Vonny Moyes: We Might Be Wee, But We’re Not Stupid

Vonny Moyes

There was no light bulb moment. No sudden clarity. No all-consuming epiphany. To me voting Yes is as natural as breathing — as part of my fabric as being 5’9”. As sure as my name is Vonny. Though, I’m what you might consider the tumbleweed skin-and-bone edition, so mine, like many, is a patchwork identity. Born in Glasgow, then to Ayrshire, primary schooled in the estates of South Manchester, high school in Fife, uni in Dundee, love in Aberdeen, real life and bills in Edinburgh. When your postcode flits like seconds on a clock, it’s hard to be imbued by tartan-washed nationalism. You crack out of the cocoon cosmopolitan by default.

Sure, Scotland and I have had our growing pains; you don’t understand me. You never listen, so what’s the point? Why should I care what you think? But when you live from place to place, you unknowingly seek comfort in pabulum constants; a school day, a mild-mannered GP, the bus service that rarely runs on time. Things that you take for granted, but unconsciously seek out to bring shape to a life that’s perpetually in flux. Having inhabited many of this country’s nooks, I’ve lived in dizzyingly different communities, yet sharing one unifier; they all feel far removed from London. There is a glaring disparity between Cowdenbeath High Street, and those Saville-Rowed gents, braying in the Commons. You need to live it to get it; and it goes both ways.

I love this country, but misplaced nostalgia it is not. I’m deficient in shortbread-tin zeal. I’ve chuckled at postcards, clocking the careful doctoring of Caledonia’s bonny face. You can’t fool me, pal: I’ve seen you naked. No filters. I’ve seen the Cairngorms drookit, overcast and nothing but a watered-down palette of Vandyke brown and sickly sap green. I’ve noticed the distinctive lack of pipes, harps or any music; just a wind that’s fighting to get in about your bones by any means necessary. I’ve winced in an Asda car park, failing to change a tyre on January morning, while air gnaws on fumbling digits, and plump raindrops seem to only go upwards and inwards. Scotland: isn’t it great?

Mine wasn’t a journey to Yes, it was an archaeological dig. The gentle erosion of skewed views and misinformation, and from that, the revelation of something ‘always’. I’ve been forever blessed with a healthy sense of scepticism, but despite questioning everything, no other logical answer has appeared. Supporting independence feels manifestly obvious, like the most unutterably natural choice. Isn’t self-determination an axiom? Something we strive for in every aspect of life? On paper it seems clear, but when you’ve ticked off your days functioning solely as Britain’s wee bidie-in, you lose all sense of yourself. All sense of having a choice in it at all. But we do. This is our choice now.

The promise of a referendum hasn’t changed my opinion; it’s brought it into focus. Despite flirtations with sickeningly leftie neoliberalism, I’d always felt disenfranchised. For all my involvement, my dutifully considered X’s had been ignored, so why bother? Scotland has saved me, and Scotland has failed me, but I see potential. The Scotland I see is looking outward; welcoming people who want to become part of our legacy, not turning them away or vilifying their otherness. The Scotland I see recognises over a third of Glasgow’s children are living in poverty, and wants to fight it. The Scotland I see knows the injustice in being the garden shed for Britain’s nukes. The Scotland I see wants progress, but her hands are bound by empty promises and fear.

I believe voting Yes could be the catalyst for political enlightenment. I feel like this is my ‘in’. My hand in the clay. The first time that my vote truly has meaning and that thrills me. Change is almost tangible, and isn’t barred by an outmoded system that serves only to perpetuate the status quo. It’s the first step on the path to a fairer, progressive Scotland for everyone. How could you not want that? Sure, there’s a certain courage that comes with thinking for yourself, but there’s also a dignity. We might be wee, but we’re not stupid. This is as much about renewing democracy, restoring Scotland’s agency and invigorating her people as it is about leaving Britain.

My vote for independence is galvanised by remembering what it’s like to truly need; remembering a widowed mum working three jobs to put food on our plates at the expense of her own. I believe a Yes vote isn’t self-interested; it’s much bigger than me. This isn’t about my bank balance, or my current comforts. It’s a vote for those the system forgot, or whose voices are too wee, or who’ve given up hope. There’s amnesia in our ease, but they’re out there if you take a moment to look. When you’re getting by, you forget what’s normal is not universal. A decent breakfast, good health, a safe home, a job; the overlooked things that dulcify the bad bits. Everyone deserves them. Everyone.

I spend my Sundays chapping on doors, having conversations that both fortify my beliefs and keep me awake at night.  In Drumchapel, a woman tells you houses are being robbed for food, or that she has no idea where the foodbanks are because she can’t read – you stop. You take stock. Then in Maryhill you meet a man who’s losing his house over the taxed bedroom his wee boy calls home at weekends, and you begin to see. Then there’s the mother who works, but relies on food donations to feed her family, and you think enough. Enough now.

