Has Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, and The Man Who Wants To Break Up Britain, considered the effect that Scottish independence could have on Andy Murray?
If Scotland were to gain independence, resulting in the the break-up of Britain, the separation could be of no little significance to Murray, as well as for British tennis as a whole. While Scottish independence would resolve the West Lothian question (Scottish Members of Parliament can vote on matters that only apply to England, but not vice versa), it could change things for Murray. Could this result in a small but significant shift in the tennis public’s perception of and support for the world number four? By the tennis public, we mean the Middle Englanders, those who sit on Centre Court or Henman Hill with a Pimm’s, a Daily Mail and a great sense of hope.
The very old joke about Murray, usually told by non-Brits, is that he’s British when he wins, Scottish when he loses. If Edinburgh and London were to go through a messy divorce, Murray would be forever Scottish, in victory and defeat.
Should Murray win the Australian Open on Sunday in Melbourne, he would become Britain’s first male grand slam singles champion for 76 years – north of Hadrian’s Wall, there will be some who will feel that Scotland is ‘subsidising’ England in two ways: with North Sea oil and with a world-class tennis player. And any political change is unlikely to come in time for the other three slams this season. Yet the following scenario is now a very real possibility: Salmond gets what he wants, and Murray wins his first slam in a couple of years, and wins it for Scotland only, not for Britain. With Salmond’s intervention, Britain’s hopes of a first male grand slam champion since the 1930s could be lost for another generation.
Doubtless, the creation of an independent Scotland would only encourage the little keyboard gangsters, the witless of the web who loathe Murray for the ‘crime’ of having once made a joke, when he was a teenager, about supporting the English football team’s opponents at the 2006 World Cup. Even when Murray competes at the All England Club, they do not see someone in Wimbledon whites, but a player enrobed in tartan. I’m sure you’re trying already, but do your best to ignore them. Somehow they still believe that Murray ‘hates England’, even when he lives in Surrey, has an English girlfriend and has many English friends.
But it is worth imagining whether a split between Scotland and England would change how the sensible majority see Murray. Could the English on Centre Court or on the Hill care quite so much about a player who was no longer British? That is debatable. Murray is politically aware. He has met a couple of Prime Ministers, in Brown and Cameron (he and Cameron almost broke a Downing Street chandelier with a game of indoor tennis in a reception room). He also made an informed choice in last year’s General Election. So he will be following Salmond’s drive for independence. Forget the Little Englanders, those who have made up their mind to despise Murray into retirement. But Scottish independence could alter Murray’s relationship with the Middle Englanders.
Are Americans the worst behaved tennis nation? That was one of the conclusions that could have been drawn from analysis by The Tennis Space into the worst offenders on the men’s and women’s tours? Three of the top 10 men were representing the United States, and in truth that number should be four, given that Alex Bogomolov Junior only switched nationalities from American to Russian at the end of last season and all the offences were committed when he was playing for the Stars and Stripes. The top two on the women’s list were Americans, with Serena Williams first and Bethanie Mattek-Sands second. Answers on a postcard (or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org) as to why you think Americans are over-represented in the list of bad boys and bad girls.