Not falling out with family

So have you fallen out with any family members yet? Over the referendum that is, not because your brother in law didn’t return your cordless electric drill. I couldn’t tell you if I’ve fallen out with any family members over the referendum, although mocking words have certainly been said, largely by me if I’m honest. But then that’s normal under any set of circumstances in our family and at any given time there will always be some of us not talking to the rest of us except via UN Blue Helmet wearing peacekeepers carrying coded messages. And more often than not, yours truly is the one with the Blue Helmet, which ought to give you some idea of just how prone we are to falling out. And you thought I was bitchy?

So given our familial propensity for having big fall outs, my granny was a woman who lived to be 100 and nursed a number of grudges for about 99 of those years, I’m feeling a bit left out, because according to the newspapers Scottish families are estranged and at odds over the referendum and we’re close to civil war. At least according to Madeleine Bunting who’s on leave from the Guardian to write a book about the relationship between Scotland and England. Maddie thinks we’re on the verge of irreconcilability and she’s a top Guardian commentator who studied at Oxford and comes here on her holidays and everything, so she’s clearly an expert on the dynamics of interpersonal relationships in Scottish families.

Mind you I can’t help but wondering why it is that commentators from the metronomenklatura have suddenly discovered that Scotland is a land riven with schism and social division, constantly on the edge of open warfare. But my more cynical half suspects that they might just be reacting against a debate that they feel excluded from and powerless to influence. Which is actually quite a good summation of how the average inhabitant of Scotland has felt about UK politics for the past 40 years and explains why we’re having this debate now. After all, if you continually exclude a group from a conversation, you can’t complain when they go off and talk amongst themselves like the people of Scotland are doing just now. But Maddie thinks this is dangerous, as Scottish punters aren’t licenced properly and don’t have degrees from Oxford. She’s touring Scotland looking for division and fall outs which the rest of us aren’t seeing.

So where’s the great Scottish stairheid rammy then? Magrit Curran’s probably away for her holidays, but that doesn’t explain the general absence of stairheidrammage. This is an essential precursor to any irreconcilability, because unlike the cultural norms to which Maddie may be accustomed, in some parts you cannot have an irreconcilable falling out with someone without first telling everyone you know, plus their relatives, just how much of an utter utter bastard the person is that you’re no longer talking to. Otherwise what is the point of falling out?

As everyone in Glasgow knows, a verbal disagreement doesn’t count as a falling out unless A) there are actual threats of violence which might actually come to pass, as opposed to suggestions that there may be malkydom in the near future or imprecations to get it up ye, and or B) one party gets the other party’s mother involved. And it’s only really serious when B happens.

My sister, who’s a confirmed No voter – and I can say this safe in the knowledge that she doesn’t read this blog and she’s not going to clype me to our maw – told me she didn’t want us to fall out over the referendum. I was a bit surprised, not because she’s a No voter, the fact she is a No voter is the opposite of surprising. And it’s not surprising that she’s quite keen to tell everyone about it either. There’s no sign of shy no voter with her, nor with most of the relatively small number of people I know who are certain to vote no. They’re pretty loud about it on the whole.

I was surprised that she thought I might believe I was able to change her mind, because she’s never listened to anything I’ve said for the past 50 years and there’s no reason she’s about to start now. But also I was surprised because she knows as well as I do that we have a million and one things to fall out over first before we get around to falling out over anything remotely approaching the independence referendum. However she’s now quite convinced that she must protect her virgin like innocent nawness from the deprecations of bullying Yes voters who might tell her some facts. She’s not keen on facts, like the fact that in our family she is in a small minority in her banged on nawness.  I blame people like Madeleine Bunting.

However not for the first time in her life, my sister hasn’t been thinking things through, because as far as the referendum and my No voting sister go, I’m onto a winner either way – as I previously explained to another No voting relative. Either Yes will win and I get to be a smug git, or No will win and then when we get screwed over by Westminster – as we invariably will – I’ll get to say “See I told you so” for the rest of her life, and get to be a smug git. So I’m not about to fall out with my sister any time soon, there’s far too much smugging to look forward to.

But what the media campaign of “bullying Yes supporters” aims to achieve is to make Scots afraid of “the other”, only the “other” is ourselves and our own families and friends. It feeds on the ancient stereotype of Scots beloved of some outside Scotland that as a nation we are argumentative – which is probably true – but also that we are incapable of handling disagreements and are prone to irrational violence. Scots are supposedly too politically immature. It’s a form of anti-Scottish racism, a type of Cringe. Political discussions must be left to those who are suitably qualified, like those with a degree in Politics Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University, staff writers on the Guardian, and elected politicians. The rest of us shouldn’t discuss politics because we might break something.

