THE BBC have been branded a “total embarrassment” after The National revealed a stark imbalance in its Newsnight guests over the first half of the year.

Almost three-fifths (59%) of politicians appearing on the show since we began recording the figures in February have been from the Tory Party.

While the Tories had 266 spots and Labour 124, the SNP barely reached double figures – with a total of just 13, which is around 3% of all appearances by politicians on Newsnight.

The LibDems trailed the SNP only slightly, with four less slots on the show, despite having 23 fewer MPs.

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Change UK, also known as The Independent Group for Change, had seven more appearances on Newsnight than the SNP.

Keith Brown, the SNP’s depute leader, said The National’s findings rubbished Newsnight’s claims of impartiality.

The MSP said: “This five-month stretch of wall to wall Tories on Newsnight trashes the programme’s claims of being evenhanded.

“And their obsession with The Independent Group – a party obliterated at the European elections – is a total embarrassment.

“It’s over 12 years since the King Report published and the BBC is still struggling to get to grips with devolution. When it comes to network political programmes covering Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland fresh thinking is desperately needed.”

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February was the only month in which more Labour politicians appeared than Tories on Newsnight – 25 to 34, with zero for the SNP.

March was the month with the most SNP slots, with five – they had four in April and two in May and June.

June saw the Tories with their biggest lead. They were on 81 times to Labour’s 13.

The National: SNP deputy leader Keith BrownSNP deputy leader Keith Brown

A spokesperson for the BBC said: “Counting guest appearances is not the measure of impartiality. We cover stories as they arise, and use our editorial judgement about who we should hear from depending on the news agenda.

“The last few months have been heavily dominated by splits and tensions in the Conservative and Labour party, the creation of Change UK, and the current Conservative leadership election.”

Newsnight featured UKIP and DUP candidates more than any other of the BBC’s key political shows over the period.

UKIP politicians did not appear at all on Question Time or Politics Live in the timeframe, but were on Victoria Derbyshire twice and Andrew Marr once.

However, they scored four slots on Newsnight – roughly a third of the SNP’s total, despite having not a single elected MP.

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Meanwhile, the DUP were on Newsnight five times, with their only other BBC appearance a lone spot on Question Time.

A total of 454 guests from political parties appeared on Newsnight from February to June – including others, such as academics and commentators, takes that figure to 710.

The Tories comfortably led the way, with 266 spots on the news show, which is more than a third (37%) of the 710 total.

Even the number of guest contributors who were not from any of the parties trailed the Tories, at just 256.

The Greens were given five slots on Newsnight, the Brexit Party five, and Wales’s pro-independence Plaid Cymru party came last with only two.