View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Free Press no longer free

It is about 20 years ago that I started reading the West Highland Free Press. Strident, vociferous, outspoken, controversial - never afraid to speak its mind. It kept me up to date with the Eigg buy-out saga in 1996/97, and until I came to Scotland in 2004, with matters West Coast generally. I started to go off the paper when they began to blindly back wind turbines - I wrote them a nasty letter about that (which was published!) in which I questioned whether they still held true to their motto: For the Land, Culture and the Man, and suggested that Na Daoine no longer applied. However, I think I shall now remove the Free Press from my reading list. Not that it matters much, it's been ages since I bought a copy. A columnist, Donald Macleod (aka Donald Foot) wrote a piece about minority and majority ethnic groups, specifically Muslims. Its founding editor, Brian Wilson, spoke out to back Professor Macleod in his standpoint. Mr Wilson and Prof Macleod were both sacked. I don't see eye-to-eye with Mr Wilson politically, and don't know what planet Prof Macleod is on some times. But we have a freedom of speech in this country, which the Free Press used in abundance. It is now seeking to stifle the freedom of expression of its own columnists. The Free Press, to my mind, is no longer free.