.

Now not all supporters of the mentioned causes are like this, far from it. They are a minority, but a very loud one and they tarnish the work of the majority who have thought long and hard, are principled in their beliefs and are standing up for good causes, whether you believe in them or not. Look at Douglas Carswell for example, UKIP's one MP, a person who has weighed the arguments and genuinely believes that we would be far better off outside of the EU. He's not fallen foul of the rose-tinted and unrealistic vision for this country that many of his party have. Nationalists both north and south of the border have managed to create their own faith-based realities, where all those who oppose are swallowing the main-stream medias' 'lies'.

Too many in the SNP have bought into fiction and not fact; what's worse, their ignorance is perpetuated from the very top. Sturgeon infamously said that the referendum was 'once in a generation', and yet now she wants another. The SNP are simply refusing to listen. They supposedly want the publics' voice to be heard but in practice this couldn't be more far from the truth. Instead they ignore the referendum result and seek to drown out all those who oppose. Just look at the abuse Jim Murphy suffered campaigning.

If you're unsure of what to think, research it, talk it over with your friends, come to a reasoned conclusion based on fact not rhetoric. By not discussing things you can end up doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Debate can be uncomfortable, especially if it's attacking your beliefs, but the beauty of it is that if you disagree you can make your case and prove why others are wrong. Let this country be a free and open space for thought, let universities be open to debate, let nationalists base their arguments on fact and not faith, for the best way to confirm one's beliefs is to test them.