MP Carmichael demands more support for local media

A campaign calling for support for local media during the coronavirus crisis is being led by isles MP Alistair Carmichael.

A group of MPs have written to health secretary Matt Hancock and culture minister Oliver Dowden, asking that they support local and independent media through an increased share of public health communications spending.

Alistair Carmichael. Photo: Dave Donaldson

The letter was backed by 40 MPs including former cabinet ministers and shadow ministers and highlighted the importance of local press in communicating trustworthy information and the financial strain faced by local journalists in light of the coronavirus.

Mr Carmichael said: “Local press are some of the most trusted sources of news for our communities and we must support them in this challenging time.

“They are vital to our efforts to respond and recover from the coronavirus and yet they are facing significant financial difficulties.

“This letter is about getting a fair share of government advertising spend for local and independent press, to reflect both their importance in our communities and their financial needs.

“The secretary of state for health has an important role in deciding where these advertising funds go.

“If the government takes seriously the need to get valuable and timely information about coronavirus to people in every part of the country then they should get behind this campaign, which is backed by MPs from all sides of parliament.”

Among the 40 signatories were Tory MPs David Mundell, Greg Clark and Michael Fabricant, Labour members Hilary Benn, John McDonnell and Margaret Hodge, Lib Dem MPs Christine Jardine and Tim Farron and SNP members Tommy Sheppard and Philippa Whitford.


Add Your Comment
  • Peter Hamilton

    • April 27th, 2020 18:01

    Good. Yes. But let’s see Alastair also advocate thoroughly for zero hours workers, for parents living in temporary accommodation, for children who are feed from food banks, for people who are now, and who will shortly be living beyond their means, and for the increasing number of people who cannot meet their basic needs.

    A Universal Basic Income is fundamentally a liberal idea, in as much as people have entitlemment to be spared unreasonable harm.

    So if we were to use existing systems to support individuals, in a responsive and responsible way, possibly at a lower cost than the support now being offered for businesses, we would secure immediate economic stimulus, prevent unreasonable hardship, rebalance the playing field and limit damage to future generations.

    There are additional benefits:

    A heap of thinking has gone into the idea of what rights we each ought to enjoy, the things we should freely have, like affordable transport, and the things we should have the freedom to escape, like hunger. Now is a useful time to be considering such issues, the better for all.

    • John Tulloch

      • April 29th, 2020 12:08

      An interesting idea, Peter, and one which it may surprise you to learn was looked at (along with increased immigration) several years ago by WIr Shetland as a possible policy option for Shetland autonomy.

      At the time, no country in the world had adopted it however FInland was planning to run a pilot project which it was decided to monitor. I am no longer involved and cannot comment on the current WS situation or policy.

      After a short, two year trial, the Finnish government decided to end the scheme last year and was reportedly considering alternatives such as a universal credit scheme, similar to that of the UK (see linked article).

  • Peter Hamilton

    • April 29th, 2020 14:48

    Pleased that our MP was pressing the Chancellor on this within 90 minutes! Always good to see fellow Liberals backing liberal ideas.

    It is going to be really important to sustain a discussion on the basic rights and freedoms everyone should be able to access now.

    People should be free from depending on food banks. People should be able to travel freely to access skills training and broad educational opportunities. The UBI can help stop people falling through the cracks, but other ideas are needed if all are to be able to live fulfilling lives of their choosing.

    This is because the cost of being to be able to exercise basic freedoms varies both across the country and from household to household as people’s individual circumstances so differ.

    The Universal Basic Income would help to kick start the economy and would do do fairly, if, as Alistair, suggested, the tax system was used to claw the cash back from those who did not need it.

    Of course that would involve taxing the rich. Little wonder that the Chancellor dismissed the idea out of hand.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • April 29th, 2020 17:11

    Permanent State Fund Dividend of Alaska, the same idea. Not bad for a Trump-voting Republican state. Somewhat predates the liberal idea. Just another Red-Necked, Republican, USA idea.

    • Alastair Ball

      • May 1st, 2020 14:35


      I value your opinions, some of which I agree with, some I don’t.

      What I don’t value is your judgemental uttering based on your opinions.

      Wikipedia – “Redneck is a derogatory term chiefly but not exclusively applied to white Americans perceived to be crass and unsophisticated, closely associated with rural whites of the Southern United States”

      Alaska is just a tad north on the Southern states and not all Republicans are white.

      • Ian Tinkler

        • May 1st, 2020 15:38

        NB , Redneck is a derogatory term chiefly but NOT EXCLUSIVELY applied to white Americans of the Southern States. Sarah Palin, ninth governor of Alaska. Now there is a Redneck if ever there was one! Alaska is strongly Republican.

      • Peter Hamilton

        • May 5th, 2020 14:33

        It seems Ian has no monopoly on what it means to be a redneck Alastair.

  • Peter Hamilton

    • April 29th, 2020 19:15

    In response to John Tulloch’s feelgood posturing on Wir Shetland (aabody else _ off) having “looked at” a Universal Basic Income, lets remember this: plenty comparably despicable groups have flirted with all sorts of policies the better to draw folk in. It makes the basic instinct informing Wir Shetland (aabody else _ off) and John Tulloch’s general political outlook no less reptilian.

    John derided Great Thunberg at the same time as a global alt-right campaign was launched against her. He is informed by some really unpleasant ideas. He has recently focused on China to distract attention away from the awful mess that has been Boris’s response to Covid 19.

    John Tulloch might want to whitewash his objectionable politics by aligning himself to a Universal Basic Income, but his whitewash reeks of hogwash because it is.

    • John Tulloch

      • April 30th, 2020 10:24

      Wow! I confess I expected a civilised discussion about your perfectly reasonable idea. As opposed to a deranged outpouring of visceral hatred, paranoia, actually. I wish you well.

    • Laurence Paton

      • April 30th, 2020 12:56

      Not entirely surprised by your vitriolic reply to John’s entirely moderate comment and your disdain for the concept of autonomy similar to say Faroes or Falklands etc… but is China really beyond reproach?

      • Alastair Ball

        • May 1st, 2020 15:07

        The Chinese Communist Party is beyond reproach – they shut down Wuhan to internal travel and at the same time allowed international air travel out of Wuhan knowing that this virus was highly contagious and that it would spread to the rest of the world.

        The CCP will only fall when the rest of the world hold them accountable for their actions.

Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.