Monday, 16 December 2013

The politics behind Andy Murray's victory in the BBC Sports personality of the year award

Sport and politics are intricately linked. The timing of the Scottish independence referendum, being just after the Commonwealth Games in Scotland, which Alex Salmond hopes will fuel Scottish Nationalism and be the game changer that the Yes campaign desperately needs, should put this beyond reasonable doubt. And so Andy Murray's landslide victory in yesterday's BBC Sports personality of the year award will have been seen as a coup for the SNP and Scottish Nationalists. Sport plays a massive part in the politics of identity, and that is very much what the SNP are trying to do- To appeal to the Scottishness that all Scottish people will inevitably feel deep within themselves, to reach out beyond Britishness and focus on getting people to feel Scottish, not British.

The election, which has to be the most important in British history, is just 9 months away, and I have been pondering what sort of political effect the Murray win will have.
My view is that it will help Better Together and the Unionists. They have fought a campaign based on trying to appeal to Britishness, and trying to show the benefits of remaining in the Union, and what better way to do that than a Scotish athlete, revered all over the country, who plays under the Great British flag? This annual event is very much a British thing which very much reinforces the idea of "Britishness" in Scotland, as much as it will have done elsewhere. Just think about what kind of an impact it would have had if Murray had been defeated in last night’s vote. It would have have been portrayed as a rebuff to Scotland which the YES campaign would have been able to exploit. For this reason, I do not simply believe that the landslide victory for Murray was purely based on merit- Plenty of other athletes, such as Chris Froome, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Ian Bell, etc, have all had a fantastic year and deserved more votes than they actually got. My view is that the political impact will have carefully been examined by the Unionist BBC, who will have made sure that Murray had a good share of the vote, if not outright victory. Once again, all of this is further proof of the intricate link between Sport, and Politics.

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