We need to decide what motivates us. Is it something as juvenile as us versus them? Or is it our love and pursuit of equality and opportunity? With independence we get to craft a constitution together. One for all Scots present and future on something as pure as the idea of hope. That’s beautiful.

A much wiser human than me once said, “When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” Get to know yourself, Scotland; until you do, you’ll never know what you’re really capable of.

Vonny Moyes
@vonny_bravo
National Collective

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About Vonny Moyes

Vonny Moyes is an arts journalist, Comedy Section Editor for The Skinny magazine and very occasional poet, based in Edinburgh. When she's not toiling in the word mill, she's moonlighting as a guitarist in Echo Arcadia.

  • Jim Fraser

    Lyrical and witty: “Mine wasn’t a journey to Yes, it was an archaeological dig.”

  • Guest

    …I think I recognise this girl from a certain subreddit. Good article though.

    • Col McGillveray

      Nice one. Could you try and be MORE creepy?

  • Keiran

    …I think I recognise this girl from a certain subreddit. Good article.

  • Doug Melville

    Some see Fear, and some see the opportunity to make something better. There is a better Scotland, it just needs to be built, and all of us, for all of us – near and far, have a responsibility to build it. Coming home soon. look forward to seeing you all there, with stars in your eyes. Thankyou for being real.

  • Ally Gillon

    Great writing. Nice one.

  • David Hunter

    Absolutely fantastic writing. Clear, concise, colourful. I don’t begrudge anyone voting No, but there must be some set of reasons, personal I’d imagine, for doing so. Anyone with common sense and decency who isn’t brainwashed to Britain surely knows voting Yes is a great opportunity for us all. We can’t let Project Fear scare the ignorant, we must educate far and wide. Great job from everyone who is on that mission, because I think we can do it.

  • thistle

    Wonderful, thanks.

  • phil horey

    Total romantic bollocks going straight for the heart strings. All these problems exist in every corner of the uk ,indeed the world. Do you really believe politicians promises. If so, believe this, when they say they wont share the pound … they will not share the pound! And we’ll all be worse off as a result.
    And its quite right that they should not put the rest of the UK people at risk economically by doing so.They will be forced to look after their own people, who would be put at risk by the appaling standard of our scottish MSP’s. Look no further than Benito Salmond saying hes right and everyone else is wrong. The farcical Tram system in Edinburgh and building of the Scottish Parliament, Prime examples .

    • Susan McCrae

      Is it really “romantic bollocks” to have a goal of being just a normal European country? The UK are pretty low in the rankings of most tables; infant mortality, poverty, education etc… all independence does is bring us back up to the same level as everyone else. What is so romantic about that?

      The only appalling MSPs are from Labour, dear and your prime examples of incompetency are also Labour bungles. To date the SNP has brought their major projects in on time and on budget.

      And as for the old “call Salmond a dictator” routine *yawn*.

      • phil horey

        i agree Dear that we are not an ordinary European country, we are an extraordinary one in so many ways. The uk is already pretty much governed by Europe so it makes no sense to enslave ourselves as a minority nation to the will of Europes big players.
        Mr Salmond is but the latest of a line of appalling scottish MSP’s wether SNP or Labour.but he is a particularly dangerous one, witness him waving papers in parliament downloaded from an snp activist website and claiming them to be from the E.U. he will lie at any cost to achieve his obsessive goal. the latest a 1.2billion deficit in the budgt to get mothers back to work. Economics drawn up on the back of a bus ticket. But he’s right and everyone else is just bluffing. Thats the ‘Scottish National Poker’ party

        • BOBMAC

          GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT BEFORE YOUR IGNORANCE IS SHOWN ONLINE

    • Craig McLaren

      Oh Phil, look up Godwin’s Law. You lose.

      Whilst you’re at it look up who commissioned the trams and the building of the parliament. Clue – it wisnae Salmond.

    • morbidflorist

      Nothing wrong with being “romantic” or “idealistic” or even “naive” Phil – as far as the “heart engaging” politics goes that is. We all want to live in a place with sense of justice, fair distribution of wealth and so on and on. We all want security, we all want jobs, we all want to enjoy “good breakfast”. Will Yes vote guarantee it? Maybe. Or maybe not. The main indy question which is “how we are going to pay for it” still stands. Difficult to answer since there is no updated figures from Holyrood but its safe to assume that iScotland will face huge deficit which always translates into spending cuts. (My view is based on latest HMRC receipts and GERS data and I did try to consider possible savings related to not being part of the UK as well as possible increase of North Sea profits. However I was looking at it – there was always a massive hole in the budget at the end). So what we would cut in iScotland? NHS? Social security? Thats my issue with pro indy campaign – In order to vote Yes – I need to get clear picture from people who are asking me to vote Yes – and Im not getting it. The only stuff Im getting are assumptions based on strange conviction that the whole world will agree with us and do everything we want it to do.

