ANDREW Neil has launched a furious tirade against the SNP on a flagship BBC politics show.

The broadcaster, who was fronting the corporation’s US election coverage, was appearing as a panelist on Politics Live.

He claimed the SNP get a “free ride” from media outlets in London and attacked their record in government.

Also on the panel was SNP MP Alyn Smith, who highlighted structural differences between politics in the US, England and Scotland. He argued that the electoral college and first past the post voting systems – unlike the proportional representation (PR) system in Scotland – have contributed to the alienation of large swathes of the electorate in the US and England.

That came during a segment asking what lessons the UK can learn from the US election.

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But when host Jo Coburn asked Neil for his take on the question, he initially ignored it to launch into an anti-SNP rant.

“The SNP get such a free ride on programmes that come from London,” he said, pointing to poverty levels in Glasgow and the education attainment gap.

“So whether you’ve got PR or not, it doesn’t really help you if you’re left behind.”

Coburn insisted the BBC “never like to give anyone a free ride” as she invited Smith to respond.

The Stirling MP said Neil could do with a “well-deserved lie down” after a long shift covering the US election as his “frustration at the SNP is showing through”.

Neil interjected to demand that he not be patronised by Smith, who argued he was the one who had in fact been patronised.

The MP continued: “The SNP is winning the centre ground of Scottish politics because we have made the case that we need more powers to deal with the issues that we are dealing with.

"We’ve got an election coming up in May … and it will be for the people of Scotland to decide how best we are governed and how best our constitutional future is represented.

“The problems Scotland have we don’t shy away from, but we need the tools to fix them.”

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Neil again went on the attack, arguing “there’s not a single tool” the Scottish Government needs to solve poverty in the east end of Glasgow that it doesn’t already have.

Smith disagreed, arguing Holyrood needs “economic levers”.

Neil continued: “You control the education system and yet the attainment gap between rich and poor kids has got wider. So it’s not a matter of power it’s a matter of policy.”

The veteran broadcaster has left the BBC to head up right-leaning channel GB News, which he promised in September would "champion robust, balanced debate".

Having concluded his tirade against the SNP on Politics Live, Neil added that he was “enjoying his freedom” to speak his mind.

That prompted laughter from Coburn, while right-wing panelist Julia Hartley-Brewer shouted: “We love it too.”

The host remarked that Neil was welcome back “anytime” on the show.

An SNP spokesman said: "We've always suspected Andrew Neil wasn't our biggest fan, but we know now for sure.

"Freed from BBC rules on balance and impartiality, he instantly went on a full-blown rant against Independence.

"Clearly, Mr Neil fancies himself as the champion of Fox News-style broadcasting in the UK. He joins others like Nigel Farage desperate for airtime to opine on the political right."

A BBC spokesperson commented: “Andrew Neil no longer works for the BBC and was speaking in a personal capacity. Politics Live gave Alyn Smith an opportunity to respond in full which he did so.”