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Politics / Carmichael not amused as Lib Dems omitted from discussion programme

NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has demanded an apology from the BBC after it emerged that neither of Shetland’s parliamentary representatives nor any other Lib Dem politician were invited to join the panel of the national broadcaster’s Any Questions? programme.

The topical radio discussion show will be recorded live from Lerwick tonight, and it comes after the Liberal Democrats won a landslide victory in the Tiverton and Honiton by-election on Thursday.

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael is defending a seat he has held since 2001 and the liberals have held since the 1950s.
Isles MP Alistair Carmichael. Photo Shetland News

Neither Carmichael nor Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart were asked to join the topical discussion programme.

Instead, the Any Questions? team invited three politicians with little connection to Shetland.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie, Conservative peer Lord Lamont, also known as Lord Lamont of Lerwick, as well as Scottish minister for public health Maree Todd MSP will be joined by local journalist Jen Stout who has spent the last three months reporting from war-torn Ukraine.

Todd used to be an SNP Highlands and Islands MSP but is now the constituency MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross.

Lord Lamont, a former Tory MP and chancellor of the exchequer between 1990 and 1993, was born in Lerwick in 1942 but was educated at Loretto School in Musselburgh.

Carmichael said: “Last night Liberal Democrats delivered a result in Devon that has shaken the foundations of Boris Johnson’s already shaky government.

“Yet today, despite a result of this sort being predicted for weeks, the BBC find it too difficult to include us in their flagship current affairs radio programme. It is a serious error of judgement for which they ought to be explaining and apologising.”

He added: “For years they bent over backwards to get UKIP and Nigel Farage onto programmes like this but for some reason, when it comes to the Liberal Democrats, different standards apply.”

A BBC spokesperson responded: “Any Questions is broadcast 50 weeks of the year around the country and political parties get a fair representation throughout the year.”

Hosted by the BBC’s political editor Chris Mason, the programme will be live on Radio 4 tonight between 8pm and 8.50pm, and repeated on Saturday from 1.10pm.

It is being hosted in the Shetland Museum and Archives.