ISLANDERS are all too used to seeing their homeland squashed into a box somewhere to the east of the Scottish mainland on TV and in print – but now Shetland MSP Tavish Scott is seeking to ensure that official publications are compelled put the islands in their rightful place.
The Liberal Democrat MSP has tabled an amendment to the Scottish Government’s islands bill to that effect.
His move has been welcomed by Neil Henderson, the initiator of a Facebook page called “Get Shetland on the map!”
The often light-hearted social media group has been digging out offending examples for years, with the Royal Mail recently reissuing an online map following complaints it had omitted Shetland altogether.
Earlier this month the graphics department of BBC’s Newsnight went for the novel option of placing Shetland to the north-west of the Hebrides, while recent months have seen media outlets from Russia to Norway messing with the geographical location of the UK’s most northerly community.
Henderson said: “It’s good to see one of our group members fighting the cause on a new level! Whilst ‘Get Shetland on the Map!’ was formed for a bit of fun, we have seen over the years now a large number of clangers which folk have highlighted on the page and which have caused a chuckle – particularly when it is the likes of the government or an institution like the BBC or ITV who really should know better.
“We’ve seen Shetland in all sorts of places around the North Sea and Atlantic, sometimes not even in a box and of course regularly not even on a map at all, so it would appear there are no limits to the heights of lazy editorial!”
Scott said some Scottish Government publications featured Shetland enclosed in a box, lying either in the Moray Firth or just off the north east coast of the Scottish mainland.
Amendments to the islands bill will be debated next Wednesday at Holyrood.
“Shetlanders are rightly irked when they see Shetland placed in a box in the Moray Firth,” the MSP said. “I strongly believe the Scottish Government should portray the country it serves with accuracy.
“The principle is important here. A recent Scottish Government strategy on loneliness made this geographical mistake. I asked Scotland’s most senior civil servant to correct the error.
“But from now on, I want to ensure that mistake just cannot happen. Putting Shetland in its appropriate place would go some way to rectifying the perception that the islands are an afterthought.
“It will visually align the government with its stated political commitment to island proofing. I therefore trust the government will accept this amendment.”