‘Bit naff’: Salmond loses his sheen over Wimbledon photobomb

Alex Salmond's reputation as a consummate politician took something of a battering yesterday, after the online world reacted to his efforts to politicise Andy Murray's Wimbledon win.

The Scottish first minister, who will be leading the fight for Scottish independence at next year's referendum, unfurled a large Scottish flag just above David Cameron's head after Murray became the first Brit to win the tournament in 77 years.

"In my experience, real tennis fans support their favourite players for who they are and how they play – let's keep the stunts out of it," shadow Scotland Office minister Willie Bain posted on Twitter.

Liberal Democrat chief whip Alistair Carmichael directed his views to the tournament organisers, saying: "Thank you for looking after the FM today. Next year, can you please search him more carefully?" He added the hashtag #cringe.

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott wrote: "Bit sad wasn't it?"

Labour MP Tom Harris wrote: "Let’s keep this is perspective, folks: Salmond waving a St Andrew’s flag at Wimbledon wasn’t an outrage – it was just a bit, well, naff."

The effort by the Scottish first minister and his wife Moira to hold aloft a large Saltire revealed the importance of the symbolic Murray victory in the ongoing battle for independence.

Salmond is desperate to utilise major sporting events for his political cause.

He was mocked, and then largely ignored, when he tried to get his countrymen to support the 'Scolympians' at the Olympics last year, in a fortnight which was seen as a major set-back for independence campaigners.

He will try to use next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow to drum up extra support for independence.

But yesterday's move may have gone the extra leg by breaking Wimbledon rules.

Spectators are banned from bringing flags larger than 2ft by 2ft or objects bearing "political statements" on to the grounds.

"This was part of the celebration. I'm not responsible for the seating arrangements," Salmond told Radio 4 this morning.

"The All England Club didn't mind in the slightest. They're really nice people. They don't mind a bit of Scottish exuberance."