But the reverse is true. Scottish families fall out all the time and then we kiss and make up because family and friends are too important. Disputatious people are good at disputes, we have had years of practice in dealing with them and resolving them, and this referendum is no different.

The only difference is that for the first time in decades Scots have found differences of opinion about politics, when for the past 40 years there has been little disagreement amongst the Scottish public about the nature of politics. Politicians could all be summed up in one statement just about everyone could agree on: “They’re aw shite, aren’t they.” Only now there are many of us who think there’s something we can do about the shiteness of our political classes. We can do a better job ourselves, and with a Yes vote we can get a written constitution which ensures that politicians are properly accountable.

I won’t be falling out with anyone over this referendum. That doesn’t mean I won’t be disagreeing or putting my case across. And I’ll still be disagreeing with my sister, because I have no intention of changing the habits of a lifetime.  But as far as the referendum goes I’ll be concentrating my efforts on those who do actually listen to other people’s points of view.

The Scottish public are considerably more mature and grown up than the Westminster elite and their media hangers on give us credit for. The truth is, they’re the ones who behave like spoiled and greedy children who have temper tantrums when they don’t get their own way, and in September Scotland can put them on the naughty step for good.  My sister will get over it.



33 comments on “Not falling out with family

  1. […] Not falling out with family […]

  2. Steve Asaneilean says:

    I have seen no evidence of family or friends falling out over this any more than any other issue. Among my siblings I am the only committed Yes but we all get on fine.

    Likewise not all my friends agree with me but I ahven’t lost one over it all – yet!

    We were brought up by our parents to make a stand for what we believed in and to argue for it whilst accepting the possibilty that we might be wrong or others might have a different view or that it was okay to change your mind.

    Vigorous debate was actively encouraged as a means by which we could grow and develop into normal grown-ups.

    At no stage in nearly 50 years have we ever “fallen out” over anything. And I think in that respect we are much like any other Scottish family. We don’t agree on everything and when we disagree we accept it and move on.

    All this social armageddon nonsense is just more anectdotal mince and dough balls without any solid evidence basis.

  3. Capella says:

    Madeleine Bunting has clearly never heard of the Caledonian Antisyzygy then, the “idea of dueling polarities within one entity”. But then I’d never heard of Madeleine Bunting until I read this post. What an education this referendum debate is turning out to be!

  4. Cag-does-thinking says:

    A very good summary of Scottish family life, It’s funny how the media seem to send people up here like explorers just to see if we eat any of them. It’s like their last chance to be certain about a part of Britain a bit like those who eulogised about farming done with scythes and horse and carts just before the invention of the tractor, it”s good to be certain about something till reality contradicts it completely.

  5. […] Not falling out with family. […]

  6. mary vasey says:

    My father was a staunch labour voter who met my mother while based at dyce during ww11. So Iwas brought up with my 3 sisters to see vigorous political debate as normal. Even though we all believe in social justice we all debated whatever valid argument we felt right at the time. Then we all married to men of differing political views and the debates got more interesting. None of us fell out over it tho debates got quite heated at times, as they still do😎

  7. […] So have you fallen out with any family members yet? Over the referendum that is, not because your brother in law didn't return your cordless electric drill. I couldn't tell you if I've fallen out w…  […]

  8. Sandra says:

    I’m a yes and my lover is a no. He doesn’t try to change me and I don’t try to change him. It is how it is.

  9. bobsinclair2014 says:

    Paul, I think we might just have the same sister.

  10. Dr A Brown says:

    If you keep doing what you’re doing you’ll keep getting what you’ve got.

  11. macart763 says:

    Yeah, I saw Ms Bunting’s article in the Graun and without a shadow of a doubt its one of the most patronising pieces I’ve seen in that title in oh, about a week. The use of ‘Andrew’ the mysteriously informed lad who doesn’t want to debate with anyone because he feels he may upset or be upset by communicating was beyond laughable. Apparently this fella wants to get back to ‘real politics’. I mean FFS systemic constitutional and governmental change isn’t real politics?

    This is offered up by Ms Bunting as proof of what? That apparently the atmo is too politically charged for the natives to handle like adults? I am fair sick to bloody death of being told what we’re capable of and how I’m expected to react to difference of opinion by a bunch of fly by night visitors or troughing self seeking politicos. If the likes of these commentators feel like being taken seriously by the Scottish reading public then they’re going to have spend somewhat longer than a few weeks trawling round the pretty Scottish countryside looking for naysayers whilst hunting for a decent cappucino and biscotti.

