Surrey academic joins independence debate
Senior Lecturer in Politics Simon Usherwood comments on Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory and its symbolism for Scottish devolution.
After contributing to an article for The Conversation, a new independent source of online news written by the academic and research community, Professor Usherwood adds:
“The presence of both Alex Salmond and David Cameron at Wimbledon on Sunday, watching Andy Murray’s historic win, is a good metaphor for the current state of the nation. A man achieves a title of much note and others wish to be associated with him; the difficulty is that Murray is both Scottish and British.
“Both politicians have good reason to want to claim Andy Murray as one of their own. For Salmond, he is the embodiment of what Scotland can achieve, an heroic figure to match Salmond’s heroic rhetoric of an independent Scotland. For Cameron, Murray is another example of British sporting excellence, the legacy of last year’s Olympics and a welcome diversion from party politics.
“Of course, both will conveniently neglect the international nature of Murray’s training and profession, and the shortcomings in sport provision that prompted his move to Spain as a youth player. The image needs to fit the message and that might mean some selective vision.
“Where Murray ends up, politically speaking, remains to be seen. Certainly, if he had leapt up and grabbed Salmond’s saltire and proudly proclaimed his allegiance to an independent Scotland, then that would have been a very powerful moment. However, Murray is not that kind of individual and doubtless recognises the dangers of being seen to be politically partisan.
“That, however, will not stop others trying to stake their claims. As the independence referendum campaign heats up, expect to see many more reminders of that moment: a Scot, in the most English of settings.”