Cameron beats Salmond in race to benefit from Murray effect

SNP leader unfurls Saltire in royal box – but Murray called himself a British winner not a Scottish one


AS PARTY leaders tried to clamber aboard on the Andy Murray bandwagon, one former prime minister said he'd give up everything he's achieved to be the Wimbledon winner.

Asked on Radio 4's Today programme by presenter John Humphrys whether he would give up his record in politics to be Murray, Blair - a keen tennis player - said without hesitation: "Yes, for sure. Then I'd have the 8.10 slot on the Today programme."

Murray, who indeed occupied the prized 8.10 am slot normally reserved for politicians, said he knew nothing about politics, however. That could be bad news for Alex Salmond, the SNP leader and First Minister for Scotland, who tried to cash in on Murray's Scottish roots for his own campaign for Scottish independence.

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Salmond was accused by John Prescott, the former Labour deputy leader, of trying to 'photo bomb' Murray's victory. In breach of Wimbledon rules, he unfurled a huge Saltire - the Scottish national flag - in the royal box right behind David Cameron's head when Murray won.

The SNP leader said the stunt had not offended anyone at the Lawn Tennis Association and defended his use of the flag on Today. Referring to Harold Mahoney's Wimbledon win over a century ago, he said: "You'll allow us that little sneaky thing of the first Scot since 1896 - let us wave our Saltire."

Salmond would love Murray's endorsement for Scottish Independence, but he won't get it. Murray described himself as a "British winner", not a Scottish winner.

But Salmond was not alone in seeking to share the glory with Murray. David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband were both on centre court to witness Murray's triumph. They both authorised their offices to tweet their congratulations while Murray was still taking the cheers from the crowds.

Ironically, the main beneficiary of the Murray effect could be Cameron. Murray's win topped a dream week for the Tory leader: Miliband fell out with his paymaster, Unite union boss Len McCluskey; the IMF said the British economy was in better shape than was thought; and public enemy number one, Abu Qatada, was finally put on a plane to face terrorism charges in Jordan after a decade of trying. And that's not to mention the Lions crushing the Wallabies in Australia.

Murray notwithstanding, the biggest boost to Cameron's chances of winning in 2015 may have been the arrival of Mark Carney as the new Bank of England governor. One economic commentator quoted Napoleon's dictum on Radio Five Live this morning that he wanted a "lucky general" and said Carney's greatest asset was that "he is lucky".

If there's one lesson Cameron may have learned from watching Murray almost blow his chances in the knife-edge final set, it's that while you need to show dogged determination, luck also plays a part.

After months of internal strife in the Tory party over the EU and gay marriage, Cameron is now feeling that maybe his luck has changed.

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