      • phil horey

        Thank you for your reply, the first ive had that has not either been abusive, patronising or sarcastic. I put occaisional posts up here as I seem to be the only voice of dissent on this site, to try and focus not on romance or heartstrings but on stark reality. I have nostalgic and romantic views of the whole of the Uk what we common people have shared and endured together over the last 500 yrs. i dont like nationalism or xenophobia. The whole thing is a huge gamble with everything I and others have worked for on the line. If your young and starting out then maybe its not such a big deal. but when they say ship orders will be lost etc they meen it and the people of the remaining uk will be up in arms if those jobs dont go south should Scotland vote yes. There seems to be this belief that post independence everyone will bend over backwards to help Scotland out with grants shared currency and contracts. That is a dangerous fantasy
        What i would say for certain is that the first thing to be on the recieving end of spending cuts is the arts. The very stuff of this site. and with all the troubles of this world why are people continually wanting to create divisions.
        Whatever you decide yes or no I hope your head and heart come together with a decision you can live with.

        • morbidflorist

          Some very good points Phil. If we vote Yes then it is to be expected that UK gov will do everything in its powers to protect UKs interests and no one can blame them. Divisions – although creating divisions was never the point of indy debate it certainly contributed to minor explosion of mindless nationalism mixed with weird, almost communists sentiments where, for example, being wealthy or successful is somehow bad (unless you’re saying things we approve) and asking questions equals to spreading fear. Its not a surprise though because numbers are not adding up thus the Yes campaign have to rely on emotive appeals interspersed with cries of scaremongering. Your average voter wont spend hours going through financial reports after all so why even bother with mature arguments if you can indulge in propaganda instead. I’m not saying that things are perfect as they are. That is not true. Life is never perfect. Article shows it perfectly well – yes, there are people out there who can’t read. Literacy rate is never 100% so it’s not a surprise that if you dig deep enough you will find someone who can’t read. etc etc etc. The question in those situations is not “what government did to help” but “what did you do to help”. I understand feeling of detachment from London though. But then Holyrood feels equally distant. Ask Salmond for his US trip receipts and you will see how being “closer” and “local” translates into transparency or honesty. It doesnt.

          • phil horey

            Well said. at last im reading some common sense on this website. Its good to know there are others who will not blindly follow the pack.

          • morbidflorist

            Absolutely. Yes did a pretty good job convincing me to vote No. They created this little bubble where everybody is in agreement with everybody and no one asks difficult questions. However in order to cast informed vote you have to engage with both sides and thats what Im doing.

          • phil horey

            Im sorry i had to use the term ‘romantic bollocks’ but after reading the gushing comments on this article. I felt a thunderbolt was needed to wake people up. it’s certainly generated some comment. And the abuse levels have dropped! There is hope yet for human kind.
            Its dangerous when people dont ask questions, I have been uneasy about this sight for a long time, as you say everyone agrees with everyone, its lik scary science -fiction. And no-one wants to rock the boat! The blanket answer scaremongering to everything is very unsettling.

          • morbidflorist

            It is true indeed. The funny thing is that when you look at the core of Yes proposals you will see that what they are trying to achieve is basically… well – another Union. They would argue that it would be the agreement between two indy states but as usual no one is mentioning that currency union alone would cost us a lot in terms of “self determination” or “independence” if you want as it is hard to imagine that UK would agree to guarantee with its own money whatever iScotland wishes to do without having any say about it. Its not scaremongering – its common sense. Its not a surprise that UK gov stance is pretty much non negotiable as it would be political suicide to suggest currency union after possible Yes vote. My view is that we do have best of both worlds right now and what we need is to make sure that Holyrood is spending money sensibly. If there are areas which are desperate for help – why not put pressure on your MSPs to – for example – instead of spending cash on Gaelic lessons for gov paperpushers – use this money to help people who struggle with everyday life? Maybe consider moving Parliament somewhere else since maintenance costs are simply ridiculous and clearly spiralling out of control? There is probably hundreds of ideas which would benefit people of Scotland – but it is up to the people to put pressure on Holyrood to stop wasting resources. On a different note Phil – I recommend visiting http://notesfromnorthbritain.wordpress.com/ Its well written, well balanced view on indy debate so if you are craving things sensible – Professor Adam Tomkins from Glasgow Uni is your man.

          • phil horey

            Thanks for that I will look up Prof Tomkins. I usd to live up in Wick for a time, and the people up there as well as the orkneys and Shetlands where I have also worked feel as far from Holyrood as London , so there is another argument gone. Move the parliament to Inverness .It would be more central !

          • morbidflorist

            There is a petition with more than a thousand signatures already calling on the Scottish Gov to hold separate referenda up North – http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/islandgroups It will be most interesting to see how Gov will react to it.

