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.