THE BBC’s decision to omit Nicola Sturgeon from a key televised General Election debate is “senseless” and short-changes Scottish voters, according to the SNP’s leader at Westminster.

Ian Blackford urged Labour and the Tories to “stop running scared” of the First Minister after it emerged that the broadcaster will host a head-to-head Prime Ministerial Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn on December 6.

He added that the SNP are ready to take on the two main UK parties “any time, any place”.

The BBC said it will also host a “seven-way podium debate” in Cardiff on November 29 which will feature “leaders or senior figures” from the seven major parties”, including Sturgeon.

As well this, there will be a two-hour long version of Question Time on November 22 in which Johnson, Corbyn, Sturgeon and LibDem leader Jo Swinson will each take questions from the audience.

READ MORE: BBC Question Time mocked for bizarre Scottish accent tweet

The SNP previously complained about Sky’s proposed three-way debate between Johnson, Corbyn and Swinson on November 28 because Sturgeon was not invited. The LibDem leader has been invited to the broadcaster’s debate and Sturgeon has not, despite the SNP significantly outnumbering Swinson’s party at Westminster.

Now, the SNP are taking the BBC to task over its decision to leave out the UK’s third-biggest party from a momentous General Election, which takes places on December 12.

“This is the most important election in living memory but the BBC have made the decision to short-change voters in Scotland, and across the UK, by restricting the focus of these debates to just two parties,” said Blackford.

“The SNP is the third-largest party at Westminster, the governing party in Scotland and on course to hold the balance of power in the aftermath of this election. The result could determine not just the UK’s relationship with the EU but also the course of Scotland’s relationship with the UK – making it all the more crucial that the SNP are fully included in the debates.

“Our politics has moved on from the two-party system of decades ago, so it’s disappointing that the final debate will exclude the SNP in favour of the Westminster establishment.

“The BBC still have time to rethink this frankly senseless proposal – if they don’t they’ll be letting Scotland down.

“It’s time the Westminster establishment stopped running scared. The SNP are ready to take on the Tories and Labour anytime, any place.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon hits out at Sky over SNP election debate snub

The First Minister will also take part in an hour-long BBC One Scotland debate on December 10. Chaired by Sarah Smith from Pacific Quay, the Scotland Leaders’ Debate in front of an audience with a panel of Scottish party leaders.

In addition to broadcasting the programme live, the BBC Scotland channel will air a half-hour Spin Room show from the venue before the debate. Commentators, including journalists and analysts, will be interviewed in the media room, giving their views on where the debate could be won or lost.

The channel’s flagship news show, The Nine, will have first reaction to the debate from the Spin Room.

A new series of half-hour programmes, presented by Rebecca Curran and Martin Geissler, will run on BBC One Scotland on Mondays and Tuesdays from November 18 at 10.30pm, while Reporting Scotland – The Campaign will take a sideways look at how the election is playing out, particularly on social media.

There will be be three additional editions of Debate Night, the weekly debate programme on the BBC Scotland channel, which ends its current run on November 13, with one of the extra shows in front of an audience of under-20 voters.

This will be the first General Election to be covered by The Nine, which will bring reports, breaking news and analysis throughout the campaign.

Gary Smith, head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland, said: “As we go through the election campaign, we’ll put the audience at the centre of our reporting, giving voters the chance to question the politicians and we’ll present information and analysis clearly and accurately.”