          • phil horey

            I have signed it thanks. looked up Prof Tomkins and posted an excerpt on the editorial here. Waiting for the flak! there shall be no dissent on here it seems.

          • morbidflorist

            Thats what to be expected. As someone actively debating both sides for quite a long time now I got used to the sad fact of people not sticking their heads oot of their ideological bubbles. Im surprised that no one called me a bully, tory or millionaire yet. Anyway – check this excellent video featuring Prof Tomkins and Andy Miles. It illustrates my point quite well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLWc1jKXU4E

          • BOBMAC

            WHO PLANTED YOU TO LOOK LIKE AN INDY PERSON ,HOPEFULLY PEOPLE WILL SEE THROUGH YOU

          • morbidflorist

            Thank you bobmac. Please do continue because people like you are basically a guarantee of a No vote. On the slightly different note – your capslock key seems to be broken. Do you need help fixing it?

    • Stephanie Petagno

      It’s absolutely terribly written, patronising, self-promoting “romantic bollocks”. Whether or not one agrees or disagrees with voting yes, this naive and laughably idealist nonsense needs to stop. Rhetorical tricks need to stop. Facts and figures, not emotive bull.

      • phil horey

        I agree, we are very short on facts and figures here.

      • Grant Cruickshank

        What a cold, emotionless world you must live in, Stephanie, where such lovely sentiments as as those above can be so easily, comprehensively dismissed! I think we’ve seen enough damage resulting from what believers in facts and figures can do: what’s missing from politics in the UK is the all-important human element, a little social compassion, and that takes a certain openness of heart that currently is sadly rare among our political classes. If more people held ideals like these the world would be an immeasurably better place!

        This is probably why the No campaign is struggling to gain any traction, or even to halt the inexorable Yes juggernaut. It’s very hard to win hearts and minds when you focus solely on facts and figures.

    • BOBMAC

      WONT STOKE YOUR FIRE,YOUR BURNT ENOUGH………..FREE SCOTLAND FROM NEGATIVE THINKING

      • phil horey

        Sounds like you want to ban all thinking. Raising doubts is negative thinking? your the one who’s going to get burnt my friend.

  • liz walker

    Dear !! Oh dear how patronising Phil. Little ladies or sluts as UKIP would have them obviously shouldn’t challenge the status quo and shouldn’t bother their pretty little heads about issues that should only be dealt with by our natural masters in Westminster.God forbid that we should discuss anything other than fluffy kittens(see Harry Enfield)

    • phil horey

      No one is calling any one a ‘slut’ or a ‘little lady’. We are merely trying to discuss the emotive content of this article as opposed to the reality of what faces us. How patronising of you to suggest sexism or the UKip is at the root of this.

  • orkers

    Phil I can’t help but feel that you have desecrated this article with your Unionist trolling.

    A cold shower of a piece Vonny, but in a good way.
    I enjoyed your article very much. Keep writing.

    • phil horey

      Unionist trolling? This article could have been written about any part of the UK or the world for that matter. As others have said it is patronising and self serving poor old downtrodden us maudling fare.

      • davidbriggsrousay

        ‘maudlin’

        You attacked a young girl trying to express herself on an issue she obviously cares about.

        You and your two accomplices are appalling bullies.

        • phil horey

          we are not accomplices and we are not attacking anyone. we are entitled to an opinion. If you put something in the public domain you have to accept critiscism.
          This organisation obviously does not tolerate dissent. it all comes back to Facism it seems.

          • davidbriggsrousay

            I don’t speak for National Collective and I know a troll when I see one.

            Your ‘Fascism’ comment is ridiculous.

            Try spelling it correctly in future if you wish to apply the ‘sticker’

          • phil horey

            I do apologise for missing out the ‘S’. Try looking at your opening sentence you missed out ‘the’. Pedant.

          • BOBMAC

            STOP BLOCKING UP THIS PAGE,IT WONT WORK AND TAKE THE OTHER 2 WITH YOU

          • morbidflorist

            Thank you for your contribution BOBMAC. It’s enlightening and inspiring. I laughed, I cried – you changed my life. I am looking forward to more wise and capslocked words from you.

  • Craig McLaren

    @Phil. You need to get out more and look at the spring weather. That’ll cheer you up.

    News just in -Scotland will be just like all the other countries in the world again and there’s nothing you can do about it.

  • Grant Cruickshank

    Hi Vonny. LOVED this article. I’ve had a very similar trawl around Scotland in my lifetime – did 12 years in Aberdeen myself – and your lists of motivations reads like a map of my soul. Fundamentally, this struggle is about striving for social justice and a better, more accountable form of democracy than Westminster permits us. :)

  • Duncan Fraser

    Well said. Invigoration is a great way of putting it.

    Strength is knowledge, self-knowledge most of all.