Skip to main content

Andy Murray's vote counts too

Andy Murray started the new year in style with a 6-2, 6-0 crushing win over Rafael Nadal to reach the World Tennis Championship final. Already commentators look for the superlatives. Is this the 'new' Andy Murray, coming back strong after a difficult 2014? Can he win another Wimbledon? Will he tell us who to vote for in the general election?

One thing I do know is that he should not have been expected to apologise for making his views known about the referendum on Scottish independence. He has a right to express his views. Andy Murray expressed regret after tweeting his support for the "Yes" campaign. The Wimbledon champion received a torrent of abuse after tweeting his support for the Yes campaign on the morning of the referendum. He should not have felt it necessary to regret. There is nothing to regret. He now realises that his views matter, perhaps more than he realised. But why anyone could get angry about a Scot expressing his views about independence demonstrates how some people cannot distinguish between the sporting hero and the expression of his own views. We do not own Andy Murray.

His infamous tweet was an expression of the extraordinary enthusiasm generated by the referendum. Politics came to life. Politics finally mattered, and nothing is now the same. It was a 'no' vote by a reasonable margin, and yet it changed our politics for ever. We need now to find a way of injecting the same enthusiasm into the general election in May. If we can get the same kind of fierce debate, real debate — and argument about ideas, then no matter what the outcome it would be good for British politics.

It is expected that the Tory party will outspend Labour by 3 to 1. That is a wide margin. Should our elections be decided by who can spend the most? How will the Liberal Democrats Square up against their coalition partners in the general election? It will be a difficult election for them. But will Labour be able to offer a coherent and credible alternative, or will the arguments be about a slither of difference?

Politics matters. I cannot think of an election where so much could change and where the outcome is so uncertain. British politics may never be the same again as we truly move into an era of alignments rather than clear party dominance. Will that be a good thing? It will be good if it broadens the debate and brings into the mainstream ideas that challenge us. It will be a bad thing if it further narrows the middle ground over which the parties fight.

If it galvanises Andy Murray to be brave enough to give his opinion, and if it galvanises others in the same way, then perhaps 2015 will herald a new start for British politics. But, it is for Andy Murray at least a good start. Let's hope he really does have a better year than 2014 - in Tennis that is.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

The secret life of Giant Pandas

Giant pandas, Ailuropoda melanoleuca , have usually been regarded as solitary creatures, coming together only to mate; but recent studies have begun to reveal a secret social life for these enigmatic bears.  GPS tracking shows they cross each others path more often than previously thought, and spend time together.  What we don't know is what they are doing when together.  Photo by  Sid Balachandran  on  Unsplash For such large mammals, pandas have relatively small home ranges. Perhaps this is no surprise. Pandas feed almost exclusively on bamboo. The only real threat to pandas has come from humans. No wonder then that the panda is the symbol of the WWF.  Pandas communicate with one another through vocalization and scent marking. They spray urine, claw tree trunks and rub against objects to mark their paths, yet they do not appear to be territorial as individuals.  Pandas are 99% vegetarian, but, oddly, their digestive system is more typical of a carnivore. For the 1% of their diet

Work Capability Assessments cause suffering for the mentally ill

People suffering from mental health problems are often the most vulnerable when seeking help. Mental health can have a major impact on work, housing, relationships and finances. The Work Capability Assessments (WCA) thus present a particular challenge to those suffering mental illness.  The mentally ill also are often the least able to present their case. Staff involved in assessments lack sufficient expertise or training to understand mental health issues and how they affect capability. Because of  concerns that Work Capability Assessments will have a particularly detrimental effect on the mentally ill,  an  e-petition  on the government web site calls on the Department of Work and Pensions to exclude people with complex mental health problems such as paranoid schizophrenia and personality disorders. Problems with the WCA  have been highlighted in general by the fact that up to 78% of 'fit to work' decisions are  being overturned on appeal. It is all to the good that they