    Perhaps if they spent a few years living amongst and talking to the terminally impoverished of our communities, they might, just might get some credit for effort. Perhaps if they tried voting in a few of our GEs only to see that vote pished up against a wall, they’d understand something of the frustration at our current system of governance and politics. Until any such occurs, they are simply over educated, over opinionated and unwanted pains in the arse.

    Oh and by the by, ALL of my direct and extended family are voting YES.

  12. gerry parker says:

    “a top Guardian commentator who studied at Oxford ”

    Aw well then, that’s us telt.

  13. Teri says:

    Maddy Bunting from the Guardian. What would she know? On Saturday the Guardian had an article with the headline ‘Catholic Orange Order March starts peacefully in Belfast’ Later the word Catholic was removed. some irate Orange person must have set them straight.

    The Guardian makes bloomers like that all the time. I think Ms Bunting may be one of them.

  14. All that happens after independence is a bunch of political hacks (Better Together) and bunch of media hacks (BBC Scotland) lose their careers. The 98% of the population who are not hacks will not give a shite.

  15. Morag says:

    Despite all the polls saying that the over-60s and women in particular are much less likely to vote Yes, I know at least half a dozen women of “a certain age” who are committed Yes voters and bemoaning the fact that their husbands will not be persuaded. (They’re working on them though.)

    I don’t believe any one of them will be troubling the divorce courts any time soon.

  16. Robert Graham says:

    ha ha i couldn’t stop reading and laughing a brilliant funny post i foresee a future on the stage for you or if it goes t***s up Heed news reader at our very own Pacific Quay Palace of laughter all the best keep it up or as corporal jones in Dads army used to say they don’t like it ** ** well that bits been tampered with just like the rest of the stuff from the BBC recently

  17. John B. says:

    I once had a Blue Helmet, but cream from the doctor soon cleared it up.

  18. Deedee says:

    I haven’t fallen out with anyone yet but may decline the invitation to spend Christmas at my brother’s this year is it all does go tits up. He, by the way, does have a PPE degree from Oxford and that’s exactly how he thinks. But he’s still my brother and I’m sure I’d get over it eventually maybe just not by Christmas!

  19. Deedee says:

    PS Also looking forward to years of smugness!

  20. arthur thomson says:

    A brilliant read as always. Thank you. If only everyone knew of and read your work it would light up their day.

  21. Hugh Wallace says:

    Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    The Wee Ginger Dug says it all:

    “The Scottish public are considerably more mature and grown up than the Westminster elite and their media hangers on give us credit for. The truth is, they’re the ones who behave like spoiled and greedy children who have temper tantrums when they don’t get their own way, and in September Scotland can put them on the naughty step for good.”

  22. The debate is one people get passionate about so a few singed tempers should be expected. Cutting words are mostly made face to face in the heat of the argument. Surely better than smiles on the face and snide remarks behind the back.

  23. yerkitbreeks says:

    I agree about the shiteness of some of the political class, but not all.

    The really serious issue, though, is after a YES just how us previously silent non-voting 40% ( if the 80% predicted turnout is correct ) are going to be represented. Remember the excitement of the Arab Spring and the spectacle of the Muslim Brotherhood, the only organised voice in Egypt, hijacking democracy – after it was voted in.

  24. Henri says:

    Enjoying healthy debates with my no voting partner….. It doesn’t make him a bad person, he just reads the wrong newspaper. Stay positive folks!

  25. rabthecab says:

    Three things in Ms Bunting’s article jumped off the page at me:

    1. “No was not being articulated as a positive choice.” What she doesn’t say is that it’s BT/NT/VNB who aren’t articulating the positive choice;

    2. “all parties are committed to further devolution.” Stuff & nonsense, otherwise they would have told us exactly *what* further powers they are willing to devolve and, finally;

    3. “if an independent Scotland keeps the monarchy….what exactly does independence amount to?” As I have pointed out elsewhere, the Union of Crowns pre-dated the Acts of Union by a century (104 years to be precise) so there is no reason why we can’t “share” the same Monarch after a Yes vote.

    For the avoidance of doubt, I am & have always been a Republican.

  26. Poppy says:

    My no voting great aunt actually loves arguments with regards to the referendum. Even if I can’t change her mind, we have had some really wonderful conversations because of it:) I would say that, if anything, discussions like this bring family closer rather than driving them apart.

  27. bjsalba says:

    My sister and I have agreed to differ. She and her family would be no voters but as they all live in the England they don’t have a vote – so I don’t care.

  28. hektorsmum says:

    Aww, I am feeling completely left out, an only child with a husband who is also voting yes. Brother in Law and Sister in Law are both YES too, Crikey I love a good argument too.

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