FURTHER evidence of the BBC’s Westminster-centric bias has emerged with the results of a survey by The National which shows that the new daily flagship programme Politics Live had 79 guest ‘slots’ in January of which just two were given to the SNP.

In an astonishing admission, Politics Live supremo Rob Burley, editor of the BBC’s live political programmes, has also openly stated that political party representation on his shows is “beside the point” because of Brexit.

The former executive editor of Question Time told the Press Gazette: “There’s party balance, which is important, but one people misunderstand ... if we balanced every single show across the parties and everything else, then it would be a really boring show because every single show would be the same.

“Especially in an environment now where parties are becoming besides the point on the Brexit discussion, we actually have a whole different set of criteria.”

Those criteria are blatantly against the SNP. The National’s study shows that the SNP had only two guest slots out of a possible 79 on Politics Live in January, equivalent to 2.5% of political party guest slots. By contrast, LibDem leader Sir Vince Cable had two appearances himself, and his party, with 11 MPs compared to the SNP’s 35, had four in all.

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The Conservatives famously do not have a majority of seats in Parliament, but they had 41 guest slots while Labour had 28.

No MSPs or Scottish Government ministers appeared as guests – so-called ‘down the line’ interviews were not counted in our study because, as Burley himself said: “Part of the thing is the chemistry in the studio, and you can to an extent involve someone externally, but it’s never quite the same, so we must do better on that. We get a C- on that front.

“We are a show whose heart is in Westminster. It’s made in the middle of Westminster – in a sense it is in that bubble.”

Burley projects the false notion that the UK is a two party state and contradicts recommendations of the 2008 King Report after which the BBC Trust stated: “It is not acceptable that a BBC funded by licence fee payers across the whole country should not address the interests of them all in fair measure.

“It is essential that accurate information about political developments in the four nations is reflected in network news and current affairs so that the authority of the voice of the BBC is maintained, and the audience has confidence in that voice.”

When the programme’s launch was announced, the BBC boasted that it would ensure that “Politics Live connects with the lives of people around the country”.

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Keith Brown, the SNP’s depute leader, said: “These Politics Live panel appearance numbers are deeply concerning.

“We contacted the programme about their Brexit special on January 15 after they cut away from the House of Commons just as Ian Blackford MP was about to speak. They did manage to shoehorn 40 seconds of his speech in at the tail of the programme, but this was little more than a tickbox.

“As the third party at Westminster and the party of government in Scotland, 40 seconds of a 90-minute political programme is unacceptable. And for the SNP to get so few opportunities to come on to the programme over the course of a month is troubling. The BBC needs to explain this.

“The entire programme needs to get a grip and try and look beyond the end of Westminster Bridge. Many people in Scotland are understandably feeling ignored by the whole Brexit debacle – editorial decisions like this do nothing for the BBC’s reputation in Scotland.”

A BBC spokesperson said: "We are committed to providing fair representation for all political parties on Politics Live and Rob Burley's comments were indicative of this point: we balance across a series – not across every single show. This is also dependent on party availability and whilst we understand it isn’t always possible for guests to come on the programme, this must be taken into account."