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‘Insulting’: Orkney and Shetland left out UK Government’s advertising campaign

The UK Government adverts, which have been spotted by travellers in airports, do not include Orkney or Shetland.
The UK Government adverts, which have been spotted by travellers in airports, do not include Orkney or Shetland.

The UK Government has been schooled in geography after failing to include Orkney and Shetland on an international ad campaign.

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has written to Steve Barclay, minister for the Cabinet Office, to bring the “insulting” exclusion to his attention.

The adverts, seen in various locations including international airports, exclude Orkney and Shetland, but do include the Isle of Man – which is not part of the UK.

But a Cabinet Office spokesman said the image is from a “discontinued campaign” which “should have been removed some time ago”.

Mr Carmichael highlighted the many exporting businesses in the isles, including green technology producers, which have a strong interest in being featured in such adverts.

‘A matter of some surprise’

In his letter, Mr Carmichael said: “As the member of parliament for Orkney and Shetland it was a matter of some surprise to me that our islands were not considered to be part of the UK for advertising purposes.

“The non-inclusion of the Northern Isles within maps of the UK – official or otherwise – is a matter of ongoing frustration for our communities, as we strongly believe that we are as much an integral part of this country as any other area.”

Former Shetland MSP Tavish Scott led a successful campaign to ensure that no maps produced for the Scottish Government would exclude the Northern Isles. 

Alistair Carmichael MP.

Mr Carmichael’s letter continued: “Northern Isles businesses and organisations have had remarkable success in recent years in developing world-leading marine renewables technologies, selling whisky and other spirits globally and producing outstanding food products for the world market.

“It would seem only reasonable that the isles should appear on UK marketing just as any other part of the UK.”

The “GREAT” campaign is the UK Government’s international brand marketing campaign, which works closely with UK businesses, not-for-profit organisations and high-profile figures to promote the best of the UK abroad.

Raising the issue in the Commons last week, the MP for Orkney and Shetland, asked for a “debate on the teaching of geography, especially to ministers and civil servants”.

He said: “It is a bit insulting to the many businesses in Orkney and Shetland, which are at the forefront of leading technology exports, to see ourselves excluded by our own government in this way.”

In response, Mark Spencer, Leader of the House of Commons, said he would make ministers responsible “aware of their faux pas”.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said:  “This image is from a discontinued campaign which should have been removed some time ago.

“We have spoken to our colleagues at airports across the country to make sure it is no longer in use.

“The GREAT campaign is committed to showcasing all four nations, including the Northern Isles, and our current campaigns make sure that is the case.

“All media space across airports is provided at no cost to the taxpayer.”

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